Tips for Reading a Load Board

Truck load boards are a crucial tool for any trucking company to get the loads they need for a successful business in the trucking industry. However, just knowing what a load board is not enough for you to make it as owner-operators. You need to know how to navigate them and utilize them to your maximum benefit to keep you in a competitive position within the industry. Here TAFS will be going beyond factoring and helping you take a deeper look at these areas to give you a deeper working knowledge of the different boards and how to read the listing from the various shippers.

Load boards are a versatile tool for finding loads. You can advertise your truck’s availability to freight brokers or search for suitable loads yourself. However, a the most important quality is its insight into current trucking/lane market trends. Knowing how to read a load board can help you get the best rates for your business. Best of all, in this growing digital age you can access the boards through the convenience of an Android or IOS mobile app rather than making non stop phone calls.

Learn About the Loads

Why use a them? Well, the answer to that is simple, truckers need loads and these services are the place to find those loads. A load board is an online listing database for freight loads that need to be hauled. These boards are the backbone to the trucking industry and you have to stay on top of them as they update in real-time.

Let’s discuss some specifics on how to use them:

First, there are several out there to choose such as DAT solutions,, among other online load services but for the most part they will follow the same general operation. To find a list of potential loads that fit your abilities and needs you will need to find the search option. This will let you put in all the info from your equipment, starting point and where you are heading to find loads that fit within those specifications. You can pinpoint this down to a local area or state. On others such as the DAT load board, they have established zones throughout North America to allow you to find loads in a broader selection area. Another fantastic feature of these boards is that you can input your information so that shipopers can contact you directly if you seem like a good fit for a load they have.

These boards allow carriers to search for loads using specific criteria. Enter your information – such as your truck type, pick-up date and location, and full or partial load. The board then populates a list of matching, available loads.

Learn About Your Competition

Another great benefit is that they also allow you to see how many posted trucks are in your lane. The search process is the same as above, but instead of searching for loads, you are searching for trucks.

How many trucks are in the area?

Knowing the number of available loads in a given area is only half the battle. You also need to know the number of available trucks. If an area has 300 available loads but only 50 available trucks, then you know there are roughly 6 loads per truck. You have some room to negotiate a better rate for your business. However, if 300 available trucks are trying to bid on 50 available loads, it is safe to say the freight rates are going to be low.

What are you legally able to haul?

Pay attention to weight limits. Does the load’s weight require a special permit? Heavier loads also use more fuel. Does the freight rate make sense for the weight/distance of the load?

Will you make money on the load?

Know your operating cost. It is the backbone of your entire business. You’re taking money out of your own pocket by accepting a load that pays you less than it costs to run your truck. Be aware of deadhead miles and assessorial fees. Where is the drop-off location? If you are driving into a location known for having high fees (lumpers, tolls, long detention times, etc.), make sure the freight rate is enough to cover them and your cost of operation.

Is it a good rate for the lane?

Compare the freight rates to the average spot rates. Most boards offer spot rate averages on their lanes. Compare these to the load’s posted rate. Think twice if the rate seems too good to be true; watch out for broker’s scams. On the flip side, knowing the average spot rate can keep you from accepting a rate that is too low for the load. If the load generally goes for $3 a mile, then why should you haul it for $2.25?

How many loads are available?

Load boards can help you plan your headhauls and backhauls. Check out the load availability at your drop-off location. How easy is it to get out of the area and/or back to your home location?

Preparing to Negotiate Freight Rates

Negotiating truck freight is about supply and demand. If there are more available loads than trucks, you have a better shot at negotiating a higher freight rate. Use the freight load boards to help you keep track of market trends and make smart business decisions, you will be in a much better position for higher truckload rates.

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