Do you run a trucking company? If YES, here are 30 best places to find companies that need freight moved and shipping companies that need truckers.
The trucking business is indeed big in the United States, but for a trucking company to be in business and be successful, it has to be able to move freight constantly. As freight moving is almost the only way trucking companies get to make money to sustain their businesses, so they have to be quite proficient in getting companies and clients that require regular shipping of materials.
In today’s challenging freight market, you need to do more than check the load boards to find hauls that pay well enough for your fleet to make money. You have to be quite proactive in your methods and be ready to think outside the box. If you are a trucker who needs ideas on how to get shippers and companies that require regular trucking services, this article would give you more than a few ideas.
30 Best Places to Find Shippers and Companies That Need Truckers to Move Their Freight
- Use a Load Board
One of the main areas where truckers find shippers and companies to move their freight is through load boards. A load board is an online bulletin that features different shippers, brokers, and trucking companies. It is in fact a list containing companies that need the services of truckers.
If you are a trucking company in search of freight, a load board is one of the first places you need to start from. Some of the notable load boards that you can find in the united states include DAT, TruckStop.com, and 123LoadBoard. If you are in Canada, you can look up Loadlink. It is a premier destination for finding truckload freight.
When you are using the services of load boards, it would be in your best interest to look out for longer term customers, whether that be a broker or shipper. There are also power-only carrier programs available from companies such as JB Hunt that are suitable for independent owner-operators.
While you are with this industry, one of the things you should beware of is back-soliciting as that is frowned upon in the industry. But you are generally allowed to negotiate a fair rate. Loads are posted ahead of time, so you need to have some pre-planning skills to understand how your e-log hours will fit into your schedule.
There are certain things you have to keep in mind when evaluating loads you want to carry, and they include; Average rates being paid to other carriers, Cost of empty miles (if any), Cost of fuel in the area (are there additional taxes?), Has the load just been posted?, Can you plan a full-trip (outbound-inbound) ahead of time or is there a chance of a layover?, Payment terms and days to pay, etc.
In 2016, some of the best paying freight markets were Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, Ontario CA, Houston, Allentown, Atlanta, and Fort Worth.
Yet another avenue where trucking companies can find loads for their trucks is through the uSHIP.com website. This website lists smaller loads for truckers that may be interested in that. They are ideal for 2-5-ton trucks and may be a viable option for less-than-truckload (LTL) loads.
3. Negotiate directly with Shippers
If you are good at making connections on your own, then one of the best ways for you to find shippers and companies that need the services of trucking companies is for you to seek out the shipping companies on your own. In a lot of instances, shippers usually have a variety of loads that need to be hauled but they can’t find trucks to carry them.
As an owner-operator, you can directly contact a shipper and ask for a contract with them. This is important because shippers will see the potential in you and you will get a chance to discuss terms and conditions directly with the shipper without going through a third party.
The shipper will get a chance to evaluate your operator experience and capacity, and on the other hand, you will be able to defend your capability that can make you win the contract. Again, you have a higher chance of winning load contracts this way.
- Consider Registering as a Government Contractor
One of the biggest shippers of freight in the United States is the government. Most of these jobs are usually outsourced to owner-operators. You should also know that it is not only the federal government that outsources contracts, you can also benefit from State and Local Government shipping contracts.
To qualify as a government contractor requires extra effort on your part. You have to make an effort to register with the various departments involved but the stress you go through is worth the effort.
Networking is another good way truckers get shipping contracts to to keep their business successful. One way you can be successful with networking is to get connected to freight associations and attend events, meetings, forums, expos, and even workshops that shippers are attending. This is where you will get a chance to meet potential shippers who might be looking for operators or even take your contact details for future contracts.
You can also meet other drivers who are in the same business, and you may receive tips on how to get contracts. There is also a high chance that you will find operators who may have their hands full and may ask you to assist them to move some loads. This is one of the easiest ways to get contract with a shipper.
- Shipping Brokers
Shipping brokers are set up to connect shippers with owner-operators. If you are a trucker, shipping brokers are one of your main sources of securing a shipping contract. Most shipping brokers do most of the legal work including negotiating the shipping rates for you, or even the shipping contract and paperwork.
They fully understand the shipping industry and are in most times in contact with a variety of shippers. If you are using this method, again you have to beware of back-soliciting.
Getting a contract with shippers is a difficult and challenging task that needs dedication and a lot of planning because of competition. It is advisable to try a few marketing strategies like advertising and pricing to try and outwit your competitors and win that lucrative contract with the shipper.
- Use Supplier Directories
Industry supplier directories are yet another good way to obtain shipping customers for your trucking business. If you are using these directories, you will find in them the contact information of the right person to talk to and best of all; there are no middlemen to deal with when using this method. Thomasnet.com and Macrae’s BlueBook are some of the viable directories you can explore.
- Look in both conventional and unconventional places
Though there are laid down avenues you can use to get shipping contracts as a trucker, but there are still unconventional ways that are also legal that you can use to find shippers. Look around you, a lot of the things you see are hauled or delivered by trucks. Statistics has it that over 70 percent of all freight in America moves by truck.
