Looking for a way to expand your business as an owner-operator? You are going to want to find a quality freight broker to work with. Doing so will not only give you the means to increase your client base, but also will help you to operate efficiently.
In this guide, we will introduce you to our top ten recommended freight broker companies. But first, we will go over the basics so you understand what a freight broker does and what to look for when you are choosing one.
What is a Freight Broker?
A freight broker is a company that facilitates business between a shipper and a carrier.
The right freight broker makes it easy to communicate with the shippers you work with, and helps to streamline the entire process of moving freight.
As a result, freight gets where it is going faster and more economically, benefiting everyone involved.
What to Look for in a Freight Broker Company
Not all freight brokerages are equal. Here are important considerations when picking the company you are going to partner with:
- Licensing: Before you work with a freight broker, check to see if they are licensed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). If a company does not have a license from the FMCSA, they are not operating legally. The easiest way to look up a license is to head to the FMCSA website.
- Certifications: After you have made sure that the freight broker you are thinking about doing business with is operating with a legal license, check to see the company’s certifications. These might include memberships or accreditations with TIA, EPA SmartWay, IANA, and others. In order to maintain a certification, a freight broker has to operate to certain standards. So, seeing those certifications tells you that a company is conducting its business in a transparent and trustworthy way.
- The right modes and industries: What types of freight do you haul, and what modes do you provide as a carrier? Pick a freight broker that is as focused as possible on what you have to offer, as that company will have the most jobs available for someone with your specializations. For example, if you haul hazardous materials, work with a freight broker that does a lot of hazmat work. If you mostly haul pharmaceuticals, look for a broker with a lot of pharma shippers.
- Job availability: How many shippers are in the broker’s network? How many jobs tend to be open at any given time? Obviously, you want to find a broker that is going to give you access to a large amount of work. The more jobs you have to choose from, the easier it will be to find work that suits you and keeps you on the road.
- Rates and pay: Find out how much the broker charges for its services, as this may affect the rates that are offered to you. Also check to see how quickly you can expect payments to go out.
- Financial stability: Did you know that brokers typically have to pay their carriers before their shippers get around to paying them? That mans that a broker has to have enough liquidity and stability to keep sending out timely payments while awaiting payments from shippers. Do some research into the company’s financials and run a credit check.
- Insurance: Hypothetically, if something happens to your freight as you are hauling it, you or your insurer should cover the cost. But sometimes owner-operator and carrier insurance companies fall through, and carriers themselves may drop the ball. To ensure that the damages are still covered, quality brokers have freight insurance of their own. Do not just check to see if a broker is insured—take a look at exactly what the insurance covers (which should include liabilities, errors, and omissions), and how extensive it is.
- TMS technology: A high-quality TMS system is a must if you are to have a good experience working with a freight broker. Read up on the technological solutions that the company is employing.
- Discount programs: Some freight brokers offer special discount programs that help the carriers that work with them to save money on fuel and other expenses on the road. Participating in a program like this may help you to increase your overall revenue.
- Support: One of the most important jobs that a freight broker offers is communication and support between all parties involved. So, the quality of their customer support is essential to investigate. How easy is it to get a hold of an agent when you need one? Is the after-hours support consistently available? How dedicated and knowledgeable is the support staff? What channels can you reach them through? Is it just phone, or can you also send them messages electronically and receive written replies? You might be surprised by just how useful written messages can be in keeping track of issues that crop up when you are hauling freight.
- Background: You should look up some information about the history of the freight broker you are thinking of using. Where are they based? What year were they founded? How has their business grown and transformed over the years?
- Reviews: Last but not least, look up reviews from carriers, owner-operators and shippers who have worked with the freight broker. What were their experiences like? What did they like about the freight broker? What did they not?
It will take some time and effort to conduct an in-depth comparison between different freight brokers, but that effort will pay off when you find a company that is a good fit for your business.
Once you do, you will be able to spend a lot less time and energy looking for work or dealing directly with shippers. Instead, you can just focus on driving and/or operating your fleet.
Make sure that before you begin working with any freight broker that you first get a broker contract written up. Read it carefully from top to bottom so you do not run into any unexpected hassles later down the road. Note that a motor carrier contract is not sufficient.
Top 10 US Freight Broker Companies
What are the best freight brokers for owner operators? Let’s go over our top 10 recommended truck load brokers.
1. Total Quality Logistics (TQL)
Location: Union Township, OH
Year founded: 1997
Services: Full truckload (FTL), less than truckload (LTL), intermodal, drayage, air and ocean freight brokering.
- TQL operates throughout the US with an extensive network.
- With up to 55,000 loads a week, you can find lots of freight to haul.
- The after-hours support team has won awards.
- TQL provides complimentary tech for carriers
Best For: This company offers adaptive services for different types of cargo, and is an excellent choice if you are looking for convenience and efficiency while hauling freight anywhere in the country.
2. Echo Global Logistics
Location: Chicago, IL
Year founded: 2005
Services: FTL, LTL, intermodal, international air and ocean, small parcel, specialized/partial.
