Trucking companies carry supplies that keep the modern world turning, and in the same token, the trucker’s world turns through what they carry. But the ability to find loads to haul comes from knowing where to get loads for trucks without breaking the bank. In this industry, the difference between success and failure for small to medium enterprises can simply be the difference between choosing the right or wrong loads. Due to the capacity crunch, a mountain of freight is waiting at or near ports. Experts have yet to conclude when this bottleneck will end. Bloomberg shares that “Economists at HSBC have gamed out three scenarios for how and when the Big Crunch of 2021 eventually comes to an end.” These three speculations range from endings as early as February or as late as the end of 2022.
With freight bottlenecked at ports across the country, backhaul loads are rarer to come by. Fear of deadhead trucks and wasted gas has become familiar to many, despite the excessive amount of freight there is to haul. How can carriers find loads to haul that will actually maximize their profit? This article will provide a wealth of suggestions for owner-operators and fleet managers alike.
The Role of Strategic Planning in Finding More Loads
Finding the correct loads is a vital aspect of the success of every trucking company. In the same way that it is more accurate to refer to car accidents as collisions due to the preventable nature of most situations, deadheading and depleting working capital is also often avoidable. Exploring new ways to find freight to haul makes it possible to find lane matching and backhaul options.
Creativity and strategy go hand in hand when researching how to find truck loads. Looking outside the network of comfort should be done with a critical eye. Just because loads are abundant does not make every load profitable when considering expenses, risk, and how long it will take shippers to pay their invoice. People benefit from incorporating strategy and rhythm into their everyday lives; why not incorporate the same into business? Carriers should routinely consider new strategies that improve the quality of loads they haul, and thus improve cash flow.
1. Expand Your Network by Working With a Freight Broker
Working through a freight broker is one of the most common ways shippers find their carriers. A freight broker is a middleman who monetizes on maintaining relationships in both sides of an industry. This payment comes through a percentage of each delivered material for making the connection that made the delivery possible.
How Brokers Help Truckers Find High-Quality Trucking Loads
By investing in relationships, brokers can do the vetting process for truckers. Time and communication give brokers clear sight of which candidates would make quality shipper partners. It’s important for companies considering this avenue of finding loads for truck drivers to know that they, too, will be equally vetted. Reliability and trustworthiness are key components to this method on all sides of the coin.
How to Find Freight Brokers That Will Help Your Business Thrive
When looking for a quality broker, trucking companies first must identify legitimate and credible candidates. Because there is not an entry requirement for becoming a broker, there are a few key features to look for:
- Is this broker’s insurance adequate?
- Does this broker hold a current license?
- Is this broker experienced in the industry?
While it always takes time to adjust to new processes and team members, carriers who start with these three questions will find themselves grateful for the head start. The beginning steps to finding a broker can be done online, but the additional steps will require persistence and curiosity on the carrier’s behalf. Discovering the broker’s financial standing can be done through a credit check. Examine their communication expectations by reading a broker-carrier agreement. Will this broker be reliable in unanticipated situations? Choosing a broker should not be a hasty decision, but with careful choice it can be a great addition to the operation.
2. Choose a Strategic Load Board
Load boards are websites that facilitate the posting and claiming of live loads. On a high-functioning load board, shippers and brokers are both able to post available loads to haul with relevant information to carriers viewing the site. Carriers can post their own available trucks and search and bid on already viewable loads. Strategic load boards may even corporate their own payment method into the system, creating an opportunity for risk-free payments faster than the typical 30-90 day invoice window.
Experienced truckers know that while some boards are free, many have membership fees that can rack up to three digits per month. Free boards sometimes don’t have all the details necessary, and expensive boards have unnecessary features. Opting for an affordable load board aids in streamlining processes without removing too much of the working capital. Strategic load boards should also contain helpful information such as advanced search options and current market rate information. These tools help drivers quickly determine appropriate bids for freight so they can get back on the road just as quickly.
3. Use Resources That Work Across Any Device
Given how quickly technology is transforming society and business, it’s important to utilize tools to adapt to that growth. While truckers have many great ideas to implement, if the process is not adaptable and useful from device to device, they can quickly become more hurtful than helpful. Exporting resources from one site to another becomes another time-waster in the name of productivity. Tools that have mobile-friendly sites or applications are the best chosen for an industry primarily accomplished on the road. When vetting virtual resources, carriers need to look for a user-friendly interface across the board and at companies that are looking to evolve with the times of technology in favor of their customers’ success.
