As much as truck drivers carry supplies across the continent, the supply chain carries the trucking industry. Whether a company starts with one truck or has built a fleet, gaining access to the right loads is critical. However, the unstable supply chains and heavily congested ports have made receiving and choosing hauls more complicated for owner-operators. And being able to find loads to haul is getting more complex overall as new startups emerge.
Enda Curran, writing for Bloomberg, points out: “The so-called dwell time for containers waiting at marine terminals for trucks was 7.64 days on average at the U.S.’s two largest ports” in October. With an endless supply of freight near ports, carriers are continuously trying to figure out how to find truck loads that maximize their profit. How does a business maximize profit during an industry-wide capacity crunch? This article will offer a variety of solutions to do just that.
Why the Battle to Find Freight to Haul Isn’t as Simple as Taking Anything and Everything
When considering how to maximize capacity, truckers need to know how to find loads to haul and where to get loads for trucks without breaking the bank. It’s important to consider what is at stake when choosing the wrong loads. While some may say there are no wrong loads, it is important to consider if it’s the wrong time to accept certain loads.That’s the burden of finding loads for truck drivers. A profitable load from a bustling port can end at a barren destination with no return freight opportunities without careful planning.
In unfortunate circumstances, that deadhead finish can result in canceling out the profit of the first load due to the costs of gasoline and driver salary, meaning this particular path for how to get loads for trucks is laden with risk.
Empty trailers also represent gaps in future payment. These gaps grow more stressful depending on the reliability of the active customers to pay their invoices. How wide might that payment gap go? Hopefully not too far for those just starting a trucking company from scratch. Additionally, deadheading is a safety hazard. An empty trailer with no cargo weight can be uncontrollable in hazardous weather. Regardless, it is clear that businesses looking at finding loads correctly are ones utilizing strategy.
Work With a Freight Broker
One strategy for carriers that need loads to haul is to partner with a freight broker. As the middleman between shippers and carriers freight brokers utilize relationships and data in taking an administrative role in supervising hauls from beginning to end.
Why Working With Brokers Is a Great Way to Find Loads
Because a freight broker’s business is to intermediate between two sides of an industry, the relationship is everything. A freight broker’s investment of time gains credibility with both carriers and shippers while also investigating each business’s reliability to ensure a profitable relationship. Before considering this option, trucking companies need to review their own business track record. A quality broker will investigate carriers to ensure they are reliable sources before partnering them with trusting shippers.
How to Find Freight Loads Through the Right Freight Brokers
When looking for a business partner, it is crucial to ensure that business goals align. Any addition to a business will require some adjustment time, but incorporating the right partner with the right methods will optimize daily function and maximize profit. When considering a freight broker, it’s essential to ask these three questions:
- Are they licensed?
- Are they insured?
- Are they experienced?
A freight broker’s website should answer those three questions to verify credibility. When a broker meets these qualifications, it’s vital to then run a credit check. Doing this provides a clearer picture of how timely their payments are or if they’ve ever defaulted. Factoring companies often run this credit check free; some software programs provide the same service for a nominal fee.
If a broker continues to grade well through the vetting process, it’s important to discuss their communication norms. Are they reliable to find trucking loads and communicate the locations and routes even in hazardous weather? If the supply crunch complicates a relationship with a shipper, will they step in quickly? Carriers should consider how helpful or hurtful the answers to these questions are when evaluating if a freight broker is the best option for their business.
Enroll in Multiple Online Load Boards
Load boards are a great resource to find truckloads online. These websites host listings from shippers of available loads in real time, making it one of the easiest ways to get on the road. Today, most load boards have email notifications for new postings to keep drivers in the know. Despite the conveniences of most, not all boards are created equal.
Load boards vary in local availability, user-friendly interface, monthly cost, trip planning, and more. Shippers need to consider which features will be the most helpful to find freight loads. For truck drivers who are undecided whether this method will work for their company, a load board without a monthly fee may be the best option to try first. For instance, knowing how to get freight loads easier may be best suited through these core free load boards:
- Trucker Path –Arguably, the most convenient feature of Trucker Path is that it is already a familiar app to many truckers for its mapping features. This free load board advertises unlimited access to over 150,000 loads per day across the continental United States, Alaska, and Canada.
- Trulos – This site has four boards separated by functions. Locational searches define two boards: the classic state search, or find trucking loads nearby with city and ZIP code. A third board hosts loads by rate, while the last board focuses on finding drivers for LTL and partial truckloads.
- LoadUp – This website features an original, standard load board. It is simple, free, and only requires a login for access to hauls throughout the continental United States.
