In my last blog, I wrote about the journey of being a Lone Ranger operating under your own authority and relying on various load boards to find shipments to generate the needed revenue to keep your business profitable. Using load boards is also known as “working the spot market.” Generating your income from the spot market is fine when market conditions favor the trucking industry. It’s easy to find what you are looking for in regards to shipments when the number of loads available is more than the number of trucks needing loads on any given day.
As for myself, I was never brave enough to rely on the spot market to keep my business profitable and have always made the majority of my revenue through long term relationships and contracts directly with the shipper. Many of my friends, however, have made a good living for themselves, building good relationships with brokers and third-party logistics providers.
Instead of opening up an app to find their next load to be transported, they have brokers, which they have been in long term relationships with. They have developed these relationships by sending brokers a flyer which describe their equipment and what kind of shipments can be transported with their services.
This is a great way for an owner-operator to market their services. The type of information that could be on a flyer can vary but the first thing it should include is the type of equipment you have, for example, flatbed, step deck, refrigerated or dry van. Another important item to mention is the extra equipment that is provided with your services such as coil racks, chains, loading ramps, lift gates, straps, logistics tracking, decking, load padding, tarps and other forms of load protection and securement. Finally, it’s a good idea to provide information such as whether you are providing a team or a solo operation, contact info, references, awards along with anything else that will make your services stand out in the crowded marketplace.
The goal in everything being discussed here is to make your operation stand out to the broker who is awarding you with the shipment. The extra effort of marketing your services can make a difference when the spot market is in a downturn by making your carrier the first one to be called in a down freight marketplace.
Part Three of this series will be focused on securing your loads directly with the shipper or consignee.