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Are you a new owner operator who wants to start your own trucking business? Do you need help finding loads for your truck and making money? If so, you’re in the right place.
We’re an established truck dispatch service, I was dispatching trucks over a decade ago myself. Needless to say, we’ve been around. Yet I’m going to give a few different ways to find these illusive truck loads so you can make it through your first year.
The first year as a brand new carrier is your toughest, roughest, and most expensive year. The good news is there are generally tell-tale signs of positive change happening at different stages of your business. Your first year as an owner operator is also when you will learn the most. The first year of your trucking company is similar to a child’s first year of life as it’s all about learning and assimilating information quickly. It’s the same for first year owner operators and carriers.
A Brief Timeline of Your First Year in Business
Practically no one will work with you during your first 30 days in business. A small minority of freight brokers will work with you at 30 to 60 days in. At 90 days, expect a palpable sense that something has shifted. The next step up is at 90 to 180 days. Every 90 day step up, up to one year will be felt. At one year, the vast majority of freight brokers will work with you. Some are stubborn and will make you wait for two years, but they’re few and far in-between.
There will also be brokers who won’t work with you at all. Don’t take it personally. They work with an internal roster and open up to carriers from time to time with additional requirements. Finding loads for trucks is one of the most important and challenging tasks for any owner operator. You need to find the best freight opportunities that match your truck type, location, schedule, and rate. You also need to deal with different customers, paperwork, and regulations.
But don’t worry, we are here to help you. In this article, we will share with you some tips and tricks on how to get loads for trucks, whether you are a new or experienced owner operator. We will also introduce you to our truck dispatch, which can help you find more loads and save more money. We know what we’re doing and helped many others just like you, but for now just read on, this will help you.
Why I’ll Give You This for Free!
I’ve been doing this forever and my dispatchers are very experienced as well. My truck dispatchers and I know the difficulties you will face and all the roadblocks in your way. If you manage to figure it all out, do things correctly, and become profitable in 90 days, then keep doing what you’re doing. You don’t need our services right now. Keep learning and earning. If you run into trouble, have a question, or need some advice, you can still call me or my assistant and we’ll help where we can.
On the other hand, if you’re running into trouble in your first 90 days in business, being rejected by freight brokers, securing cheap freight, having to deadhead a lot, and generally not doing so good, then give us a call, ask for help. There is no shame in asking for help. I started in the trucking industry over a decade ago with zero knowledge. Now I’m able to give back and it feels great. We can help you get rolling through some of the toughest times in your business, especially in today’s market conditions, in 2024.
This is why I’m willing to share this with you. If this helps and you do well, then I’m happy for you and you should keep going while remaining coachable and teachable. If you find that you’re just not cutting it in negotiating for better rates, or hate dealing with packets, or maybe it’s all the billing and invoicing, get in touch with us because we handle all of that for you at no extra charge. So there you have it folks, it will be hard your first year, but help is available, so it’s always up to you how you choose to utilize your available resources.
What are the Different Ways to Get Loads for Trucks?
There are many ways to get loads for trucks, but not all of them are equally effective or efficient. Some of the most common ways are:
- Using a load board
- Working with a freight broker
- Joining a dispatch service
- Networking with shippers
- Bidding on government contracts
- Advertising your services online or offline
Let’s take a closer look at each of these methods and see how they work.
Using a Load Board
A load board is an online platform that connects truckers with brokers who have truckloads that need to move. Load boards allow you to search for loads by location, type, weight, rate, and other criteria. You can also post your truck availability and let freight brokers contact you with load offers.
Using a load board can be a quick and easy way to find loads for trucks, especially if you are new to the truck industry. However, there are some drawbacks to using a load board, such as:
- You have to compete with many other truckers for the same loads, which can drive down the rates and reduce your profit margin.
- You have to deal with multiple shippers and freight brokers, which can increase your paperwork and communication hassle.
- You have to verify the credibility and reputation of the shippers and brokers, which can be time-consuming and risky.
- You have no guarantee that the loads will be consistent or reliable, which can affect your cash flow and planning.
To use a load board effectively, you need to have some skills and strategies, such as:
- Researching freight market rates and trends, and negotiating for the best possible rates.
