September 1, 2023

How Do Freight Brokers Find Carriers?


As a freight broker, you’re always looking to find new freight carriers. But more than that, you want to find carriers that are a great match for your shipping clients. You always want to ensure that the carrier picks up and delivers the load in a timely and responsible way, ensuring the safety and security of any loads they carry – no matter what type of freight they are moving.

It’s important to remember that as the middleman between carriers and shippers, you should be looking to offer value to both parties. Don’t get too caught up in the basic financial aspect of any transaction. Both carriers and shippers have other considerations and the more creative, flexible, and easy you make things, the more success you will have in finding the right shipper-carrier match.

The question for freight brokers is then, how do you go about finding the right carriers for your shipper’s loads?

8 ways freight brokers can use to find carriers

Knowing the best ways to find new carriers and developing carrier sourcing strategies is key to the success of a freight broker. If you can improve the percentage of loads you can cover, then this will be clearly reflected in the amount of money you’ll be taking home at the end of every month. With that in mind, below you can find a list of eight top tips for finding trusted freight carriers, helping you to create an effective working method for covering loads.

This list is ordered in terms of effectiveness, with the most likely methods of finding carriers at the top, working through to the less likely steps at the bottom. As such, you could see the list as a workflow for sourcing new freight carriers. So, let’s start with your first port of call.

1. Talk with trusted carrier partners

Developing a roster of trusted carrier partners should be the bread and butter of any freight broker’s work. So, once you find a reliable carrier that meets your needs, you need to try and foster a positive relationship. Make it a priority to reach out to them and stay in regular contact. Be friendly and positive, always ensuring that you take care of the working details in a professional and timely way, sending over paperwork when required and making negotiations as painless as possible. It should be the goal of any freight broker to create a roster of carriers to cover all their loads in this way.

2. Broker load boards

If you are unable to cover a load with one of your ‘go to’ carriers, then you’ll need to try and find a new carrier via one of the many load boards out there. Remember that not all boards work in the same way and be aware that when the market is busy and capacity is tight, this gives carriers the upper hand, so you may need to be more flexible. But it can still be a great way of meeting new carriers and starting new working relationships.

3. Digital freight matching

You can also use digital freight matching apps and marketplaces. These real-time freight marketplaces use predictive analysis as well as AI and machine learning to optimize matches in terms of efficiency and capacity. They can also help to match in terms of costs and there are sometimes tracking services which give you a real-time insight into where capacity is located. However, with some digital freight matching services there are too few shippers and carriers on either side to meet load needs, so this should be one string of your bow but not a stand-alone strategy.

4. Check the carrier base in your TMS

If the above three carrier sourcing methods are all drawing a blank, then it’s time to search the entire carrier base in your transport management system (TMS). This should include looking at carriers that have run similar lanes in the past. The main issue with wading through the TMS is that many of the historical carriers were either one off journeys, or the carrier profile is simply out of date. That can mean that you spend a lot of time searching through information that is either no longer relevant or simply just plain wrong.

5. FMCSA data

As you may have noticed, at each of the above steps the odds of finding the right carrier for your shipper get a little bit longer. And with this step there is no exception, but it can still be a valid and successful way of finding a carrier. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has a database that details information such as trailer types, preferred lanes, and more. As with the TMS option above, much of this information can be out of date or wrong, and many of the carriers listed are private fleets. However, if you are willing to put the time in then this can be a useful way of sourcing new carriers.

6. Internet search

The internet is an incredible tool, with an almost limitless amount of knowledge and data to tap into. However, frustratingly, if you don’t know where or how to look for the required information it can be a fruitless experience. Searching for carriers with a Google search or through social media platforms can lead down a lot of blind alleys, especially as internet search results tend to show you answers to your queries in terms of the popularity of search terms. However, if you can refine your terms and be specific then you might be able to find truckers near you who are free and willing to pick up a load. But you probably shouldn’t be relying on this as a way to drive business.

7. Cold calling

Cold calls are never that much fun. The chances of getting a flat and abrupt ‘no’ are high, and you may even find yourself getting hung up on. But perseverance can pay off. However, there is a skill to successful cold calling that is more than just about picking up the phone and calling any trucking company listed in the directory. Use resources such as LinkedIn to try and find the relevant people within an organization, such as owner-operators, and source their direct phone number online. That way at least you know you might end up speaking to the right person at the right time.

8. Search carrier directories

You can also use carrier directories to find more detailed information about any freight that is being moved in your area. If you are able and willing to put the time in to filter the information in terms of the types of freight being shipped, as well as estimates of cost and other additional information, then you may be able to source new carriers.

Tips for new freight brokers to find carriers

Most of the above applies to freight brokers who are already established or experienced in the trucking industry with existing connections in the supply chain. But what about new freight brokers looking to get a foothold in the industry? Below are some tips on how to get started.


You need to market yourself, whether that’s on social media platforms such as Facebook or LinkedIn, as well as getting yourself out there to meet the right people. Try and share exciting posts, and get your name out there as a source of trusted or interesting information. This can also help to generate referrals, which is another key way of driving business.

Build strong relationships

As you can see from the above tips on finding new carriers, relationships are integral to the freight brokerage world. Once you have established a bond with a reliable carrier network, then you need to work hard to maintain that relationship, as it is these types of partnerships where the bulk of your earning potential can be found.

Focus on value over price

As mentioned above, try not to get too bogged down with price. For both shippers and carriers there are other considerations than money, such as convenience, working hours, location, and more. Be flexible and try and offer both parties good value for money. You will find that this starts to generate both new relationships and better earning potential.

Check references

It can be easy to get carried away, especially at the start of your freight brokerage carrier. But you should always ensure that you check references and carry out data vetting. This will help you develop a much safer system for ensuring that truckloads are safe and secure.

How to find carriers on FleetOps platform?

If you’re figuring out how to find loads for trucks, then FleetOps offers a powerful tool that integrates seamlessly with your existing TMS and processes to help you improve bookings and boost profits. That’s why FleetOps has gained the trust of some of the top freight brokers in North America including Schneider, Convoy, C.H. Robinson, and many others. Check out the FleetOps freight broker platform to see how you can access our unique carrier capacity and get a demo of the tools at your disposal to become a more successful freight broker.

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