Top tips for creating your Brexit action plan for freight forwarders

As the latest Brexit deadline draws ever nearer, the uncertainty surrounding if, when, and in what form Brexit will occur only continues to grow. One thing that is certain, however, is that logistic companies cannot afford to go unprepared. If Brexit does happen this October, and particularly if a deal isn’t reached in time and the UK crashes out of the EU with no deal, then making adequate preparations will be the key to surviving the initial chaos that the UK’s exit from the EU will likely spark.

The freight industry, placed as it is at the literal border between the UK and the EU, promises to be one of those most affected by Brexit. To help mitigate the impact on your freight forwarding business, we’ve put together these top tips for creating a Brexit action plan. Our list covers the most important things to consider in preparation for Brexit, as well as some top tips on how best to ready your business for life outside the EU.

Customs and tariffs

Understanding the impact of new duties on imports will be a key part of your preparation. Research both the financial and administrative cost of these new duties. Consider how your business will adapt – what new approvals will you need? what costs will you incur? It is particularly important to ask whether you are at risk of having to pay multiple duties if you operate across Europe.

Re-examining your contracts, identifying those with clauses reliant on the UK’s membership in the EU, and understanding how easy or difficult it might be to renegotiate or leave these contracts is another important step towards being prepared for Brexit. While thinking of the future, also begin to identify what safeguards you might want to include in new contracts as protection against uncertainties, as well as updating your freight forwarder insurance coverage.


Sales of some goods between the UK and the EU will, when the UK leaves, become imports and exports for the purposes of VAT. Preparing for the possibility of increases in costs and in administration will be vital to your Brexit preparations and to protecting your cash flow and remaining profitable.

Systems and data

New importing and exporting activities will require new data to be captured and made available in support of the receipt and dispatch of goods and the declarations that accompany them. How will this data be managed, and what new systems will you need to implement to accomplish this? An audit of your existing systems will help identify issues before they occur.

Lead times

One of the unavoidable realities of Brexit is that it is going to make everything take longer. Customs bottlenecks are certain to be a feature in the post-Brexit landscape, and this will have particularly dramatic repercussions when it comes to moving goods – especially if those goods have short shelf lives. If this is something likely to affect your business, it’s worth building contingencies to account for these issues now.

Grants and incentives

There are a whole plethora of grants and incentives stemming from the EU that go to benefit EU businesses, and it’s very likely that you benefit either directly or indirectly from some of this funding. Accounting not only for how this will affect you, but also trying to appreciate how potential changes to this funding might affect the decisions your business partners and clients make in the future will be a useful preparatory exercise.

Join a freight platform

Freight platforms such as Haulage Exchange have the potential to mitigate the impact of many of these changes. Offering end-to-end, real-time freight management, Haulage Exchange can help streamline your processes and provide you with a platform to move your loads safely to and from the UK. Some of the benefits of Haulage Exchange include:

The ease of finding carriers

With well over 50,000 vehicles available across the UK and Europe, having access to the Haulage Exchange network means never having to risk letting your customers down. The exchange allows you full control – post freight, search for carriers, and track and communicate with the sub-contractors you are using.

The Haulage Exchange is an accredited business and only enables access to professional trade-only carriers that have been vetted and are compliant. The built-in feedback system adds a further level of insurance for members looking for a prospective driver, meaning you can increase capacity in an adaptive and intuitive way.

Innovative technology

The Haulage Exchange makes use of cutting edge technology to enhance the experience from both load poster and carrier perspective. The exclusive driver application means carriers can stay connected to the Exchange while on the move, giving them the ability to update their status, availability, and current load details, to allow members to make an informed decision before offering new work.

Once a member has decided to subcontract to a carrier the system ensures seamless load management throughout the journey. Carriers can update members with real-time ETAs and can provide PODs at the completion of a load. Finally, the app also offers the ability to create invoices and send paperwork digitally – cutting down on both printing and administrative costs. The system is also HMRC Making Tax Digital compliant meaning in a single click you can submit data to HMRC for your VAT return.

The mobile app also operates as part of the Exchange’s mission to offer complete online logistics and load management solutions to its members. Working with high profile partners, the Exchange can integrate telematics into members’ existing platforms and TMS systems. Some of the Haulage Exchange’s sixteen partners include Teletrac Navman, TomTom Telematics, Masternaut and Causeway.

