Leaving Your Brokerage? 10 Crucial Factors to Consider First

"I worked at two of the larger, more reputable brokerages and left them for smaller shops. I learned that the grass isn't always greener..."

Leaving Your Brokerage? 10 Crucial Factors to Consider First
Photo by Tim Mossholder / Unsplash

The grass isn't always greener on the other side, but it's worth a look.

I've learned from experience.

After a few years of working at a larger brokerage like Echo, TQL, CH, or Coyote, you might be considering making a move. A down market, lack of upward mobility, and a commission restructuring might push you to begin to look for a new job.

I worked at two of the larger, more reputable brokerages and left them for smaller shops. I learned that the grass isn't always greener.

Smaller brokerages aren't always going to have the same resources and training as the big ones do. But what they can offer is more opportunity.

Here are 10 tips on what to look for during your job search that can help you land in the right place.

Competent Carrier Team and Capabilities:

Winning freight isn't difficult. If your carrier team can't cover it you'll never make any headway with a customer. Ask how many carriers are in their network and what are the company's strong lanes and equipment.

Some brokerages are great at van and terrible at reefer. Some can't move a flatbed load. Make sure the team is capable of moving your current and future customer's freight. You're only as good as your carrier team.

Upward mobility:

Big brokerages will promise you upward mobility but in reality, it's few and far between.

Have conversations with hiring managers about where you want to be in the next two years and what you need to do to get there.

Joining the right small company can rocket your path to management.

Current Customer base:

It's good to gauge what types of customers your prospective future employer is working with. Smaller companies may not have the resources to handle an enterprise-level account.

Typically if they are working with a few larger customers this may be a good sign. Not all customers work for every brokerage. Make sure you get an idea of what kind of clients you can go after.

Opportunity to work with large customers and carriers:

If you're fresh out of college and starting at a company like CH, it's likely you'll never get a shot work with the larger enterprise and mid-market accounts.

If you're a carrier rep, it's likely most large networks are set up and assigned a rep.

While the market for shippers and carriers is dense, and you can always find hidden gems, you are going to want a shot at some of the bigger fish.


Do you really believe in the leaders of this company?

This is important.

From my experience, I joined a smaller brokerage just to "get out" of my current situation. I quickly found the leadership to be brash, impatient, setting unrealistic goals, and unethical.

Have long conversations with these folks. Talk about where they envision the company going and how they manage their team. If you can't see yourself working side by side with these people it's not a fit.


Make sure you fully understand their compensation structure.

Typical structures can include a base and draw with a rate of 10-15% per load.

Make sure the structure works and is competitive against your current one.

Don't be afraid to ask if there is an opportunity to earn equity now or in the future.


IMPORTANT: As much as your customers or carriers might enjoy working with you, your book might not be as transferable as you think.

Your new employer may not have the freight to support that beast carrier you worked with.

Your customers may be told by upper management they are only adding "assets" or not allowed to add any new brokers.

Make sure you talk to management about how long of a runway you have to get things cooking. Don't promise new business unless you are 100% sure you can deliver.

Know your timeframe and work off of that.


At the end of the day, you're brokering freight. Tech isn't the end-all be-all, but it's nice to know what TMS and CRM you will be working in.

Some new start-ups are trying to be a tech and brokerage play. Make sure you believe in their tech.


For smaller companies, ask about financials. Ask if they are privately funded, cash flow positive, and or if they are bootstrapping it.

You don't want to join a sinking ship that is strapped for cash and not going to be able to pay you.

I joined a brokerage that asked me if I would take a pay cut two weeks in. Needless to say, it didn't last long.

Underpromise and OverDeliver :

You must make sure you know what clients are going to come with you especially if you are leaving a big book behind.

Promise nothing other than you will show up every day, hit your call metrics, and be a good influence for the company. Adding any of your existing clients will be considered a bonus.

From my experience, it can be a red flag if a brokerage is hyper-focused on your gross margin and how much you can generate immediately.

If the company is excited about hiring you because of who you are, rather than the book of business you have, this could be an excellent fit.

As mentioned before, logistics can be unpredictable. If you promise big numbers right off the bat and get off to a slow start, it could leave a sour taste in their mouth.

Leaving for a new company can be scary and exciting at the same time. Use my guide during your job search to ensure you land at the right brokerage and avoid a toxic dumpster fire.

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