Trucking isn’t easy. One of the struggles that independent truckers take part in is the competition for loads to carry. Trucker-owners do not have the job security that people working for large carriers have. They do, however, have a great deal more freedom to work how and when they want. Here is how modern trucker-owners find loads.
A load board is one of the simplest ways that independent truckers can find shipping work. The direct descendent of the physical boards found at old truck stops, a load board is an online marketplace where brokers and clients post jobs that need doing. These jobs are usually small, one-off contracts that would have been inefficient to advertise to large trucking companies.
In order to make the most out of a load board, a trucker needs to have a good idea of their employment parameters. They must know the rates that they will charge as a freelancer, the types of routes they are willing to drive, and the types of cargo they are willing to haul.
There are only two issues with using a load board. The first is consistency. Load boards do not offer long-term contracts. They are more suitable for finding short-term single-haul jobs. Load boards also often end up attracting quite a lot of competition from other truckers looking to poach the same load. Good truckers know how to use load boards to fill up gaps in their schedule and how to seal deals before the competition.
Freight brokers are professional middlemen between shipping companies and clients. They do not take possession of a load. Instead, they make all of the arrangements for the movement of a load and handle communication. Independent truckers often seek to develop relationships with freight brokers in order to find loads. Working with freight brokers is considered a good way of finding consistent trucking work because they simplify the process: Handling paperwork, contract negotiation, and communication with clients. The main downside of working with a freight broker is the financial cut that brokers take by way of their fee. This is known as a ‘sales commission’ and is the standard method that brokers use to make money through their work.
Direct Shipping Contracts
More experienced independent truckers may seek to undercut brokers and keep more of the client fee for themselves by seeking out and signing freight contracts themselves. Only truly paperwork-savvy truckers can make a living in this way. A person wanting to seek independent trucking contracts must be willing to negotiate with clients and bat off competition from larger carriers to succeed. Established truckers with a good reputation can often find work in this way.
There is one client that is always looking for carriers: the government. Hauling on a government contract is an immensely useful revenue stream for independent owner-truckers. Government contracts do not always pay as well as hauling for private clients, but they can often lead to very steady streams of work.