Brokering Freight: A Step-by-Step on How It Works

Moving freight is simple, right? A product or good is loaded onto some form of transportation and then is moved to its destination. And while it may seem simple, it is anything but. The relationship between shipper and carrier is essential to successful and timely delivery. That’s where freight brokers come in.

Freight brokerage is a complex and multi-step process that involves careful coordination and attention to detail. Freight brokers through a third-party logistics company like Ranger3PL are responsible for making sure that your company’s goods are taken care of properly during the pickup and delivery process.

Before getting to the step-by-step, it’s important to understand the difference between a shipper and a carrier.

Shippers are businesses that need their goods transported. Shippers are the ones contacting 3PL services and giving necessary pickup, handling, and delivery instructions.

Carriers are transportation/trucking companies that will actually deliver a company’s goods to the desired destination. Carriers are the ones actually handling your product at pickup, in transit, and upon delivery.

Third-party logistics companies like Ranger3PL have freight brokers who act as intermediaries and ensure that the relationship between shippers and carriers remains productive and profitable for both along the supply chain.

Here’s a step-by-step look at the freight brokerage business.

Tendering the Order

Broker operations begin like most other business operations – with an order. The shipper places an order with a 3PL (freight broker) via phone, email or online form to have their goods picked up at a specific date. During this tendering step, the freight agent with the 3PL will gather essential information about the shipment. Information collected might include contact information, location, special handling or packing instructions, and equipment needed.

Scheduling the Freight

All of the information collected in the rendering step is then compiled by the 3PL’s freight broker and placed into the freight management system the 3PL has in place. The broker works as a transportation intermediary in scheduling exact pickup and delivery times. Each broker at Ranger3PL works to secure qualified and skilled carriers – truck drivers and trucking companies.

During this step, the freight broker also ensures that carriers have the proper insurance for cargo, the ability to take on any special handling or packing requirements, a clean piece of equipment with no potential contaminants, the licenses necessary to engage in interstate commerce, and an ability to meet the timeline set out by the shipper.


As the order date established in the tendering step gets closer, the freight broker with the 3PL will connect with the driver, give pick up information and remind the driver of any special handling requirements throughout the delivery process. In this step, the freight agent will double check driver credentials and contact information. Getting the contact information from the truck driver is essential because the freight broker needs to be able to reach the driver in case anything changes on the shipper’s side.

Loading the Goods

A key step in transportation management is actually loading the goods into the transportation vehicle. This process includes putting the goods on the truck or similar vehicle, shutting or sealing the truck or another vehicle, and having the carrier sign over liability for the goods and accepting liability if something occurs in transit. Freight brokers stay in contact with the carrier throughout this entire process.

This step is also where a large portion of quality assurance occurs. Freight brokers make sure that carriers have everything loaded properly, the correct delivery address, and the correct inventory count of goods on the truck.

Transporting the Goods

While it may seem that this step is hands off for freight brokers and 3PLs, it isn’t. Brokers stay in contact with carriers throughout transit to ensure that delivery time can be met. The broker will be the main point of communication for the carrier if something comes up in transit, such as bad weather, traffic or other unforeseen circumstances. Essentially, the broker serves a customer service role here, making sure that the shipper’s needs are met and that the carrier has everything they need to meet deadlines.

Freight brokers may also use GPS tracking, instead of doing regular calls so that fewer distractions occur on the road. In this case, calls may only be made if the broker notices that the carrier is running behind or if new or different delivery instructions come up.

Delivery and Unloading

When the carrier arrives at the delivery location, they should document their exact time of arrival. Freight brokers may call and remind their carriers to do this on occasion. This time of arrival is used in case of a miscommunication between the shipper and the location receiving the goods. The consignee (receiver of the goods) will sign over liability and note any overages, shortages or damages.

At this point in time, it is the carrier’s responsibility to turn in any invoices and proof of delivery to the 3PL and freight broker so that invoices can be sent to the shipper and proper payment can be given to the carrier.


In order for the 3PL, the shipper, and the carrier to be profitable, this step must be done correctly and with the proper paperwork. In this step, the 3PL receives the proper paperwork from the steps above in order to create an invoice to send to the shipper. These might include driver hours confirmation, rate confirmation and proof of delivery.

Why Should You Use a Third Party?

Third-party logistics companies like Ranger3PL make sure that your products are shipped, transported and delivered in the best way possible. 3PLs take a headache out of your supply chain and provide expertise that in-house operations often cannot match.

At Ranger3PL, we provide superior customer service in freight brokerage. Ranger3PL has earned a reputation for quality service with customers in a variety of industries including retail, transportation, government and nonprofit, food and beverage, industrial goods, consumer goods, paper and packaging, healthcare, energy and infrastructure, and technology.

A 3PL like Ranger3PL works with each individual business and tailors freight solutions to meet the unique needs of every shipment.

Call today and ask how your business can benefit from freight brokerage services through Ranger3PL!