Trucker Tools and FreightWaves recently hosted a Small Fleet & Owner-Operator Summit, a virtual event that featured live interviews, demonstrations and presentations designed to help small carriers and owner operators like you succeed in the trucking industry. Highlights from the event included an interview with owner operator Larry Cothran, a live radio broadcast of the Road Dog Trucking Radio show, and a fireside chat on how important small fleets and owner ops are to the supply chain. The fireside chat, “Why Small Fleets and Owner-Operators Are Finally Getting Respect,” featured Trucker Tools’ Founder and CEO Prasad Gollapalli and Schneider’s VP of Operations Ben Schuchart. The two also discussed the technology that brokers like Schneider are using to help you be run with greater efficiency and keep your trucks moving and making money.

The COVID-19 Pandemic: Putting a Spotlight on the Good Work That Small Fleets and Owner Operators Do Every Day

In the U.S. truckload market, more than 90 percent of the capacity is provided by small fleets and owner operators, providing flexible capacity during times of high and low demand. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, truckers and carriers have been the ones making sure people across the country receive the vital goods they need to whether the ups and downs of the pandemic. Small trucking companies and owner operators also have been delivering much needed supplies to businesses and distributors all throughout the pandemic.

“I think small carriers and owner operators have always played a very important role in our industry,” said Prasad. “It’s been even more so in the last 12 months as we’ve seen the pandemic cause big swings in demand in such a short period, going from boom to bust to boom in a couple of months. We wouldn’t have recovered from all of that without this small carrier and owner operator segment. They truly are the heroes of the road. They play a very important role in our supply chain today.”

“I think small carriers and owner operators have always played a very important role in our industry,” said Prasad. “It’s been even more so in the last 12 months as we’ve seen the pandemic cause big swings in demand in such a short period, going from boom to bust to boom in a couple of months. We wouldn’t have recovered from all of that without this small carrier and owner operator segment. They truly are the heroes of the road. They play a very important role in our supply chain today.”

Why Companies Like Schneider Value Small Fleets and Owner Ops

According to Ben, Schneider currently works with nearly 40,000 active carriers. Of those 40,000 active carriers, 90 percent are carriers with less than 10 trucks. Schneider also depends heavily on the capacity provided by one-truck owner operators to service its customers. As a result, Schneider puts considerable effort into building relationships with small fleets and owner ops.

“We’re providing them with high quality freight that maximizes their time and every day trying we’re out there trying to earn their business,” said Ben. “Our carrier sales teams are really trying to understand the needs and wants of small fleets and one-truck owner operators, whether it’s long haul, OTR, regional or short haul freight. Schneider is a carrier first and we have over 84 years of history as a carrier, so I think we’re really well positioned to understand how critical time is. The value of time for the driver is high. We are always working on maximizing drive time and optimizing driver experience.”

“We’re providing them with high quality freight that maximizes their time and every day trying we’re out there trying to earn their business,” said Ben. “Our carrier sales teams are really trying to understand the needs and wants of small fleets and one-truck owner operators, whether it’s long haul, OTR, regional or short haul freight. Schneider is a carrier first and we have over 84 years of history as a carrier, so I think we’re really well positioned to understand how critical time is. The value of time for the driver is high. We are always working on maximizing drive time and optimizing driver experience.

Ben said that maximizing drive time includes working on reducing wait times, optimizing appointments and making sure that real loads are available. Schneider doesn’t do “will call” or “can get” freight. Instead, the focus is on high quality, blue chip freight from the best shippers in the industry with whom Schneider has developed relationships over time. Schneider also offers a popular power only program that is 100 percent drop and hook freight to help small carriers and owner operators maximize drive time. Schneider sells used trucks and trailers, as well, to small fleets and one-truck owner ops.

Digital Technology That Helps Small Fleets and Owner Operators

“The strategy that we’ve been working on with Trucker Tools is to meet small carriers and owner operators where they are at, to make it easy for them,” said Ben. “Trucker Tools’ app aggregates freight volume and puts it in the app for the carrier to not only pick Schneider’s freight, but also to pick other brokers’ freight in case we don’t have a load that fits their needs. You can do the digital buy with Book It Now® and know it’s a real load with the rate right there.”

Using tools like Book It Now® in Trucker Tools’ free app reduces the time that you spend searching for freight, which helps increase your drivetime and money-making potential. The Trucker Tools app also provides you with real-time information on fuel prices, routing, parking, rest stops, truck stops, truck washes, food, restaurants and much more.

Watch “Why Small Fleets and Owner-Operators Are Finally Getting Respect” on demand. To download Trucker Tools’ free app, visit https://www.truckertools.com/web/carriers/

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