The motor carrier qualification process is something that deserves extra attention in our industry, especially considering the massive influx of double brokers. Given time, I believe tech-heavy tools using algorithms, machine learning, and predictive scoring will become the top carrier qualification options. User reporting by freight brokers is important, but it only gets us so far. Tech is usually able to scrape and correlate matching data far better and quicker than humans.
Let’s talk about the other side of paid third-party qualification services. We all know paid qualification services aren’t perfect. Freight broker reports against carriers are submitted that shouldn’t be. Reports can be submitted against the wrong carrier, either due to human error or identity theft. And, some freight brokers choose to submit reports against motor carriers for silly reasons. Along with reporting issues, there can be data issues. Data is sometimes scraped and correlated incorrectly by tech tools. Occasionally, the FMCSA/DOT's own data isn't correct. Humans still need to be actively involved in the qualification and onboarding process.
For me, it's not always what you get wrong, it's how you respond to being wrong. When a legitimate carrier with an active authority is being shown by a paid third-party qualification tool as inactive, that's a problem. An even bigger problem is any paid third-party service who refuses to accept when they're wrong and refuses to correct their data.
It's not just carrier authority status or safety rating status that's an issue. It's also the fine tuning of predictive scoring. I've noticed owner operators and small trucking companies can sometimes be unfairly scored as low average to poorly performing carriers. Since most carrier authorities are held by small to mid-size trucking companies, that's a problem that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.
Predictive scoring and machine learning is new to the carrier qualification process. So, I do believe that freight brokers should allow for inconsistencies, and a bit of grace, while these paid services make improvements and work their kinks out. Which means we should continue to use and compare data from the FMCSA/DOT. In conjunction with qualification tools, we should continue to use our own human knowledge and instincts when vetting carriers. If you're unsure about your qualification process, we highly recommend attending our freight broker training course.
Any paid third-party qualification service who refuses to see or correct their mistakes indefinitely, should be weeded out. Motor carriers have been receiving the brunt of the consequences to paid qualification service inaccuracies. It’s only a matter of time before freight broker qualification services are here. Freight brokers, thinking about the future, should already be actively involved in requiring accurate data from paid qualification services.