4. Start Tracking the Data to Understand Your Value in Each Market
The amount of data and access to it is at an all-time high. Carriers benefit from accumulating quality data about their business to make timely business decisions with confidence. Incorporating unnecessary data can clog up paid virtual storage and also distract from the primary goals of the business. As economists and the freight industry began 2021 together waiting for the dam to burst, it’s more vital than ever for carriers to grasp the pent-up demand properly and how that changes the market daily. Sonar by FreightWaves and DAT Freight and Analytics are the most prominent candidates for businesses to accomplish this. Still, other logistic technologies also incorporate some of this data into their accounting or streamlining elements. Owner-operators and fleet managers who can access and understand updates of the market and their place in it can quickly and adequately charge for their loads with precision.
5. Lease on With Another Trucking Company
While most owner-operators who need loads to haul might consider this a last resort, it should still be one carefully considered. By leasing on with another company, drivers maintain ownership of their trucks but no longer have the primary responsibility for choosing loads themselves. In addition, gas and insurance are often covered by the other trucking company, creating more margin in overhead costs. While much of the managerial duty is removed in this situation, time control is often removed because the other company determines loads based on route and schedule. The time aspect makes this one of the most challenging ways of finding loads for truck drivers to use in conjunction with other avenues. Nevertheless, it is a reliable work source for owner-operators who are looking for consistent work.
6. Streamline Payment Management With an App-Based Factoring Solution
When incorporating anything into a business, it is important to review which duties can afford less time. One way to maximize the time to find freight to haul is to simplify accounting. By incorporating an app-based factoring solution, truck companies can do just that. Using an app like ComFreight’s Haul Pay outsources and automates invoices to free up hours per day. Thorough payment management software can also eliminate risk by allowing credit checks of current or potential customers. These credit checks provide information that gives peace of mind to carriers as they quickly make decisions on load choices. Haul Pay stands out among its payment management competitors because it can do all of this and more while wholly integrated into any workflow.
7. Connect With Shippers Directly
Sometimes looking for creative ways to solve a problem simply goes back to the basics. As the freight industry took shape in years past, shipper-carrier relationships were based on availability and simply talking to each other about their needs. Today carriers can still reach out to shippers directly, and now through even more avenues with the development of technology providing phone calls, email, and social media.
When pursuing this method of how to find freight loads, it’s important to prepare a sales pitch of availability and credibility that is both appealing and truthful. Consider what information is relevant to shippers when choosing a carrier, such as the weight and height maximum per load and the track record of getting material to the destination safely and timely. This type of unsolicited sales, often referred to as cold calling, can be frustrating at times, given the high frequency of rejection. However, reaching the right contact at the right time can build a warm business relationship that is advantageous to both parties.
8. Work With All Available Organizations, Including Governments
For fleet managers wondering how to get loads for a trucking company, it’s important to consider every sector. Government contracts can be great resources to companies who want reliable, consistent work. Municipal centers need reams of paper, law enforcement teams need uniforms, and the military needs training equipment. How will those items and much more get there on time? Carriers interested in gaining access to even bid on these jobs must first be willing to jump through the necessary hoops.
Some of these recommendations and requirements could be a Hazmat endorsement, security clearance, and knowledge of military procedure and terms. There are a variety of items needed by the civil, state, federal, and military governments and reliable truck drivers should carry them.
Owner-operators and fleet managers who believe they can fulfill that need for reliability must also consider how necessary it is to maintain correct paperwork. Incorrect invoices slow everyone down, but especially so in this sector. The Department of Defense and General Services Administration are great places to start finding loads for truck drivers.
9. Hire a Dispatcher or Dispatch Service
Those outside the trucking industry envision dispatchers as the person on the other end of the radio who shares information to get loads delivered and drivers home safely. Today, dispatchers primarily serve as the main line of communication between brokers, shippers, and trucking companies. Carriers considering how to increase their working capital may not have considered hiring an employee as an option, but finding a well-qualified, experienced dispatcher can truly add true value to a trucking company.
When electing to incorporate a dispatcher or dispatch service, trucking companies can still contribute input and preferences of loads. Dispatchers will also hunt for the most profitable loads because they are typically paid a percentage of everything delivered. In some circumstances, a hired dispatcher may step into part of the accounting role since they are already the primary communicator with the customers. While this option relieves managerial responsibilities, there are additional payroll costs to consider.
10. Network, Network, Network
Just as negative gossip travels by mouth, so does positive press. Networking is a vital component of thriving small businesses, and unfortunately, owner-operators cannot network from the sleeper cabin. Small talk while fueling up can be helpful, but for those invested in new profitable loads, the owner-operator must be more intentional than that.
