Uncover the truth about being a freight agent! Explore misconceptions, opportunities, and the real dynamics of this rewarding logistics career.
Being a freight agent is an appealing career choice for many. However, misconceptions often surround this profession, deterring potential candidates from exploring the numerous opportunities it offers.
In all the chatter, myths start to develop, which influence those who are interested in getting started, giving what can be false impressions about what to expect when getting started.
In this article, we’ll debunk some prevalent myths about being a freight agent, shedding light on the reality of this dynamic and rewarding career.
Different Levels of Performance Influence Observations
Like any career, there are those who do very well as freight brokers and those who do averagely. Some don’t do well and end up moving onto other career paths. Because the field is based on client order success, the metrics of good performance start to become obvious: those who continue to secure more client orders succeed, and those who don’t have to find a new career choice eventually.
Brokers can only hold onto agents for so long before they become a cost and don’t produce profit. Unfortunately, even then, bad work isn’t cleared up fast enough sometimes, and that can leave a false impression on clients too about the efficacy of agents.
The True Value of an Agent
A freight agent becomes visible and valuable as they provide a seamless transition from ordering needs to shipping fulfillment. And as that fulfillment repeats again and again, client retention becomes possible as well as expandable. That expertise can’t be easily replaced with in-house staff, either.
While in-house resources do have an added curve in being part of the company needing the shipping, they don’t know the courier market or resources well. And that makes them a liability versus an advantage to the same client they work for, even as employees.
Incorrect Assumptions About Freight Agents
However, because there is such a stigma attached to outsourced resources and contractors these days, freight agents get caught up in the same perspective as well as other mistakes. Those freight agent myths also include the following:
- Using a freight agent and freight broker will cost more. Again, this falls into the category of contracting out. The assumption is that contracting, with profits, adds to expenses and doesn’t deliver the most cost-effective approach. In reality, brokers and their freight agents are more efficient than any in-house approach. Both in terms of network access as well as competitive matching, freight agents and their access find the most efficient resources for clients more often than any other option.
- Freight agents pick just anyone, and unreliable transport. It is also not true. Agents and the freight brokers they work for know their markets and their transport providers extremely well. They know who can deliver materials, how, and what matches their needs best. It is probably the most efficient way to transport in just about every transport scenario.
- Freight agents have no concern with who fills the order. This ties into the above. In fact, freight agents and brokers are directly tied to the providers they connect with clients. It is a symbiotic relationship for all involved. There is no man for himself who can succeed in freight transport, especially with so many parts in supply chains today.
- There is no tracking. Again, untrue, but the myth still lingers. Today’s freight agents have extensive tracking tools at their fingertips, not only seeing what their client’s orders are and where they are located but the rest of the regional market as well. Technology has increased this capability exponentially.
- Being a freight agent requires a background in transportation. One common misconception is that individuals need a background in transportation or logistics to become successful freight agents. In reality, while prior industry knowledge can be beneficial, it is by no means a prerequisite. Many successful freight agents come from diverse professional backgrounds, bringing unique skills that contribute to their success in the field.
- It’s a 9-to-5 desk job. Contrary to popular belief, being a freight agent is far from a conventional 9-to-5 desk job. The nature of the industry involves dealing with varying time zones, urgent shipments, and unforeseen challenges. While some tasks may be handled during regular business hours, agents often find themselves working outside the traditional workday to meet clients’ needs and address unexpected issues.
- The job is limited to large corporations. Another common myth is that being a freight agent is only viable for those interested in working with large corporations. In reality, the freight industry is diverse, with opportunities available for agents to work with businesses of all sizes, including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The key is to identify a target market, understand its unique needs, and tailor services accordingly.
- Technology will replace freight agents. With the rapid advancement of technology in the logistics industry, there is a prevailing myth that automation and artificial intelligence will replace the need for human freight agents. While technology has certainly streamlined some aspects of the freight process, the human touch remains irreplaceable. Freight agents bring a level of expertise, negotiation skills, and relationship-building capabilities that technology cannot replicate. Automation may handle routine tasks, but the complexities of freight negotiations, problem-solving, and adapting to unique situations require human intuition and judgment.
For anyone who believes that freight agents are obsolete, outclassed, or simply too expensive, re-education is in order. The facts remain: freight agents are still a key element in successful shipping, both through efficient logistics and multi-party shipping channels. Companies can try to go it alone, but sooner or later, the truth will become apparent.