Final thoughts

The only certainty of Brexit is uncertainty, but for freight forwarding software companies, proper preparation and planning can go a long way to alleviating worry. Many of the difficulties likely to arise from Brexit will involve the increased costs and administrative headaches precipitated by new duties, legal requirements, and customs processes. Luckily, tools like those offered by Haulage Exchange can go a long way to mitigating these issues by offering a more streamlined and centralised way of managing the logistics of freight movement.

By making good use of these tools as part of a broader preparedness initiative, freight forwarding businesses can make Brexit’s October 31st deadline just a little bit less scary.

Improving efficiency, creating less time between loads and increasing productivity are all vital to the long-term success of haulage; especially for independent workers or small companies. One of the best ways to ensure no journey is wasted, no matter the distance, is by securing a return load for your HGVs – you can ensure that all costs are covered. From cross-continent travel to in-country deliveries, return loads can help to mitigate those costs and ensure you’re getting the most use out of your vehicles as possible. 

How do you find those return loads when you get where your delivery is due? Here are some tips to ensure you’re rarely left with no cargo, whatever your current requirements are: 

1. Speak directly to the company you’re dropping off a load to

It may seem like the most obvious option, but many individuals forgot to consider their current customer as the potential source of their next job. But in the case of many HGV owner driver jobs, especially between set points, there is plenty of opportunity for return loads from the same source. The best way to ensure you have a return load from the same company is to talk to them in advance, to confirm if there are any return loads required. Return loads can even be planned as part of the work you do for the company, making it more reliable for you and more cost-effective for them. 

If there’s nothing available at the time, it’s still worth checking on arrival to confirm if plans have changed and they have any last-minute requirements. While this requires slightly more flexible working, it can pay off in the long run by proving your reliability to that company, as well as keeping your HGV full at all times. You don’t know until you ask. And asking is probably one of the best ways to gain access to work that might otherwise be unavailable. Speak directly to the company you’re working with, and you’ll be able to get a yes or a no then and there. 

2. Network with other haulage companies in the area

Networking is vital for a wide range of roles and industries today, and haulage is no exception to these rules. Contacting companies in the area that you have a good relationship or a history with is the ideal way to gain access to potential jobs from businesses, as they will already know the quality and standard of your work. While, again, it’s better to schedule return loads in advance once you have that initial load confirmed, you may also find plenty of last-minute work on the cards if you take the time to call. If a company is familiar with the work that you do, they’re far more likely to hire you for haulage even at the last minute. 

For areas where you don’t have many connections to call on, networking with new haulage companies can be an effective alternative. Using Google, it’s possible to find a wealth of information on businesses in the area that may need your services. Don’t be afraid to drop them a line and find out if they require some urgent help, or even to schedule a return load in for a few weeks. 

3. Sign up to a haulage exchange to find return loads quickly and easily

An innovative and practical way to find return loads on a fast turnaround, a haulage exchange is specifically designed to find work on an intentional professional platform. These exchanges can provide a whole wealth of information to drivers and businesses alike, with anything from extra capacity on HGVs to load quotes available in moments. Even better, every driver is fully compliant and trustworthy, meaning that businesses will know they can trust you with their loads.

Other functionalities included in haulage exchange platforms include integrated telematics, perfect for partnered companies, as well as time-saving features such as electronic POD and a real-time ETA. Handy for both drivers and haulage companies alike. The addition of the new Freight Vision app provides even more functionality to the system, making it the ideal place to find return loads professionally. Signing up to haulage exchange offers excellent benefits, and makes it easy for you to be seen by businesses of all shapes and sizes.

While the other methods on this list require specific additional effort and input, haulage exchange makes the process streamlined and smooth. For drivers with little time on their hands, this often makes a platform like a haulage exchange the ideal choice.

If you’re struggling to find return loads for HGVs, then the top tips above might provide you with the insight you need to work as efficiently as possible.

If you would like to find out more about how the Haulage Exchange can help and your business please give us a call on 020 8993 7100. Looking for a specific location? Find return loads in Devon, as well as return loads to Scotland, and London.

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