Furniture, office equipment, consumer electronics, clothes, they are all types of freight that shippers need to be hauled from one point to another. As a freight broker, you can find shippers by doing research on the products you see every day to find out where they are manufactured and how they are transported. Make it a point to visit new businesses and the like.
- Review Your Purchase History
Drawing a blank or feeling helpless in finding shippers? Reviewing your own purchases can be a great starting place. Whether it’s the receipts from the store or your online Amazon order history, the products you purchase are manufactured and transported from somewhere.
As a freight broker looking to find shippers, you have to get creative at times and go beyond the normal trains of thought. Understand how companies are connected and if one lead doesn’t pan out or isn’t a viable option, don’t give up, there are seemingly endless possibilities.
- Take a Look at the Competition
Every product that is moved by freight has competitors, it’s a natural occurrence and a driving force of the capitalist economy. To make good use of this method, you have to know where your competitors are getting their loads from. You may either pitch with them or look for businesses that are around the same range.
- Use MacRae’s Blue Book
One viable shippers list that is guaranteed to find you loads on a frequent basis is MacRae’s Blue Book. This list is an industrial directory that provides detailed information about manufacturing companies and their needs. You can search through companies based on the types of products they manufacture and the detailed information about a company will even include freight rate estimates for you to compare.
Other manufacturing lists such as The Industry Week 500 are great guides to help freight brokers find shippers. Companies such as Boeing and General Electric have a tremendous amount of supplies both in receiving and shipping of freight. Use the list as a starting point to help you find suppliers for these companies.
- Follow produce locations to locate farmers
Produce is shipped across the country to satisfy consumer demand. Produce locations vary based on the season, though you can conclude that Florida has fruits, Texas has avocados, the Midwest has corn and the Pacific Northwestern has apples.
You can use the USDA business listings to locate farmers that grow crops or raise cattle, poultry, and other livestock and contact them as well. You need to know the trends and seasons in this industry if you are to succeed here.
- Use Google Maps
Yes, you may wonder what google maps have to do with finding shippers, but it has a good tip that can help you out. This is where you have to be imaginative ans creative. Some freight brokers usually make use of Google Maps satellite and street views of a building to see if it has shipping and receiving docks.
You can spend hours just going street by street in industrial areas, verifying if a location has docks. From there you can research the company to find out what they do and find out how they ship freight. When you are done with these inquiries, you can now approach the company with your request.
- Cold Call Shippers
Yes, cold calling is still around in the business world. Once you find a shipper you want to work with, you will need to contact them in order to gauge their potential interest in using a freight broker. It’s easy to send a quick email but the chances of getting a response are quite low. The best way to connect with shippers is by calling them directly and be straight-forward in your dialogue.
A sales pitch isn’t necessary and can be off-putting, but you should describe who you work for, company background or achievements, where you’re looking to move freight through and see how you can be of assistance. Remember, you are there to provide them a service so it’s imperative that you listen to their needs and how you might be able to address their pain points.
You’ll need to understand how the shipper currently transports freight and see if there is an opportunity you can capitalize on. Undoubtedly, a significant portion of shippers will turn you down, but it is a game of luck and you might just get more lucky than you lose.
Cold-calling prospects can be a draining experience. The advantage, however, is that very few fleets are willing to do some selling to generate business. While most other truckers are flooding the load boards in search of new hauls, you can develop a source of new business with very little direct competition.
- Build relationships and trust
When looking for shippers to use to sustain your trucking business, one character you have to build is that of sustaining relationships and trust. You’ll need to cultivate relationships and build a reputation for being dependable when servicing your shipping clients.
As a freight broker you’ll also want to develop a rapport with carriers, especially the qualified ones. Once you use a carrier to move freight that you trust and have a good working relationship with them, continue to use them and provide them with the opportunities they desire to maintain the relationship.
- Pick Your Lanes
A load from Chicago to Houston paying $2.00 a mile may sound good, but does it make sense for your business? If your trailer is going to be empty on the way back from Texas, was the job really worth it? When selecting loads, make sure they are in trucking lanes that work for your business. Also, plan ahead by choosing shipments that allow you to make money on the way back home.
- Take advantage of your website
Another way you can entice companies and shippers to do business with you is to have a working website that is very professional. Nothing speaks armature and unserious like a poorly designed website, or lack of one. You have to also position the website in such a way that it can get you good traffic. One way to do this is to make use of SEO and channel it towards your state or country of interest.
- Find out what’s waiting
If you already have shipments going out to a location, see if there’s anything else that needs to be transported out of that location. They’ll get a better rate considering you’re already dropping off shipments in that general location. Not only that, you’ll be putting additional money in your pocket.
- Utilize your Customer Credit Reference Sheet
Often customers will provide a credit reference sheet to assure the broker that they have a track record of paying on time and in the correct amount in previous transactions.
As long as you received these contacts in an ethical manner, you may reach out to these contacts and mention you were referred by that company because of your existing positive relationship with them throughout your time of servicing their logistics needs. If they respond positively, see if they themselves have any shipments that they would be willing to let you move.
