The best type of trucking contract is a long term or dedicated contract with a shipper or government contracts. The type of equipment you have available to you—such as a hot shot, flatbed trailer, dry van, and reefer—will dictate what loads are available to you. A dispatcher is efficient at this type of freight matching to keep you booked with the correct loads at the best rates while avoiding empty backhauls, also known as deadhead truck freight. This is where they will use your services for all of their loads of that particular type. These contracts are admittedly much harder to obtain though and you will likely not get them without having proven experience and great relationships directly with the larger shippers.
A rate confirmation is a much more common type of contract that all truckers will deal with on a regular basis. This is a contract for an individual load which dictates all the details from pick up and drop off locations, pay rate, etc.
In summary, a dedicated contract is long term secured work. Once you get that contract you know you will have regular and dependable business through that contract. Rate confirmation contracts are one off loads that are much easier for a small business or independent contractor to get on a regular basis.
As we mentioned, it will take time and dedication to obtain long-term contracts. Do not put all of your eggs in this basket immediately after getting your CDL; instead focus on the contracts you can get right now and do a good job at them. You will be in a much better position to get dedicated contracts down the road as you complete loads over time and build working relationships with shippers and business owners.
When just starting out, your focus needs to be on regular cash flow. To keep up with regular cash flow you may also want to consider a factoring service to get you around the payment terms of many shippers. To get contracts for individual loads as an owner operator you need to start by looking at load boards or working with dispatchers that can help you find loads that best fit you. Getting this process down and being able to repeat it will set you up to continue your business successfully in the trucking industry. Neglecting this is a huge part of what leads to a lot of carriers closing their doors.
To book your own loads, load boards such as the DAT load board, are a common freight finding tool. This is something you can spend time on while sitting at a truckstop but you need to focus on using the best load board that will give you real-time notifications of new loads that fit your criteria. Load boards allow you access to any broker or shipper (within the load board network) who is looking for your specific type of carrier to haul their freight. This allows you to cast the widest net to find customers, brokers, and shippers.
Load boards can be as different as the companies they supply. Before making a commitment to a load board, make sure you are getting the best service for your company. You want a load board with a large selection of your preferred lanes and a high demand for your type of equipment. Free trials are the best way to test the market before making a financial investment. (Note, some load boards do not advertise free trials but will offer them to you if you ask.)
Utilizing a dispatcher is another option and can help you find good loads that you might typically miss out on. Dispatchers save you time by working the load boards for you. Give them your business type and hauling expectations then they find you the best paying freight for the lane and freight you haul. If using a service like ProDispatch, the dispatcher will also fill out the broker packets for you, saving you even more time so you can focus on just delivering the freight.
To learn more about getting loads for your trucking company, give our team of trucking experts a call today! 913-393-6110