Load boards are an extremely beneficial and profitable tool for owner-operators. Whether you have been driving for another company and are looking to branch out on your own or are completely new to the industry, load boards are an easy and efficient way to start managing your own trucks.
Over 70% of freight in America is moved by trucks, generating more than $800 billion in revenue annually. This profit potential makes working in the trucking industry highly desirable. However, as a carrier, figuring out how to find and make the most of the loads available can be tricky if you don’t know where to start. This is where load boards can be beneficial - they provide everything you need for brokers to easily find you. You can post your truck and find freight in one convenient place.
How to Successfully Post Your Truck to Load Boards
Load boards are an essential tool for owner-operators looking to find freight that meets specific needs and boosts the bottom line. Though you can certainly use the manual search to find loads that fit your preferences, posting your truck and letting brokers find you can be more convenient and save you time. No two load boards are the same, so you may have to search around until you find one that works best for you. However, once you find a good freight marketplace, turning a profit can be as easy as posting your truck and letting the loads come to you.
Be Specific Listing Your Load Criteria
Though posting your truck is a great way to grow your business, there are some things to keep in mind: To ensure you are getting the best loads for your business and making a profit, you’ll want to be specific about your load criteria. When you post your truck, be sure to be very clear about what you are offering, what kind of truck you have and its capabilities, and what kind of loads you are looking to book. Listing specific details will help avoid brokers contacting you with shipments that don’t meet your needs.
If you are not specific enough, you might find that you are losing money and wasting time sitting around with an empty truck, waiting to be contacted. You will get as much out of load boards as you put into them. So if you take the time to find the best one, understand how it works, and how best to use its features to find what you need, it can greatly benefit your business. Below are the criteria you should list and be specific about to ensure you are finding the right freight to suit your needs:
- The name of your company along with your contact information
- The length and type of trailer you have– flatbed, refrigerated, dry van, etc.
- The dates and times that your truck is available
- Your desired pick-up location
- Your desired drop-off location
- Load type – full or partial
- The weight you are comfortable transporting
- If you are certified to transport hazardous material
Talking to Brokers
Once you have successfully posted your truck, you should start to hear from brokers who have available loads. You may still get contacted by brokers with shipments that don’t match your needs, so be sure to verify that the load they have is right for you before accepting. You are also likely to get offered low rates – don’t be afraid to negotiate in these cases. You will never grow your business if you are constantly accepting rates that are too low. It’s important to know your operating costs, as well as market and lane trends, to properly negotiate for better rates.
Load Board Benefits
1. Low Cost Investment
Surprisingly, with all that they offer, load boards do not typically require any expensive upfront investment. While some load boards may charge $150-$200 a month, there’s no need to dig into your pockets to shell out for their great features. Many load boards are either free or require a low monthly or annual fee.
2. Get Loads That Work for Your Business
By posting your truck to load boards with the specific criteria you are looking for, you can easily get matched with freight suited to your business. Even if you decide to search for loads manually, there are many ways to narrow down the results and create alerts when new loads become available that meet your criteria. Either way, posting or searching with load boards, you will have access to thousands of loads daily, as well as features that can help you find freight that works better for you and your business.
3. Real-Time Load Information
Some load boards make it possible to see everything available in real time as they are refreshed and updated. Depending on the specific load board, you may need to pay a subscription to unlock this feature; however, quality load boards will offer this visibility. This allows you to gain access to loads as soon as they become available, 24/7. As mentioned above, you can even set it up to send alerts and notifications any time a new load is posted that matches your criteria. Whether you are posting your truck or searching for loads yourself, this ensures that you rarely sit idle with an empty truck and can find freight or be contacted by brokers with new loads.
4. Stay On Top of Current Market Rates
Load boards aren’t just a convenient way to find loads; they are also full of useful information to help you understand current rate trends. As rates can change from week to week, understanding the market and knowing what is and isn’t a good rate will help you when it comes time to negotiate with brokers.
5. Convenient Use and Tracking
Accessing available freight is easy no matter where you are when using a load board with a digital platform. Many freight marketplaces offer iOS and Android-enabled apps for convenient mobile access as well. Some platforms go the extra mile and minimize manual processes– which means less paperwork, reduced back and forth on phone calls, and no wasting time tracking information down. Everything you need is available in one convenient place.
