How to spot good loads in bad markets

I have been a spot market pirate for almost nine years. As a pirate, you want to get in and get the good stuff. This means I use lots of tools to know where the most demand is for the trailer I pull.

If you look at entire Lower 48 states as a whole, then you will find that most of the time the market is not flooded with more loads than trucks, but you will find that there is always a good market somewhere. And it’s always changing. This is what makes the spot market scary and exciting.

DAT load boards provide the largest and most trusted digital marketplace for truckload freight.

I have seen a polar vortex, an election year, and the ELD mandate bring raise and lower the demand for trucks drastically. In the second half of this year, tariffs could be another intensifier, followed by the 2020 election year. Just because a lot of markets are slow now doesn’t mean they’ll stay that way. But it does make you have to work harder to find the good stuff.

The best strategy is for your destination to be a stronger market than where your truck is located now. There are two tricks for figuring this out.

  • Do a reverse load search for where you are now and where you want to go. Are there more loads coming in than going out of your destination market? If so, then these trucks will become empty and be your competition for your next load. In the DAT TruckersEdge dashboard, you can see the number of inbound loads versus outbound loads for every state.
  • Check the load-to-truck ratio. When I'm researching a market, I want a lot of loads with fewer trucks. That means I truck is in higher demand, and I use the Hot Market Maps in DAT Power to find those markets.

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Chad Boblett

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 more than 18,000 members, including owner-operators, truck drivers, and other transportation and logistics pros.



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