You’re going out on your own. As an owner-operator of your own trucking company, you want to make money in the quickest, most effective manner. How do you ensure you’re going to turn a profit? Make sure you’re finding high-paying loads. What are the best ways for independent truckers to find loads? Our guide helps you understand the best practices for finding loads that maximize revenues.
Partner With a Freight Broker
Work with a freight broker and have that specialist match loads to your trucking business. A freight broker already has formed connections with companies in need of drivers. Once they’ve found you a load, they take a percentage of the money you’re about to make. You do lose a little money, but their connections with shippers across the country make it worthwhile.
Talk to Shippers
You can also cut out having a freight broker as a middleman and go directly to shippers. Let them know what you can carry and how far you’re willing to travel. You’ll find that shippers are willing to work with trustworthy drivers.
If you decide to work directly with shippers, make sure you understand freight lanes in the areas you will travel. If you take a job without knowing exactly where a drop-off point is, you could waste time getting to that destination. Time is money.
Register With the Government
Apply to be a government contractor. Government loads often pay far more than other loads. You need to apply with the FEMA Tender of Service program for FEMA loads. It’s extra paperwork, but some of the jobs can be very lucrative if you’re approved. Once approved, FEMA contacts you when there’s a load available. Make sure you keep your contact information updated.
While it’s not a mandate, FEMA does recommend that drivers delivering to maritime facilities and vessels hold Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) cards from the TSA. If you don’t have one and a security escort is required to get into a property, FEMA will not cover the additional costs. It’s also up to the independent truck driver to pay the fees for the TWIC application and card.
Network Constantly to Get New Customers
Network constantly to get new customers. Get some business cards made and frequent trade shows, seminars, conventions, and other events where you can connect with companies looking for drivers.
When you’re on the road, stop at places where other truck drivers are around you. Truck stops are a great option. Share a meal, get to know others, and get to know each other.
Social media is excellent for networking, but you do need to take a few steps if you’re going to network effectively. Your professional social media page needs to remain neutral. You might think something you saw online is hilarious, but will everyone agree? It’s best to keep a business profile for business only and keep your personal page private for friends and family.
LinkedIn is an excellent way to network. Join some truck driving groups on LinkedIn and connect with other truck drivers, brokers, and shippers. Post often to get your name out there.
Owner-operator truck drivers need to join trucking organizations. These should be at the top of your list.
- American Trucking Associations (ATA): Established in 1933, this is the largest organization for truck drivers. Members enjoy discounts, access to webinars and trade shows, and marketing.
- National Association of Small Trucking Companies (NASTC): Small trucking companies benefit significantly through membership with NASTC. Benefits include access to telehealth, member-only discounts on things like fuel, repairs, and tires, and partner services, such as office supply stores, attorneys, and online learning.
- Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA): This organization for owner-operator truck drivers charges a small yearly membership fee. Not only does it help you get your voice heard in the government, but it’s beneficial in that members qualify for group health insurance, life insurance, and truck insurance.
- Women in Trucking (WIT): It can be challenging for women in the trucking industry to find support and encouragement. WIT offers women networking opportunities and support. Enjoy member-only discounts, free professional development certification programs, webinars, and mentoring.
Work Well and Enjoy Frequent Referrals
You just delivered a load ahead of time, leaving the company overjoyed with the job you did. That company tells associates, and that leads to more work offers. Each new load provides the same service, and more companies start sharing your contact information. Referrals are beneficial at building your reputation and getting more work than you need.
Suppose you’ve just completed a load for a new brewery in your area. You got the cans and bottles to the restaurant group on time and with no damage. They’re impressed, and now the brewery and restaurant group both hire you for additional work. Plus, they tell their associates. You get calls from several other breweries, a few vineyards, local hotels, and additional restaurants. Word-of-mouth promotion has more than quadrupled your potential workload.
Look for Work on Truck Load Boards
Truck load boards are one of the best ways to find loads as an independent truck driver. Use your cell phone and look for work in the areas where you travel. With Saint John Capital’s load board, millions of loads are available across the country. Sort by the amount you’ll make or the location.
Load boards offer the opportunity to plan your routes strategically. If you have a job going from one area to another, but only half of your trailer is full, you can use load boards to find another load that fits the available space and needs to be dropped at a point between the areas you’re traveling to.
On the return trip, look for loads available in cities along your route to prevent having an empty leg. That single trip now has multiple jobs, so you make more money. Here’s how it could work.
You’re based in Chicago and have a job going to Dallas. It pays $2,650, but only half of your trailer is needed. If you look at a map, you’ll pass through Memphis and Little Rock. You find another job that pays $700 going from Chicago to Little Rock. Accept that load, and you’re making more money. If you can find loads from Little Rock to Dallas, you’ll get a third job for even more revenue.
On the way back, scour the load boards for shipments going from Dallas back to Chicago. The more loads you can fit into your schedule, the more money you make for that one trip from Chicago to Dallas and back.
As you do this, keep in mind the need for rest stops, the promised delivery times, road construction, and inclement weather. You’ll be able to plan out routes that optimize your time and the amount you earn without causing extra stress.
Saint John Capital does have a bustling load board that you can access from our app. We also offer free broker credit checks, helping you do your research and choose reliable brokers.
Do you hate waiting to get paid? Talk to Saint John Capital about our freight factoring services. We pay you the money you’re due after taking a small fee. You don’t have to deal with the hassle of invoicing brokers or shippers and tracking down late payments. Sign up today and discover the joy of getting paid now rather than months later.