You’ve made it through your 20-25 business day waiting period after turning all of your paperwork into the FMCSA and your authority is active and ready for you to hit the road. In addition to storing the necessary insurance paperwork in your power units, make sure you have a transportation management system for collecting and storing your documents for your trucks and your loads. For each load, you’ll usually need your rate confirmation, bill of lading, proof of delivery, and any lumper receipts. You’re responsible for all that. Truckbase’s online tools help manage this paperwork, so you don’t miss an invoice or start your journey with a bad DOT inspection.
Whether you have been in the business as a driver for a few years or just getting started in the trucking industry, this can be an exciting time. It’s now down to the important step of finding the best way to keep your tires rolling and making profits. There are several different options available to find freight to haul.
Using A Freight Broker
Finding a great freight broker is one of the easiest ways to keep reliable freight moving consistently, but it comes at a cost. Freight brokers typically take around 15-25% of the profit from each load by charging the shipper at a higher rate but not passing that profit on to the carrier.
They use their list of contacts and networks to negotiate load payments and delivery times. With this service, they also take out most of the legwork as far as completing paperwork and getting all of the load details completed. This means that you don’t have to wait very long between loads but you have to determine if it’s worth losing the extra profit.
Using Load Boards
Load Boards are another great way to get started in the trucking industry when you are getting your authority up and going. With very minimal membership fees and endless loads available you can work on building relationships and understanding the paperwork and logistics of the business. Building relationships with brokers and shippers you’ve worked with through load boards can be a great way to grow your profits.
The convenience of load boards means increased competition, which can result in other drivers bidding lower to secure the job. For truckers starting off, this can work but ultimately is not sustainable for long-term and profitable growth.
There is also the issue of finding someone to talk to regarding making sure your paperwork is updated in their systems and in this industry time wasted is oftentimes a missed load.
There is also no guarantee that once you get one load delivered that there will be another load in the area for you to take next. You will need to do a lot of searching to make sure that you keep your truck moving with as little deadheading as possible.
Using a Dispatch Service
If you are a single owner-operator paying for a direct dispatch service might not be cost-effective. If you are running a small fleet of around 3-5 trucks this would be a better fit.
There are pros to having your own personal dispatcher. They know your company and personal goals. You can have direct access to let them know when you need to be home and what areas of the country you prefer to drive in.
They also represent your best interest without taking as much of the profit as a freight broker. Typically their fees are around 5-10% of each load. They may also charge for other services since they will only be working with a few close clients.
Building Direct Relationships with Shippers
When you are first starting out it is very important to make a good first impression with the shippers you book loads with. Arriving and delivering on time. Having paperwork ready and completed. Getting your insurance forwarded to them beforehand. All of these small steps help the process move smoother for yourself and your shipper.
If you can show shippers that you are reliable this relationship will become profitable and beneficial to you both.
Typically after you are set up with a shipper you can move in and out more quickly which means more time on the road actually making money.
Many owner-operators only work with 3-5 shippers because they have built strong relationships with them and they keep the loads coming their way. This makes the job much easier for you and you also know what to expect and can plan your trips more efficiently.
You definitely want to try your best to build positive relationships with all of your shippers as word of mouth can spread fast in both positive and negative circumstances.
Getting your own authority is a very exciting point in any trucker’s career, however, generating profit isn’t a guarantee. There are lessons that you still need to learn and figure out what factors work best for you from a logistics and preference standpoint.
With convenience comes lower profits, but if you are the type of person that doesn’t like to spend a lot of time on the phone trying to figure out your next move it might be worth it. If you enjoy the negotiating process as well as doing your paperwork you may find it best to reach out to shippers directly and build relationships from there. Truckbase can make that process easier, leaving you with more money in your pocket.
There is no right or wrong way to make it in the trucking industry. Each driver can make it into a successful career whether they use a freight broker, use load boards, pay for dispatch service, lease their tractor onto a company, or build relationships with a few shippers.
Truckbase can help streamline your business and give you more time with your family by organizing your paperwork in one place. Truckbase saves small carriers and owner-operators five hours on dispatch and paperwork every week. Click here to learn more about our trucking management software.