Running your own box truck can be a very lucrative way to earn an income for your family. However, obtaining and insuring your truck is just the start. Finding consistent freight loads is the key to being productive and profitable in the trucking industry.
Tips for Finding Freight Loads for Your Box Truck
An absolutely essential business skill that you'll need to master to maintain a feasible income in the trucking industry is booking freight loads. It doesn't matter if you run a fleet of truck drivers or you're a freelance owner operator. You need to be consistently finding freight on box truck load boards to flourish.
You must also remember that some clients will demand more insurance than the minimum required by law. Make sure you have optimal box truck insurance coverage.
1- Identify Your Strengths
The key to getting consistent freight loads is not just applying for every load that you find on a load board. That's actually a pretty dangerous tactic that could lead to unsafe driving conditions and sever your relationships with past clients.
The best thing that you can do is to establish what your business's strengths and weaknesses are. Your strengths are going to be the equipment that you have and the types of loads that you can safely handle. Knowing your weight capacity is a must for everyone's safety. Additionally, you'll need to determine your cost per mile, your operating radius, and any other job-specific features you have.
As you're preparing your list of strengths that you can utilize to determine which loads your business is successfully capable of handling, you need to assess your current insurance information. Depending on the cargo that you're transporting and where you're going, there are going to be minimum box truck insurance requirements.
You'll want to ensure that your insurance coverage limits allow you to meet the necessary standards set by most companies for their shipments.
2- Understand Load Boards Thoroughly
Load boards are one of the most utilized ways for trucking companies to be connected with clients that need their transportation services. As a trucking company, you need to understand what load boards are going to provide you with the most job opportunities.
You'll also need to be capable of efficiently working each load board to quickly find loads that match your strengths and filter out the ones that don't. Just spending an hour or so reading through the load board instructions and watching helpful videos will go a long way in saving you both time and money in the future when it comes to connecting with freight-hauling prospects.
There's no denying the fact that there are many online load boards that you can utilize to connect with those who need freight hauled from one destination to another. However, there are five very popular load boards where you'll likely be able to fill your box truck work quota with ease.
1. Amazon Relay
Amazon Relay is not only a load board, but it's a full suite of trucking products. You'll get to see upfront rates for listed loads and be checked in with facilities to make loading and unloading a breeze.
DirectFreight is an all-in-one platform that allows you to work directly with brokers alongside booking loads. You'll easily get to send documents, see the average days to pay, locate job opportunities near your location, and even look at the local weather report.
DAT is well-known for its state-of-the-art load board that receives around 800,000 new listings every day. It has refined search filters and easy-to-read pricing details so that you can get a job that fits your rate quickly.
TruckStop is the hotspot of registered freight brokers, shippers, and carriers. It's very easy to find loads, and with a premium membership, you'll enjoy real-time updates at your fingertips.
This load board currently posts over 50 million truckloads every year. They offer both a free load board and a premium load board. You'll enjoy comprehensive search options so that you can choose the best loads to fit your trucking business.
Apart from being connected with brokers who need loads hauled, these load boards make it super simple for truck drivers to find the perfect hauls. You'll easily be able to filter by the specific loads that require a box truck of your size.
3- Work With a Box Truck Dispatcher
If you're not overly motivated to do your own research to find loads through the many online load boards for freight hauling, you may want to work with a box truck dispatcher. You can find freelance dispatchers and ones that are employed by companies.
A box truck dispatcher will take care of finding jobs on load boards and through personal connections. They'll work to negotiate a fair price for the transport and complete the appropriate paperwork to initiate your haul. They will even set up routes to help make the transport process even easier for you.
The Pros of Working With a Box Truck Dispatcher
When you opt to work with a box truck dispatcher over setting up freight hauls on your own, it comes along with many awesome benefits.
- Decreased downtime
- Access to more loads
- Higher rates per mile
- Less confusion
The Cons of Working With a Box Truck Dispatcher
While working with a box truck dispatcher can provide you with some great benefits, there are always going to be some cons to doing so. It's imperative that you take these cons into consideration when deciding whether or not working with a box truck dispatcher is right for your trucking company.
- Rely heavily on load board postings
- Directly bill your company instead of the shipper
4- Use a Freight Broker
Unlike box truck dispatchers, freight brokers are licensed and bonded to do their job. They work directly with shippers to connect them with buyers. When you use a freight broker, they will set up loads in a similar fashion to that of a truck dispatcher.
However, realize that freight brokers aren't going to be using load boards. Rather, they're going to rely on their direct relationships with shippers to get you booked. It's likely that you'll find yourself transporting loads for many of the same companies over and over again.
