These first weeks of 2018 have been interesting, to say the least! Historically this time of year produces a downturn in freight volume coming out of the gate from the holiday rush. Although there has been a slight falling off from the volumes of pre-holiday rush, they have been able to hold themselves quite steady. The load to truck ratio continues to favor the trucker, with the ELD mandate and increasing fuel prices lending a fair share of help along the way. In my opinion there is no better time to stand up against the bullying I have seen in the past couple weeks and flex those muscles to show what you are really worth as an owner-operator.
I have been met with spot brokers peddling lower rates based on what has historically happened in the past this time of year, further lending to my idea that a lot of them don’t have any idea what trends in the marketplace are actually doing. They have used familiar lines lately like, “in this soft market” and “since it slowed down last week”, to try and justify knocking good amounts of money off of spot market loads. Of course my regular brokers know what is going on and have not even tried to ask for lower rates on regular hauls we do, which they might usually be more inclined to do this time of year on ones that are not locked in. As a businessperson, it is your duty to not succumb to the hype and base your pricing off of what the market is really doing. I dislike it when I see people take a rate that is far too low for that lane, just because they are being fed a “line of bull” from a broker that is too subdued to go to his customer and ask for a better rate or is just plain-out greedy!
With just a quick “Google” search, I was easily able to turn up information like that published in DAT Trendlines at DAT.com, showing that the first week of 2018 brought with it record ratios in my sector of dry van freight of 14.7 loads per truck! With the capacity crunch of last year getting even tighter with the ELD mandate, it is time for us owner-operators to take a firm hold on putting a value on every minute that ticks by on that ELD on the dash. Only then will the accountability fall back onto the shoulders of the shippers and receivers for the countless hours of abuse all of us have seen at the docks. It looks as though the assumptions some of us predicted, with the ELD being “Thor’s Hammer” that leveled the playing field, is going to have the direct effect of also letting us be paid what we should have been getting paid for years. Stand up to low rates like the one’s being peddled out their in the face of real data and don’t become the one that accepts them and artificially drives the market a tick backwards. Take the time to educate yourself about weekly trends and ratios within this “boom” market and don’t allow someone that isn’t steering your business towards the right direction to take the wheel! Knowledge is power, so use this power to steer yourself into further growth and profitability!