- Checking the credit history and reviews of these brokers, and recognizing and avoiding scams and frauds which can result in tens of thousands in losses.
- Building relationships with reputable and reliable shippers and brokers, and getting repeat business from them.
- Using multiple load boards and comparing the offers, and choosing the ones that suit your needs and preferences.
Working with a Freight Broker
A freight broker is a middleman who acts as a liaison between truckers and shippers. Freight brokers have access to a large network of shippers and carriers, and they can match you with loads for your truck.
Working with a freight broker can be a convenient way to find loads for trucks. However, there are some disadvantages to working with a freight broker, such as:
- You have to pay a commission or fee to the freight broker, which can reduce your profit margin. You don’t directly pay the fee, it’s included in the rate.
- You have to rely on the freight broker’s judgment and honesty, which can be risky if they are not trustworthy or competent.
- You have no control over the quality or quantity of the loads, which can affect your performance and bottom line.
- You have limited visibility and communication with shippers, which can reduce your feedback and reputation.
To work with a freight broker effectively, you need to have some criteria and expectations, such as:
- Choosing a freight broker who has experience and expertise in your trucking niche or market, and who can offer you the best rates and loads.
- Checking the broker’s reputation, credit, insurance, and bond of the freight broker, and avoiding scammers and fraudulent freight brokers.
- Asking for references from other carriers or truckers who have worked with the freight broker, and reading reviews and ratings.
- Communicating clearly and frequently with the freight broker, and setting clear terms and conditions for the loads and payments.
Joining a Dispatch Service
A dispatch service is a company that provides truck dispatching services for owner operators. A dispatch service works as your agent and partner, and they find, book, and manage the loads for your truck. A dispatch service also takes care of the paperwork, invoicing, and communication for you, which can save you time and hassle.
Joining a dispatch service can be a smart and affordable way to find loads for trucks, especially if you are busy or overwhelmed with running your trucking business. However, there are some drawbacks to joining a dispatch service, such as:
- Some dispatch companies charge a monthly or weekly fee to the dispatch service, which can affect your cash flow and budget.
- You have to follow the rules and policies of the dispatch service, which can limit your flexibility and autonomy.
- You have to share your personal and business information with the dispatch service, which can compromise your privacy and security.
- You have no guarantee that the dispatch service will find you the best or most suitable loads, which can directly affect your bottom line.
To join a dispatch service effectively, you need to have some questions and expectations, such as:
- Choosing a dispatch service that has a proven track record and reputation in the trucking industry, and that can offer you the best rates and loads.
- Checking the the dispatch service agreement, and reading the fine print and terms carefully.
- Asking for a trial period from the dispatch service, and testing their service and results before committing.
- Communicating regularly and openly with the dispatch service, and giving them feedback and suggestions on how to improve their service and results.
One of the best dispatch services for new owner operators is AFT Dispatch. We’re a truck dispatch service geared for motor carriers, and we are very helpful for new entrants. We can help you find more loads, negotiate better rates, handle the paperwork, and manage the logistics.
Networking with Shippers and Brokers
Networking with shippers and freight brokers is another way of finding loads for trucks by building and maintaining relationships with potential and existing customers. Networking with shippers, brokers, and directly with different companies in need of shipping can help you get more referrals, repeat business, and loyal customers. Networking can also help you get more insights, tips, and opportunities in the trucking industry.
Networking can be a rewarding and profitable way to find loads for trucks, especially if you have a good reputation and service quality. However, there are some challenges to networking with shippers and brokers, such as:
- You have to invest time and effort to network, which can take away from your driving and resting time.
- You have to deal with different personalities and preferences, which can be stressful and frustrating.
- You have to compete with other truckers who are also networking, which can be tough and discouraging.
- You have to keep up with the changing needs and demands of everyone involved, which can be challenging and demanding.
To network with shippers and brokers effectively, you need to have some skills and strategies, such as:
- Attending trade shows, events, and meetings where you can meet and mingle directly with shippers and exchanging business cards and contact information.
- Following up and staying in touch with shippers and sending them thank-you notes, newsletters, updates, calls and texts.
- Asking for referrals and recommendations from shippers and for brokers to act as references, and of course rewarding them with incentives or discounts.
- Providing excellent customer service and exceeding shipper expectations, and asking for feedback and reviews.
