Although some Shipper Guides attempt to set one group up as the rival of the other, Brokers and Carriers are in actual fact two sides of the same coin. Both sides work together to undertake two distinct aspects of the shipping process for each individual shipment.
If ‘Logistics’ can be defined as the detailed organization and implementation of a complex operation, the Broker would undertake largely organizational functions for a customer while the Carrier’s function would be to implement that which had been agreed upon.
For many a Shipper, knowing the difference between an Auto Transport Broker and an Auto Transport Carrier can be one of the most frustrating aspects of having a vehicle shipped. As Carriers invest very little into client-facing marketing or sales, most Shippers will start their journey with a Broker. As such, we break down key characteristics of each to assist in better understanding their individual roles within the industry.
Meet the Broker:
A good Auto Shipping Broker will organize your shipping arrangements from first consultation straight through to the final delivery. This includes assessing the market conditions that may affect your requested route and shipping timeline, advising you of your options, finding a carrier that can meet your requirements and timeframe, ensuring you always have access to a single point of contact at any phase in the journey and providing you with expert advice and support throughout the shipping process. Essentially, your broker is your personal gun-slinger in the, oftentimes, Wild West landscapes of the Automotive Transport industry.
The Broker’s function is not as a transporter. Instead, a brokerage uses its industry expertise to ensure a customer has access to as many transporter options as possible so that they are able to select the best rated carrier available within a specified timeframe and route. Once a Carrier is selected, the broker acts as administrative support in addition to the service provided by the Carrier; affording customers an additional layer of oversight and protection for their shipment.
The Broker invests into skills development, licensing, insurance, lead acquisition, personnel, client-facing sales & marketing and customer support systems.
Meet the Carrier:
Auto Hauler Carriers have their own truck or fleet of trucks. These companies will be the ones assigning a specific driver to your order, arriving on the day of pick-up to inspect and load your vehicle and to deliver it safely to its destination.
The majority of Carriers are proud single owner operators. Less prevalent are the larger Carriers who house several trucks in their fleet. These transporters invest in medium to heavy duty trucks, specialized equipment, expertise, licensing and insurance.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Working with a Broker
- Expertise. Brokers are industry experts and shield their customers from needless delays, unnecessarily excessive costs and all other industry related headaches and pitfalls.
- Flexibility. As Brokers are not tied to a single fleet of trucks, they are able to assist anyone at any time, on any route and with any vehicle. Brokers network with large and small carriers nationwide which means they can serve customers across the country without much limitation.
- Expedient. The Broker does all the legwork for you. With access to a network of Carriers serving routes across the nation, a broker can have you prepped, loaded and delivered within a matter of days.
- Auxiliary Support. Although a Broker takes a back seat once a Carrier has been assigned to a customer’s shipping order, they remain on standby to provide any additional support or intervention where necessary.
- Economical. Brokers operate with a large volume of shipments and a wide array of Carriers. Standard Market Rates are assessed for each individual quotation in order to provide the most current pricing to shippers. Through the power of volume, better prices are more easily negotiated.
- Inattentive Agents. As Shipping Agents handle a larger bulk of clients than an individual Carrier would at any given moment, some customers may feel they’re not receiving regular enough status reports on their orders. As a general rule, Shipping Agents will inform clients as soon as there is any new information available. The closer it comes to your requested pick up date (roughly two days prior) without receiving any news, it’s best to call your Shipping Agent to personally verify the status of your request and discuss contingencies.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of working with a Carrier
- Single Point of Contact. Working directly with a Carrier allows you to deal with a single corporate entity from beginning to end.
- Fewer Surprizes. When dealing with a single Carrier, the information you will receive from them would be in alignment with their existing structures and schedules and should be less prone to change over time.
- Low-Profile. Carriers are hard to find. Most Carriers do not have the time, finance or interest in marketing themselves directly to the public.
- Limited Services. An individual Carrier will be limited in terms of the route, timeframe and vehicle types they’re able to accommodate. Finding a Carrier to match your criteria is just about impossible to do at a moment’s notice.
- Sporadic Availability. Although Carriers may have a dedicated Dispatcher, most rely on the contentiousness of their Drivers for customer communication. As drivers already have a full-time job loading, hauling and delivering vehicles, customer service etiquette may be lacking at times.