Profitable loads fuel the hotshot industry. Without loads, there will be no hotshot business. It’s as simple as that. If you are new to this business, one of your hurdles will be finding regular loads. Here are six places where you can find loads:
1. Freight Brokers
Freight brokers are the middle men that connect shippers to truckers and they can help you out especially if you are just starting out. The best thing about them is that they do most of the legwork including negotiating the rates.
There are more than 20,000 licensed freight brokers in North America. You can easily find one by searching online or asking for referrals from other truckers in your area.
2. Load Boards
Load boards (sometimes referred to as freight boards) are an online marketplace where shippers, freight brokers and truckers can post and search for loads. Most load boards have a sophisticated and easy-to-use interface, allowing all users to filter their searches based on specific criteria. The basic features of a load board may include load matching, credit information, FMCSA verification and mobile access. Some load boards offer free access while others charge subscription fee.
Working with load boards has pros and cons. On one hand, it helps the industry’s new comers get started in the business. However, stiff competition for truckers especially on popular lanes drives the rates down which in turn reduces your profit margin.
3. Dispatch Services
You can also hire a dispatcher to get your business up and running. Looking for loads or negotiating with shippers can be tedious, time consuming and stressful and that is where dispatchers can help you. They have connections and negotiating skills to help you keep your hotshot trailer loaded at a competitive rate. In many cases, they also take care of other administrative tasks such as invoicing, billing, collections and other paperwork.
Dispatchers charge different fees. Some charge as low as 5% of what the load will pay while many charge between 10-15%. Others charge a flat fee for each load.
4. Register as a Government Contractor
More often, the government outsource their staffing needs, and transportation is no exception. Good news is, no matter where in the country you are, there is a government agency nearby. Being a government contractor does require a few extra requirements, including registering to be one. Sometimes, the government agency may also have specific requirements for a flatbed trailer to handle specialized loads. If you are interested, contact your city or state government for more details.
Prospecting may take time to work at the start but many hotshot businesses use this strategy as it produce great leads that oftentimes develop into a long-term business relationship.
To start, you need to do some research to know the shippers in your area, what they ship, and to where. You can then contact them by knocking on their doors or cold calling. When you contact them, introduce your business and then ask questions about their trucking needs. If you have a relevant portfolio, you can show it to improve your chances of getting a good lead. Once already contacted, don’t just leave the prospect behind but be prepared to check back with them.
Attending business meetings, social events and other networking activities can help make your business visible and raise your profile in the minds of the right people. In business, oftentimes it is all about who you know and not what you know. If you have connections, you can easily call them for anything. You can also generate referrals, which is one of the best forms of advertisement that allows you to find profitable loads.
With networking, focus on industry associations that use a lot of transportation or freight services. You will find a lot of prospective shippers there.
Just like with most marketing strategies, it is always good to try different approaches to getting loads and see which ones work for you. Whatever method you choose, stay with it and do not give up. Oftentimes, it takes time before you finally see the results.