Bidding on Government Contracts
Bidding on government contracts is a way of finding loads for trucks by applying for and winning contracts from federal, state, or local government agencies. Government contracts can offer you steady and reliable loads, as well as high rates and long-term agreements. Government contracts can also give you more credibility and exposure in the trucking industry.
Bidding on government contracts can be a lucrative and stable way to find loads for trucks, especially if you have a specialized or a certified trucking service. However, there are some difficulties to bidding on government contracts, such as:
- You have to meet the strict and complex requirements and regulations of the government agencies, which can be costly and time-consuming.
- You have to compete with many other truckers who are also bidding on government contracts, which can be fierce and intimidating.
- You have to deal with the bureaucracy and red tape of the government agencies, which can be frustrating and tedious.
- You have to cope with the uncertainty and delays of the government agencies, which can affect your cash flow and planning.
To bid on government contracts effectively, you need to have some resources and assistance, such as:
- Registering and certifying your trucking business with the government agencies, and obtaining the necessary licenses and permits.
- Searching and finding the relevant and suitable government contracts for your trucking service, and reading the solicitation and specifications carefully.
- Preparing and submitting a competitive and compelling bid proposal (an RFP) for the government contract, and following the instructions and deadlines.
- Seeking help and advice from experts and consultants who have experience and knowledge in bidding on government contracts, and learning from their best practices and mistakes.
Advertising Your Services Online or Offline
Promoting and marketing your trucking business, whether online or offline, is a key strategy for finding loads. This approach enhances visibility, attracts and retains customers, and positions your trucking company uniquely in the market.
Effectively advertising your services, particularly if your trucking company offers a distinctive service, can be a creative way to secure loads. However, there are associated costs and risks:
- You have to spend money and time to create and distribute your ads, which can affect your budget and schedule.
- You have to comply with the laws and regulations of the advertising platforms and channels, which can be complicated and restrictive.
- You have to deal with the competition and noise of the advertising market, which can be tough and overwhelming.
- You have to measure and evaluate the results and impact of your ads, which can be challenging and uncertain. Most people don’t know how to do this.
- Creating a professional and attractive website and social media pages for your trucking business, and updating them regularly with relevant and engaging content.
- Using online platforms and tools such as Google Ads, Facebook Ads, or YouTube Ads to target and reach your ideal customers, and tracking and optimizing your campaigns.
- Using offline channels and methods such as flyers, banners, business cards, or word-of-mouth to spread the word about your trucking business, and following up and staying in touch with your leads.
- Using a mix of online and offline advertising strategies to maximize your exposure and results, and testing and experimenting with different ads and messages.
Pro Tip: Test Your Opt-In Forms
We ran many advertising campaigns over the years. Primarily focusing on video ads on YouTube, and text ads using the Google Ads platform.
Unfortunately, the opt-in forms used to gather leads didn’t always work and this wasn’t always apparent. The problem was multifaceted but was primarily caused by bad programming and caching systems. This cost us thousands of dollars, months of lost conversions, a potentially tarnished reputation, as well as a huge amount of stress and aggravation.
Test, test, and test some more. This is the only solution. Test different configurations, at different times, under different circumstances, and with different variables. Once you truly feel everything is working as intended, test some more.
How to Choose the Best Way to Get Loads for Trucks?
As you can see, there are many ways to get loads for trucks, but not all of them are suitable for every owner operator. You need to choose the best way to get loads for trucks based on your goals, preferences, and resources. Here are some factors to consider but keep in mind that the age of your MC will make the biggest difference in your first year in business. That’s why we keep updated lists of brokers who are open to working with new carriers and owner operators.
- Your truck type and capacity: You need to find loads that match your truck type and capacity, such as dry van, flatbed, or reefer. You also need to consider the weight, size, and special requirements of the loads, such as hazmat, or temperature-controlled.
- Your location and availability: You need to find loads that are available and accessible in your location, such as local, regional, or long-haul. You also need to consider your availability and schedule, such as full-time, part-time, or seasonal.
- Your rate and profit: You need to find loads that pay you a fair and competitive rate, and that cover your expenses and overhead. You also need to consider your profit margin and cash flow, and how to maximize them.
