5 Key Areas Freight Brokers Must Understand About Traffic Lanes
Traffic lanes or also called shipping lanes are the most important part of freight brokering any new freight broker must understand and begin with. This is also the area of focus that makes you an income and also the most overlooked part of all freight broker business models. Most new freight brokers and freight agents when starting out in the freight broker industry do not understand traffic lanes and instantly begin to struggle securing daily loads. Make sure when getting started that you look at traffic lanes with great understanding and you focus your plans around this area. Knowing traffic lanes means to you that you know where your freight is and how to begin making money as a freight broker!
A freight broker needs to remember this important rule when building their new broker business, “You’re not trying to move a load, you’re trying to build a consecutive income for the trucking company and your freight broker business.” What we mean by this is when you are getting started don’t always think that your wanting to move a load, and just any load. Look at the industry your trying to do business within and every load available to you and the consistency involved with it when you first set out. As a new freight broker, you want to strategically plan from the beginning and the most profitable traffic lanes within your focused freight industry are your primary target! Below we will explain to you what a traffic lane is.
What Is A Traffic Lane?
Traffic lanes are the directions that freight moves thru on dedicated highways, interstates, and ports. Basically this is the direction freight gets moved thru a shipping channel by trucking companies. Freight from Nashville, TN to Birmingham, Alabama is considered a traffic lane. Freight that moves into Tennessee and the freight that moves back to Alabama is considered a traffic lane for freight. This article will describe below some key features about traffic lanes so you can understand why you must be knowledgeable in the areas and locations of freight that is being moved from location to location. You also need to understand that each traffic lane has a different freight rate and why this is important for you to understand.
1. Traffic Lanes Determine The Cost Of The Freight To Be Moved.
When product is shipped from one location to another the shipping company and the carrier must determine the traffic lane area of where the drop location is and what loads are available to come back. No carrier wants to dead head back without a load so if the drop off location falls into a location that is determined to be difficult to secure getting freight back then this will greatly affect the cost of the freight going in. Usually the freight will be higher priced since available freight coming back is not easily acquired. A good example would be freight moving into Florida will pay more and freight coming out of Florida pays much less since there are more carrier’s available in Florida than there is freight available. One determining factor of this being that Florida is land locked and covered mostly by the ocean. The State also does not produce as much manufacturing and going into Florida and coming out of Florida is considered one way in and one way out. This affects the freight rates of how much a load is paying coming out since there are more carriers available and less shipping. This determination can be used as a reference for why traffic lanes pay different and each State is different. Basically this is a good example of supply and demand determining the rate for which a traffic lane pays for freight movement. As a new freight broker you must learn the States and also learn the Lanes so that you’re not trying to move an average paying load into a State that pays even less coming out. The result would be the owner operator actually could lose money on the entire load.
Also other variables such as terrain, weather conditions, cost of fuel, location of the drop off point from the interstate, and size of town or city and distance to the next pick up location will affect the shipping cost greatly as well. The rule of thumb is if the roads are flat, and there is freight coming out, these are the traffic lane areas most carriers like to move freight within. These traffic lanes usually pay less when moving freight out of since there is a large availability of owner operators. Always keep in mind that each state has different taxes and fuel cost so when the carrier factors the fuel cost in depending the location it can affect the shipping cost. Bottom line is traffic lanes are everything!
2. Plan Your Traffic Lane With Industry Focus.
Planning your traffic lane is where you begin the first steps of building and growing your freight broker business from. A well-defined and planned out traffic lane can create you monthly income with consistent freight. I recently worked on a traffic lane for a shipping customer and it landed me two loads daily, five days a week. Needless to say this is what we always want and this is what will put you into the six figure income bracket working from home as a freight broker agent. Knowing what traffic lane you want to work in and then strategically planning and sourcing the lane to potential carriers for your shipping customers is only the beginning of the excitement of building your freight broker business.
3. Where To Start Looking For Freight?
The traffic lane that you can start to look into for building your freight broker business can be where you are currently located right now. You do not have to look on the other side of the United States to just find freight. Your idea would come from where the carrier is located and for most of us we all know local trucking companies. Where you live is a key place to begin for many reasons and you can see by doing some research locally that where you are currently living already has full truck load shipments passing within the area and going out. By working with your trucking company and understanding the lane they wish to haul within will determine the lane you are looking to fulfill.
