The integration of modern technologies like ELDs, dashcams, and fleet management software have transformed the trucking industry over the last few years.

However, one thing hasn’t really changed. Truckers still need to haul loads.

If you’re an owner-operator, you’re also responsible for finding loads to haul.

In this blog, we share four tips on how owner-operators can find loads. We’ll also discuss the importance of truck load boards, and the benefits truck load boards offer to carriers, owner-operators, and shippers.

How do owner-operators find loads?

One of the most important skills to develop in the transportation industry, is learning how to find loads. Especially for self-employed or small fleets.

It can be a time-consuming job. But with the right methods and tools, mastering this skill can pay off very nicely. Here are some tips on finding the right loads for owner-operators.

1. Find a freight broker

Freight brokers are one of the most common ways to connect truckers with shippers. They can save owner-operators a lot of effort since they do most of the work to match loads with drivers.

Of course, there’s generally a fee for their services, so owner-operators need to be aware of any potential additional costs.

In addition, since brokers usually negotiate the rates with the shippers, the owner-operator will need to take the time to assess in advance whether or not the load will be profitable.

2. Negotiate a contract directly with the shipper

Entering agreements directly with shippers can be a great way to get loads. This will most likely require some cold calling.

In other words, you’ll need to contact shippers, introduce yourself, and find out whether a private contract might be available. Calls take time. Don’t be surprised if most of the people you talk to turn you down. That’s normal for any type of cold calling. But if you do your homework and find local shippers who may be in the market for an exclusive driver, you’re more likely to be able to explain the owner-operator load rates and create a steady source of business.

One caveat, though. Shippers will act in their own best interests, as any business would. They may contract with more drivers than they need, so that they’re never left with a load that doesn’t have a driver. You’ll likely need to diversify your business across multiple shippers to ensure steady business.

3. Becoming a government contractor

Local, state, and federal governments have their own transportation needs. One way owner-operators can find loads is by choosing to become a government contractor.

Unlike other types of loads, you’ll have to first register as a government contractor to be able to haul their load. On the other hand, you can partner with another company that’s already under a government contract.

Either way, you should contact your state or city government for more details if you’re interested in fulfilling government trucking contracts.

4. Use a truck load board

This is perhaps the easiest and most efficient way to find loads for truckers.

Truck load boards show you exactly what needs to be shipped, where it’s located, where it’s going, how much it weighs, and any other details specific to the job. Owner-operators can make a quick decision, give rates and other details to the shipper, and be on their way.

The benefits of truck load boards

The trucking industry has relied on truck load boards for decades. Originally, truck load boards could be found at truck stops. In recent years load truck load boards have become digitized and available on your computer or your mobile phone.

Below are some of the many benefits of using advanced electronic truck load boards for owner-operators, carriers, and fleet managers:

  • Truck load boards can speed up the process for owner-operators and fleet managers looking to find loads.
  • In many cases, they help new owner-operators get their businesses off the ground much faster. They find truck loads that match their location and equipment.
  • Load boards open up prospects in areas of the country where a driver may not have previously been able to find loads.
  • Load boards can reduce deadhead by allowing owner-operators to book their next load in the area of their current destination.
  • Some load boards allow owner-operators to negotiate the price.
  • Load boards offer drivers flexibility in their driving and working schedule.

Try the Motive Smart Load Board

Motive’s mission is to help carriers and owner-operators run safer, more compliant, and more profitable businesses.

The Smart Load Board is a load board that delivers the right freight to you.

There’s no need to purchase new equipment or plans. The Motive Smart Load Board is free when you sign up with a Motive account.

Once you sign up for the Smart Load Board, you can immediately access thousands of exclusive loads from trusted brokers that you won’t find on other load boards.

Owner-operators looking for loads will find that each posted load has full details, including the rate, location, commodity, and weight.

The system also facilitates smart load matching. It automatically matches loads based on a deep understanding of your needs and preferences. Our matching gets even better if you choose to purchase a Motive ELD to pair with your vehicle and stay in compliance with Hours of Service (HOS) regulations from the Department of Transportation (DOT).

To get started, simply create a Motive Dashboard account or download the Motive Driver App on Android or iOS. Current Motive customers can turn on the Smart Load Board from their Motive Dashboard by following this step-by-step tutorial on how to enable or disable the Motive Smart Load Board.

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If you have any questions, give us a call at 855-434-3564.