Whether you’re new to the freight brokerage industry or you’ve got 20 years of experience under your belt, you should know that the roadmap to your business’s success is in its business plan. This is a comprehensive document that guides a company’s growth from its very beginning stages. However, it’s also a living, adaptable document that can evolve as your business evolves.
So, even if your freight brokerage already has a business plan, it’s important to revisit it every now and then to verify that it’s still in line with your goals and that there’s a clear growth path. Here’s a guide you can use to ensure you’ve checked all the boxes.
Building Your Freight Broker Business Plan: 10 Key Elements
No freight brokerage’s business plan is alike; they vary in format, length, formality, etc. However, all of them should contain 10 key components.
1. Executive Summary
The executive summary provides a brief overview of all the components of your business plan. It’s there so that whoever reads it gets a quick understanding of what will be covered in terms of:
- What services your brokerage provides
- Who owns and operates your brokerage
- Who your customers are
- What your brokerage’s finances are like
- Why and how your brokerage will succeed
Keep in mind that while this is the first section of your business plan, most businesses save it as the last on the list to write.
2. Company Overview
This is where you describe your company’s history and help readers understand what exactly you do. It’s a little bit like an elevator pitch, as you need to describe the important aspects of your company in just a few paragraphs or pages. Some ideas to include:
- Brokerage founding date
- Brokerage leadership and their backgrounds
- Brokerage mission and vision statements
- Brokerage services overview
3. Services Description
While you might have mentioned the services your brokerage provides in the previous step, this is where you’ll dive into a bit more detail. Discuss the ins and outs of your brokerage services, paying particular attention to any aspects that make your services stand out from competitors’ — which leads us to the next element.
4. Unique Selling Propositions
Unique selling propositions (USPs) are features that make your business or services better than your competitors’. What pain points do you solve that others don’t? Do you provide a higher level of service, and how? What unique features and benefits do your clients gain by working with you? List them out!
5. SWOT Analyses
A SWOT analysis is an exercise you can do to determine strengths (S), weaknesses (W), opportunities (O), and threats (T) in various aspects of your business. You may do one or more of the following analyses in this format:
- Industry Analysis — Look at the freight brokerage industry as a whole, and how your company fits into it. Is demand rising? What factors are affecting it? What new tools and resources are available?
- Competitor Analysis — List any direct and indirect competitors you have, then discuss where you stack up against them in the market. What advantages do you have that they don’t have, and vice versa?
- Customer Analysis — Who are your current customers? List demographic, geographic, and motivator information. Is that who you’d like to be serving, or do you need to switch something in order to gain a larger or more targeted audience?
6. Sales and Marketing Plan
Sales and marketing plans are two separate documents in themselves, but you should provide a brief synopsis of each of them in your brokerage business plan. Discuss how you’ll position your company in the industry and how you’ll get the word out about your services. Then, describe your plan for how you’ll convert leads into deals and drive revenue.
7. Operations Plan
Again, this is a separate document of its own that needs to be summarized in your business plan. Discuss organizational structure, roles, and hiring plans. Also, be sure to include administrative tasks and how those will be delegated to keep your business running efficiently.
8. Financial Plan
Where does your revenue come from? What expenses do you expect to incur? Do you need funding? If so, how much and how do you plan on obtaining it?
This section may seem overwhelming, but with some help from your finance team or a trusted financial advisor, you can get clear on all things cash flow, balance sheets, and projected income. You don’t even need to be perfectly accurate — just your best predictions based on your research.
9. Short-Term Goals
Where is your brokerage now, and where would you like it to be in a year? Define your goals for the upcoming year, or maybe 2-3 years. These should be based on the SMART goal methodology — Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely.
10. Long-Term Goals
Where is your brokerage now, and where would you like it to be in 5-10 years? This is the time to dream. While your goals should still be reasonable and follow SMART format, you should have a 30,000-foot vision of what you’d like to achieve in the long term.
Tools to Execute Your Freight Broker Business Plan Successfully
Voilà! Once you’ve completed those 10 components, your freight broker business plan is likely done, or at least mostly done. The rest of what you choose to include is completely up to you.
But now that you’re done, the real work has to happen. You need to put all those great ideas into practice, hopefully growing your business along the way. ComFreight has a few tools that can help. While we can’t run your business for you, we can offer some resources that will help you streamline processes, reduce friction, and move more freight — ultimately driving revenue.
Our Load Board tool is an online marketplace tool that you can use to connect with carriers. You can use it to seamlessly post loads, book trucks, see trending market rates, and pay carriers — making it that much easier to maintain quality relationships with all of your clients. Enjoy the following features:
- Load matching
- Notetaking tools
- Message boards
- Credit information
- Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) verification
- Freight factoring and financing for pre-approved loads
- 24/7 mobile access
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HaulPay is ComFreight’s automated freight factoring and payment solution. You can offer quick pay to carriers, select loads you’d like to factor, and simplify your back-office operations. Even if you don’t need a factoring partner, HaulPay can help streamline the payment and credit risk assessment processes tremendously.
Benefits to brokers include:
- Quick pay offerings to carriers
- 1-day broker margin turnaround
- Digitized carrier payments
- FREE payment software
- FREE TMS integration
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Interested in one or both of our innovative solutions for freight brokerages? Get in touch today to learn more.