Owner-operators will pull just about anything if the price is right. While finding freight isn’t hard, deciding if a load is worth it takes a lot more skill.
These skills you develop over time as you get know things like a shipper's average detention time, if loads are worth driving empty for, and the areas where loads are located.
One of the easiest ways you can find freight, especially for first-time owner-operators, is through an online load board. A load board is a service that allows you to find available loads that have been posted by shippers and carriers. They can also be used by you to post your equipment for shippers and carriers to see. You use the load board as a way to find and enter into an agreement to move freight.
Generally loads will be matched to your specific profile but you can also search by geographical area to find loads that interest you. You can find something close by for a short trip, find smaller loads along a route all going to the same city, or even find loads for the return leg of your trip. With experience, you’ll learn what areas always have loads available.
Over time, you can build relationships with shippers and brokers through load boards but you should never feel pressured to take something if you don’t want to. There’s plenty of freight out there and trucks to move it, so make sure loads fit your schedule.
Every load that’s listed has the necessary information you’ll need to decide if the load is worth your time. The typical information you might find on a load is:
- Expected pick up and delivery dates and times
- City of origin and destination
- Your distance from the load
- Type of trailer required
- Revenue of the load
- Total miles of trip
- Rate per mile
- Weight of load
- Shipper or broker name
When you have found a load that’s a good fit, you can contact the company shipping the load for even more information before you finalize your agreement. Be aware that loads on popular routes are very competitive and tend to go a lot faster. Although it might take you a while to snag some of the best-paying freight, you should never sit back and wait for it to come to you.
The great thing for owner-operators is you are completely free from dispatchers checking up on you every hour of the day. However, once you accept a load, you are obligated to fill the contract in the time period agreed upon.
With experience, you’ll get a better understanding of where freight is and what places have nothing coming out of them. Although a state has a lot of freight going in it doesn’t mean you’ll find something coming back out. It’s a balancing game where you want to make the most out of your runs while making sure they also cover any deadheading time.
A quick Google search will find you hundreds of different load boards. Many of these work on a monthly subscription, although some are free, and the pricing can vary quite a lot. If you not sure which to pick, look for a load board that offers a free trial and has good customer support.
With good planning and a bit of experience, you could easily make $3,000 to $5,000 in a couple of days. It's just a click away.