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How to find customers and truck loads for owner-operators

Are you looking for a comprehensive guide on how to find trucking jobs using load boards? Look no further than this article to learn everything you need to know finding customers and truck loads for owner-operators.

Explore load board costs and tips for getting the most out of them. Additionally, we’ll teach you how to get owner-operator loads directly from shippers and where to find high-paying loads in the trucking industry.

And when you’re finished reading, check out the other articles in our ‘How to become an owner-operator’ series:

What load boards are and how they work

Load boards are online platforms that help shippers find carriers to transport their goods, and help carriers find freight to transport. 

When a shipper posts truck contracts available on a load board, they will include information such as:

  • Pickup and delivery locations
  • Type and amount of freight being shipped
  • Desired delivery date

Carriers can then search the load board to find available loads that match their needs and preferences.

Load boards typically offer various levels of membership and access to features such as:

  • Credit checks
  • Payment processing
  • Load tracking

Some owner-operator load boards provide additional services like factoring, insurance and compliance assistance.

Load board costs: Understanding fees and memberships

Although load boards can be cost-effective and efficient, it’s important to understand the fees and membership costs involved. 

Load board fees

Load board fees are charges paid by trucking companies and drivers to access load board services. These fees may be charged on a per-load basis, as a percentage of the load value, or as a flat monthly or annual subscription fee.

Load board memberships

Load board memberships are often offered as a way to reduce the overall cost of using load board services. Memberships may offer discounts on per-load fees or lower overall subscription rates. They may also offer access to additional features like load tracking, credit checks on potential shippers, and more detailed load-matching capabilities.

Tips for using load boards effectively

How do owner-operators get loads on boards?

  1. Set up email alerts: Load boards for freight management offer email alert notifications for new jobs matching your search criteria. This can save you time it takes to constantly check the board for new job postings.
  2. Filter your search: Use filters to narrow down your search by location, lane, equipment type, and payment terms. Be specific: “owner-operator looking for drivers in CT” or “shippers looking for carriers near me.” 
  3. Check for reviews: Check the reviews and ratings for a shipper or broker before accepting any jobs. This will give you an idea of their reputation and help you avoid any potential problems. Be cautious of trucking companies that will hire anyone. 
  4. Ask for more information: If a job posting for freight hauls lacks information, don’t be afraid to ask the shipper or broker for more details. This will help you make a more informed decision.
  5. Be mindful of rates: Don’t get caught up in low rates. While you want to remain competitive, rates that are too low may not be worth your time.
  6. Always confirm details: When securing loads for owner-operators, confirm the details with the shipper or broker. Understand the payment terms, delivery dates, and any special instructions or requirements upfront. 
  7. Build relationships: Connect with shippers on load boards for owner-operators and build long-term business relationships. This can help you find more consistent work and build trust with clients to secure truck loads without a broker. 

How to get loads for trucks directly from shippers

Here are some quick tips on how to get truck loads without a broker:

  1. Build relationships: Develop relationships with shippers by reaching out to them and highlighting your services. This helps establish trust and ensures that shippers are more likely to turn to you when they have loads to move.
  2. Join online load boards: Many shippers post their loads on online load boards, so it’s a good idea to sign up with multiple load board platforms. Make sure to keep your profile and information up-to-date. This is also how to find truck drivers when needed. 
  3. Attend industry events: Attend industry events, trade shows, and conferences. This enables you to make connections with shippers and stay up-to-date on the latest industry trends.
  4. Cold call shippers: Find shippers in your independent trucking target market and reach out to them directly. Start by selling your services and highlighting what sets you apart from your competitors.
  5. Offer value-added services: Offering additional services like logistics consulting, real-time tracking, or faster delivery times can make you more attractive to shippers. This is how to dispatch your own loads. Highlight these services when reaching out to shippers.

Read more about building a customer base

High-paying loads in the trucking industry

There are specific loads that can be high-paying for owner-operator trucking companies. These include:

  1. Oversized loads: These are loads that are outside normal size limits for freight. Oversized loads often carry high-value products, such as industrial machinery, or critical supplies that require special handling.
  2. Hazardous materials: Carriers that are certified and licensed to handle hazardous materials can transport dangerous products that require specialized equipment and training. These include chemicals, explosives, or radioactive materials.
  3. Automobile transport: Carriers that transport cars, buses, trucks, and other vehicles can earn high rates, especially for cross-country or international shipments.
  4. High-value cargo: Carriers that transport jewelry, artwork, electronics, pharmaceuticals, or other high-value items can earn premium rates due to the specialized requirements of these loads.
  5. Flatbed loads: Flatbed trucks are used for loading and transporting large, bulky items that cannot be carried in standard enclosed trailers. Flatbed drivers must have a unique skill set and endurance for securing and transporting large, unwieldy items.   

Keep in mind that the rates for these loads can vary depending on market conditions, fuel prices, and other factors. Also, specialized equipment and training may be required for some of these loads. 

Maximize your load potential

Finding and retaining customers is an important aspect of any business. By providing excellent customer service, drivers can build long-term relationships with their customers and retain them. More truck loads for owner-operators means more opportunities for growth and expansion.


What are freight brokers?

A broker is a third-party agent who arranges contracts between carriers (truckers) and shippers (companies that need goods transported). This is often how owner-operators get loads. Brokers can be a valuable resource for finding loads and customers for your trucking company.

What is the easiest type of freight to get?

For owner-operator truck drivers, the easiest type of freight to transport is often dry goods, including non-perishable food, beverages, clothing, and electronics. These items are relatively easy to handle, less sensitive to environmental conditions, and available in steady supply, making them ideal for independent transporters.

How do I find local loads for owner-operators?

Owner-operators can find local loads by subscribing to load boards, online platforms where shippers and freight brokers post loads for drivers. Building relationships with local businesses and freight brokers can also be beneficial, as they may have regular local shipping needs.

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