Over independent owner-operator Zach Beadle’s career of nearly three decades, he’s amassed quite a collection of keys – more than one for every year in business. But those keys don’t turn the ignitions for any big collection of trucks. Beadle’s been running since the late 1980s in the same 1976 Peterbilt cabover, hauling livestock, hay, heavy equipment, liquid feed and fertilizer, using trailers he owns.
“Those keys go to people’s ranch houses,” says the Devine, Texas-based owner-operator. “They go to packing houses where they give you a key to go in at night and unload your cattle” – and more.
Though Beadle doesn’t use all of them today, he keeps them in his cab as a reminder of where he’s been through the history of his one-truck business. They also reinforce what he believes about success: “The gut of who a person is. If they’re honest, and they look for ways to go the extra mile” for the customer, then trust, respect and dollars will follow.
Or, to put it from the customer’s perspective: “Shippers have long memories,” says Gail Rutkowski, executive director of the National Shippers Strategic Transportation Council, whose members work in manufacturers’ transportation departments.
The freight marketplace has become more of a seller’s market, Rutkowski says. Though capacity hasn’t been nearly as tight through the last year as it was the prior year, pressures will only continue to mount.
“Now couldn’t be a better time for small carriers to take that initiative and go out and approach the shipper” about doing business direct, she says. “Shippers are looking for those carriers. That’s the reason they so often turn to brokers – they don’t have the bandwidth to go out and search for those smaller carriers.”
For nine of every 10 independent owner-operator readers of Overdrive, direct-shipper freight is either the ideal or the reality, attractive for the higher margins that are possible when the middleman doesn’t take a cut.
Do you aspire to contract directly with shippers for freight?
Via the stories that are part of this package of reports, linked below, find avenues to take in searching for shippers, as well as tactics for building your customer base.