- Echo uses intuitive, streamlined proprietary software that incorporates powerful AI.
- Extensive automation in the load matching process powered by efficient algorithms helps to keep business moving quickly and smoothly.
- This company offers a special rewards program called EchoDrive Preferred for its partners.
Best For: Echo is a particularly good choice for small and medium sized companies. You should also consider them if you are looking for a broker that puts an emphasis on cutting edge technology.
3. Coyote Logistics
Location: Chicago, IL
Year founded: 2006
Services: FTL, LTL, intermodal, air, ocean, cross-border
- With more than 14,000 shippers in its network, Coyote has plenty of work available.
- Coyote focuses on offering logistical solutions for specific industries such as healthcare, manufacturing, food & beverage, and others.
Best For: If you are starting small and looking to scale up your fleet over time, Coyote’s flexible solutions may be just what you need at every stage.
4. XPO Logistics
Location: Greenwich, CT
Year founded: 2011
Services: FTL, LTL, intermodal, drayage, managed transportation, global forwarding, expedite, and last mile.
- XPO offers a lot of specialized services.
- XPO offers training programs and jobs for drivers. So, if you are not yet an owner-operator and are looking to get your feet wet driving for another company first, you could start out driving for XPO and then later switch to using them as a broker.
- With the broker’s open APIs, you can integrate XPO’s platform with your own systems with ease.
Best For: If you haul certain specialized types of freight, XPO might be a good fit.
5. JB Hunt Integrated Capacity Solutions
Location: Lowell, AR
Year founded: 1961
Services: FTL, LTL, intermodal, dedicated, fulfillment, final mile, flatbed, temp controlled, international, expedited, managed logistics.
- This is another company that has its own outsourced fleet and offers jobs to drivers.
- Services are easily scalable for owner-operators running businesses of all sizes.
- This company specializes in moving certain types of cargo such as furnishings and other large items.
Best For: This company is an especially good choice if you haul a specialized type of freight that JB Hunt brokers. Also, not only do they work with owner-operators with large and small fleets, but they also offer their services to power-only and home delivery carriers.
6. Yusen Logistics
Location: Secaucus, NJ
Year founded: 1968
Services: LTL, dry van, flatbed, refrigerated, TOFC, rail, air, ocean, intermodal, multimodal, customs house
- Yusen Logistics offers a wide assortment of services and solutions for transportation, warehousing and distribution.
- This company offers specialized broker services for industries such as automotive, aerospace, food, retail, healthcare and technology.
Best For: Consider this subsidiary of Nippon Yusen if you want to work with an established freight broker with a strong network around the globe and a focus on specialized services.
7. Schneider Logistics
Location: Green Bay, WI
Year founded: 1935
Services: Dry van truckload, intermodal, bulk, LTL, flatbed, refrigerated, long-haul, dedicated, regional, expedited, drayage, international, warehousing
- Specialized solutions are available for a range of industries, including chemical, pharma, packaging, pulp and paper, and more.
- Schneider’s system is easy and intuitive, and even recommends loads for your business.
- Take advantage of savings on fuel, tires, roadside assistance and more with the Carrier Purchasing Program.
Best For: If you want to work with one of the oldest and most well-established freight brokers, Schneider is worth thinking about.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Year founded: 2003
Services: Dedicated fleet solutions, intermodal, international, LTL, managed transportation, final mile delivery, cross-border (US/Mexico) expedited, FTL, warehouse, and more
- GlobalTranz specializes in a wide spectrum of industries, including paper and packaging, oil and gas, food and beverage, energy and utilities, and more.
- Make use of powerful tech solutions from GlobalTranz like TMS technology, a carrier portal, and a convenient mobile app.
- This company says it offers access to “virtually unlimited capacity.”
Best For: You may enjoy working with GlobalTranz if you are in the market for multimodal jobs.
9. MODE Transportation
Location: Dallas, TX
Year founded: 1989
Services: Intermodal, FTL, LTL, air, ocean, parcel
- Enjoy some of the highest Paydex scores industry-wide.
- Save money through the Carrier Discount Program.
Best For: MODE Transportation supports carriers with advanced technology, and offers a competitive discount program. It is a good all-around choice for working with an established freight broker.
10. Landstar System
Location: Jacksonville, FL
Year founded: 1988
Services: Truckload van, stepdeck, heavy & specialized, LTL, expedited, border crossing (Canada/US/Mexico), air freight, rail, temperature controlled, hazmat
- The company will proactively work to connect you with jobs when you are available.
- This broker offers rapid payments.
Best For: Landstar is a good option for scaling up a business, particularly if you haul specialized freight types such as hazardous materials.
Take Your Business To The Next Level & Partner With a Quality Freight Broker Now
With a trusted freight broker on your side, you can grow your client base and enjoy a smooth, streamlined, efficient process working with shippers.
To start working with any of the freight broker companies we have recommended now, click any of the links in this article.