Finding profitable truck loads is the most important thing that an owner-operator can do to be successful. Without shippers, you don’t have a business. It’s as simple as that. However, this area is the one where most owner-operators and small fleet operators fail. And without clients, they go out of business.
(Note: Commercial Capital LLC doesn’t provide loads or contracts. This resource is for information purposes only)
In this article, you are going to learn:
- Where to find loads
- How to find shippers who will become long-term clients
- How to differentiate your business from other trucking companies
- How to finance your growth
Let’s start by reviewing the three places where Canadian truckers and owner-operators can find loads.
Option #1 – Load boards
Most new owner-operators try to build their business and find loads by using a load board. Using a load board can help you get started, but it’s not an effective way to grow your trucking business because Canadian load boards, such as Load Surfer and Transcore, are very popular with truckers. The stiff competition for popular lanes and profitable loads drives down prices. As a result, some loads may not be profitable and could generate a net loss.
Furthermore, load boards don’t allow you to develop long-term clients. Instead, you will be pulling “one-off” loads and then going back to the load board to look for your next load … and your next load.
As you can imagine, you will not grow your trucking business quickly – or profitably – by pulling loads at a deep discount.
Option #2 – Local businesses
A better strategy to find profitable trucking loads is to develop relationships with local businesses. This approach can be hard because it requires salesmanship and persistence. But it is the tried-and-true method of building a profitable trucking company. The best loads come from shippers with whom you have a relationship. They value your services and allow you to charge a fair rate.
While finding local shippers is hard, it’s not as difficult as you might think. It’s a matter of having the right strategy. Start making cold calls to local companies that use freight services. Speak to their shipping department and try to get your company in their approved freight company lists.
Option #3 – Industry associations
One clever way to find shippers is to look for local chapters of industry associations. By the way, we are not talking about trucking associations. You won’t find many customers there! Instead, look for the industry associations of companies that use a lot of freight services.
For example, do grocery stores use freight services? You bet! Consider an association such as the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers as a potential place to meet shippers. Try to find a way to meet their members, perhaps by joining the association or going to their show.
Obviously, this is just one simple and obvious example. There are hundreds of associations out there. Here is a list of trade associations in Canada.
How to sell your services – one tip
Why should shippers use your services instead of working with your competitors? You will get that question in every sales visit. Be prepared to answer it. Most owner-operators fail miserably and use generalities – they say they are professional, provide great service, or something similar. Everyone says that. Nobody buys it.
Develop a list of why you think you are the best at what you do. Focus on why you are different from – and better than – your competitors. Don’t exaggerate or add generalities. And, above all, don’t lie.
You won’t be ready to sell until you have a clear idea of why your company is better than other companies.
Handling growth can be a challenge for many owner-operators. As a matter of fact, growth can bring cash flow problems. Before long, you may find yourself with immediate expenses, such as fuel and repairs, but with no money to pay for them. The reason for this problem is that most shippers pay their freight bills in 30 to 60 days. So you often need to wait up to two months to get paid. In the meantime, bills are piling up.
One way to improve your cash flow immediately is to use freight bill factoring. Factoring your freight bills provides you with an advance on your slow-paying invoices. This advance gives you the funds you need to pay immediate expenses and grow. In Canada, factoring has become a popular way to finance a growing trucking company.
Need more information?
We are a leading factoring company in Canada and can provide you with high advances at low rates. For more information, get an online quote or call us toll-free at (877) 300 3258.