A good example would be Smiths Trucking company is local in your home town area. By contacting Smiths Trucking Company and asking them if they would be interested in picking up freight within a 50-mile radius of their location and building some freight consistency with you is a great way to become introduced and learn more about what they are looking for and what lanes they work within. With this information you will begin to get a better idea of how you can also work with potential shippers since you already know the region and lane for which Smiths trucking Company is interested within. The amount of time you spend on planning your traffic lanes will determine the success of your business. Always listen to what the Trucking Company needs. Every freight broker agent must always remember that the carrier is the most important tool they have. Without a carrier you can’t move freight and I doubt you could put much freight in the back of a pickup either. Your carriers are very important to your business model and if you work with them consistently you will know exactly what freight they are looking to move and where they want to move the loads to. This is where your job comes into play and this is why you’re so important to the industry. Your job is to move the load with your team of carriers in the traffic lanes that you built your freight broker business foundation from.
4. Be Precise with Traffic Lane Information
Understanding how much a lane is paying and the locations of the pickup and drop off points can be learned by any new freight broker who is focused and puts the effort in. Another critical piece of understanding traffic lanes is knowing traffic lane information for the loads. The basic information would be the location, delivery time, pick up time of next load and the distance between a drop off and picking up of the next load. The distance between this involves a carrier driving to the next pick up location empty and the word for this is called “Deadheading”. Deadheading is something no carrier wants to do but in most cases its unavoidable. Deadheading also will take time out from their HOS (Hours of Service) which means a carrier is only allowed 11 hour driving time. If the carrier is held up on the last drop off and has to drive 200 miles to another pick up, the carrier will have to stop in the middle of the load for their off duty time. The result of this happening is the load will be late and the trucking company is penalized in most cases with late fee. Late fees can range from $150.00 up to $500.00.
A true freight broker must understand the laws and rules of a driver’s HOS (Hours of Service) time they have daily as well as understanding the distance between the next load. Being precise with your traffic lane information will allow you to know the distances of each load, how long it takes to be delivered, and the amount of time the carrier has left to drive within the day. A true freight broker will help build the business of a trucking company by utilizing their experience and skills within understanding traffic lanes as a professional.
5. Utilize A Mapping Software for Truck Freight Movement.
As a new freight broker you want to work with tools that will help you understand the distance and mapping of your traffic lane. By doing this you will want a mapping software and today there are many of them online and available that provide mapping and route solutions to navigate interstates and highways in North America. A professional freight broker will only utilize a software that has been built and designed with the trucking company route in mind. Many of the highways and State roads are not permissible for heavy trucks and can carry stiff fines and also might need permits to pass thru. Also in some key areas within the States some of the roads and highways will bring the truck drivers into areas that are more congested and cause substantial delay in delivery times. A trucking company mapping software will help you bypass these areas with the most optimized time for the truck to pass thru. A professional truck mapping software will also let you know what areas a truck can and cannot pass thru as well as low bridges and bridges with weight restrictions. In many cases a lot of freight brokers will use Google maps for their truck mapping software and although Google has a great mapping software, it is not optimized for trucking companies. A great truck mapping software that sets the industry standard is PC Miler. The most important factor about PC Miler is not only does it give you the information about which directions are the best to move freight within, but they also give you the estimated time it will take to deliver and a true accurate mile calculation. Knowing the miles calculation and distance of the load to e moved determines if you lose money or make a profit. If you are using a mapping solution that gives inaccurate miles, your bottom dollar can be affected if your freight load in actual real time took more miles to get delivered than what you were paid for.
Understanding traffic lanes can be to some a bit confusing and overwhelming in the beginning for starting your freight broker business. Learning and becoming a professional in freight traffic lanes will take a person to be dedicated and to apply a lot of research and study. Starting your freight broker business knowledgeable is the key to success and a must for new freight brokers. Time and efforts to study and learn its critical to navigate thru the various different traffic lanes and a new freight broker must move forward with due diligence. The goal of any new freight broker is to be able to provide a complete service and knowledgeable skills for our North American trucking companies today. If your looking to learn the trades of how to become a professional freight broker you can visit LFS Freight Broker page for more information.