Online boards provide tools for turning greater profits if you do your homework
New owner-operator Jay Proctor relies on online trucking load boards to find most of the freight he carries with his truck, hotshot flatbed trailer and 53-foot box van. After months of struggling to find well-paying hauls, he says he’s found the “inner circle” of sources that can tap into the top lanes and loads that pay top rates.
“We can make more money than we have been making,” says Proctor, who last year obtained authority for his P3 Trucking Inc.
Team drivers Stan Blom and Kerry Rodman work with steady shippers from their Des Moines, Iowa-area base and tap into load boards when they need to find back hauls. Board customers since 1999, they are selective on what loads they’ll consider because they follow a tight schedule.
As these examples illustrate, using load boards can help you turn a profit if you know what to look for among thousands of listings.
Used as a tool for securing freight, boards can be a “virtual partner,” says Ken Harper, senior marketing manager at TransCore. For an owner-operator or a small fleet, the load board can serve many of the same functions that a large fleet employs in-house. “If you use a load board only when you’re desperate, you need to be rethinking what you’re doing,” he says.
David Schrader, senior vice president of operations at TransCore, says a firm survey of carriers that used load boards for 30 percent to 60 percent of their freight revealed they earned $1,378 more per truck each month than haulers who don’t use boards.
Load boards can be effective for various types of haulers, says Fergus Caldicott, general manager at Getloaded.com. They can work for an operator who has steady hauls and needs to supplement them with back hauls, as well as for a more frequent user who wants diversity in what, where and when loads are needed. “We have data that suggest that the spot rate is higher than the contract rate,” he says, and that is typically true in times when rates are improving.
Leigh Foxall, director of national accounts at Internet Truckstop, says that getting the most out of a load board requires time and study. She says the firm mounts a weekly business development webinar series on finding freight and some of the same operators will listen in more than once to get pointers and ask questions.
Rodman and Blom might leave Iowa on Sunday to deliver a contract load in Ohio on Monday. They then may look to a load board for a load to return to Iowa in time to pick up scheduled freight bound for Kentucky on Tuesday. On that return, they will seek a quick turnaround if either has an appointment later in the week. Otherwise, they will try for one or two hauls that provide the most revenue.
“If you use a load board only when you’re desperate, you need to be rethinking what you’re doing,”