When it comes to finding new business, truckers have a few options. They can use social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. They can post their ads on the side of trucks or billboards that are often seen in public areas. They can visit places where truckers gather, especially truck stops. They can use their phone to download apps for local information about services, such as fuel and parking, along with business listings. They can call a number on the side of trucks at truck stops to get help with finding a job or filling out an application.
However, these approaches all have their drawbacks:
LinkedIn is probably going to be the most effective platform to find new clients. The main drawback is the lack of actual information on work that is available. Truckers are looking for general freight shipping companies that would hire them. The sites make it very difficult to find out the basic information about loads needing transport or the company and their business.
Placing adverts on billboards or promoting their contact details on the side of the vehicle are ways a company can build brand awareness – which will lead to some work. However, advertising is expensive and time-consuming. If you are starting out as a new carrier it is unlikely that you will win much work this way.
Additionally, work that is generated from social media and traditional advertising is likely to result in deadheading. The practice of returning home with an empty truck – unless there is a return load the journey is just burning time and money spent on fuel, simply because the chances of winning loads that match destinations points and time schedules is extremely thin.
Where should truckers look for loads?
This is particularly relevant if your business is new and you don’t have many client relationships that you can leverage. Load board provide an option for truckers looking for work. For more established carriers, a load board might not be the most profitable source of new business. However, the boards will enable a reduction in empty miles.
What is a Load Board?
Load boards are online platforms where carriers, freight forwarders, and shippers can connect with each other. These platforms help to match the demand and supply of shipments for specific routes or regions.
There are free and paid-for load boards. Whilst it may be tempting to just look at the free boards there are benefits to a paid subscription.
Paid vs free load boards
There are two main types of load boards: those that charge a subscription fee, and those that are free. There is a real benefit to using the paid load boards because brokers and shippers have more incentive to keep the information up to date. Both free and paid load boards have their drawbacks, but free load boards are particularly problematic: the information is often out of date and inaccurate. Even worse, there is no way for you to remove your information from a free load board if it is no longer relevant.
In contrast, paid load boards include features that make it easier for you to manage your loads. The paid service provides an alert function that notifies you if someone posts an offer with details that match your requirements. In this situation, you can respond promptly to be selected over other truckers who may also want the job. Carriers are at less risk of non-payment as they can verify a broker’s reputation. Some boards provide details of days to pay and credit history.
Reduction in wasted journeys
As previously mentioned, a big problem for carriers is deadheading. Using a load board can significantly reduce this problem. The information provided on the load board is generally more up-to-date and accurate than on free boards.
More frequent updates
Load boards will also provide you with additional information relating to the routes, timings, and cost of other jobs that might interest you. For example, when you search for a route on the load board, all outstanding offers that are closest to your location are shown. If a broker is offering work for an attractive price, then you can be in touch with them quickly.
Other benefits of paid load boards
A load board that charges a subscription fee will require you to have a bank account and credit card to use the service. If you have these, you are less likely to go bust because of unpaid invoices or be owed money by other customers.
Paid load boards will help to build your reputation as a solid and reliable carrier, as long as you respond to leads promptly. This reputation is also likely to lead to relationships with bigger shippers. As your business grows, it is more likely that freight forwarders or brokers will direct their clients towards your business due to their previous experiences working with you. This can increase your profit margins as there would be less competition for work that comes to you directly.
Planning your loads
Load boards also enable you to see which routes are in demand or unavailable. This helps you to plan your business as there is less chance of wasting time and money traveling to a location where there is no work available.
Brokers and shippers benefit from paid load boards
It’s not just carriers that benefit from a paid subscription to a load board. Brokers and shippers can:
- Post more loads more efficiently
- View carrier rates
- Track loads from end to end
- Start using compliant carriers more quickly
- Reduce risk
Load boards provide a way for a carrier to connect with freight forwarders, brokers, and shippers to find work. Paid load boards can be more effective than other ways of finding new business because they provide more information about the customers who are looking for a trucker such as contact details, the type of loads they need, and an indication of price.
While free load boards might seem like a good idea when you are starting out, these platforms have many drawbacks including obsolete information that could lead to deadheading. The paid service helps you to reduce wasted journeys, which means you spend less time driving empty trucks.