Part of your pre-startup planning is figuring out which brokers you will work with to find loads and start making that new money cash flow.
One of the most important skills to learn as a new carrier is how to find loads and maintain a solid list of customers.
Some new carriers already have a few relationships built in who they are hauling cargo for, others must start from scratch.
Regardless, relationships are key to find quality loads and start making money.
But how do you build these relationships and what tools are available?
In this article we will look at four ways carriers look for loads:
- Use a freight broker
- Use a load board
- Negotiate directly with shippers
- Become a government contractor
It is up to you to determine what method works best for you in each stage of your company.
1. Use a freight broker
As one of the most common ways for new carriers to find loads, good freight brokers can bring peace of mind by connecting you with trusted shippers, negotiate the best rates to haul cargo, optimize routes to prevent dead-head miles, and help you save time to keep your wheels moving.
They can save owner operators a lot of effort since they do most of the work to match loads with drivers.
Naturally, the time savings comes with a broker fee for their services.
Tips for vetting brokers: Look for brokers with experience and make sure they are licensed, bonded, and insured. Be sure to read both the positive and negative reviews and start growing a relationship with them. The more you both trust each other, the better the loads being offered.
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When you receive a load, note that the broker is negotiating rates on the back end with the shipper. Make sure the load makes sense for you and will make you money after the fees and general expenses.
2. Use a load board
The easiest way to find loads without a broker doing the research for you is using load boards.
Load boards are websites that essentially provide a venue for shippers and truckers to make arrangements to move freight. Shippers and brokers post truck loads that they need transported.
Many of these website or mobile apps allow you to filter searches by weight and route, let you check credit scores of brokers, see reviews of shippers and other carriers, and more.
There are free load board services (such as TruckerPath) and others that can be used for a monthly fee (such as Truckstop.com’s starting at $39/month). Other popular load boards are DAT Loadboard, 123Loadboard, and Direct Freight, but there are dozens available to research.
You will have to experiment with which load boards to use, how many to use, start building relationships and improve your profile overtime.
3. Negotiate directly with shippers
As we stated earlier, some carriers already have relationships with a few shippers through their previous driving experience.
You can use these shippers for referrals, reviews, and more.
If you are just starting out, start cold calling local shippers in your area and start building a relationship since local shippers may be in the market for an exclusive driver.
What are some steps and considerations when starting out?
- contact shippers and introduce yourself
- find out if a private contract might be available
- don’t get frustrated if you have many shippers turn you down, keep trying
- create a steady source of business
Remember, you are not the only driver out there, so diversify your business across multiple shippers to ensure steady business.
4. Become a government contractor
The last option to consider are the local, state, and federal governments transportation needs.
Unlike other types of loads, you will have to first register as a government contractor to be able to haul their load or partner with another company who is already under a government contract.
Either way, you should contact your state or city government for more details if you are interested in fulfilling government trucking contracts.
Why will a broker or shipper choose you?
It is important to keep in mind what brokers and shippers are looking for when it comes to booking loads.
Some criteria include:
- The amount and type of insurance you hold
- Your CSA safety rating
- Type of trailer available
In the end, the best carriers have a balance of trusted shipper relationships, a trusted load board to access, and a relationship with a broker that can keep your truck moving with low rates and/or the least amount of deadhead miles as possible.
While it is difficult, eventually you will find those unicorn loads that pay very well. You will soon be on your way for those six-figure incomes.
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