Being diligent and attentive during sessions is an excellent way to get the insider’s tip on how shippers think and make decisions. Empathy and understanding for the other half of the industry can create more talking points for owner-operators when interacting with current and prospective customers. While attending conferences and events may not be what one had in mind when considering how to get freight loads, it’s an excellent way for carriers to get in front of decision-makers at shipping companies.
Associations are filled with competition. Why join one? Networking is not just for carrier-to-customer relations but also carrier-to-carrier connections. In carrier-to-carrier networking, relationships are built to have reliable (almost) co-workers to call upon in a time of need personally, or on behalf of a client. By collecting a network of fellow carriers with varying skills and endorsements, a trucking company’s value can grow before their own shipping clients, as well as before their co-carriers who may call on them in time of need.
11. Broker Your Own Loads
If a trucking company manager is searching “Where to get loads for trucks,” freight brokers are likely a frequent suggestion. So why not become one? The truthful answer is that it is a lot of work — but not unattainable! Experience in the back office of the trucking industry is helpful but not required. Because there is no industry path for schooling, the first step is to either find quality classes or train underneath an established broker. When a prospective broker is well-versed in transporting legalities through local, state, and federal regulations, they are ready to register as a new broker company with the state.
Having an established broker on hand to help guide through the processes of the motor carrier authority, surety bond, insurances, and choosing process agents is helpful as each step can be complicated and intertwined with other business decisions. While it is unquestionably the most complex form of how to get loads for trucks, having the backup career option is always a plus!
12. Expand Your Professional Social Media Presence
Many truckers know the value of social media in a personal setting. While drivers are on the road, they can maintain connections with friends and family regardless of the route length. Social media has also evolved into a great place for professional connection and education. Clarissa Rankin and Brenda Villanueva both share with TheTrucker.com what it’s like as TikTok Truckers, using social media as a tool to break down gender stereotypes and tell the world what truck drivers do apart from sitting on their rear all day.
These women and others have used websites and apps originally designed for entertainment as an opportunity for networking, marketing, and even breaking stereotypes. Many social media sites can be used when considering how to find loads to haul creatively. At the time of posting, the two front runners are LinkedIn and Facebook Groups (Meta).
13. Create New Value by Specializing
Most freight can be carried by any driver holding any of the three classes of Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). Class A is the most common for truck drivers, but a Class C license opens up opportunities for double/triple trailers, Hazmat vehicles, tank trucks, and more. Class B is the least common among truck drivers, but with the right endorsements can still be usable. Beyond having the right CDL, some freight requires additional training, specific trailers, or endorsements. Below is a list of how to get loads for truck drivers by specializing in particular shipping industry sections.
- Reefer – This temperature-controlled trailer does not require a special endorsement, though it is recommended to gain additional training. Carriers specializing in reefer transportation find a niche with shippers who have consumable products, primarily food or medicine.
- Drayage – This trucking style specializes in the moving of container cargo over small distances. These jobs are usually near ports as truckers transfer containers from port to port or to a rail yard to continue a longer journey.
- The N Endorsement – This certifies Class A and B drivers the permission to drive tank vehicles. Tank vehicles typically haul bulk liquids such as water, gas, milk, etc., but sometimes hold bulk dry grains and other solids.
- The H Endorsement – Any CDL driver can pursue this endorsement that permits them to haul hazardous material. The training is more extensive for this endorsement because the materials being hauled can be flammable or combustible.
- The X Endorsement – This permits Class A and B drivers to haul tanks filled with hazardous material. While this really slims down options, it does not limit drivers with this endorsement to exclusively drive hazard-filled tanks.
- The T Endorsement – Class A drivers can obtain this endorsement to haul double or triple trailer loads. Like X, this narrows down hauls tremendously but does not limit drivers to only these hauls.
Carriers who want to specialize in certain areas can benefit from researching market data or a strategic load board to see which loads are most profitable in the area due to a lack of drivers. Trucking companies who invest in the training and equipment required for varying industry niches welcome a host of additionally available hauls.
Summary: Find Trucking Shipments Easier With the Right Partners in Your Corner
Fluctuating stock at groceries stores reminds the average American that truck drivers are needed more than ever. Those same fluctuations can cause truck drivers to make hasty business moves that are not profitable long term. The freight and logistics industry is evolving to meet the needs of today’s market, as is transportation freight finance. By partnering with the right back-office services, truck drivers can dedicate more time to choosing the right loads and getting back on the road. Choose to grow your company, and evolve digitally with Comfreight today.