There are approximately 3.5 million truck drivers working across the United States. Of these millions of truck drivers, one in nine are independent contractors, most of whom work as owner-operators.
With so many drivers on the road, it’s important to remember that just as many drivers are also looking for freight. Even in a time when owner-operator pay is high and the existing driver shortage is reaching historically high levels, there’s still plenty of competition to find great freight.
As an owner-operator, you are in charge of running your own business. You must secure freight to maintain a steady income stream, but you need to find freight opportunities that match your hauling capabilities, preferences, and location.
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One way that owner-operators have begun to find loads is through freight-finding apps. While this is a great way to find loads on the go, not all freight-finding apps offer the same features and functionalities. It’s important to use a freight-finding app that helps you find the right freight specifically for your business, streamlines your communication with brokers, and integrates with the rest of your operation.
Finding Freight: You Need More than Just a Load Board App
Working as an owner-operator can certainly have its perks. For example, owner-operators:
Have the potential to earn more money than if working for a large carrier company
Can select the equipment/vehicle that works best for them and fits their preferences
Can pick and choose loads based on their schedule and have more control over their work
Have more flexibility in taking time off work or building their schedule
Being an owner-operator means enjoying the independence and freedom to call the shots and be your own boss.
However, there are also challenges to running your own business. These include factors like:
A larger up-front investment to obtain a rig, as well as ongoing monthly equipment payments, maintenance, insurance, and other out-of-pocket costs
Keeping up with administrative tasks and maintaining records to keep up with current laws and regulations
Checking profit margins, dealing with unexpected emergencies, vehicle repairs, and other unforeseen circumstances
Perhaps one of the biggest challenges for owner-operators though—especially if you don’t know where to look—is finding freight that matches your business’ needs and capabilities.
Because of the responsibilities that come with running your own business, any freight app you use to find freight must be more comprehensive than just a digital load board. While limited app functionalities may work for some larger organizations, owner-operators have to be able to run their business on the go and require extensive tools and more comprehensive features. Sifting through an unfiltered or outdated list of potential loads can eat into your time and revenue; however, the right freight-finding app can be an invaluable tool to grow and manage your business, stay in touch with clients, and even build relationships with brokers and access dedicated freight lanes.
What Makes a Great Freight-Finding App?
For quite some time, large carriers and fleets with dozens or even hundreds of vehicles had the upper hand over others in the industry because they were the first to leverage technology. Nowadays, this technology is an essential day-to-day tool for almost everyone.
What makes a good app? With the development of new app-based freight platforms, it’s easier than ever for owner-operators to secure freight at great rates, but it doesn’t stop there. Some apps go the extra mile and actually make it easier to manage your business right from your smartphone.
Digital load boards have become increasingly popular in the industry. In fact, it’s estimated that freight-finding apps and freight load-matching startup companies secured approximately $455 million in funding between 2011 and 2018 alone. With more attention being placed on democratizing technology for owner-operators, feature-rich apps are available at your fingertips to help nurture and grow your business.
You can leverage these technologies to make communication simple and effortless, and the intuitive interfaces with easy-to-use features can revolutionize how your business operates. Here’s what to look for in a great freight-finding app.
Find Loads by Location
Owner-operators should constantly look for ways to keep expenses low and profits high. One way to do this is to eliminate deadhead mileage. Deadhead miles are those you drive with an empty truck. Since these miles are unpaid, they quickly eat into your profits. You have to cover the cost of gas, vehicle wear and tear, and time spent without anything to show for it. Empty trucks can also cost you money out-of-pocket, and can even be dangerous in inclement weather.
One way to limit dead hauls is to secure freight based on location. Rather than scouring load boards for available freight, a freight-finding app allows you to search for loads based on location. The best kind of freight-finding app will proactively recommend location-based loads to you. This capability limits deadhead mileage while optimizing profits by making it easier to identify and book backhauling opportunities.
