The convenience and accessibility of managing your day-to-day tasks online is appealing for most people, and shippers are no different. The shift to using digital freight brokers has been a trend for years, with perks like fast quotes and less phone tag. It's important to know, however, that if you're using automated digital freight brokers, you may be compromising on key components that give you a competitive edge. Working with an efficient traditional freight broker takes the best of both worlds, and adds in four key benefits that smart shippers need to succeed.1. Customizable service options that maximize your budget
Digital freight brokers rely on doing what they do best – pulling shipment data and running a high volume of quotes quickly and efficiently. These fast quotes are nice to review pricing among a variety of carriers, but this is a transactional approach
that specifically relies on the shipper to input the correct data. If you’re shipping the same loads consistently, and just want to get your loads rated, picked up, and delivered, this may work for you.
But freight shipping isn’t a one-size-fits-all business. The bulk of most shippers’ loads consist of a standard pallet size and weight, with delivery to repeat customers and businesses. However, what happens when you have a priority load that needs expedited services
or ship to a location with limited access
? If this is outside your realm of expertise, you may be completely in the dark about which services or carriers are the best options for your freight. Working with a traditional freight broker doesn’t require you to be an expert – they can take on that role for you by identifying key areas you may be overspending and help guide your choices so that you don’t sacrifice service for a lower cost.
2. Familiarity with your business needs for better efficiency
A digital freight broker’s main selling point is efficiency, speed, and convenience. Running quotes online and on demand without consulting a live agent may be an expedient way to get an idea of potential rate costs. But, it’s best to use this as a rough estimate of what you can expect to pay. Freight shipping is full of variables and unexpected costs run rampant with even minor changes to a shipment’s weight, class, dimensions, and services. It takes more than quick quotes
to successfully manage your freight shipments.
A quality traditional freight broker will assign someone to manage your account. Over time, your contact will get to know your freight profile, from service preference to budget requirements. A freight expert who is intimately familiar with your business can catch classification errors, give packaging advice
, and review invoices to get a better grasp on how to manage your freight spend.
3. Additional freight management services that cut costs
A digital freight broker may offer additional assistance like booking loads or preparing the bill of lading. Once the shipment is booked, however, service pretty much stops there. A pick-up number will be generated, and tracking can be done through the carrier’s website, which is a similar process to one you’d use if you booked with a carrier on your own. If your shipment encounters any challenges en route, however, you’re left to manage the issue on your own.
A traditional freight broker has basically seen it all, and knows how to navigate any obstacles your load experiences in transit. When you don’t have time to spend on the phone to find out why your pallet is being held at a delivery terminal, a traditional freight broker will do it for you. If you receive reclassification, reweighs, or additional accessorials
that you did not request on your invoice, a traditional freight broker will lead inquiries into why those changes were made, and start disputes if need be.
In the unfortunate case your shipment is lost or damaged, traditional freight brokerages often have dedicated claims departments with specialists trained to submit a claim on your behalf. Damage claims are tricky, involve strict timelines, and require specific documentation to be submitted successfully to give you the best chance at receiving reimbursement. Working with a full-service broker will help you navigate tricky areas where a digital freight broker may fall short.
4. Pricing flexibility with carriers negotiated on your behalf
Quoting shipments with a digital freight broker may be convenient, but after you input your shipment details and receive rates from carriers, that’s where negotiation stops. You can’t assume that the rate you are getting is entirely correct. While it’s obviously an unwelcome surprise to get a pricey bill
that is higher than the quote you received, what happens when your online quote is too high in the first place? Rate quote sticker shock can be frustrating, and if you run a smaller business with zero leverage to negotiate with carriers, it can be tempting to cut costs by using a budget carrier.
A reliable freight broker likely has years of experience and strong relationships with reputable carriers. Leveraging these relationships helps the broker by gaining additional business for the trucking company, and assists the customer with an opportunity for price negotiation. This mutually beneficial relationship provides incentive for some additional flexibility when it comes to rate, and in most cases, an agreement can be reached between all parties that ensures quality service and fair pricing.
The bottom line about digital freight brokers
While the convenience associated with digital freight brokers is certainly enticing for businesses who are already strapped for time, it’s key for shippers to remember that there’s more to freight shipping than running a quote and pushing it out your dock door. Cutting costs and maintaining a budget are more important than ever, and smart shippers know that working with a full-service traditional broker, like PartnerShip, offers both efficiency and cost-saving solutions for their businesses.