7 tools For Finding Higher Paying Truck Loads
The goal of every independent owner operator is always to find higher paying loads. But it seems that 95% of the independents find enough load board freight to keep their heads above water, slip into a comfort zone and stay there. That’s a major reason the average owner operator takes home a mere $40,000 per year on average. That’s number comes from OOIDA. The article says “after taxes and fees,” so it’s safe to assume they’re taxable income is in the $55,000 per year.
1. Don’t Aim For Average
Today a company driver can easily make $70,000 or more without the headaches of owning a truck. For 55K a year, is buying your own truck worth it? Only if you aimed for average. As soon as the checks cover the bills, most new owner operators settle into a comfort zone, fat and happy. It’s not that they aimed for average. They just didn’t aim for anything.
The first tools will focus on selling skills and a successful business mindset. It’s one thing to know what the better paying loads are and where they can be found. It’s another thing to be able to close the deal and book them. And you don’t just want the better freight. You want to eventually book it directly with the customer. Who needs a middle man taking a cut? As much as brokers are needed in your success, their goal is to keep as much of the profit as they can. We’ll get into that in number 5.
2. Read Books With The Most Direct Impact First
One search on Amazon will yield hundreds of great books on sales. That’s great, but most have little to do with you or the uniqueness of independent trucking. These two books will take you where you need to go with the least effort. You could read them both in a weekend and change your life.
The Compound Effect
The first tool in finding high paying truck loads is learning not to settle in and get comfortable with being average. The Compound Effect is an easy read. The author will break down the steps to success into bite size actions.
There’s an old adage that goes something like this; “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” If you’re willing to be honest with yourself, this book will walk you through the transformation of thinking, working and becoming a successful business owner. And you’ll break it down to one bite at a time.
I’ve used The Compound Effect steps to lose weight and control my diabetes. I’ve also used these tools to grow my online businesses. You’re probably not going to make 4 bucks a mile in two weeks, but you will be on your way to mapping out your success before you’re halfway through the book. If you want next year to be fantastic, you need to learn how to make next week a little better than this week. See The Compound Effect On Amazon.
Never Split The Difference
I’ve read more sales training books than most, and this one is quite different. What sets this book apart is how well it pairs up with the type of engagement you have with brokers.
Broker transactions are almost always done via phone, followed by a confirmation sheet. You don’t need a bunch of steps that lead up to the big close. You need an actionable plan that will get you off the phone in a timely manner with the results you were hoping for. Seriously, brokers are busy. They need to answer the phone, take care of business and move onto the next call.
You’re busy too. If a broker isn’t getting you the rate you need, you have to know when to end the call and move on to the next broker, it could even be on the same load.
Written by a former FBI negotiator, Never Split The Difference will give you an easy, systematic way to ask for more money with every call. It will help you in everything from buying a truck to booking that next load. You’ll learn to come out ahead on more that just broker transactions, and it will help you learn to be better at calling on prospective customers. See Never Split The Difference on Amazon.
3. Your Website Is Your Sales Brochure
Even a one man show is a company. You need a place to tell your story. We’re nearly 2 decades into the 21st century. Where’s your website? This may sound like a daunting task, but it isn’t. All you need is a simple website with a few powerful pictures for your story. Even if you’re not yet sure on this one, buy and own your domain name as a “.com” ASAP. Lock it up and take it off the market.
You have 2 ways to do this. You can build it yourself or hire someone to do it for you. I don’t do a lot of freelance work, but I may be able to help with building your site. Here are a few things to look for if you do hire it out.
- Who owns your site and domain name? If it’s not going to be you, run.
- Who’s going to write, edit and publish the site? It’s your story, but it needs to look sharp.
- How much is this going to cost? You’re not trying compete with the big companies for web traffic. You’re creating an online brochure to validate your business. You should be able to hire this out for $1,000 to $1,500.
- Pictures are worth a thousand words. You want great pictures of your equipment, and of yourself. You may want a shot of your family. Make sure you have someone who knows their stuff take the pictures.
I’ve yet to decide whether or not I want to do this on a regular basis, but I do build sites for others from time to time. If I do this for you, you will have full ownership of everything, and the cost will be under $1,000 with no hidden costs. You provide pictures and we’ll work together on your story. Drop an email my way if you’re interested.
4. A Great Load Board Service, Trucker’s Edge Pro
DAT® has been around longer than the internet. They have the most loads, the most brokers and the data needed to run any size of company. For the small company with few trucks, or just one truck, they have Trucker’s Edge Pro and two lighter versions.
