Unless they have a lot of contacts with direct shippers, most new owner-operators and small fleet owners get freight loads by using a trucking load board. However, many truckers are not sure if using a load board is actually a good deal – or is even worth it.
The fact is that freight boards have their advantages and disadvantages. This article discusses both aspects of load boards so that you can make an informed choice.
By the way, if you don’t know much about load boards, read, “What is a Load Board?” before reading this article.
Advantages of using a load board
Using a load board can be a good idea if you are just getting started in the industry and don’t have contacts with direct shippers. Load boards can help you get your first few loads, as well as some revenue, contacts, and experience. Advantages include:
- Online availability – 24 x 7 x 365
- Easy to use on the road
- Many offer additional services (credit checks, days to pay, etc.)
- Can help reduce deadheading
- Most are free or inexpensive
Disadvantages of using a load board
However, most owner-operators agree that using a load board is not a good long-term strategy because they are not very profitable. The better strategy is to get direct contracts with shippers. This approach allows you to keep more control and all of the revenue. Disadvantages include:
- Not all load boards are free
- You are working with strangers and hoping it goes well
- You give up revenues to freight brokers
- Most loads will have a lot of competition
- You work for a low rate
- Calculate your costs carefully. Make sure you make a profit
- Check the credit of the broker before agreeing to take a load
- Avoid loads from brokers with no (or low) credit
- If low on funds, work with brokers who provide advances
- If brokers can’t provide advances, consider factoring freight bills
- Here is a list of load boards
It’s common for owner-operators and small fleet owners to run low on money, especially if they are new to the business and pulling their first loads. In this case, consider using freight bill factoring. It’s a type of financing that provides advances for slow-paying freight bills.
If you do not have enough funds to pay for fuel, consider working with a factoring company that offers fuel advances. Fuel advances can be expensive, but they have a number of benefits if you are just starting out. By the way, use fuel advances strategically and only when you have no cheaper alternatives.
Here are some useful additional resources: