One of the greatest challenges you face particularly as a new owner operator is knowing which loads to accept and which ones to pass on. In this blog, which is part of our “Level Up Your Trucking Business” series for owner operators, you’ll discover how you can use free, digital tools to make better decisions on loads. With the free technology available to you today, you don’t have to roll the dice when you take a load. Instead, you can know in advance whether the market you’re driving into is likely to be a hot or cold one and whether it makes good financial sense to accept the load or look elsewhere.

Reduce Deadheading and Factor Your Backhaul Into Your Net Profit

Anytime that your truck is moving and your trailer is empty, that represents lost opportunity and revenue. Let’s say, for example, that you take a load from Kansas City to Cincinnati, which is approximately 600 miles. Unfortunately, you couldn’t find any good paying loads to get you back to Kansas City, so you decide that you’ll just drive back to Kansas City with an empty trailer instead of taking a low rate. Those 600 miles back to Kansas City are considered “deadhead” miles because you’re not getting paid for those miles. As an owner operator just starting out, it’s important to reduce deadheading as much as you can and to factor in the backhaul when calculating your net profit on a load. While you may be able to get a good rate on an inbound load to a certain destination, you can end up losing money or netting a low profit if you can’t find a decent reload out of that same market. 

Know In Advance Which Markets Are Hot, Cold with “Where’s the Freight?”

Three times each week, Trucker Tools publishes “Where’s the Freight?” on the Trucker Tools blog and social media channels. “Where’s the Freight?” is a free market report that tells you where demand and rates for certain types of truck capacity will likely be high and where they’re likely to be low over the next five to seven day period. You can use “Where’s the Freight?” to make better decisions on loads. If, for example, you see that Lubbock, Texas, is projected to be one of the hottest flatbed markets in the country for truckers, you may decide to take a flatbed load into Lubbock this week because you know that demand and rates are projected to be high there within the next few days. You also can use “Where’s the Freight?” to identify potential backhaul opportunities and to better negotiate freight rates with brokers and 3PLs.

How “Where’s the Freight?” Works

The free Trucker Tools app has been downloaded by more than 1 million truckers and Trucker Tools’ free carrier platform is used by more than 145,000 trucking companies. Many of the most popular freight brokerages and logistics providers in the market today are using Trucker Tools’ broker software platforms as well. If you put all this real-time data together, we can predict with accuracy where demand and rates for trucks are likely to be high and low across the country over the next five to seven day period. The insights you find in “Where’s the Freight?” are based on real transactions between brokers and truckers/trucking companies. In each edition of “Where’s the Freight?” you find out where demand for flatbed, reefer, power only and van capacity will be high or rising, and where it will be low or falling. You also find out what’s driving higher demand and rates in some areas and why demand/rates may be falling in others. Thanks to a partnership with FreightWaves, “Where’s the Freight?” includes information on some of the hottest freight lanes in the country, as well.

If you want to grow your business this year, read the first blog in this series, Level Up Your Trucking Business: Find Loads in Real-Time Instead of Using Load Boards. To download Trucker Tools’ free app, visit https://www.truckertools.com/web/carriers/