Brokers Vs. Carriers in Auto Transport

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It's important to do your research when looking to contract an auto transporter to relocate your vehicle. The business of shipping cars is divided up into different segments. Here you will find answers on how these different options available to you handle the business of shipping your car.

Thesse are:

  • Brokers.
  • Carriers.
  • Carriers that work as both carrier and also a broker.

Auto Transport Carriers

Auto transport carriers are the actual individuals doing all the heavy lifting. They are the ones actually moving your car from point A to point B. Carriers own and operate the trucks. They employ the drivers that will be shipping your vehicle to its destination.

Some like dealing directly with the carrier. This is because in many cases they’re dealing directly with the driver of the truck. Sometimes it will be a company with a few trucks driving throughout the country.

With no middleman involved, the belief is that there’s more leverage to negotiate price. This however, may not be the case. In many situations, carriers will try to leverage that they have the truck to charge a premium.

The easy upside to see as this will let you deal direct. But aside from the pricing being higher, there are some other drawbacks. For example, not all carriers can travel everywhere. This is usually due to the carrier only providing service on a specific route . They may be coming out of your city or town but not going to your destination.

Auto Transport Brokers

This is what’s most commonly found everywhere. Auto transport brokers are companies that are paid to arrange auto shipping between you and the carrier for a fee. Commonly referred to as middleman or brokers. These companies do not have trucks. They are licensed by the FMCSA And have what’s called “broker authority”. This is the permission to assign vehicles to carriers as a third-party.

The Benefits of Using a Broker

When dealing with an auto transport broker, you have the ability to use the resources of the broker. They will get you in touch with several carriers. . This is for a couple of reasons. First off, a lot of carriers just like to deal with brokers. No customer service, pick from a list and go.

They can simply just pick the loads they want to take in any given location. This has eliminated the need for carriers to market themselves. A broker will also know what type of carrier you will need and who to contract for your specific situation. Like if the vehicle is inoperable or requires special handling because it’s coming from an auction or a dealer.

The Drawbacks of Using A Broker

But some auto transport brokers don’t come without their problems. This is specifically referring to the little regulation on how these businesses operate. Although there are many that are quite reputable. There are a few problems.

  • Licensing requirements make it easy.
  • Anyone can run a website and pay for ads.
  • They can buy leads from lead providers for as little as a dollar a lead.

This has caused an epidemic in the industry of questionable practices. Fortunately there’s a really easy way to avoid the bad apples. Simply look at reviews, ask the right questions, and you’ll be able to sort out the bad ones. Brokers should not be avoided because of those bad apples.

Carriers that are Also Brokers

There are many carriers that also advertise as brokers. What this means is that although a few carriers strictly stick to driving, some carrier companies have expanded business. They have also created an online presence and advertise auto shipping. They want to be able to cover as much ground as possible they will also act as a broker.

Carriers that are brokers will also be licensed to contract outside carriers to move vehicles. This means that while their trucks will take the routes they specialize in, the other routes will be contracted out.

If you are really hard set on making sure you only deal with the carrier and not anyone that is a broker, be sure to clarify if it will only be their truck that moves your vehicle.

The right question to ask is not if they are carriers, but if it's their truck to move your car.

How Brokers Operate

Brokers will not have any trucks. They rely on partnerships with reliable and reputable carriers that will take your vehicle. They also use what is called a load board. This is where they and other broker companies will list vehicles. They can find the rates participating carriers are accepting for that type of vehicle.

Their job is to select the best carrier for you to earn a fee. Dealing with an auto transport broker is not a bad thing if you want to get a great deal. For them to get your business (and say in business) they have to make you feel secure. They need to provide a competitive price that won't make you go elsewhere.

In turn, carriers are also careful to not ask for too much. Because the next one willing to accept the listed price will add that vehicle to their load. That carrier will miss out.. This internal competition is good for the consumer to get a great deal over dealing direct with just one carrier.

This is where a popular misconception is that going with a carrier saves money but actually does not. Just like when you buy something right from the manufacturer, you sometimes get a better deal with the reseller.

Why Many Brokers Get a Bad Rap

The problem is not the system, it's how each company handles the process. It seems like some firms and their salespeople think they are entitled to move that vehicle, when they are not. They stretch the truth, or flat out lie about pricing, dates, and how they handle the business takes advantage of the customer just to charge that upfront fee and lock them in.

If they get bad reviews, or too many consumer complaints the same company will close up ship and reopen as another company and start over with a clean slate. They can do this because the operations that run like this are usually small independent brokers.

This practice has given other companies doing it the right way a bad name. It also doesn't help that those bad apples make it seem like you are in a pool of sharks either. They further expand the misconceptions of customers by only being able to scare the customer into booking with them. That's not how you move cars. Don't deal with shady companies.

Independent Brokers Can Be the Problem

Independant Broker

The small independent broker can usually be the cause involving problems with shipping cars. They usually work from home or a small office. As long as they have an address, cell phone, and a computer, they can do business. They don’t have much of a presence, so they can be relatively easy to identify. They won’t have a website or if they do it will be a simple page. Little to no reviews. They answer directly with a cell phone instead of a phone system. They will usually purchase leads from a lead provider to get business. Even pretend to be carriers just to get the sale.

The Concept is not a Bad One

It’s a great opportunity for an honest living if it’s handled responsibly. And for all you know some of the largest companies may have began this way. Unfortunately, there is little regulation on how auto transport is sold. So, more often than not there’s no accountability. Consequently, there is little anyone can do about it. They just continue to buy leads and open up new versions of the same company to avoid reviews. This is the heart where all the negativity comes from.

A practice that hurts brokers is settling and not screening carriers. Just as you can leave reviews, we screen anyone not in our network with the DOT and FMCSA. We also back it with an internal review system provided by the industry. That lets us know of violations like overweight loads, reckless driving, vehicle damage, late deliveries, etc. Truckers with violations, lapses of insurance, can't get the job. So just because they make the broker $100 more dollars than they should be selected. That cannot be the way it's done. That's why you see a significant amount of people looking for carriers, not brokers. The process becomes a mess.

Selecting the Best Option For You

All three options are good choices. However, your particular situation might allow for one to be more available than the other. For example, if your vehicle is on one of the largest and most popular routes crossing the U.S., you may find easily find a carrier directly to take it. For everyone else an auto transport broker may do the job. While if you do settle on going with a company that may subcontract the work, you might want to go with a carrier that brokers out because you may feel they have more commitment to the business. Regardless of how you go about it, make sure you research the company you'd like to use, check that their carriers are licensed, insured, and take a moment to look at testimonials from various sources.

Need help shipping? Call us today! 800-284-7177 or use our car shipping calculator to get a free and direct quote that is instant and guaranteed.