Freight is slowing down, and rates are dropping. Do you choose to stay home or take a load?

Expediters are often the first to feel a slowdown and then the first to move when businesses get busier. With what has been happening in the last six weeks, the wise owner-operator changes their ways quickly and rolls with the punches. Instead of complaining about the cheap rates that everyone is receiving, it is time to figure out what will work for you and take that next load. Loads tend to cancel more often when there is turmoil, which is disheartening, but part of it. When this happens, go for a walk, pick up a book, or find something that will keep your spirits up. It is happening to all of us, not just to you.

Right now, it pays to watch where the freight will deliver. Are you going into a notoriously slow area of the country when freight is good? Will the load pay enough to deadhead out, to find a better area? If the answer is no, then look for another load. Look for loads that will keep you in good freight areas to keep you moving, and in the income stream. If you are new to expediting; network, network, network; talk to other drivers who have the same type of freight box, and are with the same company, talk about good places for loads, and where the dead areas are. 

Fixed expenses are just that, and every day at midnight, they all happen again and again and again, until there is income. Sitting at home as the freight is too cheap to haul, is a recipe to put you in the poor house if you do not understand the fixed expenses. Many of you know that we were off for six months last year as our freight box was being built, what you might not know is that we were making payments on the brand-new truck that was not moving. 

Our fixed expenses could have put us out of business if we had not taken actions to create income. Read here to see how we stayed afloat during those months,by driving a tractor-trailer for an Indycar Race Team. Each week we received our settlement with a negative balance that was snowballing. That lesson was learned and ingrained into our minds and in our budget book. All of us need a rainy-day fund. 

The question to me is, do we sit at home and fret, or do we sit out here and fret while looking for a load? That is a personal decision. One thought is, if you live in a good freight area, stay at home and stay in service, and take a load, even if you choose to deadhead home after each load. Another thought is to stay out on the road as long as the loads keep trickling in, and going where the loads take you. 

Everyone is in the same situation, and while some situations are worse than others, each one of us has to decide how to deal with the stress.We can smile and keep on trucking, or we can choose to stay at home. There is no one size fits all decision. What we do know is how we have done things in the past will probably not be the best practice going forward.

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Linda Caffee

Bob and Linda started their driver careers after their children left home for college in 2000. Bob started as a driver for a large motor carrier with Linda as a rider. They decided to enter the Expedite industry as team drivers in 2005 and purchased their first Freightliner. Both, Bob and Linda have had their Class A licenses since the early 80's starting out driving in the oil field and hauling grain as fill in drivers where Bob worked as a diesel mechanic. Linda worked at the local country courthouse in data processing.

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