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Pros and cons of using load boards for trucking companies

Do you need to know how to find truck loads?

Load boards may just be what you need. Load boards are online platforms that connect shippers and carriers, facilitating the bid and acceptance of freight transport.

However, as with any business decision, it is crucial to understand the pros and cons of using load boards.

In this article, we’ll delve into:

  • How load boards work
  • Their many advantages
  • Potential drawbacks to watch for
  • An example of how load boards are used

So, read on to discover if load boards are the right choice for your trucking business.

And when you’re finished, check out the other articles in our ‘Getting the most out of load boards’ article series:

What is a load board and how does it work?

What are load boards? A load board is a digital platform that connects shippers and carriers to facilitate the process of finding and booking available freight loads for transportation services.

Load boards are used by trucking companies and independent owner-operators to find shipments to transport. Shippers and freight brokers use load boards to find carriers to move their goods.

So how do load boards work? By displaying available loads to carriers and allowing them to search and filter based on criteria such as the:

  • Shipment date
  • Origin and destination locations
  • Weight
  • Truck type

Carriers can then submit offers for loads they’re interested in, and shippers or load brokers can choose among the offers they receive. Some load boards offer additional features like credit checks, fuel advances, tracking, and communication tools.

You can find different load boards, such as load boards for pickup trucks, free load boards for box trucks, spot freight load boards, power load boards, load boards for owner-operators, and more. Find our recommendations for the best load board for any truck

There are many pros and cons associated with using owner-operator trucking load boards.

Benefits of using load boards for trucking companies

  • Cost-effectiveness: Load boards are typically free or low-cost, making them an affordable and cost-effective option for carriers and owner-operators to post a load and find loads.
  • Easy of use: Shipper load boards are designed to be user-friendly and intuitive, empowering carriers and owner-operators to easily search for and book loads. Many load boards also offer mobile apps, making it easy to find and book loads while on the go.
  • Increased revenue: By accessing a large pool of freight options, carriers and owner-operators have the potential to increase their revenue by booking more loads and reducing deadhead miles.
  • Flexibility: Boards for freight offer a high degree of flexibility for carriers and owner-operators. They can choose when and where they want to run, which loads they want to take, and how many loads they want to book.
  • Real-time information: The top freight load boards provide real-time information on available loads, including the destination, equipment requirements, and freight rates. This helps carriers and owner-operators make informed decisions about which loads to take and how much to charge.
  • Streamlined communication: Load boards provide a centralized platform for shippers, carriers, and brokers to connect and exchange information about available loads and trucks.
  • Increased efficiency: Freight broker load boards streamline the process of finding and booking loads, reducing the time and effort spent on searching for freight. This allows carriers and owner-operators to focus on other aspects of their business.

Drawbacks of using load boards for trucking companies

There are some drawbacks to using load boards for trucking companies. These can include:  

  • Competition: Load boards can be highly competitive, and it can be difficult to secure lucrative contracts from top-paying customers. This can make it difficult to earn a steady income and stay profitable in the long term.
  • Hidden and high fees: Many load boards charge subscription and transaction fees. Some charge additional expenses that can eat into profits and reduce the overall value of the platform.
  • Inconsistent quality: Because load boards are open to anyone, the quality of the loads and carriers listed on the platform can vary widely. This can lead to missed opportunities and can make it difficult to build a reliable network of partners.
  • Risk of fraud: There’s always a risk of fraud when dealing with unknown carriers or shippers on load boards. This can lead to lost shipments, financial losses, and other potential risks.
  • Time-spend: Using load boards can be time-consuming, as carriers must constantly search for loads, negotiate rates, and handle logistics. This can take time away from other important tasks, such as marketing and customer service.

Load board example

Let’s say John is an owner-operator based in Dallas, Texas, with a 53-foot dry van. He’s just delivered a load to Atlanta, Georgia, and he’s looking for another shipment to take back to Texas. John logs into his account on a popular load board service.

Once logged in, John inputs his current location (Atlanta), his equipment (53-foot dry van), and his preferred destination (Dallas). The load board instantly displays a list of available loads that match his criteria.

He sees a load of non-perishable goods from a well-rated shipper that needs to be in Dallas in two days. The listed rate is decent, but John decides to negotiate for a better rate considering his positive track record and reliability.

John clicks on the contact information provided and gets in touch with the shipper. After a brief conversation, they agree on a higher rate. John confirms the load in the system, receives the pickup details, and heads off to the pickup location.

John picks up the load, ensures it’s secure, and hits the road. Two days later, he delivers the load in Dallas, sends the necessary delivery proof to the shipper, and then logs back into the load board to find his next haul. The load board system, in this case, has made it relatively easy for John to find and secure profitable loads while managing his operations efficiently.

Load boards are invaluable to the trucking industry

The best truck load boards provide immediate access to a vast marketplace of shippers and freight brokers, which can be crucial for businesses seeking to establish a steady flow of work. They also offer flexibility, allowing startups to choose loads that suit their capabilities, equipment, and preferred routes. 

As long as you know what to expect and learn how to use load boards effectively, they can be well worth any potential disadvantages.


Are free load boards worth it?

Free load boards can be worth it for owner-operators who are starting out, as they provide access to a range of loads without an upfront cost. However, they may have fewer features, less customer support, and potentially less lucrative loads compared to more selective load boards with paid options. Ultimately, the value depends on the operator’s specific needs, location, and equipment.

Can you make money from load boards?

Yes, owner-operators can certainly make money from top load boards. These platforms provide a marketplace for shippers and freight brokers to post loads needing transportation. Truck drivers who know how to use a load board can find, negotiate, and secure profitable hauling jobs that align with their equipment and route preferences.

What is the difference between a load board and a broker?

A load board is an online marketplace where shippers and brokers post loads that need to be transported, and truckers can find and secure those loads. A broker, on the other hand, is an individual or company that serves as an intermediary between shippers who have goods to transport and carriers who have the capacity to move those goods, often using load boards to find suitable carriers.

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