How To Find The Best Motor Carriers To Work With

How To Find The Best Motor Carriers To Work With

As a logistics professional, finding the best motor carriers to work with can be a struggle. It can also be the downfall of your brokerage if you begin working with poor motor carriers. One too many violations or accidents can bring the momentum you’ve been building to a dead stop.

Transportation Data Source works directly with brokerages to help them find the best motor carriers to work with. We’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. In this article, learn how to find the best motor carriers and spot the red flags quickly.

Make it enticing

This is the basics of retaining the best carriers. Make it worth their while. The best carriers don’t just settle for mediocre partnerships with brokerages. They seek brokerages that treat them with the utmost respect, confidence, and friendliness. Other than extending the basic kindnesses, a few other factors play a part in securing a relationship with good motor carriers.

Pay quickly

Motor carriers want to know that the brokerage they’re working with will not only be able to pay, but pay quickly. Consider bumping up your days-to-pay count.

Give them flexibility

Don’t put them on the same load over and over again unless they request it. Getting new routes and freight makes many carriers happier than repetition.

Know your stuff when they ask

Know the specifics of the freight they’re pulling. Know how much it weighs. Know how long it will likely take them to complete their trip. Know how long their detention will be (and pay them for it!).

Be easy to work with

Good carriers don’t want to be jumping through hoops to work with you. Make their onboarding process seamless, simple, and quick. The best motor carriers are out on the road driving and making sure the economy keeps moving. You can greatly help them by taking the legwork out of their onboarding.

By the same token, be communicative, but not annoying. This means being able to answer your phone when they call and keeping conversations with them succinct. Be prepared with what you need from them and when you need it so the conversation doesn’t drag on into their day. Nobody likes fruitless phone calls.

Know each carrier and be organized

The best way to keep your brokerage organized in regards to motor carriers that you work with would be to input every carrier and load into a TMS system. Be sure to make a note of each load — the good and bad — so you know how this carrier has performed in the past. Keeping notes of which lanes you’ve used a carrier on will help you find motor carriers for that same lane in the future.

Do your research

This is the most critical part of finding the best motor carriers to work with. Logistics professionals are constantly at risk of falling prey to carriers that present themselves as reliable, trustworthy partners but end up being the exact opposite. Additionally, many poor-performing motor carriers attempt to salvage their business by reopening as a “chameleon carrier”.

Beware of “chameleon carriers”

Chameleon carriers are the nickname given to a class of carriers that participate in deception to cover up serious violations and accidents that typically render their fleet out of service. In a nutshell, a carrier that has become out of service due to negligence or accidents that constitute a serious offense. These carriers will then close down and reopen under a new name. This gives them a squeaky-clean record on first glance.

Luckily, there are a few ways to fight chameleon carriers in the age of technology. Transportation Data Source provides a clean and simple way of checking this. The feature, dubbed “Phantom Carrier Search”, performs multiple different searches in order to tie a new carrier to their previous name. You can then research the previous carrier to see if there were any red flags.  

Red flags

Here’s the thing about the trucking industry — it’s incredibly scrutinized (as it should be). Being so, you as a logistics professional have ample data to research on each carrier to ensure that they drive safely, keep their equipment maintained, and follow all applicable laws. A carrier that doesn’t do these things should obviously be avoided if possible. Working with careless carriers is just one slip away from catastrophic damage to your business and professional relationships. Be sure to look at these topics when researching carriers:

Length of authority. We know that all carriers need to start somewhere. And there are many instances when it’s okay to hire the new guy. A good rule of thumb, though, is to do your best to stay away from motor carriers that have less than six months of authority.

Safety rating. Take a look at the carrier’s safety rating. If they’re satisfactory, they’re obviously good to go. If they’re labeled as conditional, take a look at the date. If they’ve been conditional for longer than a year, they may be okay. It can sometimes be tricky to coordinate with another auditor in order to bring them back to a satisfactory rating. If they were just recently brought to a conditional rating, it’s probably best to stay away.

ISS & BASIC scores. Finding the best carrier’s ISS and BASIC scores can be a pain. With TDS, we make it easier than ever to see these for each carrier. Our algorithm comes within 0.5% of the government’s scores for each carrier. This is the most accurate reading in the industry and helps brokerages really narrow down the best carrier for the job.


Now that we’ve discussed finding the best motor carriers, it’s time to put what we’ve learned into action. Brokerages and logistics professionals can now have the peace of mind in knowing that they’re trusting the most qualified motor carriers with their business. No more headaches with poor motor carriers, messy violations or accidents, or inexperienced drivers.


If you’re looking to reduce your risk as a logistics professional and research the best motor carriers quickly and efficiently, take a look at Transportation Data Source. With TDS, you can search, monitor, and research every carrier in North America with incredible accuracy. To set up a FREE no-obligation demo, fill in the form below.


Have questions or want a demo? Get in touch today!

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