How to Find Loads for Trucks

In order to build a successful fleet, you need to be able to efficiently find profitable loads. In a highly competitive freight market, savvy carriers and owner-operators know exactly where to look for premium paying loads and how to make the most of the best platforms, networks, and cost-saving tools.

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If you’re still struggling to find loads and still find yourself engaging in an inefficient search process, rest assured, this guide will help you start to find – and win – the best-paying loads you’re after.

Types of freight transactions:

Contract freight and spot freight are the two most common kinds of freight transactions.

Contract freight: Contract freight, also known as a contract rate, is generally awarded to large fleets who have the capacity to fill shipper’s high-volume freight needs. With contract freight, carriers are generally paid fixed prices for a specified duration of time – a majority of contracts typically stretch between six months to twelve months. With contract freight, during the contracted period, the kind of freight carriers haul generally remains consistent. 

Spot freight: Unlike contract freight, which gets negotiated at a fixed price ahead of time, spot freight allows shippers who need freight moved to enlist the services of carriers without a long-term contract. Spot market rates can fluctuate daily as a result of market forces. Smaller carriers and independent owner-operators primarily operate in the spot market. While contract freight typically involves direct contact with the shipper, spot loads are usually facilitated by a broker.

Your equipment type, vehicle, and load criteria are some of the factors that will ultimately determine the jobs you can take. Carriers and brokers often work with one another on a transactional basis, whereas long-term contracts are usually negotiated between either a carrier and shipper or broker and shipper. The best freight intermediaries can play a key role in the freight cycle by efficiently matching you to newly available loads that fit your line of business, securing you the best rates, and eliminating deadhead truck freight.

Use freight brokers and dispatchers for owner-operators

Enlisting the services of qualified freight brokers can be a profitable strategy for growth-minded carriers and owner-operators. Freight brokers serve as intermediaries between truck drivers and shippers. The best freight brokers will efficiently connect you to new shipments that match your freight criteria and line of trucking.

The primary job of any freight broker or dispatcher is to develop meaningful professional connections and industry contacts. Establishing relationships with brokers can be an excellent way to build your freight network and earn new business. Smaller carriers, especially, leverage brokers’ pre-existing relationships with shippers to access loads they might not have otherwise found on their own. In short, with the right broker at your side, you can ensure the loads you covet most never slip through the cracks.

Carriers relay their vehicle, equipment type, lane preferences, hauling expectations, and freight criteria to brokers – and the rest will be taken care of. Given your complete profile, brokers can then start to match you to the highest-paying loads across your preferred lanes.

Invest in a high-quality load board

Once you’ve established your core business objectives, you’re then in a position to invest in a quality load board. The top freight load boards out there connect you to the best-paying loads and, in one fell swoop, become online hubs that allow you to organically build your network. 

Freight load boards are now the most common way carriers find new, high-paying loads. Load boards help industry professionals far and wide, no matter your level of experience, thrive in an increasingly digital business landscape.

As centralized, on-demand, online marketplaces, freight load boards enable brokers, shippers, and carriers to conduct business together. In fact, for carriers and owner-operators, load boards streamline, simplify, and accelerate the load-searching process.

The right load board can become a vital springboard as you build your freight network and cultivate connections across the industry. With real-time access to lucrative new freight listings – as well as direct access to highly qualified shippers and brokers – right at your fingertips, load boards help carriers stay on top of ever-evolving supply chains and freight markets.

But buyer beware: not all load boards are created equal. In fact, before you go ahead with any load board investment, it’s important to know what you’re looking for – and what you’re getting with any load board package.

The best load boards connect you to a broad variety of preferred lanes and high-quality freight. Make sure the load board you select caters to your equipment and vehicle type – offering a steady stream of specialty freight listings that align with your carriers.

If your fleet consists of cargo vans, you want a load board that helps you consistently find cargo van loads; if you’re a hot shot trucker, your load board should help you find hot shot loads. If you’re a pickup trucker and want to find loads for pickup trucks or operate a box truck and aim to find loads for box trucks – that’s what loads boards are all about.