What to Avoid and Keep in Mind as a Carrier
Though load boards are generally a safe, easy, and convenient way for owner-operators to start and grow their business, there are a few things to keep in mind. The following tips will help ensure that you don’t run into any problems:
- Do your research: No two load boards are the same. They all generally offer the same services, but the features, loads, and facilities can vary. Before jumping headfirst into the first one you find, do some digging to ensure that it is the right fit for you. Simply checking reviews from other users and doing a quick browse of their website can be a good indicator of whether or not it is a reliable platform to use.
- Be aware of scammers: While the load board you decide to go with may have many great features as well as good reviews, you may find yourself interacting with someone trying to rip you off. Before agreeing to work with a company or shipper, it is smart to run credit checks and request identification and insurance verification. If their rates seem too good to be true or are way too high, it might be a scam.
- Calculate costs: Because load boards are easy to use, with new opportunities added every day, starting your own business might seem easier and better than you ever imagined. However, it’s easy to lose track and find yourself in the hole or just barely breaking even.
Finding the right load board for you isn’t simply about finding one with the best features; it’s ensuring that the load, the rate, and the relationships you build truly work for your individual needs. Review your operating costs and determine what rates you can and can’t work with before accepting or negotiating on any freight rates.
How to Further Maximize Your Profits Using Load Boards
As an owner-operator, entrepreneur, and small business owner, it is crucial for you to maximize your profits wherever possible. This means making the most of load board features and making as much money as you can on every load. Here are some tips that you can use when starting out to help ensure you are boosting your bottom line and running a successful business:
- Filter by rate: Posting your truck and specifying a high rate is good, but you can also do manual searches for higher-priced loads if brokers aren’t always contacting you with the best rates. You can always negotiate for higher rates, of course, but with load boards, it’s also easy to seek them out yourself if needed. Just be sure you can handle the specifics of the load, as there could be a reason why the rate is so high. It’s never a good idea to over promise and under deliver.
- Run similar lanes: While keeping an open mind and not always taking the same routes can help you find more freight that meets your needs, running the same lanes can have benefits as well. When you run the same lanes, you become very familiar with the average rates and the peculiarities of the route. This knowledge helps you avoid low rates or scams, as well as helping you negotiate for better rates from a position of strength and familiarity. It’s hard to argue with someone who knows what they are talking about – brokers are less likely to negotiate you down on a rate if they can tell you have experience with the rates in that area.
- Keep your truck full: Always transport with a full truck if possible. If you get a load that is LTL (less-than-truckload), you can use the manual search to find another LTL load that matches your route and will fill the rest of the space on your truck. Making sure your truck is full means you get more money in one trip. Even if you have to go slightly out of the way to make a pick-up or drop-off, it can be more than enough to make up for the extra distance, time, and fuel expense if you get a good rate.
- Avoid empty backhauls: Instead of traveling back home with an empty trailer, try finding another load that you can transport on your way back. It’s helpful to do this ahead of time, so you aren’t wasting time and money sitting idle. If you wait until the last minute to book a backhaul, you may find that you are more likely to accept lower rates so that you can get back on the road as quickly as possible. Brokers know this, so book early.
- Build relationships with trusted brokers: While playing hardball to get the highest rate possible might seem like the best way to make the most money, constantly jumping from one brokerage to another, is also a good way to ruin relationships. You want a good rate, but you still want to be fair. By negotiating both good and fair rates with brokers and establishing your reliability to haul their loads, they will be more likely to reach out to you in the future with the best loads. Brokers love to give reliable carriers repeat business at higher rates because they know their freight will arrive on time. The peace of mind for them is worth paying a higher rate and extra profit for you. Building a successful business isn’t just about the money; it’s about making connections and building good relationships as well.
Further Tips to Get Started as an Owner-Operator
There is a lot to consider when branching out as an owner-operator. Load boards provide an array of benefits and useful features to get you started, but it’s wise to dig further to understand the ins and outs of the industry thoroughly. For additional content to help you get started and grow your business in the trucking industry, check out our blogs on how to find a good load board and the importance and benefits of using map search features.
Xpress Technologies is committed to helping owner-operators maintain their independence and control by providing consistent and reliable freight to meet their individual needs. We’re right there with you — one journey at a time.