Are you a freight broker looking to expand your business and find shippers? Look no further! In this blog post, we’ll walk you through proven strategies that can help you find shippers and grow your client base. Get ready to transform your brokerage business and reach new heights of success!

Key Takeaways

  • Utilize Your Existing Network, Specialize in a Niche Market & Offer Backup Brokerage Services
  • Conduct Thorough Research, Implement Referral and Loyalty Programs & Utilize Load Boards and Shipper Lists
  • Engage in Cold/Warm Calling, Monitor Competitors/Their Clients & Optimize Online Presence + Attend Industry Events

Utilize Your Existing Network

Leveraging your existing network is a highly effective method for finding new shippers. After all, who better to trust than those you already have a relationship with? Start by building strong relationships with your current shippers and ask for referrals. Explore their other locations, and tap into their network to discover more potential clients.

You should actively seek recommendations and direct opportunities to broaden your client base. Some ways to do this include:

  • Asking your current shippers for recommendations and referrals
  • Networking with other professionals in the industry
  • Attending industry events and conferences
  • Utilizing social media platforms to connect with potential clients
  • Offering incentives or rewards for client referrals

By implementing these strategies, you can expand your client base and increase your business opportunities.

Remember, the stronger your relationship with your current shippers, the more likely they are to refer you to others in their network. So, keep fostering these connections and watch your client base grow.

Specialize in a Niche Market

Specializing in a niche market could help you distinguish yourself from other freight brokers and draw more clients. This means focusing on a specific type of freight or industry and becoming an expert in that area. Understanding your customers’ specific needs and providing customized services can set you apart from competitors.

Start by conducting research online to compile a list of potential clients in your chosen niche. Then, delve into the details of each company and their industry to ensure you have a comprehensive understanding of their shipping needs. This knowledge will help you craft an effective sales pitch that demonstrates your expertise and convinces shippers to choose your brokerage services.

Specializing in a niche market can help you not only draw more clients but also foster lasting relationships based on trust and expertise. This focused approach can lead to a more successful and sustainable freight brokerage business.

Offer Backup Brokerage Services

Sometimes, potential clients already have a freight broker they’re working with, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t an opportunity for you to step in and offer your services. By providing backup brokerage services, you can create a relationship for future opportunities.

Offer to be a backup for potential clients who already work with a broker. This way, you’re able to provide solutions to their transport needs when their primary broker isn’t available or falls short. To sweeten the deal, consider offering a free, no-obligation audit to see if you can beat their current rates and secure a spot on their backup list.

Offering backup brokerage services allows you to build relationships with potential clients and highlight your expertise. Over time, this relationship may grow and lead to more business opportunities for your freight brokerage.

Conduct Thorough Research

Comprehensive research is a key step for freight brokers aiming to pinpoint and target the appropriate clients for their brokerage services. By utilizing resources such as USDA business listings, industry directories like MacRAE’s Blue Book, and search engines, freight brokers find essential information about potential clients and their shipping needs.

Search engines can provide basic company information, including types of products and contact information for potential customers. Meanwhile, USDA business listings and MacRAE’s Blue Book offer detailed information on companies in specific industries, helping you narrow down your search and identify the best clients for your brokerage services among other businesses. In addition to these solutions, industry trade associations like the TIA, Transportation Intermediaries Association, can help provide educational guidance and freight broker training to continue to expand your knowledge.

Armed with this valuable information, you’ll be better equipped to approach potential clients with a tailored pitch that demonstrates your understanding of their needs and highlights the benefits of choosing your brokerage services.

Implement Referral and Loyalty Programs

Referral and loyalty programs can significantly contribute to the growth of your freight brokerage business. By incentivizing existing customers to bring in new shippers, you can acquire new clients at a lower cost than traditional marketing efforts.

Set up a referral program that rewards customers with bonuses or discounts for bringing in new shippers. This not only encourages your current clients to spread the word about your services but also helps you build a reputation as a reliable and trustworthy freight broker.

In addition to referral programs, consider implementing loyalty programs to retain your existing clients. Offer rewards, discounts, or other special incentives to customers who continue to use your brokerage services. This will help you maintain a strong client base while attracting new customers to your business.

Utilize Load Boards and Shipper Lists

Load boards and shipper lists can still be valuable tools for freight brokers looking to connect with potential clients and carriers efficiently. Load boards are online platforms where you can post details of your shipment, and interested carriers can contact you directly about the specific load.

By utilizing established load boards like, DAT, and Truckstop, you can streamline the process of connecting shippers with carriers and expanding your client base. Make sure to include the date, location, and specific details of the load when posting to increase the chances of carriers making informed decisions about contacting you.

Shipper lists, on the other hand, offer comprehensive information on thousands of businesses needing to move freight. By skimming through these listings, you can find freight shippers who might benefit from your transportation services and reach out to them with a tailored pitch, making it easier to find shipping clients for your business needs among other shippers.

