Are load boards worth it?
November 21, 2022
As a trucker, load boards are one of the most commonly recommended ways to make a living. Load boards simplify the process of finding work by helping you find people who need your skills and services. Yet, with so many other ways to find work as a trucker, you might wonder whether load boards are right for you. So, what do you think the answer is? Are load boards worth it?
Let us investigate so that you can better decide your future prospects.
Are load boards worth it? In a word, yes.
The simplest summary is to say that load boards are a worthwhile starting place for truckers. This is a good place to start building partnerships and finding paid work for most owners-operators and truckers. Load boards help you match up with shippers who need carriers, and you move their loads for them. When you do that, you get paid.
Most load boards will provide access via an online website and/or an app. This makes it easy to access so that you can start browsing for the next project as soon as you finish one project. For example, you could finish one load, look for another nearby load, and complete that to maximize the efficiency of the miles you cover. You can even find a quick replacement load should the load you are supposed to be handling become delayed.
Load boards, though, do cost money. While you get free load boards (you can check out our guide on free load boards here), you also get paid for equivalents. Given some cost as little as $30/month and some as much as $100/month, it is worth trying out various load boards (most provide free trials) to determine what works best for you. Please find out more about, in our opinion, the best load boards here.
The pros and cons of using load boards
So, are load boards worth it? It simply depends on your circumstances. If you are a new owner-operator, then you can find that load boards are great for getting you on the road. The same goes for small fleet owners; this can get you more work and ensure that your fleet is used well. The major benefits of using a load board include:
- Easy access to jobs as and when you want them – always online, so always available
- Enjoy good value for money, with the typical cost of load boards being affordable or free
- Find jobs on demand so that you can maximize your time as you travel from A to B
- Build a visible reputation online that makes it easier for other brokers to contact you for work
However, some things about load boards could be more positive. The typical negatives that come with load boards can include, but are not limited to:
- Load boards pay less than direct contracts, meaning you get less money for your hard work
- You are competing against a lot of truckers, meaning that it can be hard to land jobs (at first)
- Freight brokers tend to look to keep as much of the order revenue as they can, reducing pay
- You need to work with people who you have never met before in-person – this requires trust
Things to consider with load boards
Is using a load board for you? It depends on your personal circumstance. To help you further decide the right option, though, here are some important considerations worth taking into account:
Use load boards to make a profit, not a loss. Many newbies are keen to take on any work, even if it means breaking even or making a loss. This is NOT a good idea, as being a loss-making trucker means you are literally out of pocket. Brokers use your cheap rates against you, so keep that in mind.
Please don't expect load boards to be your only source of income. If you rely on load boards alone, you will find it hard to make a full-time living. Combining load boards to make contacts and then negotiating for direct contracts is the best way to ensure you get a good return on your time and effort.
By all means, use a load board, but build a customer base in the background. The people you meet through load boards might be amenable to building a long-term partnership if you do a good enough job. Focus on making sure that you do enough to encourage direct contracts over always using the boards.
Load boards are excellent for forming initial relationships. You can use this to build your reputation, get direct contracts, and to get recommended to other companies. As a starting tool, they are fantastic so long as you play by the rules and set your value accordingly. Take your time, calculate the costs of a trip, and make sure that you are making a profit on every trip – your reputation will suffer if you become a trucker noted for loss-making journeys.
Load boards are a good tool and can be very useful indeed. You do, though, need to be aware of their long-term limits. Find work, build contacts, and grow your name and reputation directly. That is using load boards in the right way. Focus on that, and you can benefit from their existence massively.