Mercer Transportation


Understanding the Role of a Freight Broker in the Transportation Industry

If you are a business owner or manager looking to ship products, understanding the role of a freight broker can save you time, money, and headaches. Their expertise and network connections make them valuable partners for both shippers and carriers.

What is a Freight Broker? 

A freight broker acts as an intermediary between shippers (companies that need to transport goods) and carriers (companies that provide transportation services). Unlike carriers, freight brokers do not own any trucks or transportation assets. Instead, they leverage their expertise, industry knowledge, and network of contacts to facilitate freight transportation transactions.

freight broker concept

Key Roles of a Freight Broker 

The transportation industry relies heavily on freight and truck brokers to ensure smooth and efficient operations. Here are some of the job duties that make them indispensable:

Connecting Shippers and Carriers

Freight brokers maintain extensive networks of carriers, including trucking companies, railroads, air freight providers, and ocean carriers. This broad network allows brokers to quickly identify the most suitable carrier for each shipment based on factors such as route, cargo type, and delivery timeline. Success in freight brokering relies on building strong relationships with shippers and carriers, which involves effective communication, trust, and consistent results.

Handling Paperwork

Brokers handle a significant amount of paperwork, including contracts, shipping documents, surety bonds, and insurance forms. They ensure all legal requirements are met and shipments comply with federal regulations, including those set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

Managing Logistics

Brokers handle the logistics of each shipment, including scheduling pickups and deliveries, tracking shipments, and ensuring they make it to their final destination on time. To optimize routes and minimize deadhead miles (when a truck is empty), brokers use advanced broker software and transportation management systems (TMS). These tools help them plan the best routes and manage logistics effectively.


The day-to-day operations of a freight broker can be filled with unexpected challenges. From weather delays to truck breakdowns, brokers must be adept at handling day-to-day problems and finding quick solutions.

How Freight Brokers Can Improve the Shipping Process 

Freight brokers improve companies’ shipping processes, providing numerous benefits to businesses. Here are a few:

benefits of freight brokers infographic

Cost Savings

One of the primary advantages of partnering with freight brokers is their ability to negotiate lower rates on behalf of shippers. Brokers leverage market research insights and negotiating skills to secure cost-effective transportation solutions. This helps shippers reduce their shipping costs and improve cash flow. They also optimize loads, ensuring shipments are consolidated whenever possible to maximize available space and reduce transportation costs.


Effective communication is essential for efficient shipping operations. Freight brokers act as intermediaries between shippers and truck drivers, ensuring that all parties are on the same page. They provide regular updates on shipment status and handle any issues that arise during transit, reducing time spent on back-and-forth communications and enabling faster problem resolution.

Risk Mitigation

Freight brokers help mitigate risks associated with shipping by thoroughly vetting carriers for reliability, insurance coverage, and compliance with freight industry standards. They ensure that all necessary paperwork, permits, licenses, and documentation are in order, reducing the risk of non-compliance and potential penalties.

Differences Between Key Players in the Industry 

While these terms may seem similar, their roles in the logistics and shipping industry vary significantly. Understanding these differences is essential for making informed decisions about your shipping needs:

Freight Broker vs:

  • Freight Forwarder: Both facilitate connections between shippers and carriers, but a freight forwarder takes physical possession of the freight. They are responsible for storage, shipment, and delivery, assuming legal responsibility for the load and its condition.
  • Freight Agent: Unlike freight brokers, freight agents do not have their operating authority and cannot legally arrange transportation on their own. They operate as independent contractors and earn commissions based on the freight they help move.
  • Dispatchers: Dispatchers work exclusively with carriers to handle the receipt and transmission of cargo location information during transportation. They are not required to be licensed or insured, unlike freight brokers. Dispatchers represent the carrier and take a percentage of their payment, whereas freight brokers operate independently.
  • Logistics Broker: A logistics broker facilitates the entire logistics process, similar to a freight broker, but often with a broader scope. They manage transportation, warehousing, and sometimes supply chain solutions.
  • Asset Carrier: An asset carrier owns and operates the trucks and equipment used to transport freight. They directly manage the transportation of goods, maintaining control over the entire shipping process.

How to Choose a Successful Freight Broker 

When selecting a freight broker company, consider the following factors:

  • Experience and Expertise: Look for brokers with a proven track record and extensive experience in the transportation industry. They should have a deep understanding of market trends and regulations.
  • Network and Relationships: A good freight broker should have strong relationships with a wide range of carriers, ensuring access to capacity and competitive rates.
  • Technology and Tools: Modern freight brokers utilize advanced technology and tools for tracking shipments, managing documentation, and optimizing logistics. Ensure your broker is equipped with the latest technology to provide efficient and reliable service.
  • Customer Service: Excellent communication and customer service are crucial. Your freight broker should be responsive, transparent, and proactive in addressing any issues or concerns that may arise during the transportation process.
  • Compliance and Safety: Verify that the broker adheres to industry regulations and standards, and that they thoroughly vet carriers for compliance and safety.

Mercer: Your Trusted Freight Broker

With decades of experience in the trucking industry, Mercer understands the unique needs of carriers and shippers. Mercer’s Carrier Coordinators and Freight Brokerage Department work to find new carriers, cover available loads, and maintain strong customer relationships.

All brokers at Mercer undergo strict qualifying processes, including freight broker courses and receiving their broker license. They guarantee to connect you with the best shipper for your needs and provide a detailed quote for your freight shipping costs.

Reach out today to see how we can support your transportation needs.

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