Unlike box truck dispatchers, freight brokers will charge the shipper directly for their services. From the freight broker's perspective, they want to charge the shipper as much money as possible and keep what the trucker gets paid to a minimum.
For this reason, you'll likely notice that freight brokers will take a higher percentage of the payout for a prospective load as compared to a box truck dispatcher.
Working with a freight broker can provide your trucking company with many great benefits, including:
- Consistent loads
- More loads tailored to your needs
- Save time and money
- Ample experience in the transportation industry
5- Operate as a Government Contractor
If you're looking for consistent work, then becoming a government contractor can be a great option. You can work for federal, state, and even local governments. However, as with any type of business relationship, it's imperative that you take the time to weigh the pros and cons of doing so.
The many benefits that come along with being a government-contracted freight hauler include the following:
- Consistent work
- On-time payments
- Premium rates
The cons of working as a government contractor include the following:
- Difficult for small contractors to get approved
- May not have all equipment needed to take certain contracts
When you opt for working with a government contract, you get to enjoy the great benefit of consistent work with guaranteed on-time payments. Most contractors even find that government loads come at a premium price when compared to other loads that they're used to doing. However, as a small owner operator, it can be hard to get approved.
You may need to pair up with an existing contractor that is already approved to haul government freight.
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6- Invest in Creating and Expanding Your Own Network
As a box truck driver, you want to be given early access to the highest-paying jobs. One of the best ways to do this is by creating your own network. You need to realize the value of every relationship that you create in the industry. Over time, your entire network can end up supplying you with a plethora of high-paying loads.
A great way to help expand your network is to get to know local truckers in your area. Not only will this help you to become aware of new industry news and helpful info about suppliers or brokers you haven't worked with yet, but it can provide a new stream of load opportunities.
For example, a fellow trucker may have a supplier that needs a load hauled that the trucker simply can't do because of their booked schedule. However, they want to keep the shipper happy, so they keep sending them loads. The said trucker could connect you with the shipper to fulfill their shipment and may even offer you other jobs where they receive a small finder's fee.
Stay active on social media. Apart from creating friendships on social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, these sites can also allow you to enjoy a plethora of information. People post about suppliers and brokers they've worked with. They will share who is paying premium rates and which companies they've had trouble getting payouts from. Think of social media sites as your ear to the ground for updated trucking information.
Another must to expand your network is joining trucking groups and organizations. Some key ones include the National Truckers Association, America's Independent Trucking Association, and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA). Additionally, be sure to make time to attend industry conferences and seminars where you can learn a lot and create valuable industry connections.
7- Directly Contact Shippers
Another method for finding loads is to contact shippers directly and offer your services. It's important to realize that this can be a very time-consuming process. However, it does allow you to talk directly with a shipper to determine their needs and allows you to negotiate prices in the process.
Even if you don't get a contract with a specific shipper, you can at least outstretch a branch to start a new relationship. If they ever become unhappy with their current carrier, they may just contact you for assistance.
8- Local Delivery Jobs
It can be very easy to get so carried away with load boards and finding great freight brokers that you may miss the local opportunities available near you. There may be local businesses around you that need to have their freight hauled. Think of hardware and furniture stores.
Some of these places may be relying on inconsistent subcontractors or trying to deliver items themselves. You can come in and offer them a convenient solution for handling all of their shipping needs at an affordable price.
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Tips for Making Extra Money With Your Box Truck
Apart from taking regular loads, there are some alternative ways that you can make some extra money with your box truck to help cover things like fuel and living costs.
A great option is to hook up with one of the many online sites that offer delivery and moving services. With a helper or two, you can start making some money by moving items that others simply don't have a vehicle to do. The best part is that you can easily find people looking for these services on sites like Bellhop and Dolly.
Another great side hustle that your box truck can help with is junk removal. You can opt for removing regular garbage materials or metal and appliances. The latter option will provide you with some extra money from the scrap yard.
If you're looking for a fairly simple way to make money without investing a lot of your own time, then consider applying for an ad wrapping campaign. There are companies out there that will pay you to put an advertisement on the exterior of your box truck. These rolling ad services are becoming more and more popular.
Finding a plethora of good-paying freight-hauling opportunities doesn't have to be difficult. When you follow our tips above for finding jobs, you'll be sure to keep your schedule booked. And you can even make some money on the side with the various side hustles that we recommended.
Just be sure to talk with a CoverWallet agent today to ensure that you have the insurance coverage for the jobs that you're doing.