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7 Ways to Improve Carrier Selection and Onboarding

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For brokers, selecting and onboarding reliable carriers is a huge responsibility that can make or break your business. Carriers not only help you move products and meet deadlines, but they also affect your business—-and your reputation.

Luckily, advancements in technology, like carrier selection software, make it easier to vet honest, reliable, and compliant carriers that you can be confident will get the job done.

Knowing how to select and onboard carriers and ways to automate the process can help you build strong business connections and keep your business moving.

To help you improve your business practices, we break down the carrier selection process and ways brokers can automate onboarding and monitoring carriers.

What is carrier selection and onboarding?

Freight brokers have the responsibility of selecting carriers (fleets or trucking companies) who have the proper authority, safety ratings, and equipment to fulfill shipment orders. With the help of carrier selection software, you can vet and onboard carriers based on insurance, CSA scores, compliance, liability, and more.

Once a broker has selected and onboarded a carrier, it’s important to stay on top of carrier monitoring as well. Things can change quickly in terms of insurance lapses, safety ratings, and expired authorizations. Comprehensive carrier monitoring is the ongoing process of confirming that your carriers are up-to-date with freight rules and regulations at all times.

It’s also important to build a network of trusted carriers, because with changing legislation, brokers have more responsibility and liability than ever before. By setting relationship terms ahead of time and preparing for changes in the market, you can protect your broker business.

When you begin the process of carrier onboarding and selection, keep these important checklist items in mind:

  • Verify Authority with DOT & FMCSA
  • Verify government issued tax ID
  • Verify proper auto and cargo insurance
  • Confirm carrier working profile completion
  • Check carrier safety scores
  • Confirm carrier legal agreement and terms are completed

Why you should select quality carriers

Without quality control, suppliers have no guarantee their products will arrive safely or on time, and you as the broker aren’t guaranteed payment either. Brokers have to choose carriers that are qualified to ensure everyone is protected, paid, and punctual.

Recently, the Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA) held a panel discussing the implications of a negligence lawsuit against C.H. Robinson. The question on everyone’s mind: If a truck driver crashes into someone and causes them significant harm, is the brokerage liable for hiring an unreliable carrier? While brokers have been protected from liability in the past, this may not always be the case.

It’s easy for things to slip through the cracks without a continuous monitoring process in place to make sure everyone is safe and compliant at all times, and carrier selection software can help you avoid serious legal implications.

7 Important Carrier Selection Considerations

In order to find the best carriers and avoid liabilities, there are some key factors to keep in mind.

1. Carrier Class

A commercial driver’s license (CDL) comes in three classes with various endorsements.

  • Class A is required for vehicles weighing over 26,000 lbs, towing over 10,000 lbs like 18-wheelers, livestock carriers, and tankers.
  • Class B allows drivers to tow less than 10,000 lbs in vehicles like city busses, delivery trucks, and dump trucks.
  • Class C is required for vehicles less than 26,000 lbs and includes hazardous material (HazMat) vehicles and passenger transportation

If a carrier has a combination of CDL classifications, they’re usually more qualified. Look for endorsements as well: P for carrying passengers, H for HazMat, and T for tank (liquid cargo).

2. Reliability and Customer Service

Look at your carrier’s track record with past deliveries to get a good idea of their reputation.

  • Have they been on time?
  • Are they consistent?
  • What about communication skills—are they easy to get ahold of?
  • Are they professional?

Try speaking to companies that have worked with them in the past, or check load boards for carrier ratings and reviews. If you run into any inconsistencies or red flags, you should probably cross them off your list.

3. Safety Record

One of the best tools for brokers is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) safety scores. All carriers are rated from 0–100, with higher numbers meaning more incidents or serious violations. The CSA (compliance, safety, accountability) system rates carriers based on driver fitness, HazMat compliance, alcohol and drug use, maintenance of vehicles, hours of service compliance, crashes reported, and other unsafe driving.

4. Stability and consistency

Make sure carriers are established by confirming phone numbers and checking references. Do your extra due diligence to protect your business. If a company has only been around for a year or so, they may not be as reliable as a carrier that has been through the ups and downs of an ever-changing market.

5. Asset-Based vs. Non-Asset-Based

An asset-based carrier is one that owns all (or most) of the equipment and storage facilities needed to fulfill freight shipments. These carriers are a “one stop shop” for brokers. On the other hand, non-asset-based 3rd Party Logistics (3PL) are companies that assign out jobs to various carriers. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, so pay attention to what works best for you.

6. Cost

Watch out for hidden costs and carriers that don’t disclose quotes with full transparency. Compare per-mile shipment estimates, labor costs, and transport fees, and work with carriers who are willing to negotiate fairly. Also—always be wary of too-good-to-be-true pricing. Fraud is a big problem, and the last thing you need as a broker is to get caught up in a scam.

7. Operating Authority and Insurance

Make sure the carriers you’re vetting have Motor Carrier of Property, FMCSA authority, and valid insurance certificates that correspond with their classifications and endorsements. Without these qualifications, you have increased risk of liability.

How Brokers Can Find and Select Quality Carriers

There are several different ways to find high-quality carriers:

  • Load boards—A regularly updated load board is one of the easiest ways to find carriers. Load boards and carrier selection software allow you to filter through results and customize your search.
  • Directories—You can also find carriers through the Department of Transportation’s website and other directories online.
  • Networking—Use your connections with other brokers and people in the industry to find the best carriers. Leverage industry event, or looking on online community forums, there are dozens of ways to find trusted organizations.
  • Professional Referrals—Don’t forget, carriers are also your customers! Treating carriers like valued clients is a great way to manage those relationships and get future carrier referrals.

Level-Up Your Carrier Selection Today

When looking for reliable carriers, it’s important to pay attention to their qualifications, safety scores, cost, insurance certificates, and more. Making sure carriers check all of the boxes can be overwhelming and time-consuming, which is why Truckstop offers Carrier Onboarding for Brokers. Our carrier selection software and onboarding tools help brokers to efficiently find, vet, and onboard quality carriers, while also monitoring ongoing compliance.

Request a Truckstop demo, and start your journey to better carrier selection today.

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