How to Find Loads in a Tough Market

I've been designing and testing DAT Load Boards for seven years, and during that time, I have learned that our customers find new ways to use the programs and tools more efficientlty. Here are a few simple actions you can take to find loads fast when you need them, even in dead-end markets during the off-season.

1. Be the early bird.

Most carriers start searching for loads at about 8:00AM Eastern Time on weekdays. However, brokers often set up their loads to post automatically from their TMS, and many are posted between 5:00 and 7:00 AM. (See Figure 1, below.) At 6:00 AM, hardly any other carriers are searching, so you can be the first to identify the best new loads. If you’re not usually at your desk by that time, search on DAT mobile load boards (see Figure 2) while you drink your coffee. There is a second opportunity after 6:00 PM Eastern time, when a few brokers are still posting loads, but most carriers are done for the day.

Figure 1: Brokers begin posting loads (dark blue bars) well before 7:00 AM Eastern Time, but most carriers don’t begin searching (light blue bars) until 8:00 AM. Carriers who start searching early will have more choices and less competition.

Figure 2: If you aren’t in the office before 7:00 AM, you can still search for freight on the mobile-optimized DAT Load Boards with your smart phone or tablet.

2. Search smarter, not harder.

DAT Load Boards have some great, time-saving search tools (see Figure 3, below.) You can search for multiple loads at the same time, expand your search or use alarms to notify you when new loads are posted that match your needs.

Figure 3: Choose different options to expand your search or set alarms, so you can find loads faster or conduct multiple searches at once.


a. Smart Search expands your search within a geographic range, or expands the search time frame according to when the load was posted. The matches closest to your original search are displayed first.
b. Active Search automatically updates your results. When load providers list freight that matches your needs, it will be added to the top of your search results immediately. No waiting for the system to refresh, no need to touch the keyboard.
c. Click on LaneMakers (see Figure 4, below) to find the load providers that are most active in your lane, and reach out to them directly. Some carriers also use LaneMakers to learn about their competition.

Figure 4: Use DAT tools to learn about the load provider’s credit history, validate the latest rate for that lane, then check mileage and routes to be sure the load fits with your fleet’s schedule. Find a factor or click “Assure It” to register the load for DAT Assurance, our payment guarantee, at no additional cost.


3. Read the fine print.

You can check the business record, credit score and days-to-pay for load providers (see Figure 4, above) and validate the latest rates in that lane with DAT Truckload Rate Index, as you are reaching for the phone. The example above displays the Contract Rate tab with the average shipper's contract rate, but the Spot Rate tab also provides the average rates that actual freight brokers and 3PLs are paying now in your lanes. While you’re online, click “Assure It” to register the load with DAT Assurance, and get our unique payment guarantee.



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DAT operates the largest truckload freight marketplace in North America. Transportation brokers, carriers, news organizations and industry analysts rely on DAT for market trends and data insights derived from 256 million freight matches and a database of $60 billion of market transactions.

The Original Load Board - Trusted Since 1978

The company was established in 1978 as the Dial-A-Truck (DAT) load finder service at Jubitz® truck stop in Portland, OR.

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