Trucker’s Edge isn’t just about finding that next load. If you use it to its fullest, it’s getting brokers to call you, finding better lanes and forecasting your future. But even on that next load, you can check the lane averages, broker credit scores, and days to pay. You may even find a tri-haul that gets you where you need to be for a much higher average per mile.
You can try any of their free plans for 30 days by following the links to Trucker’s Edge from this site. As long as it’s free, sign up for the plan with the most features, and give it 28 days to see how it can grow your business. But remember, the data is useless if you’re not going to break it down and find where the money is made.
Go to Trucker’s Edge for the free 30 day offer. And yes, The Trucking Podcast does have an affiliate relationship with them. That means you get an amazing load board, and you support the show. Everybody wins.
5. Know A Duck Egg When You See One
I’ve shared this story dozens of times. It came from a homesteader’s podcast. He was selling chicken eggs to his friends and neighbors. Egg prices were high at the time so he was charging $3.00 per dozen. The people bought every farm raised egg he had for sale, but they complained about the $3.00 price tag.
Over the next year, he transitioned from chickens to ducks. They were quieter, cleaner, and easier to raise. He was also able to sell the eggs to people who were happy to pay $8.50 per dozen. In fact, he was often told he should raise his price another dollar.
You’re looking for duck egg freight, truck loads that a shipper needs done right. Those rarely find their way to any load board, but the board may get you close. You’re going to have to find them, pitch them and close them on your own.
Every segment from oversize to LTL has duck eggs in their segment. It may be fragile, require hands-on handling or be time sensitive. Last mile delivery may also be duck egg freight for hot shot truckers.
6. Find Shippers With Google Earth
Wherever you’re picking up or delivering, chances are you are surrounded by other shippers and receivers. Put on your big boy pants and call on them. Put that business card in every hand, and make sure it has your contact and website information on it. Keep good notes, and follow up. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.
7. Identify Your USP
Every business has a value to offer. If you have no value, there’s no reason anyone will give you business. What is your Unique Selling Proposition? Are you just another independent owner operator? Is there something unique, different or special about what you have to offer? Pin the details down and tell your story.
Heavy loads, LTL, high value cargo, safe parking or paid parking can all help you define your USP. There’s an old saying among those of us who have on-line businesses like The Trucking Podcast, “the riches are in the niches.” This is also true in trucking. You can make a good living hauling chicken egg freight, even from the load boards, but there’s always better freight for the owner operator who’s willing to work for it.
Please note, this post contains affiliate links. The Trucking Podcast receives small commissions on these items. I do own both books I recommend, and I owe some of this podcast’s success to what I’ve learned from them.
Scott Anderson and Matt Sullivan From DAT
One of the great things about our relationship with DAT is the access to experts. This time I have a few questions I’m thinking you would like answered. I managed to get two great guests form different departments. We covered quite a bit of ground, and I think you will find it useful.
Scott Anderson and Matt Sullivan were kind enough to give us 30 minutes of their time, not just to promote Trucker’s Edge, but to take on a couple of industry questions.
What Is Double Brokering?
Double brokering is a term that comes up quite often in conversations with independent owner operators. Everyone has their own idea or concept, but most are inaccurate. I’m glad to get a true definition of the practice, and to find out it’s not even legal. In fact, DAT will remove the bad actors who try this.
Why Does The Same Load Show Up Under More Than One Broker?
This one has always had me scratching my head. I figured the shippers were bottom dwellers, looking for a cheap ride. Not only was I wrong, but these posts could very well be a good thing. What many have always thought were loads to avoid could turn out to be time sensitive, and easier to get a rate bump on.
Forecasting Your Trucking Business
Most successful businesses not only budget, they forecast. It’s not a 100% accurate process, but it’s a great process to help grow your business next month, or the next quarter. Mapping out where you’ve been and where you want to go, then using the data available from Trucker’s Edge, you can change traffic lanes, brokers and use other tools to dial in a higher profit in the near future.
Other Show Notes
I have to start by saying how great it is to have Don back. The show isn’t the same without him. After a few opening rants, we covered the above content in brief, then moved on to other things. The interview plays in the second half hour of the show.
- Ford unveils it’s new F-Max, and wins “International Truck Of The Year.” The European style cabover is not available in the USA. We don’t know what’s funnier. Ford calling it an F-Max? Or Ford getting the “International” truck of the year award. It’s either the pun on words, or the pun on letters.
- Some driver managed to land his car on the roof of the Giant Eagle grocery store in Pittsburgh, PA. Police found him unhurt, standing next to his car. Let’s just say it appears alcohol was involved in the accident.
Be sure to catch next week’s show. We plan on having Don back. Along with the usual banter, we will continue with some better detailed advice on business forecasting for your independent trucking business.
And, once again, thanks for listening to the show.