Can A Freight Broker Also Be A Carrier?

Freight brokers and carriers are essential in the ever-changing and intricate logistics industry since they facilitate the safe and efficient movement of goods across extensive networks. On the other hand, many in the field wonder if freight brokers can double as carriers.

The physical, legal, and operational components of juggling these separate but related responsibilities are the focus of this investigation. 

Businesses that want to grow their service offerings, improve their logistical capacities, and successfully traverse regulatory environments must have a firm grasp of how brokerage and carrier operations interact with one another.

To shed light on how to strategically manage a freight broker’s dual duty as a carrier and an operator, this article investigates the pros and cons of this arrangement.

Can A Freight Broker Also Be A Carrier?

In the logistics industry, freight brokers and carriers serve distinct yet complementary roles. Freight brokers act as intermediaries, connecting shippers with carriers to transport goods, while carriers are responsible for the actual movement of freight. However, the question arises: can a freight broker also operate as a carrier? The answer is yes but with important considerations.

Understanding The Dual Role

A company can legally operate as both a freight broker and a carrier, often referred to as a broker-carrier. This dual role can provide significant advantages, such as increased control over the shipping process, enhanced service offerings, and potentially higher profit margins.

However, managing both functions requires careful attention to regulatory compliance, operational efficiency, and potential conflicts of interest.

Regulatory Compliance

Operating as a broker-carrier involves adhering to regulations specific to both roles. In the United States, this means obtaining separate operating authority from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for brokerage and carrier activities.

Additionally, companies must comply with insurance requirements, maintain distinct records for each operation, and ensure transparency to avoid any conflicts of interest.

Operational Challenges

Balancing the responsibilities of a broker and a carrier can be complex. As a carrier, the company must manage its fleet, ensure timely deliveries, and maintain high standards of service. As a broker, it must cultivate relationships with various shippers and carriers, negotiate rates, and coordinate logistics.

This dual operation requires robust systems and processes to manage both sides effectively without compromising service quality.

Potential Benefits

Despite the challenges, there are notable benefits to being a broker-carrier. Companies can offer more comprehensive solutions to their customers, providing end-to-end logistics services. This can lead to improved customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Additionally, broker-carriers can optimize their operations by filling their trucks more efficiently, reducing deadhead miles, and increasing overall profitability.

While a freight broker can also be a carrier, it requires a strategic approach to manage the dual roles effectively. Ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements, maintaining operational efficiency, and transparently managing potential conflicts of interest are crucial.

For companies that can navigate these complexities, the combined role offers opportunities for enhanced service offerings and increased profitability in the competitive logistics industry.

How Do Freight Brokers Get Carriers?

Freight brokers play a crucial role in the logistics industry by connecting shippers who need to transport goods with carriers that can move those goods. To establish a reliable network of carriers, freight brokers employ several strategies. Here are the key methods they use to find and secure carriers:

Load Boards

Load boards are online platforms where freight brokers can post available loads and carriers can search for freight that fits their route and capacity. Popular load boards include DAT,, and 123Loadboard.

Brokers can post details about the shipment, such as the type of freight, pick-up and delivery locations, and the rate offered. Carriers then contact the broker if they are interested in hauling the load.

Carrier Relationships And Networking

Building and maintaining relationships with carriers is essential for freight brokers. They often start by networking within the industry, attending trade shows, and joining logistics associations to meet potential carrier partners. Over time, brokers develop a network of trusted carriers they can rely on for different types of freight and routes.

Freight Broker Software

Many brokers use Transportation Management Systems (TMS) or other freight broker software that helps streamline operations, including finding carriers. These systems often integrate with load boards and databases of carriers, making it easier for brokers to match loads with available trucks efficiently.

Direct Outreach

Freight brokers often reach out directly to carriers, especially those they’ve worked with before or those that come recommended. This can be done through phone calls, emails, or even direct visits. Establishing a direct line of communication helps brokers quickly find capacity and build strong working relationships.

Digital Freight Matching Platforms

Newer digital freight matching platforms, such as Uber Freight and Convoy, use technology to match brokers’ loads with carriers more efficiently. These platforms often provide real-time visibility, digital documentation, and streamlined payment processes, making it easier for brokers and carriers to work together.

Carrier Qualification And Vetting

Once potential carriers are identified, brokers must vet them to ensure they meet the necessary qualifications. This includes verifying insurance, operating authority, safety ratings, and compliance with regulatory requirements. Reliable brokers maintain a database of pre-qualified carriers to expedite the matching process.

Referrals And Recommendations

Word-of-mouth referrals from other brokers, shippers, and carriers can also be a valuable source for finding carriers. Satisfied customers and partners are often willing to recommend trustworthy carriers, helping brokers expand their network.

Social Media And Online Marketing

Brokers can also leverage social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to connect with carriers. Posting about available loads, sharing industry news, and engaging with carrier communities online can attract carriers looking for loads.

Negotiation And Contracting

Once a carrier shows interest, brokers negotiate rates and terms to ensure mutual agreement. They may use contracts or agreements that outline the responsibilities, payment terms, and other details to ensure clarity and protect both parties’ interests.

Freight brokers use a combination of technology, networking, direct outreach, and relationship-building to find and secure carriers. By leveraging these methods, they can efficiently match shippers’ needs with carriers’ capacities, ensuring the smooth transport of goods across the supply chain.


Using technology, industry connections, and direct outreach, freight brokers adopt a multi-pronged strategy to secure carriers. They locate viable carriers quickly by making use of freight broker software, digital freight matching systems, and load boards. They get even better at matching loads with carriers when they network, communicate directly, and build and maintain solid connections.

Building a strong career network also involves evaluating candidates thoroughly, using referrals, and interacting through social media. The efficient and smooth movement of goods across the supply chain is made possible by these tactics, which guarantee that brokers can match shippers with dependable carriers.

To improve the broker’s capacity to locate carriers rapidly, this all-encompassing method guarantees that consumers will receive dependable and high-quality services. To provide their clients with more options in terms of routes, capacity, and freight kinds, brokers make sure to maintain a diverse network of carriers.

In a fluid market where shipping demands might change at a moment’s notice, this flexibility is vital. Transparent shipping, less paperwork, and streamlined processes are all results of using cutting-edge technology like TMS and digital freight matching platforms.

With the help of new technology and ongoing strategy development, brokers are becoming more adept at navigating the logistics industry’s intricacies, which benefits carriers and shippers alike.

Visit freight management, for more information.

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