October 27, 2021

How To Find Loads as an Owner Operator

When planning on starting your own trucking company, you have to be prepared to find loads. While there is not one “best” method, there are advantages and disadvantages to each. Some may cost more money upfront but require less effort on your part, while others may cost less but require more time and effort to sort through all the options.

The most common methods to find loads are:

  • Hire a dispatcher
  • Develop a network of brokers
  • Use load boards
  • Call companies directly

We recommend listening to our podcast Haulin Assets, where we cover how to find loads more in depth, or you can get an overview down below.

An infographic of how to get loads.

What Method Is the Best Method To Get Loads for New Owner Operators?

While there’s no one right method, we usually recommend new motor carriers find a dispatcher because they are going to work directly with you to find brokers who will work with new owner operators. They can also help you manage trips across the country and back.

Tips To Get More Loads

We’ve covered a lot more in our podcast on how to find loads, the most common methods, and more. Make sure to listen to episode 7, as we talk about what a new trucking company should be doing. But, no matter which method you choose, there are a variety of things you can and should be doing to grow your company:

  • Prevent dead-head miles by taking loads to a location and back.
  • Understand your cost-per-mile. This can determine how much money you make per load.
  • Don’t take loads that actually lose your company money. There are some exceptions to this rule, so listen to episode 36 for more info on whether or not to take loads that actually cost your company money.
  • Use a combination of methods to find loads and keep your company on the road.
  • If you do go the broker route, find more than one broker to work with to keep loads coming.
  • Always be professional. Companies are willing to work with new motor carriers if they prove they’re honest, trustworthy and will get the job done.
  • It may take a few years to get higher paying loads. Especially when you’re new, it takes time to build trust and earn the better loads.
  • Name your company something people can remember to increase your chances of getting called back for other jobs.

Looking for More Insight on Starting Your Trucking Company?

Finding loads is just one piece of starting your own business. If you want to become your own boss and be an independent owner operator, get in touch with the coaches at Motor Carrier HQ! We’ll help you create a game plan from start to finish, and help you get your trucking authority (MC Number), DOT Number, and so much more!

You also don’t want to miss our podcast, Haulin Assets, where we started our own trucking company and documented the whole process. New episodes are still being released, so it’s a great resource if you want to see if becoming an independent owner operator is for you!

Talk to a Coach

Additional Questions

What’s the difference between dispatchers and brokers?

A freight broker finds loads and works as the middleman between shippers and motor carriers. Shippers pay the broker and then the broker pays the motor carrier. A dispatcher works directly for a motor carrier and handles all the paperwork of loads for you, including finding brokers and shippers who will work with your company. Dispatchers don’t handle money. They are usually paid by the carrier to find loads.

What are the most common load boards?

The most common load boards are:

You may want to shop around to find the right load board for you. Unfortunately, with most load boards there is a lot of competition, so it may be an effective method to find loads when you’ve just started, but you shouldn’t rely on them for extended periods of time.

How do brokers make money?

Brokers make money by taking the difference between what the shipper is offering and what the trucking company is willing to pay. Since they are the middleman and the manager, it’s important to understand what your company is worth, as some brokers may make a big profit by underselling your services.

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