A paid load board might be an excellent option for truckers that seriously consider this as their primary source of locating freight. These boards typically have a more thorough application process and offer extra features. To provide time to see if it’s the right fit for shippers, the following load boards offer a 10- to 15-day trial or live demo:
- Direct Freight – While Direct Freight does have a free membership option, a $35/month membership is required to really use it. Their map has loads available in every continental U.S. state, Canada, and Mexico. The site separates loads by trailer type, but not every posting has length and weight dimensions.
- 123LoadBoard –The website interface of this load board encourages those in need of a haul with its updated live scroll of available loads on the front page. Their membership features expand with pricing that starts at $35 per month. Their most expensive membership of $55 per month includes up to three users, a free fuel card, and advanced search options.
- DAT – This load board has the most expensive cap, with carrier memberships ranging from $40/month to $280/month. All memberships come with Load Matching Alarms, Unlimited Search and Post, and more. The features of the top memberships are most helpful to those using load boards for locating hauls for a large fleet.
How to Get Loads for Truck Drivers: Take Advantage of Load Matching Apps
A similar way for knowing how to get loads for trucks is to incorporate a load matching app. While these applications don’t promise the fulfilling match of a romantic partner, it can be the connecting point between a shipper and carrier that is serendipitous.
To be clear, though, these apps are considered best for companies that want to automate this process as there can be little to no human contact during this search. There is also less time spent negotiating for pickup and other back-and-forth discussions. A few of these load-matching sites rate high among truckers because their platforms are accessible using a mobile phone:
- JB Hunt 360 – “Less calling, more hauling” — JB Hunt 360’s motto — is an appealing statement to most owner-operators. This digital tool is free to the public but requires an account.
- AxleHire – This load-matching company may be the perfect fit for those looking for shorter routes with an advertised average route of fewer than three hours. AxleHire focuses on businesses with smaller products ideal for a box truck and similar specs.
- Veho – Veho is a parcel delivery company focusing on routes stemming from a local warehouse. This company says its dedication to driver safety through personal injury protection is a competitive advantage.
- Edge CAPACITY – Booking and bidding is made easy on this freight matching platform. They aim to offer their shippers a variety of options, including full or partial loads, temperature-controlled services, and shipping across the North American continent and help truckers find freight to haul more easily.
- Convoy – This user-friendly application is usable for routes in almost all continental states. Some notable features of this free option are the ability to instantly bid and read/write reviews on shippers, carriers, and brokers.
Get the Right Data Resources to Know the Worth of Each Move
In a digital age, data is more accessible than ever. For owner-operators and small businesses, it can be helpful to collect data by using analytic tools that track performance in the market. Collecting and reviewing the wrong data can be distracting from daily operations. However, examining the right data will reveal what needs to be changed or continued for an optimized business plan. Data-driven insights are especially important when considering how the pent-up demand is causing rapid fluctuations in the market.
By learning applicable market insights, a company can make minor adjustments that have a major effect. Actionable data is integral to finding the best way of how to get loads for a trucking company. Knowing essential details such as forecasted rates can guide decisions to find freight loads that are beneficial short term and long term. While there are multiple analytical platforms, DAT Freight and Analytics and Sonar by FreightWaves are two common contenders to consider.
Consider Leasing on With Another Trucking Company
Leasing is truly an out-of-the-box idea. Doesn’t becoming someone else’s employee negate the intention of becoming an owner-operator? While many would agree with this question, partnering with another trucking company is still a viable option to find trucking loads. Truck drivers who go this route still maintain ownership of their trucks and get a reliable flow of loads without the managerial aspect of choosing them. Some employer trucking companies may even pay for overhead charges such as gas and insurance!
However, because the other trucking company negotiates the loads, they will also likely have negotiated a predetermined schedule for the said load. While this is an excellent option for drivers hoping to find loads with schedule and reliability, it can limit the options for additional independent hauls on the side.
Eliminate the Hassles of Freight Payment Management
Drivers and fleets looking to find freight loads benefit themselves when they take the time to examine their current business structure. Determining the suitable loads can be a careful art in itself, so how much time is dedicated to doing that? By opting to streamline the payment side of the business, one can expand their time to find loads. Growing the time to find loads generates opportunities for partnerships with shippers and brokers that might otherwise be missed when making a rushed choice.
This streamlining of managerial responsibilities can occur by incorporating mobile applications that digitize invoices and documents or choosing a freight factoring service. Freight bill invoice factoring occurs when a factoring company purchases a freight load’s invoice from the trucker in cash and then takes on the responsibility of collecting on that invoice. Efficient freight payment management will speed up business cash flow, expand working capital, and leave more time to get on the road for the right loads.