- Your customer and relationship: You need to find loads that come from reliable and reputable customers, such as shippers, brokers, or loads booked through dispatchers who vetted the other party. You also need to consider your relationship and communication with them, and how to build trust and loyalty.
How to Get Started with AFT Dispatch?
If you’re interested in joining AFT Dispatch and getting more loads for your semi truck, you can get started by filling out this simple form:
Once you submit the form, we will contact you and discuss your needs and preferences. We will also answer any questions you may have about our dispatch service. We will then assign you a dedicated dispatcher who will find, book, and manage your truck. Besides handling planning, communication, rate negotiation, broker credit checks, and set up documents, we can also handle your billing and invoicing. It’s all included.
AFT Dispatch is more than just a dispatch service. We are your partner and ally in the trucking industry. We are here to help you succeed and achieve your goals. We are here to support you and help solve your problems. We are here to make your life easier and your miles more profitable.
What Our Customers Say About Us
We are proud of the service we provide to our customers, and we are always happy to hear their feedback and reviews. Here are some of the testimonials we have received from our customers who have used our dispatch service:
“I have been doing business with AFT for years now and they have been nothing short of amazing. They are knowledgeable and kind, never once have they lied to me or acted in a dishonest way. They always find me good loads, negotiate the best rates, and handle all the paperwork for me. I highly recommend AFT to any owner operator who wants to grow their trucking business.”
– A satisfied customer
“AFT and their team have been a critical asset in making my authority competitive. Not just with their experienced and talented dispatching, but also setting me up with their connections in fuel and factoring. They are very friendly and professional, and they always answer my calls and texts. I am very happy with AFT and I plan to stay with them for a long time.”
– Another satisfied customer
“I drove for AFT in 2022. I intend to return here once the market improves a bit and I get a few more personal things in order. These guys are extremely professional, honest, as well as knowledgeable when it comes to the trucking industry. They always find me the best loads for my truck, and they take care of all the paperwork and communication for me. They are also very supportive and helpful, and they always listen to my needs and preferences. I think AFT is the best dispatch service for new owner operators.”
– Yet another satisfied customer
“Great team to work with, I’ve been using AFT dispatch for years with no issues. Very transparent, honest and they do everything legal- if you are a motor carrier they book all loads directly under your authority on your behalf. I would recommend them to anyone looking for dispatch services.”
– A happy customer
“In a really down market, AFT is keeping me and my business afloat – I’m grateful for their guidance. They are very efficient and reliable, and they always find me the best loads for my truck. They also take care of all the paperwork and invoicing for me, which saves me a lot of time and hassle. They are also very responsive and helpful, and they always give me good advice and tips. I would highly recommend working with AFT.”
– A grateful customer
“AFT is the man and has been a pleasure to work with over the years, very polite and professional. They always find me good loads, negotiate the best rates, and handle all the paperwork for me. They are also very friendly and supportive, and they always answer my calls and texts. I would highly recommend AFT to any truckers out there if you are looking to make more money and get better paying loads!!”
– A loyal customer
“AFT is the best in the game and really cares about all their carriers. They always find me the best loads for my truck, and they take care of all the paperwork and communication for me. They are also very honest and transparent, and they always pay me on time. They go above and beyond for their customers, and I really appreciate their service.”
– A raving customer
These are just some of the many positive reviews we have received from our customers. You can find many more on our AFT Dispatch Reviews page on Google. If you want to join them and experience the benefits of our truck dispatch service, you can fill out the form above, or call or text us at (801) 448-6363. We also welcome you to check out our YouTube channel where we publish free educational videos for truckers.
You Can Do It!
Finding loads for trucks is not easy, but it is not impossible either. You just need to know the different ways how to get loads for trucks, and choose the best one for you. You also need to have the right tools, strategies, and connections to get the most profitable and suitable loads. There’s also no substitute for experience. You will underprice, and you will overprice. You’ll miss loads and regret them later. You’ll miss out on easy wins and make some bad decisions. All of this is part of the learning process. You can’t win them all but you can learn from it all.
Then again, you can also simply join AFT Dispatch and let us do the work for you. AFT Dispatch is the best dispatch service for new owner operators who want to start and grow their trucking company.
We hope you enjoyed this article and learned something new. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to give us a call or send us a text message. We would love to hear from you.
Thank you for reading and happy trucking!