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How to find shippers as a freight broker

Manufacturers and various other businesses that sell physical products must find a practical way to distribute these goods to their consumers. However, many of these organizations do not have the time or the means to find their own carriers, which is why they leverage the services of a freight broker.

Below, we’re going to examine how to find shippers as a freight broker. This information will be useful for aspiring brokers, current brokers, and companies that are in need of a partner that can help them ship either indirect or direct freight.

What Is a Freight Broker?

First things first, what exactly is a freight broker? Put simply, a freight broker is a professional who connects shippers with carriers. Freight shippers are entities that need to have their products delivered to a distribution facility so that the products can be routed to the right end consumers. 

The carrier is the entity that provides transportation services, and there are many different types of carriers. Some carriers specialize in a specific type of product transportation or style of service. 

However, many carriers offer several different transportation solutions, including direct freight and indirect freight shipping. Ultimately, carriers should always be chosen based on the unique needs of freight shippers.

Why Is It Important to Find Shippers?

Freight shippers are a broker’s client and source of income. Brokers charge shippers for the delivery services that they are arranging. This figure will include a “finder’s fee” of sorts for the broker. However, the majority of the fee is paid directly to the carrier.

Therefore, you must work to develop a recurring list of shipper customers. To accomplish this, you must know your competitors and understand your customers. 

Know Your Competitors

What are the top freight brokers in your region doing? How much do they charge for their services? Do they have a sliding scale rate or a fixed percentage?

You can better understand what you are up against by answering these questions. Conducting this type of research can also help you identify some of your competitors’ weaknesses and find ways to serve portions of the market that they have neglected.

Understand Your Customers

Knowing your competitors is important but gaining insights into your target audience is even more so. You need to know what type of services they are looking for to differentiate yourself from other brokers. 

Your team should also determine what types of shippers you are seeking to connect with. The needs of freight shippers will vary based on what industry they operate within and several other factors.

7 Steps for How To Find Shippers as a Freight Broker

If you are a freight broker who is interested in finding shippers, we suggest that you follow these seven steps when you’re trying to find shippers as a freight broker! 

Step 1: Make Cold Calls

Making cold calls may not seem like the most productive use of your time, but it can lead to fruitful partnerships. Before you start dialing, prepare your value proposition first. A value proposition is a sales pitch that briefly outlines why your services would be valuable to that prospective client.

If you hope to make an impact with this tactic, remember that the first five to ten seconds of the call are going to be the most critical. You should introduce yourself but then get straight to the point. Focus on companies in your region, as local businesses will be more open to working with you if they know you are familiar with the area.

Step 2: Look for Referrals

Once you have developed a solid relationship with a shipper, asking for referrals is a perfectly acceptable practice. You can ask them if they know of any other businesses that are in need of brokerage services. 

Business owners are much more receptive to referrals from fellow trusted business associates than they are to advertisements or other marketing content. As such, referrals can be very powerful. 

Step 3: Create a Loyalty Program

A loyalty program serves two purposes. First of all, it incentivizes current shipping clients to keep doing business with you. Secondly, a loyalty program can generate buzz within the freight industry and help you build your brand image.

Loyalty programs can take on many forms. However, the basic premise is the same. These programs involve offering clients a discount brokerage rate after they reach a certain number of transactions.

Step 4: Look Through Shipper Lists

Several organizations have created comprehensive shipper lists. These compilations include thousands of businesses needing to move some type of freight. Skim through listings in your region and zero in on companies that might benefit from your services.

These lists also include information on organizational leaders. You can use this information to familiarize yourself with your target audience and tailor your message to maximize its impact.

Step 5: Leverage a Load Board

Load boards are online platforms that list carriers and shippers. You can browse through these to find freight shippers and carriers. From there, you can reach out to shippers who might be looking for professional freight broker services.

Load boards are designed to eliminate the middleman. The middleman in this instance is you, the freight broker. While most of these platforms are quite easy to use, owners of small- to mid-sized manufacturing organizations often lack the time or the industry-specific knowledge that is needed to use them effectively.

That’s where you can step in and save the day. Your team can help them find essential carrier services faster and more efficiently than they could ever do on their own. You could even ensure they get the best available rates, benefiting their bottom line while earning you a loyal customer.

Step 6: Look Through Your Orphan Accounts

The term orphan account refers to a past client that suddenly stopped doing business with you. Reaching out to these former clients can be a great way to expand your list of customers. However, make sure that a few months have passed at the very least, especially if they were dissatisfied when they cut ties with you.

When reaching out, let them know that you remedied the issues that caused the division during your prior dealings. Then, explain that you would like to work with them again. You might even want to offer them a discounted rate for the first few months as a sign of good faith.

Step 7: Direct Mail

Sending an email or even physical mail directly to freight shippers is an excellent way to expand your client list. With the latter approach, you can send customized postcards with handwritten content. If you’re opting for emails instead, we suggest that you launch a drip campaign.

A drip campaign is a series of emails that gradually educate the target audience on your services while simultaneously becoming more sales-like with each message. The final message should include a clear call to action that encourages the recipient to use your services.

Which Methods of Finding Freight Shippers Should I Leverage?

Now that you know how to find shippers as a freight broker, it is time to decide which methods you want to leverage. The specific tactics you should use as a freight broker will depend on several factors, including the type of services you need, how much you need to ship, and where your items will be shipped from or to.

If you need to find carriers that can deliver a unique type of direct freight, searching your existing list of providers might be most practical. On the other hand, if you need a large volume of generalized shipping services, opting for a load board might be easier.


What Do Freight Brokers Do?

Freight brokers connect shippers with carriers. They help shippers find the right type of carrier to haul their freight to the desired destination. 

How Can Freight Brokers Find More Shippers?

Freight brokers should use several tactics to connect with more shippers. Common methods include making cold calls, contacting past clients, looking through load boards, and asking for referrals. 

Are Brokers Better Than Load Boards?

Brokers can offer personalized support to shippers that the shippers cannot obtain when using load boards. This personalization is a huge selling point that brokers can point out when meeting with prospective shippers. 

We are excited to announce the launch of, a revolutionary resource designed to transform how consumers choose auto-shipping companies. Check it out today!

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