Freight Brokers - How They Work, Carriers, and More | Apex Capital Blog
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All About Freight Brokers

by Mario Tarradell | November 25, 2019

freight brokers and carriers

What Does a Freight Broker Do?


More than 70 percent of goods are being moved by road, so that means truckers are still our lifeline. They bring us what we need to live day to day. And yet, it’s not quite that simple. Most truck loads require negotiation from at least three parties, and they could change hands just as many times – or more.

Freight brokers and carriers, as well as shippers, are the major players in the travel itinerary of a load. This is how that load gets from point A to point B and sometimes even to point C. So, let’s trace the life of a load from origin to destination as seen through the perspective of the freight broker and the carrier.

What is a Freight Broker?

In a nutshell, a freight broker is a middleman that plugs a shipper to a carrier. Freight brokers arrange for the transportation and the tracking of a load hauled by their carrier. It is the freight broker’s job to make the loads available and then find reliable, responsible carriers to transport them.

What is a 3PL?

3PL stands for third-party logistics. This is a provider that stores or ships goods. A 3PL is not technically a freight broker, even though the 3PL does sit between the shipper and the carrier. But a 3PL is more interested in research and marketing for the shipper in order to establish a long-term working relationship. A 3PL could be a fulfillment center that does all the processing of, say, online orders. A 3PL could also be the trucking carrier (or company) that hauls those orders.

What Does a Freight Broker Do?

In making that connection between shippers and carriers, the freight broker negotiates deals with shippers and then facilitates that load to the carriers. But the freight broker doesn’t physically have the load, nor does the freight broker normally assist in the loading or unloading of the load. Once the load is on its way to its destination, the freight broker becomes the communications central soliciting progress reports from the carrier to keep the shipper informed.

What is the Relationship Between a Freight Broker and a Shipper?

The shipper has a load that needs to be hauled somewhere. The shipper then pays the freight broker to find a trustworthy carrier to transport that load to its destination. The shipper wants its load to arrive intact, so does the broker. Finding reliable carriers means more business for the broker, and vice versa.

What is the Relationship Between a Freight Broker and a Carrier?

The broker is the carrier’s customer, and you always want to make the customer happy. The carrier negotiates with the broker to haul the load, then makes sure to transport it without any damages or delays. That becomes the beginning of a great and profitable relationship.

How Do Freight Brokers and Carriers Find Each Other?

Again, this is the meeting point that hopefully leads to a great, profitable relationship. The most common way to connect a freight broker with a carrier is through a load board, such as Apex’s free NextLOAD.com. Brokers post their loads on a load board, then negotiate with responsive carriers. If negotiations are successful, and the carrier delivers the load on time and damage-free, then that broker knows that carrier can be trusted with future loads.

But there are other ways to connect freight brokers with carriers. Another common way is word of mouth and networking. Think of a conversation between two truckers at a truck stop – “Oh, I see you have a grain truck. I know a lane you might want to check out.” Or even an exchange during a trucker buddies’ dinner – “Hey, if you haul milk regularly, there’s this broker that works directly with the dairy industry.”

And of course, there are always good old-fashioned cold calls, usually from a carrier to a freight broker. Plus, let’s not forget recommendations from factoring companies such as Apex Capital. Factoring companies work with freight brokers and carriers daily, so they could mention one to the other.

How do Freight Brokers Get Paid?

Let’s say the broker is getting paid $1,000 by a shoe company to get a load of sneakers hauled. The broker then turns around and offers a reliable carrier $800 to deliver that load of sneakers. The broker just made $200 on that load. Freight broker yearly salaries can vary depending on a lot of factors but typically ranges anywhere from $40,000 to $75,000.

What are Top Brokerages Across the Country?

There are many reputable brokerages across the country, so it would be difficult to name them all. Here at Apex, we have a great working relationship with thousands of large and small brokers, including C.H. Robinson, TQL, and Landstar.


Now that you can track the life of a load, are you ready to get hauling? Become a NextLOAD.com user and enjoy FREE access to big money-making loads. Also, become an Apex factoring client and use our trusted credits checks feature to make sure that a broker you’re about to haul for will get you paid. Both are instrumental in solidifying the relationship between freight brokers and carriers.

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about Mario Tarradell

Mario Tarradell
Mario Tarradell is a Bilingual Communications Specialist at Apex Capital. He comes to Apex after a long career writing for daily newspapers. At Apex, Mario enjoys telling stories about truckers, especially about the many aspects of the trucking industry that have the greatest impact on them personally and professionally. Mario believes that truckers are our lifelines, so he always wants to pay respect to the hard-working folks behind the wheel.