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How to Use Load Boards to Grow Your Trucking Company

By 08.26.22September 21st, 2022No Comments
How to Use Load Boards to Grow Your Trucking Company

The trucking industry is competitive, and at times margins can be slim. As a result, trucking business owners often find themselves searching for ways to increase efficiency and profits. Load boards are tools that can help you accomplish both of those goals. Using load boards can help keep your trucks full and profitable by reducing capacity gaps, scheduling next load pickups near previous load drop-off locations, and securing freight for the backhaul.

Load boards offer a variety of advantages that can make them an essential part of your business plan. However, load boards can’t be your only solution. Continue reading to learn more about load boards, who uses them, their benefits, and the best strategy for their use.

What are Load Boards?

Load boards, sometimes referred to as freight boards, are online platforms that help shippers and freight brokers connect with carriers. Shippers searching for trucks to haul their freight can reach out to carriers that post details of their empty equipment. Freight brokers post their loads on these platforms so carriers can acquire freight to optimize their efficiency and income.

Raye Ackerman, VP of Subscription Services at eCapital, compares load boards to dating websites, connecting brokers and carriers instead of people looking for the right partner. “Freight brokers post details about their loads, and carriers post their capabilities, such as refrigerated trucks or a temperature-controlled dry van. Carriers can search the listings to find the best loads available in a specific location. Conversely, a broker could search out a specific type of carrier to transport their products.

Who Uses Load Boards?

Almost all carriers use load boards as part of their business operations. So, let’s look at how trucking businesses at various stages can use a load board to grow.

Startup companies 

A startup carrier can use load boards to find freight while building its customer base. As with all industries, building a solid customer base that provides regular and reliable work can take time. A load board can provide freight plus help your business connect with shippers and freight brokers to develop relationships and your reputation as a reliable carrier. As your customer base grows, your trucking business may rely less on load boards.

Growing companies 

A growing carrier can use load boards to fill gaps as its customer base grows. It can reduce empty miles while connecting you with potential new customers. For example, you may have regular work from your customers, but an expanding fleet may require additional customers that can be found on load boards to fill that new capacity.

Established trucking companies 

Even established trucking companies use load boards. Load boards can help established businesses fill capacity and avoid running empty miles. In addition, many companies use load boards to find higher-paying loads to maximize their profitability.

What are the Best Strategies for Using Load Boards?

Reducing empty miles is paramount to protecting your bottom line. Finding and hauling fronthaul freight is the easier half of the equation for running a profitable trucking business – finding freight to fill the backhaul is exceedingly more difficult. According to a 2019 survey, the number of empty miles available for backhaul increased to 28%, up from the 26% reported in the previous year’s survey. Perhaps the most common reason for growing and established trucking companies to use load boards is to secure loads to fill backhauls.

Often trucks are running with available capacity, or worse, are deadheading. A load board can help you maximize equipment utilization to grow your business more profitably.

A longer-term benefit of using load boards is that it can help you connect with brokers who could become regular customers. If you use a load board that includes broker data, you can connect with vetted freight brokers who can become trustworthy partners.

Finally, load boards can provide data that helps you make better business decisions. For example, you can track rates and target better loads with higher rates. Many load boards also offer market data and trend analysis essential to planning, forecasting, and making informed business decisions. Using this data, established companies can position additional equipment in areas of high demand where brokers will pay much higher average rates.

Take care not to lean too heavily on load boards as the sole source of freight acquisition – it is a highly competitive venue. Instead, concentrate on building lasting relationships – each load you acquire and haul from a load board is another opportunity to prove your service value to a new potential customer.  Using load boards in this fashion will build your brand reputation and provide better connections to acquire the loads you need tomorrow and in the future. As your business grows, establish lanes to acquire steady loads and continue using load boards to their best advantage – to fill remaining capacity and to reach new customers.

What are the Benefits of Using Load Boards?

There are several benefits to using load boards. Load boards are typically easy to use and are readily available if you have reliable internet access. Many load boards are free to use. You can also find affordable subscription models, which may include extra information and offer higher security and reliability.

Load boards also take negotiation and contracts off your plate. For example, if you’re a startup carrier, you might not have the staff to build relationships with shippers, submit bids for contracts, or negotiate terms. For new trucking companies, load boards supply a readily available pool of paying freight to launch your business and build relationships.

But the most significant benefit to all trucking companies, no matter what stage of development their business is in, is that load boards provide a cost-effective tool to top up capacity, fill backhauls, and source new leads. They are a valuable tool to increase efficiency and profits.

Summary

There are plenty of advantages to using load boards, but you shouldn’t rely on them for all your business.

A load board can help you break into the industry as a startup business, reduce empty miles on backhauls, and fill capacity gaps as your business grows. Still, it is not recommended as a primary strategy for acquiring loads. Your primary load acquisition strategy should focus on developing relationships with shippers and brokers and establishing lanes your trucking company can dominate. Use load boards as a secondary strategy to limit empty runs, help fill capacity gaps, identify the best-paying loads, and connect with potential new customers. Building a solid customer base will lead to steady and reliable work.

Building a solid customer base is the best approach for ensuring the long-term success of your trucking business. A load board should be just one of the tools your trucking company uses, but it is a necessary and effective tool nonetheless!

About eCapital

eCapital has over 25 years of experience servicing transportation companies with reliable cash flow solutions and industry expertise. Our mission is to make the lives of truck company owners easier by providing easy access to working capital, plus tools and advice for running a smarter business. Available resources to trucking clients include:

To learn more about how we can help you grow your trucking business, visit eCapital.com


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