However, we should note that in 2023, fraud among load boards has grown exponentially. Be sure you’re monitoring your own accounts, and be on the lookout for firms who are double brokering.

Engage in Cold and Warm Calling

Cold and warm calling are essential tools in a freight broker’s arsenal when it comes to establishing contact with potential shippers. Cold calling involves reaching out to potential clients without any prior connection, while warm calling involves contacting potential clients who have already shown some interest in your services or have been referred by others.

To improve the chances of a successful conversation, use research and referrals to gather information about the potential shipper before making the call. This will help you stand out from other brokers and demonstrate your dedication to understanding their needs and providing tailored solutions.

When engaging in cold and warm calling, remember to be persistent and patient. Building relationships and trust takes time, but with the right approach and a keen understanding of your potential clients’ needs, you can secure new business and grow your freight brokerage.

Monitor Competitors and Their Clients

Keeping track of your competitors and their clients can help you uncover unexplored opportunities in the market. By monitoring their rates and services, you can offer better solutions to attract their customers to your brokerage.

Use resources like Morningstar to:

  • Discover competitors in your industry
  • Analyze their client lists
  • Learn from their mistakes and successes by examining their former customers’ experiences
  • Avoid pitfalls and better fulfill your clients’ goals.

Staying informed about your competitors and their clients will help you identify areas where you can improve your own services and outperform your competition. By offering superior solutions, you can attract more clients and grow your freight brokerage business.

Optimize Online Presence

In the digital era, enhancing your online presence is vital to reach potential shippers and broadcast your expertise to a larger audience. Utilize search engines, Google Maps, and social media platforms to find potential clients and promote your services. Additionally, direct mail can be a complementary strategy to your digital efforts.

Google Maps can be particularly helpful in identifying potential shippers by allowing you to:

  • View satellite and street views of buildings with shipping and receiving docks
  • Research these companies and understand their shipping needs
  • Approach them with a tailored pitch that highlights the benefits of choosing your brokerage services.

Additionally, ensure that your website and logo are modern and professional, as they represent your business to potential clients and partners. A strong online presence not only helps you find new shippers but also establishes your brokerage as a reliable and reputable service provider.

Attend Industry Events and Conferences

Participation in industry events and conferences provides a prime platform to network with potential shippers, stay abreast of industry trends, and position your brokerage as an informed and trustworthy service provider. These events bring together professionals from the same industry, allowing you to build relationships and gain valuable insights to help you succeed in the freight brokerage industry.

While at these events, you can:

  • Network with potential clients
  • Attend seminars and workshops
  • Engage in panel discussions
  • Promote your services, products, and expertise to establish relationships with industry professionals and attract new clients.

Lastly, don’t forget to use a CRM to follow up with any contacts you make at these events and stay in touch with industry professionals. Building long-lasting relationships can lead to future business opportunities and help you grow your freight brokerage.


In conclusion, finding shippers and growing your freight brokerage business requires a combination of proven strategies, including leveraging your existing network, specializing in a niche market, offering backup brokerage services, conducting thorough research, implementing referral and loyalty programs, utilizing load boards and shipper lists, engaging in cold and warm calling, monitoring competitors and their clients, optimizing your online presence, and attending industry events and conferences. By applying these methods, you can transform your brokerage business and reach new heights of success in the freight industry. So, what are you waiting for? Start implementing these strategies today and watch your business thrive!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I find shippers?

Tap into your professional network, solicit local businesses, be a backup provider, offer free audits, establish a referral program, and implement a loyalty program to find shippers for freight brokers.

How do I get loads directly from shippers?

For the most efficient and effective way to get loads directly from shippers, use a load board! A load board is an online marketplace for shippers, carriers and brokers to find each other for their various needs, while giving owner-operators access to great opportunities. Additionally, brokers can help maximize the rates of the freight by negotiating with shippers. So, using a load board plus a broker is your best bet!

Can you find shippers on load boards?

You can find shippers on load boards by either posting your freight description and waiting for carriers to contact you, or by searching through the directory of carriers and shippers and reaching out. With DAT’s quality assurance features and detailed rate information, a load board can be an invaluable resource for finding reliable customers and building a successful trucking business.

What are shippers looking for in carriers?

Shippers are looking for carriers that offer reliable, predictable service at competitive prices, with experience in delivering similar types of cargo and accurate documentation completion.

How do freight brokers get clients?

Freight brokers can attract clients by expanding within their current clients’ companies, looking up and down the supply chain, making cold calls, utilizing social media, creating a referral and rewards program, reaching out to similar businesses, offering to be a backup, and offering a free audit.

About the Author

Blythe Brumleve
Blythe Brumleve
Creative entrepreneur in freight. Founder of Digital Dispatch and host of Everything is Logistics. Co-Founder at Jax Podcasters Unite. Board member of Transportation Marketing and Sales Association. Freightwaves on-air personality. Annoying Jaguars fan. test

To read more about Blythe, check out her full bio here.