Working as a freight agent can be a very rewarding career path. However, there are certain crucial business skills that you must have to be truly successful. After all, the ability to handle high-pressure logistics is an impressive skill — and not one that everyone possesses! If you've been wondering how to become a freight agent — or if this career path is right for you — you've come to the right place.
Freight Broker Agent Experience
When it comes to the most important skill for freight agents, past logistics experience is at the top of the list. This includes knowledge of the freight industry, as well as experience managing typical freight broker tasks, such as:
- Determining suitable third-party logistics (3PL) solutions for individual businesses
- Analyzing logistics strategies and problem-solving issues
- Building relationships with freight carriers
- Managing freight bookings and sales
10 Key Business Skills for Freight Agents
While first-hand experience in the freight shipping industry is important, many of the most critical qualities of a good freight agent are related to your ability to run a business. Luckily, these business skills can easily translate from a number of previous career paths — even outside of the transportation industry.
Here are 10 key business skills that every freight agent needs in order to maximize their success:
1. Strategic skills
These days, supply chains are more complicated than ever. From port congestion to warehouse closures and product shortages, just one broken link in your customer's supply chain can mean costly delays to their final delivery. That's why it's important for freight agents to know how to develop creative strategies in order to get the job done right every time. Being able to handle any logistics challenge that's thrown at you takes smart planning and strategy, so put this at the top of your list of skills to hone as an agent!
2. Organizational skills
Organization is an important part of any business — especially for your freight agency. Most freight agents work independently, which means you are your own assistant, scheduler, booker, strategist and financial planner. Strong organizational skills will help you create a seamless customer experience and set yourself apart from other agents in the industry.
3. Management skills
In order to be a successful freight agent, you'll need to be good at managing both your clients' and teammates' workloads, as well as your own. With so much to keep track of, workload management begins and ends with having the right people in place. Putting the right people in the right roles requires a deep understanding of both your business needs and personnel skills, which is why previous management experience can also be valuable.
4. Multi-tasking skills
Many people enjoy performing one consistent task for the majority of their workday. However, freight agents know just how important multi-tasking is in their career field. Agents spend time in constant contact with numerous less-than-truckload (LTL) and full truckload (FTL) carriers. In addition, freight agents must find the time to juggle other important tasks such as contacting vendors and prospecting new clientele. With so many competing priorities, effective multi-tasking is an essential skill for freight agents.
5. People skills
As a freight agent, your job revolves around communicating effectively with others. If your daily interactions are fraught with tension and misunderstandings, you could lose out on valuable returning business. That's why the most successful agents have excellent interpersonal skills.
6. Networking skills
As a freight agent, you'll need to build a network of clients and contacts — and that requires strong networking skills. As you make connections, be strategic and consider which contacts could directly or indirectly benefit your business. Business-to-business networking and making smart connections with other agents and brokers will be a major key to unlocking your business's potential.
7. Compliance skills
If you want to be a successful freight agent with a booming business, you must have a mind for detail. Since every state and city has its own regulations for hauling freight, you'll need to understand and comply with shipping regulations from multiple jurisdictions. If you manage international shipments, you'll also have to deal with customs, duty, tariffs and more. Compliance skills help ensure your loads aren't stopped in their tracks because you didn't cross every "t" and dot every "i."
8. Technical skills
Advancements in technology continue to revolutionize the shipping logistics industry in monumental ways. To succeed as a freight agent in today's constantly-evolving environment, you must quickly adapt to each next big thing in advanced shipping technology. The more equipped you and your technology systems are to handle rapid change, the better.
And keep in mind that while technology alone does not make a successful freight agent, the right transportation management system (TMS) — like our industry-leading GlobalTranz TMS — can certainly make your job easier.
9. Analytical skills
Every business can benefit from someone with the ability to review and analyze data. As a freight agent, your clients count on you to provide them with the optimal shipping routes to get their freight from point A to point B as seamlessly as possible. And while logistics planning technology like our TMS can provide you with the information you need, you'll still have to review and analyze it in order to make the best decisions for your customers.
10. Business development skills
Once you've established yourself as a freight agent, you'll still need to grow your business over time. That requires a number of additional skills, including:
- Negotiating prowess
- Financial planning
- Marketing knowledge
Good freight agents are constantly adding new business skills to their repertoire. If you know you lack some of these skills, it's not too late to learn. Consider taking a business marketing or finance class to improve your abilities.
How to Become a Successful Freight Agent
Now that you know what it takes to become a successful freight agent, it's time to learn how you can maximize your agency's earning potential with the help of GlobalTranz. With a full suite of logistics solutions, access to industry-leading technology, marketing and back-office support, GlobalTranz makes the process of becoming a successful independent agent easy. Build a rewarding career while shaping the future of the freight shipping industry. Contact us today to learn how you can become a GlobalTranz freight agent.