Benefits of freight load boards

By offering a range of value-add features and helpful industry tools, load boards like DAT have proven to be the missing link for many fleets across the country that are looking to break through to the next level.

The best load boards can catalyze growth and have the potential to drive your profitability levels to new heights.

With the best truck load boards, shrewd carriers can:

  • Rapidly find high-quality loads that match the needs of the business.
  • Tap into an online freight marketplace and find diversified specialty freight.
  • Maximize their bargaining power in high-demand areas by leveraging comprehensive freight data and real-time analytics.
  • Broaden their reach, break into new markets, and build industry connections.
  • Reduce back office burden and maximize fleet-wide uptime by passing off administrative work to a team of dedicated experts.
  • Leverage geo-triangulating technology to avoid empty backhauls, plan ahead efficiently, and optimize the profitability of each haul.
  • Instantly capitalize on new, lucrative truck loads as they become available with real-time alerts and notifications.
  • Eliminate cash flow gaps and reduce the impact of business volatility with customized freight factoring services. 
  • Keep operating authority active and stay compliant with governing regulatory bodies.
  • Log in to online freight marketplaces while on the go using a free mobile app.
  • And much, much more.

What are the advantages of DAT’s load boards? What makes DAT’s load boards special?

With the largest on-demand freight market and most active user base of any freight network in North America, DAT has become the one-stop shop for freight that allows carriers to get ahead of the pack.

DAT’s load boards post north of 1 million new loads each business day and roughly 448.5 million loads annually. We equip our members with advanced rate view market metrics like average lane rates across 90-, 30-, and 15-day windows by analyzing over $150 billion in real transactions per year.

Carriers and owner-operators are smart to parlay DAT, the most popular and robust truck load board in North America, into their own fleet’s prosperity. With comprehensive listings, money-saving features, and over 70 varieties of freight loads, DAT’s load boards empower carriers with options – giving you the most bang for your buck as far as load boards across the industry go. In fact, on an annual basis, DAT gives you exclusive access to more than 130.5 million loads that cannot be found elsewhere.

DAT’s cutting-edge mapping services and real-time market analytics keep carriers one step ahead of fast-moving freight markets. DAT’s demand maps highlight the areas where demand for your services may be booming, while our Tri-Haul feature further optimizes your freight journeys. Load volumes can also be filtered by state so you can always pinpoint the locations where you’ll find the most bargaining power and competitive rates.

With DAT, you know exactly what you’re getting and who you’re getting. Truth be told, DAT’s straightforward subscription model is part of what makes DAT’s load boards so appealing. Whatever stage your business is at, DAT offers a range of truck load board packages that are designed to help you thrive over the long haul.

All of DAT’s load boards come with the same fee structure – a flat monthly rate and no hidden fees for immediate access to the largest freight network in North America. Furthermore, in addition to user reviews, the DAT Directory contains accurate and updated credit score data so can confidently conduct business with credentialed, highly vetted brokers.

DAT Authority provides our carriers with the round-the-clock back-office support they need to decisively navigate changing market conditions. We believe that the less time you have to spend fulfilling administrative duties, the more time you can spend on the road and more on the most valuable areas of the business. Access to OTR Solution’s freight factoring services is also included in your DAT membership – so you can have peace of mind knowing you will be paid on time for every factorable load.

Cast the widest net on the largest freight network. DAT’s unlimited vehicle posting and load searching capabilities allow you to successfully scale, while our free and intuitive DAT One mobile app enables you to tap into the DAT network wherever you are. In fact, DAT One instantly notifies you any time a broker or shipper in your area posts a new load that matches your freight criteria. In addition to our free app, you can take advantage of our free trials and begin familiarizing yourself with DAT’s one-of-a-kind freight platform!

Start finding loads for trucks today with DAT!

If you’re ready to start finding freight that gets your business moving, there’s no better place to start than with a subscription to the DAT load board. As the largest freight marketplace in the industry, DAT is the best place to find great loads, trustworthy partners, accurate rate information, and so much more. Get started today!

DAT Load Board

From $ 45 /mo






Find the right solution for your business

Reach out by calling 800.551.8847

Reach out by calling 800.551.8847

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