How load boards work and how to use them effectively
November 21, 2022
As one of the most diverse industries in the world, the transport industry involves many different turning wheels – often literally. However, those within the trucking industry will have likely come across load boards at one stage or another. Load boards are a very important but sometimes confusing aspect of trucking. In this guide, we will quickly break down what they are, how they work, and how you can be more effective in using load boards.
What is a load board?
So, load boards – sometimes referred to as freight board – are online platforms. These are used by truck owners, freight brokers, and operators to find loads and keep the freight moving. The benefits are clear; it can give those with trucking equipment more opportunities to find work and get paid. At the same time, though, load boards can be confusing.
For one, you need to find a load compatible with the truck and/or trailer you are using. At the same time, you also want to find load pairings: you can take goods from Point A to Point B and a second load for the return trip that you can pick up from Point B to Point A.
Given the importance of shipping to global logistics, load boards are essential in helping to get freight moving in the right direction. These online platforms can allow truckers and operators to find more work, earn more money, and put their freight facilities to good use.
How can you use load boards?
The vast majority of load boards are going to be hosted online. For the most part, you will need to subscribe to the service (this is often paid for) and then log into the board to post and view jobs. You can look for empty trucks, available loads to be picked up, and potential contracts.
This is an easy way for brokers, shippers, owners, operators, and carriers to communicate. Then, freight jobs can be picked up, and goods can continue to move from one destination to the next simply by using load boards.
Using load boards is very easy: you log into the website or app that is being used and look for what you need. If you are a broker or a shipper, you are looking for trucks that can help you to get things moving. If you are an operator or a carrier, you want to find freight you can pick up and get driving on the road.
If you are a company that needs drivers to manage their loads, then a load board can be very useful. It can also be useful for looking at the typical freight rates that the market is paying out at this moment in time. The more information that can be provided about a potential load, the more useful it is for every party involved – and the simpler it is to get the freight picked up and delivered on-time.
How can I find work with a load board?
If you are a carrier, then you need to post about the vehicle that you are using at this moment in time. This makes it much easier to find compatible freight you can pick up and take to the right location. For example, you could provide some information about the equipment you have, where you are heading, and how long you will be on the road for. Shippers and brokers can contact you via the chosen load board.
You can also search for loads that would fit with the filters that you have chosen. Many of these loads need you to tender for the contract; for others, you can place an instant bid and see if you get the job. This saves any time negotiating rates and fees.
If you have a specialty when it comes to transport, such as drop-and-hook, you can often filter for transit jobs that fit in with what you can provide. That is very useful, as it can make sure that you only tender for jobs that you can complete using the equipment you have available today.
Using load boards to your advantage
If you operate a freight business, you can use load boards in many ways. For example, you could:
✔ Use the load board to find experts who can help you to get your materials on the road and move to their next destination
✔ Find people who can help you to complete an emergency shipment at short notice due to being let down elsewhere
✔ Understand the best rate so that you can negotiate with carriers and you can ensure that both yourself and carriers get the fairest rate based on the current going rate
✔ Become a ‘preferred carrier’, which makes it easier to form long-term, profitable relationships that mean less negotiations and more work available along typical routes
So, as you can see, there are many benefits to using load boards. These tools have become essential in an industry worth around seven trillion USD per year. With the use of load boards, both operators and carriers can easily be introduced to one another, help each other, and create long-term partnerships that benefit everyone involved.
Using load boards more effectively
If you find the use of load boards challenging, hopefully, the following tips can give you some insight. At first, using load boards can seem daunting; if you focus on the below, you should find it much easier to start tendering for projects and use load boards to your advantage.
Get used to each load board layout
There are various load boards, meaning you need to get used to how each one operates. Some run only through a simple website; others use complex web and mobile apps. It would be best if you spent some time logging in to each load board you intend to use and getting used to how they work.
For example, every dashboard is going to be different. It would help if you got used to where each feature is so that you can easily locate jobs, message boards, reviews, payment screens, and more. This will help you to make more informed choices and use the information – such as national load counts and average pay rates – to your long-term advantage.
Try both free and paid versions
Most load boards come with both free and paid equivalents. First, you should try out the free version to see if the features and layout are something you can work with. Most of the time, paid load boards can feel very different from the free equivalent!
Therefore, you should give both a shot; most of the time, you can take these on a monthly subscription. Could you take a month out and see how it works for you? If you can land a contract or two, then it should cover your costs for the membership. This will give you an idea of what tools you get in the paid version, so that you can then determine whether or not you need to stick with the free version or keep the upgraded equivalent.
Be thorough with your database entry
Your location and truck specifications should be as clear as possible. Could you make it clear what your truck can do and what it cannot? This stops you from negotiating for jobs that you cannot do, or being contacted by unsuitable partners. The more details you can add here, the easier it should be to ensure you get more work in the long term.
You can search through jobs manually or wait for brokers to contact you, and vice versa. Most load boards come with location-specific searching so that you can find transit spots that are within your realistic travel circumference.
Treat connections like a job interview
Once you start getting noticed by brokers, you should be prepared to treat this as an old-school job interview. Most of the time, they want to know more about you, your truck, your road experience, and your capability. Could you share current and future destinations that you have lined up and give thorough details on your experience, your truck type, and its length and weight?
You should try giving as much detail as possible, such as the number of palettes you can fit into the truck/trailer and what cargo you have the most experience in carrying. The more information you can give, the better the chances of landing work.
Look for connecting jobs
When you are browsing for work on load boards, look for jobs that connect together. As we mentioned before, going from Point A to Point B might provide opportunities to pick up a second freight shipment on your way back. If you time these right and you get the posting in early enough, you can land these potential secondary jobs and turn one trip into a double-paying job.
Are you using load boards to your advantage?
You can use load boards in many ways, and it is essential that you do. It is a simple form of advertising and can be a great way to get in touch with more companies and partners. Over time, this could become one of the best ways to find consistent work in the trucking industry.
Regardless of what you ship and where you travel to, load boards make it much easier to build a meaningful long-term reputation. Keep the above tips in mind, and you can start making the transport industry work for you, not against you.