Freight agents are independent contractors who work as representatives of freight brokers. Freight agents match companies that need to transport goods with motorized carriers that can provide the required transportation services. Freight agents play the role of intermediaries between shippers and carriers. This is important, because they help shippers find reliable carriers and they help carriers fill up their trucks. For their effort, they earn a commission. Some freight brokers hire agents to coordinate and handle their shipping needs.
Incorporate your business. This will help you lend credibility to your business, and your clients will take you more seriously. You need to look as professional as possible. You should also use business cards and stationery with company logos and letterhead.
Get licensed. All freight agents must be registered by the Office of Motor Carriers (OMC) which is in the Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration. You will be required to pay a surety bond to be certified. On average, the figure is $10,000. The amount you are required to pay varies from state to state.
Set up an office. Find a suitable location where you can easily be reached by brokers, shippers and carriers. Your office should also have equipment such as a telephone, computer, fax machine and printer, which will help you carry out correspondence with your clients. You can also purchase freight agent management software to help you keep proper records for your business. An example of a company that provides such as system is the Load Pilot which provides agents with access to Internet job boards where they can advertise for jobs and keep track of shipments and carriers. If you do not have the finances to rent space, you can set up an office in your home.
Find carriers. Identify carriers that you will be able to use when you have clients. You can find carriers through networking or look them up in a business directory. Ask them about their pricing. Establish a good working relationship with shippers.
Find clients. Use various advertising methods both online and offline to get clients. You can put ads in business magazines and newspapers, get listed in a business directory, and make and distribute fliers and business cards. You can also get listed in major search engines and use banner advertisements online.