Our network at a glance:
235 million load posts in 2018
More than 930,000 load posts per business day
More than 1.2 million load searches per business day
181 million are posted first on DAT or nowhere else
256 million load and truck posts
More than 570 million searches per year
$65 billion in annualized freight payments
Gross margins rebounded to 16% for freight brokers in the first quarter, largely because spot market rates dropped sharply. As a result, the brokers' average net profits increased year over year, even though load counts and revenues per employee dropped to the lowest levels in more than two years.
Benchmark data is drawn from the TMS systems of nearly 100 freight brokers and 3PLs with average 2018 revenue of $13.8 million, a 16% increase compared to 2017. Prior year results, as well as the current report, have been re-stated as of the first quarter of 2019, to exclude outliers.
Gross margins averaged 16.0% for the group in Q1, a big improvement over the 13.2% average in the first quarter of 2018. A sharp decline in spot market rates was the main factor in boosting margins.
Cost control was a key element in maintaining Q1 profitability, as the brokers cut labor expense by 8%, and reduced non-labor expense by 5% compared to the same period in 2018. Interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization costs rose 11%, and net operating profit rose 10% year over year. As a portion of net revenue, the group spent an average of 59% on labor, 24% on non-labor costs, and 1.6% on taxes, interest, depreciation, and amortization, to earn net operating profit amounting to 15% of net revenue.
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Profit per employee rose 9% in Q1, even though revenue fell 23% on a per-employee basis. The average number of employees increased by 3.5% compared to the first quarter of 2018.
Load counts fell 13% in Q1 compared to the first quarter of 2018. Granted, 2018 was an exceptional year by any measure, but brokers moved 21% fewer loads in Q1 than they did in the same period of 2017, as well.
DAT Broker TMS, created exclusively for freight brokers, keeps track of all your business-critical data.
Profit per load rose 31% to $36 per load in Q1, up from $27 profit per load in the first quarter of 2018, despite an 8% decline in revenue per load.
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