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How to Find Loads as an Owner-Operator

How Do Owner-Operators Find Loads?

Identifying loads is one of an owner-operator's most important responsibilities. Busy transport schedules provide steady revenue and increase overall success. However, finding the right loads requires the right research and strategies. Learn how owner-operators can find truckloads with these five techniques.

1. Work With Freight Brokers

Freight brokers work as connectors between shippers and owner-operators. They stay updated on available shipments and take notes about load costs, locations and required times. Then, freight brokers communicate with owner-operators and help them find loads matching their price requirements and schedules. Brokers can also negotiate with shippers to reach the best price point possible.

Working with a broker has multiple benefits, including:

  • Access to many loads: Brokers have extensive connections within the industry and can link owner-operators with many potential load options. The more choices you have, the better you can arrange your schedule around your needs. For instance, you could choose loads that align with your existing schedule.
  • Quick connections: Brokers monitor available loads and contact you about them without additional effort on your part. Owner-operators can focus on other operational tasks and let their broker manage scheduling, reducing overall workloads.

However, freight brokers often require a portion of your haul profit for their services. Brokers might charge between 15% to 25% of your total profit, which reduces your overall revenue. While you might find available loads faster, you lose a portion of your profit. Some owner-operators prefer to build their own relationships with shippers to avoid this additional cost. Your decision depends on your preferences and ability to build connections.

2. Consult Load Boards

Owner-operators can also use load boards to find available jobs. These online marketplaces list current or upcoming loads that require truck transportation. The postings include details about freight like:

  • Freight type
  • Current and final destination
  • Weight
  • Overall dimensions
  • Special carrying instructions
  • Payment

You can access load boards online or through apps. Advanced search and filter features let users organize available freight according to their preferences. Load boards might also include bidding tools that allow multiple carriers to negotiate loads. With instant bidding, you avoid lengthy discussions and can see whether the shipper accommodates your request right away.

Load boards contain significant advantages for users, making it easy to research and select freight options. Many load boards are free to use, letting owner-operators find loads without additional expenses. Others require a monthly or annual subscription for access. You can browse available load boards and find options that suit your budget best.

A potential downside of load boards is unpredictability. Available work might vary between weeks, making your schedule and revenue less steady. Some owner-operators use load boards to build connections with shippers, then use direct communication to find jobs later.

Make Cold Calls

3. Make Cold Calls

Some owner-operators rely on cold calls to contact shippers and locate available transport jobs. With this strategy, owner-operators research shippers and identify options that align with business goals or rate requirements. After they narrow down potential shippers, owner-operators call them and ask to haul their freight.

Advantages of cold calling include:

  • Potential to build stable relationships: By taking additional time to get to know shippers and presenting your reasons for a working relationship, you might set your organization apart from competitors. You can build lasting connections with shippers that increase your business's recognition in the industry.
  • Steady work opportunities: After you develop a working relationship with shippers, they can consider you a regular option for freight hauls in the future. This connection allows for consistent work opportunities, assisting with your revenue flow.
  • Minimal expenses: It doesn't cost anything to build connections manually. You spend additional time researching and calling leads but don't have to pay subscription or service fees for various platforms.

However, you might encounter disadvantages like:

  • Extra time needed for success: It takes time to identify and establish relationships with businesses. Some companies might be uninterested in additional freight haulers because they have many existing connections. Owner-operators might find it challenging to develop a steady book of work opportunities as a result.
  • Not always suited for immediate work: If you need an immediate job to cover overhead expenses or keep a steady cash flow, cold calls might not offer options right away.

4. Dispatch Services

Dispatch services are another available option to get loads as an owner-operator. Dispatchers locate freight loads, oversee deliveries, communicate potential road delays and perform other critical tasks for truck companies.

In some cases, dispatchers also manage administrative tasks for freight companies, such as responding to customer support inquiries or processing invoices. Owner-operators can hire internal dispatchers or partner with a dispatch service to access these solutions.

Choosing a dispatch service offers benefits like:

  • Reduced time spent looking for loads: Dispatchers locate and negotiate loads for you, streamlining the search process. You can get started with jobs more quickly instead of spending excess time identifying leads.
  • Streamlined administrative tasks: If you hire an internal dispatcher, they could also manage administrative responsibilities for billing, delivery, customer support and other areas. Administrative assistance can improve owner-operator efficiency and accuracy, improving your overall organization.

One downside of dispatch services is that it adds an additional expense for owner-operators. Hiring an in-house dispatcher has many benefits for route optimization and freight location, but you have to add them to your payroll. Dispatch services also charge a fee for their assistance, which can vary.

5. Lease-On With a Company

Lease-on agreements let owner-operators work with specific freight companies to carry loads. In a lease agreement, you own and maintain your equipment while completing specific work contracts. Companies maintain a private load board for lease-on owner-operators, which can lead to more job opportunities.

A lease-on arrangement provides a steady connection with a freight company and flexibility to choose loads matching their needs. You might also avoid maintenance or insurance costs if the company covers those expenses for you.

However, a lease-on agreement limits an owner-operator's flexibility. One of the primary advantages of becoming an owner-operator is the increased authority over scheduling and load selection. Lease-on agreements might restrict flexibility depending on your contractual specifications.

Request a Demo From Bestpass Today

Finding consistent workloads is essential for owner-operator success. Whether you cold call companies, hire a dispatcher, use load boards or apply other methods, there are many ways to get your own truckloads. Effective management techniques help your organization work more efficiently.

Toll management is another vital management component for owner-operators. Keeping track of toll costs and payments can become confusing without proper management, especially as you start your trucking company. With Bestpass toll management solutions, you can stay organized and streamline toll payments, allowing you to save an average of $280 annually on toll costs. To learn more about Bestpass toll management solutions, sign up today.

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