So you are knee deep in your plunge to independency and can finally begin to taste the freedom on the tip of your tongue! You start to make the calls to ring in more work for yourself, but are astonished at how many people require you to have had your authority for a certain length of time before they will do business with you. As frustrating as it may be during the infancy of your independence, do not let it get you down because there are still many other people willing to let you prove yourself to them.
Many people start hauling board freight off of common load boards to start their independent trucking businesses, unless you start right out hauling direct freight. This is a place where brokers typically post freight for any independent owner-operator to call on and haul. What is usually not advertised are the specific terms and requirements for hauling each particular load. With many loads going up daily, you will typically only find the vaguest of details on each load such as pickup date, weight, and a contact phone number. It is up to the person wanting to haul the load to then contact the broker to get all the details and usually negotiate a rate. It is in this step that a lot of people hauling on new authority, typically newer than thirty days, will run into a roadblock of sorts. Although you may have several years as a successful owner-operator, unless you were on your own authority, that time will typically not count when it comes to broker negotiations.
Usually, the first thing they will ask from the other end of the phone is, “What is your MC number?” This simple question allows them to pull your authority information up on the screen in front of them instantly. If you have new authority, do not be surprised to be shut down from the other end of the phone before you can get any further than the initial question of your MC number. I was somewhat prepared for this in my first negotiations thanks to advice from my friends, but highly underestimated the number of brokers that were this way in their requirements.
Do not be discouraged in the fact that nearly one or two brokers out of every four to five you may call have this same reaction. No matter how long you’ve been driving or what your experience may be as an owner-operator, they will typically not want to dig any further into the subject than what they can see on the computer screen in front of them. Consider it their loss, as you will still find plenty of brokers out there willing to have you haul their freight and may build some solid business relationships in doing so. Remember to let your best self shine through, as those brokers that give you a chance to prove yourself in the beginning just may well be the ones that put you on the top of their call list when you excel in showing their customers a level of service above the rest!