Partners in Business
Using the Internet
Online trucking resources can help you work faster, smarter and more profitably.
With a connection to the Internet, you can find virtually anything you need to know concerning technology and your business. Many owner-operators use the Internet to:
• Check traffic reports, weather and fuel prices.
• Find and book loads.
• Send bills of lading.
• Keep in touch with family and friends.
• Keep in touch with dispatch.
• Manage bank accounts and finances.
• Stay up to date on trucking news.
• Plan routes.
• Shop for the best prices on equipment.
• Send receipts and settlement statements to business services providers.
LAND-BASED CONNECTIONS. These rely on extensive cable networks and operate similar to a regular phone system. If you choose to use exclusively land-based connection services, you will be limited mostly to your home, hotels and increasingly scarce truck stop kiosks. You will have access only when your laptop is attached to an available land line.
WIRELESS CONNECTIONS. These allow you to connect from most any remote location where cellular data or Wi-Fi local-area-network service is provided. To use Wi-Fi, your laptop must have wireless capability, as all newer laptops do. More and more locations, such as hotels, rest stops and coffee shops, offer a Wi-Fi network, sometimes for free. Most truck stop wireless services require a subscription fee.
Another wireless alternative is to link your laptop to your cell phone and sign up for a cellular-based wireless service. Using a standard cell phone connection can quickly become expensive if you spend a lot of time online. It’s also historically been slower than most Wi-Fi networks, but it’s getting faster all the time, particularly with the recent surge in smartphone use.
Following is a closer look at two of the most helpful owner-operator applications.
Load matching once meant scraps of paper with phone numbers stuck on truck-stop bulletin boards, or postings on a TV monitor. Today, online load boards link owner-operators to inbound freight and backhauls, based on equipment type and specific lanes. Most require a monthly subscription fee.
Smart users of online load boards can maximize their loaded miles, reduce layover times and dramatically increase their number of clients. In addition to loads, most boards provide information about a broker’s or shipper’s credit history.
One of the leading services is TruckersEdge.net, powered by Transcore’s DAT network, the country’s oldest and largest load board. TruckersEdge.net also provides the freight matching service available through OverdriveOnline.com.
The service also provides information critical to owner-operators’ cash flow, like brokers’ average days to pay, credit profile and bond information; mileage and routing tools; and unlimited searching and posting. TruckersEdge.net packages include access to broker-negotiation tools like truckload lane average rates, customized searches and notifications of specific matches, as well as phone posting.
Some other major load services are:
• Internet Truckstop (www.truckstop.com) offers real-time searches, credit reports, weather information, road conditions, fuel optimization and mileage and routing information. It’s also accessible by e-mail, fax or phone.
• GetLoaded (www.getloaded.com) offers subscribers access to credit scores, mileage calculators and weather reports, among other features.
• NetTrans (www.nettrans.com) offers credit scores based on the actual billing experience of a factoring company.