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10 Benefits of Using a LTL Freight Broker

LTL freight broker

Less than truckload freight (LTL) is a good way for carriers to fill trailers with multiple stops in a single area that make their loads more worthwhile and profitable. However, finding these loads takes a certain amount of work, and doing it quickly and efficiently is vital to a carrier’s success.

That’s where an LTL freight broker comes in. They use load boards and their relationships with shippers to connect carriers with the right load in the right area at the right time. This ability to bridge both shippers’ and carriers’ needs is one of the reasons the service they provide is so valuable.

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What is an LTL freight broker, and what are the benefits of using one?

What is an LTL freight broker?

LTL freight brokers are intermediaries that fill a specific role: matching freight shipping companies and their goods with freight carriers who have the right capacity, lanes or routes, and timetable to handle LTL shipments.

Usually, this kind of broker has many contacts in the industry and relationships with various LTL carriers. They often have an online system for shippers that simplifies the freight shipping process. Likewise, because they deal with a large number of shippers with varying load sizes, they also help carriers find LTL loads to fill their trailers.

10 benefits of using an LTL freight brokerage

The systems and relationships that LTL freight brokers develop benefit both carriers and shippers. Here are some of the biggest reasons carriers and shippers might use a broker for LTL freight shipping:

1. LTL Brokers obtain volume discounts.

Because LTL freight brokers deal with many carriers, they can provide shippers with volume discounts the freight originator would not be able to negotiate on their own. It takes volume to reach a point where freight carriers see the advantage of offering a discount, and brokers deal with significant freight volume.

Brokers do the heavy lifting in keeping trucks full and moving, so carriers have an incentive to work with them and honor those discounts. The carrier spends less time looking for loads and more time working, making their business more profitable. The broker plays a key role in providing volume discounts to benefit both shippers and carriers.

2. LTL brokers offer competitive rates.

Most LTL freight brokers get at least part of their income from commissions. So it’s in their best interest to negotiate the best rates for both shippers and carriers. Shippers get better rates due to the volume discounts mentioned above and the negotiating power they have.

A freight broker must also balance the rates they offer shippers so that LTL carriers can still do business with them and make a profit. Shippers and carriers can both count on better rates than they could negotiate on their own. For the broker, the better their rates, the more volume they will attract, and the more money they make in the long run.

3. LTL brokers vet both carriers and shippers.

The beauty of the LTL broker job is the relationships they develop with both shippers and carriers. They know which carriers are best for different types of shipments. They also know which shippers pay promptly and well, offer flexible terms for drivers, and will work best within a certain region or lane.

With a good LTL broker, shippers are assured reliable, trustworthy carriers. Those carriers can count on shippers to be fair, pay invoices on time, and prioritize the ones they have the best relationships with.

4. LTL brokers help with classifying freight.

It’s common for shippers to misclassify their freight during the freight procurement process. This can create problems later on. Properly classifying freight is complex and time-consuming. It can be challenging for smaller shippers to learn and fully understand freight classifications, but an LTL freight broker can help.

Forklift operator loading a trailer from a dock.

This also benefits carriers. Knowing the shipments they carry are classified correctly ensures they can handle it correctly.

5. LTL brokers make sure all the paperwork is in order.

An LTL broker does a lot more than connect shippers and carriers. Through their relationship with both parties and their knowledge of the industry, they make sure that freight is not only classified properly but that any required documentation is in order and complete. This can save the carrier time at pickups and prevent delays due to regulatory issues.

6. Brokers can facilitate other services shippers might need.

While most LTL freight brokers don’t take possession of cargo the way a freight consolidator would, they can help negotiate other services the shipper might need, like temporary warehouse storage, cross-docking, and refrigerated LTL shipping. This makes LTL freight brokers even more valuable partners.

7. LTL brokers assist with freight claims.

What if something goes wrong during the freight shipping process? An LTL freight broker can help with claims, as they often have arranged the shipping from end-to-end. Because of their relationships and connections, brokers can sometimes talk to insurance companies and other authorities to help process cargo claims as quickly as possible.

8. LTL brokers help personalize the shipping industry.

LTL brokers bring a personal touch to what can be a very impersonal business. Working relationships are their most important assets, and they use their connections to facilitate shipping in various circumstances, find carriers who can respond quickly, and help the process go smoothly.

For example, if a shipper has an urgent order and a carrier has a truck nearby, the broker will often know if the freight is a good fit. They can reach out directly to ask questions before making a connection. This means the shipper is far more likely to get what they need promptly with a reliable carrier. The carrier can trust that the shipper is legitimate and reliable because of their relationship with the broker. 

9. LTL brokers can monitor carrier compliance. 

Shippers that have connected with carriers through an LTL broker may not have a system in place for monitoring carrier compliance. Even if they do, they might not want to take on the additional work of compliance monitoring. An LTL broker can manage this important task and provide essential updates to shippers.

10. LTL brokers can find and book quality loads faster.

Think of LTL brokers as specialists in finding quality loads. They can find carriers of all sizes, in any region, and view carrier performance ratings to ensure they find the best options for shippers.

How LTL brokers use load boards to secure the best freight rates.

So how does all this work? Brokers often use load boards like Truckstop.com to connect shippers with the right carriers and oversee logistics.

Here’s how the process might work from start to finish:

screen showing broker decision tools
  • A shipper contacts a broker with a shipment, including weight and density information. They determine how much capacity a carrier will need to handle the load.
  • The LTL broker performs a truck and lane search to determine which carrier has the right amount of capacity and enough time in their schedule to ensure the cargo can be delivered on time.
  • Decision tools from Truckstop show the ratio of freight to trucks in a given lane, revealing supply and demand. This helps brokers know where to start with rate negotiations.
  • The broker can then look at the carrier performance rating: How are they rated? Do they have complaints or compliments from clients? Do they run on time? What about inspections and their history? The broker can use this information to determine if the carrier is reliable and a good fit for the shipper.
  • The Truckstop Rate Insights shows current spot rates, rate trends, and helps brokers know whether rates are trending up or down.
  • The broker then books their chosen carrier to fulfill the needs of the shipper.

This is just one example of how the shipping process can work and how an LTL broker can quickly and accurately connect the right shipper with the right carrier.

This is just one example of how the shipping process can work and how an LTL broker can quickly and accurately connect the right shipper with the right carrier.

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