10 May 19

I've been an owner-operator for six years, and I was a company driver before that. I have built great relationships with freight brokers, and we share advice and tips to be successful in the spot freight market. I think that most brokers don't realize what a huge impact Electronic Logging Devices (ELD) will have on their business, starting only seven months from now. 

Large fleets have adopted ELDs already, but the smallest fleets and owner-operators will put this off. That's all going to end on December 18, when the ELD mandate goes into effect. 

This is actually a great opportunity for freight brokers, especially if you have a roster of reliable carriers who already like working with you. Shippers will need you more than ever, because it is going to get harder for them to find trucks on their own. 

ELDs cause a lack of flexibility in driver Hours of Service, so trucks can't always move as far in any given day. That means less capacity will be available when you need it. Longer hauls will be less desirable, and hauls of 500 or more miles will not be able to make next-day delivery commitments. Two of the main reasons are parking and detention. 

  • Parking: Drivers won't be able to fudge their logs, so they'll be more likely to shut down early to find parking before they run out of hours. 
  • Detention: Any delay at the loading dock will jeopardize the next appointment. This costs the carrier even more when drivers' hours can't be extended. 

Drivers and owner-operators do manipulate paper logs now, usually to gain a little extra flexibility. They want to pick up and deliver on time, and they also want to make more money. They're not dishonest, but if they're in danger of missing a truck payment, they'll be tempted to cut a few corners on the log book and run more miles per day. 

Once the ELDs are installed, there will be no more secrets. Electronic logs can't be altered. Those same drivers will not be able to make up the time, so they have no choice but to raise their rates. It's the only way for them to make more money in a given day. 

On the customer side, brokers can expect to get a lot more power-only and team loads from shippers. 

  • Power-Only: The largest fleets have been placing trailers at customer sites for the past few years. Big shippers have been buying and positioning trailers, too. Pretty soon, they’ll be asking you to find trucks for power-only moves. This is great work for owner-operators, because it’s so time-efficient. If you have customers who can set up drop-and-hook operations, you should be able to get them trucks at competitive rates.  
  • Team Drivers:  You may think of a 500-mile haul as a one-day trip. Starting December 18, you won't be able to guarantee next-day delivery on a 500-mile run unless you hire team drivers. Actually, "guarantee" is already too strong, and this applies to almost any load with strict appointment times. 

How brokers can win in the new ELD environment: 

  • Set customers' expectations, and work with them to price and schedule freight moves that will work with ELDs. Can the shipper or receiver offer flexible appointment times? Can the receiver authorize overnight parking?
  • Learn everything you can about every load, and communicate openly and honestly with carriers. This is always good business practice, but it will be especially important when you work with carriers who are new to ELDs. 
  • Build relationships with carriers now. Lots of them are like me -- we value loyalty above rates. 

This will be a time of great opportunity and plenty of freight. Shippers will be anxiously seeking new brokers who have access to reliable carriers. Brokers who establish relationships with carriers now will benefit the most. The broker who can bring a truck to the dock will be the one who is chosen to provide the service.   

 

Chad Boblett is the owner and driver of Boblett Brothers Trucking of Lexington, KY. Chad also founded the Rate Per Mile Masters group on Facebook, a communications hub for 11,000 members, including owner-operators, truck drivers, and other transportation and logistics pros. 

 

 

Comments (10) -

Mike Broaddus
Mike Broaddus

Great article, Chad!

Brokers need to be aware of this and sell their services accordingly.   Come December a substantial number of trucks will be non-compliant or cease operations all together.   Since December is the slow time of year, this will probably not be felt for another 2+ months, but at some point it will bite ALL of those who have not properly prepared.

Now is the time for brokers and shippers to establish STRONG relationships with owner/ops who are compliant lest they will be subject to the Spot Market's all time high rates.

As a single truck carrier, my goal is to establish great relationships with only a hand full of reliable brokers and shippers whom I will pull for at a rate that is win win for both.  The backhauls on the other hand will go to the highest bidder.

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Brian Boswell
Brian Boswell

Unfortunately your back haul is someone else's outbound I think the term should be eleminated and runs should be treated as your first outbound. Once a run is completed it is done and should not be figured in how cheap you can run the next load for.  This simple practice will increase your revenue and lower the miles needed to provide the same net income while lowering overhead.

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Thank you for a well written presentation of a potentially complicated issue.  I wish there was an app/tool that I could enter some load parameters and get a legal time window, subject to modifications if necessary because of OTR problems.  I could use this as a communication with my customers, freight and carrier alike, so that we are all on the same page and expectations are lined out before the truck puts the first carton of produce on the trailer.

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Elizabeth Acosta
Elizabeth Acosta

Hello im so lost I want to become a freight broker how can I learn this complicated area of work  if there are no schools or classes  please help...

Reply

It is complicated, and the fact that you see this before you begin your work in this area will help you be more aware of the issues that create barriers in broker/carrier relationships.   You can see in FB posts and even here that drivers have so much responsibility to get everything right, and often with very little support.

The best way to begin your work is to find good examples of brokers doing the right things, and align yourself with them .  It will take some research on your part, but that's part of the job.

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A diplomatic article to say the least. However, not quite accurate.  No next day delivery on a 500 mile trip?! Been running elogs for 5 years and do that type of trip on a consistent basis with no problems, and I am a solo. I have found preplanning multiple trips is a key issue to not waste time.

You are correct that shippers/receivers  will be and are now what makes or breaks momentum. There in lies the challenge for ELDs.

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Andrew Miller
Andrew Miller

I have to disagree with some parts. I drive a speed limited (62mph) truck on elogs. Have been for years. 500 miles is still perfectly doable in a day. I've done 620+ some days. While yes when I first started elogs I tended to shut down earlier than normal to stay legal, like anything you get used to the restrictions and just plan your day out better. I now drive basically as hard as I used to now. So while I agree build relationships, and most points of the article, after an adjustment period most drivers should be back to running business as usual.

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Kristian Jackson
Kristian Jackson

I agree with you 100%. My husband is a company driver and has been on e-logs for a couple of years now. He runs just fine and does about 600 miles a day. It's just a matter of planning your time but the shippers and receivers are definitely going to have to make some adjustments.

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Tom Freeman
Tom Freeman

Your logic is faulty. You are looking at the prefect senario.  Most times I have to wait at least 3 hours to get loaded. Most times to get there is two hours. So now we have five hours left. Oh, the half hour break.  Now we are looking at 4.5 hours to drive.  Don't tell me you can make money this way.  Most times I drive until I'm tired and get to my destination early.  I drive 65 and average 6mpg. This works for most owner/operators. Oh by the way,  I've been out here since 1972.

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Andrew Miller
Andrew Miller

I usually take 1-2 hrs to load. Assuming I'm not just grabbing a preloaded trailer.  Reloads are lots of time drop empty grab preload at my company. Preplanned well in advance and live loads of 3-4 hrs are extremely rare.

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