Like any industry, the use of technology in freight has rapidly advanced and new freight broker software promotes efficiencies and allows brokers the ability to connect its customers to move more freight and increase potential earnings.
When you are searching for the right freight broker software for your business there are a few key features you need when it comes to managing the trucks you work with. The essentials on the carrier side should include:
Carrier Lists: to keep a record of all of the carriers you have a contracted relationship with. Keeping a list of carriers to go to for certain lanes or projects makes your job of covering freight much easier.
Carrier Information: it’s beneficial to have all the carriers you work with documented. This means having the motor carrier number (MC#) or Department of Transportation number (DOT#) linked to updated insurance, a record of loads ran as well as any additional terms and conditions.
Client Addresses: the most important part of freight broker software in regards to your clients is to track the pickup and delivery locations (sheds). Having all the sheds tracked in your system will allow you to easily create loads for the lanes you are working on. Knowing if those facilities are appointment based on first come first serve (FCFS) is also beneficial.
Load History: having a record of the loads you ran will help tremendously not only when it comes time to send invoices but also when you are comparing rates or running a lane frequently. With a record of the common lanes, you have run for a customer you have a blueprint for future loads and can easily compare rates.
Load Building: this is the most important aspect of your freight broker software choices. Everything else makes things much more efficient but without this function, you might as well have not even bothered with freight broker software. To build a load you need to have sheds for pickup and delivery, carrier on the load, and location tracking.
Location Tracking: this is the part of the freight broker software that helps you keep your customer happy. Knowing when a load has been booked, dispatched, picked up, and delivered are four things you will want to relay to your client. In addition having a function allowing you to track the location of the load either with automatic GPS or manually logged updates will help you stay ahead of potential issues and set you apart from a Fed Ex or UPS where you have no idea where things are while on the road.
Carrier on Load: having a list of qualified carriers is great and all, but what good is it if you cannot add them to loads. This makes tracking loads much more efficient and avoids confusion when you have several loads over the road.
Pay and Bill Rate: tracking the amount you will be billing your client and paying the carrier makes for easy calculation of margins and load budgets. This will make accounting much easier to manage.
Rate Confirmations: knowing what you are charging your client and paying your carrier is great, but being able to generate the confirmation binding them both is even better. If your freight broker software can generate these documents for you, it will save you loads of time. You can get the truck on the road right away instead of having to write out an email with pickup and delivery cities, load specifics, FCFS or Appointment times, and rate.
Accounts Payable/Receivable: while having a feature like this included in your freight broker software is helpful, it is not essential. When it comes down to it billing your customer and paying carriers comes down to keeping an accurate spreadsheet which will already be installed on your computer.
Bill of Lading Generation: this is another feature you may or may not need in your freight broker software. Most of the time the shipper will have the bill of ladings created for the driver but in the off chance, they ask you to make one a word processor is all you need. Blank BOLs can be downloaded off of a simple google search or made using tables in a word processor: it needs a pickup number (if applicable),pickup address, delivery address, and special instructions. If a freight broker software suite is going to charge you extra to do that, pass on it.
Carrier Search/Load Post: you may see different freight broker software programs with a feature to help you find a carrier for your loads. However, all they are doing is pulling data from load boards. Why pay extra when you can use load boards like Truckloads to post your load and find carriers yourself?
Selecting your freight broker software comes down to what you feel you really need for your freight business. When it comes down to it you might not need much to get started, but choosing the right freight broker software can help can you maximize efficiency and increase potential profits.