- Industry groups that your clients belong to
One good source of leads is industry groups. By this, we don’t mean the trucking industry groups. Rather, we mean the industry groups that your prospective clients belong to. These groups are easy to find on the Internet. Some even publish their membership lists on their websites. If the list is not on their website, you can easily get a copy by joining the group. And there are hundreds of industry groups to choose from.
- Go Door-to-Door
You can never go wrong with the old school B2B door-to-door sales approach. Customers tend to respond better anyways when there is a physical presence in front of them, versus trying to respond via email or phone. When faced with the challenge of walking into a business unannounced, it is imperative to allow yourself the opportunity to be told “yes” or “no”.
Attempt to identify who the decision maker is and be sure your making your presentation to the right person. Once you have solidified a meeting with the customer, there are some sales protocols you’ll want to adhere to if you want to increase the odds of you closing business.
Bring a customer packet with you in the rare case that they do agree to do business with you on the first visit. In case of the inability to do business after the first meeting, be sure to exchange contact information. There is always a chance that they may require your services at a later point and time.
- Keep your current clients
One thing to keep in mind is that finding new clients is hard. Keeping them for the “long haul” is even harder. As a result, make every effort to keep your clients happy. Go the extra mile when you have to. Remember how hard it was to find them? That’s why you should treat them like gold. Make it a point to be very professional in your approach, and make it a point to go the extra mile.
Yet another beneficial way you can get clients and shippers for your trucking company is to learn how to ask for referrals. You should ask your current customers for referrals. The key to doing this is to build strong relationships with your customers. You do that by doing what you promise, if something goes wrong then you own up to the mistake, and not lying to your customers about late deliveries.
24. Use Social Media
Social media platforms can be a great way to communicate with or gather information on businesses. Most companies will usually indicate what line of work they are in on their profile, which will provide you with greater insight as to whether or not they are a good prospect for a potential shipper.
If you determine they are doing some form of shipping, you can send them a direct message to introduce yourself and inquire about their shipping needs. In addition to directly reaching out to consumers, developers have created dynamic social media management tools to optimize outreach, manage customer relationships, and improve engagement with their audience.
25. Work on those you know
People you already know that may be working with a shipping company are yet another avenue that can help you get shipping loads. These are called your warm market. They can easily put in a word for you in their company. These people are more likely to go to bat for you than someone whose relationship is not as strong. Since your warm market has already established relationships with suppliers, you have an increased chance of acquiring new business.
26. Pay attention to your surroundings
When you’re out and about, pay attention to industrial buildings and warehouses. Any companies located in industrial centers usually have additional square footage, or warehouse units to allow for receiving and shipping materials.
Once you find out the names of these companies, start conducting your research on what they are shipping, what type of trucks they use for transport, who their customers are, and where they are shipping to.
Having this information readily available allows you to identify any weak points they may have in their current supply chain. After identifying these weak points, you can now offer your services and ensure these issues won’t happen with your services.
27. Use the Internet
The internet is a remarkable tool for marketing and obtaining information on companies. For example, if you wanted to acquire shippers that move furniture, then you could Google search “companies that ship furniture”. The list of companies that appear in the search engine are now your newest prospects.
You may be thinking, there’s no way it’s that easy. In which case, you’d be right. The work of prospecting is simple but not easy. You’ll need to get in touch with the logistics manager or coordinator in charge of finding transport vehicles to ship their goods. You have nothing to lose by asking questions, so suck it up and go for it.
28. Become a “specialist” in a specific industry
To up your chances of getting freight, you have to become a master at moving a specific type of freight (i.e. apparel, heavy machinery, produce, etc.) Companies will appreciate your expertise, which will help build credibility. By specializing in certain industries, you can create leverage when attempting to negotiate with companies for their business. You can say, “I actually am currently working with another company that is moving these kinds of loads.
In fact, I already have carriers on deck that can move these shipments.” Since you have experience working with specific types of goods, you can simplify the process for the shipper. The easier you make the process for them, the more likely they are to want to work with you over a lesser experienced broker of that particular item.
29. Pursue the Destination of a load
A good way to get in contact with potential shippers is to call either way the location of where a shipment is getting picked up or delivered. For example, if there are goods being transported from Oakland to Long Beach, then rest assured, there are goods coming into the port that are going to require shipping as well.
If you call with enough frequency, then you will eventually come across a load that needs to be moved. This might require some rigmarolling, but it would sure land you a job.
30. Broker Your Own Loads
After doing all of the above and you are still having a hard time finding shipments to haul, then it might be time to think about becoming a freight broker to broker your own loads. This is probably the most complex way to find loads for trucking and the lead time is substantial.
You will need to train to be a broker, either with an established broker or by taking some classes. The payoff of being your own broker could be huge but it might not be a gamble you’re comfortable with.
Like most marketing strategies, it is best to try a few different ones to see what works best for you. If you know your competitors are using one method, try standing out and being different. Freight brokers and load boards can help you become familiar with the opportunities in your area. Prospecting and networking take time to produce great leads, but there are reasons businesses use these strategies.