Connect With Shippers Directly for a Sure-Fire Way of How to Get Loads for a Trucking Company
Contacting shippers may sound like a job for a salesman, but it can actually be done well by those inexperienced with sales. This process is akin to cold-calling, making an unsolicited contact to attempt a sale. In the 21st century, this process can involve a letter, phone call, email, and sometimes even via social media. In this process, carriers need to know the dimensions and weight availability of the trucks, their geographical routes’ goals, and the time availability and specialties of their drives.
This information and more becomes a familiar sales pitch that may be turned down multiple times, but calling the right dedicated shipping partner can create a profitable long-term relationship that could not have been easily made another way. When using this method to find truckloads online, owner-operators and fleet managers literally pick and choose what they want to haul and control the distances they’re willing to go based on what shippers they contact. When negotiating a private contract, it is important to do so with current market data to ensure a fair, but profitable pay rate.
Consider Hauling Freight for Governments Too.
Just like the rest of us, the government has some baggage. Federal, state, and local governments all need materials shipped to and from municipal centers, bases, and more. There is a wide range of opportunities for guaranteed work, with required items as small as paper clips up to large metal pieces of machinery. When trying to find trucking loads with a government, carriers must be willing to work through the necessary process of paperwork.
Working with the General Services Administration or Department of Defense may require gaining security clearance, learning military procedure and terms, and additional industry training. Ensuring invoices are correct is particularly important in minimizing government delays in this shipper segment of the industry. However, with specified certifications, clear communication, proven reliability, and competitive rates, government contracts can be profitable and reliable for a thriving trucking business starting with one truck.
Find Loads to Haul by Hiring a Dispatcher or Dispatch Service
Owner-operators might not consider hiring an additional employee to grow revenue, given that said employee also needs to be paid, but this situation is a unique one. Choosing an experienced dispatcher removes the responsibility of communicating with shippers and brokers from a driver’s plate. In fact, a dispatcher might even make communication flow more smoothly between employees as they become the point person for giving each party clarity in their route and role.
Unlike other outsourcing choices, this option still maintains the company’s ability to funnel and determine its preferred loads. Because dispatch is typically paid a percentage of delivered loads, the employee or agency will look for the preferred loads in size or type and be invested in finding profitable loads. In some circumstances, carriers may also be able to hand over billing and collecting to the dispatcher because they are the ones initiating these relationships with brokers and shippers. Choosing to expand a dispatcher or dispatch service’s role in this way does come at a cost, but the right back-end support will still enlarge profit.
Network, Network, Network
Successful small businesses in every industry are familiar with the value of networking. While word of mouth works great for brick and mortar business owners, it does not have the same effect for owner-operators and fleets that can have employees in several locations at once. Networking for the owner-operator and business owner can take a few shapes in the trucking industry.
Join an Industry Association
Most associations do not have clients as members, so word of mouth plays a key role here. Shaking hands with competitors builds relationships that could prove beneficial when capacity is scarce or a truck breaks down during a time-sensitive haul. Having connections in the industry to refer to, and be referred by, can be an excellent source of gaining loads and keeping shipper relationships intact.
Find Events Shippers will Attend
By investing the time to attend a logistics and shipping conference, drivers can maintain a market edge of understanding and empathy to shippers. Gained knowledge can be made helpful in meet-and-greet sessions. This method brings the heat of cold calling up a notch, but being at the right place at the right time can benefit any carrier’s business.
Utilizing a professional’s social media, such as LinkedIn, is a modern way to network for all industries. Individuals can build profiles that showcase skill and availability, and companies can create business profiles to expand brand awareness. By maintaining an updated professional social media, businesses can connect with others while also staying on the road.
Consider Becoming a Broker to Broker Your Own Loads
When business owners have exhausted their search engines from rephrasing “how to find loads” to gain new results, there is one more option. By becoming a broker, owner-operators can gain access to a side of the industry that’s hard to tap into without the licensing. To become a broker, individuals need to find a good training class that can educate them on the different sides of the industry.
While there is no training required to become a broker, prospective brokers need to understand the legalities of transporting through local, state, and federal regulations. Beyond the time it takes to learn the industry, the new broker company must register with the state, apply for a motor carrier authority, purchase a surety bond and necessary insurances, and more. Given those tasks, this is undoubtedly the most time-consuming option to find trucking loads. However, it is a creative way to do so that can be a profitable aspect to a company.
Summary: Find Trucking Shipments Easier With the Right Partners in Your Corner
Building clientele can be time-consuming for an owner-operator, let alone those driving and managing a handful of trucks. Owners can personally or virtually interact with shippers or outsource the responsibility to an employee, agency, or broker. Streamlining managerial and accounting obligations gives owners more time to find quality shippers for potential partnerships. To free up your time to see which technique is right for your business, get started with BasicBlock today.