Get Load Alert Notifications
Owner-operators are constantly on the lookout for apps that alert them to inclement weather, good gas prices, nearby truck stops, and other essential information when they’re on the road. Mobile pop-up notifications can also help you avoid danger in poor weather conditions.
Some apps even offer customized load alert notifications. These apps do the hard work for you and send alerts when an available load is posted nearby.
The Xpress Technologies App takes this capability a step further by adapting and learning from each owner-operator’s preferences and capabilities to deliver personalized freight recommendations.
Download an App That’s Fast and Easy to Use
Running your own business as an independent owner-operator is no small feat. There’s a lot of time that goes into managing records, maintaining a vehicle, and finding freight, which means that any freight-finding app must be fast and easy to use. Generally, profit margins in the transportation industry vary between 7 and 19 percent of your total revenue, and time is a valuable resource.
Only 9 percent of an app’s users will return to its platform if the experience is poor, and over 60 percent of users won’t go through with a transaction and may even delete an app if the response time is over 3 to 4 seconds. As an owner-operator, it’s especially important for your freight-finding app to be quick and easy to use so you can make the most of its offerings.
Search High Quality Loads Every Day
Posted freight isn’t always right for every owner-operator. For example, refrigerated “reefer” trucks have been in high demand for the entirety of 2021, but not every truck is equipped with a refrigeration system. This means you need to sift through load postings to find freight that fits your capabilities.
That’s why it’s best to choose a freight-finding app that offers access to a digital load board with configurable filters, that does the sifting for you and can offer personalized loads that work for your business. When time is of the essence, the quality of loads posted outweighs the quantity.
Easily Access and Share Information
Shippers and brokers are just as worried about fostering easy communication as owner-operators are. Just like communication is critical to your success, customers want to avoid miscommunication as well; that’s why being equipped with necessary information is absolutely essential.
Search for a freight-finding app that makes accessing important contact and load information as easy as possible so you can communicate effectively and efficiently. Great communication fosters long-term business relationships, and can even help you access dedicated freight opportunities that add stability and predictability to your business.
Xpress Technologies not only provides the opportunity for you to claim freight offers with the tap of a button or directly over the phone, it also ensures you have the information you need to successfully communicate and operate.
One of the most frustrating things about finding freight can be a lack of load detail and accessorial transparency. It’s important to use a freight-finding app that provides transparent and detailed load information including pick up and drop off times, freight weight, and required equipment. It’s also critical to find an app that provides up-front rate and accessorial information. Having all of these details will help you make calls on which loads to take.
Select a freight-finding app that takes the mystery out of load details, with transparent pricing and accurate postings.
Post Your Truck
One of the year’s biggest challenges has been working around a fractured supply chain, and finding available drivers is one of the contributing factors. When brokers are on a time-crunch and are in need of a reliable driver, they turn to digital load boards to find someone to get the job done.
For independent owner-operators, this means that you could end up with extra hauling jobs at great rates just by posting your truck. As shared on The Trucking Podcast, when nearby shippers and brokers need a “quick match,” having a posting up and ready on a mobile freight-finding app means they’ll choose these drivers—it’s a quick and simple solution to their problem.
Essentially, choosing a freight-finding app that doesn’t allow you to post your truck on digital load boards means wasted time and money.
What Sets the Xpress Technologies App Apart
The Xpress Technologies App was created with independent owner-operators in mind. It combines all of the top qualities from the best load board apps with the tools you need to find freight that matches your business’ needs.
The app you use to find freight needs to be more comprehensive than just a digital load board. That’s why the Xpress Technologies App includes added functionalities such as:
Free load board use. Gain access to high quality postings without ever paying to view them. Xpress Technologies gets owner-operators past the costly paywall of other load boards, while still offering quality, reputable freight opportunities to grow your business.
Find loads based on your current location in both list and map views. Securing freight is easy with a bird’s eye view of nearby freight to limit deadheading. Xpress Technologies leads the field with map-based and list-form load selection capabilities.
Get recommended loads based on previous history and favorite lanes. The more you use the Xpress Technologies App, the better it gets at suggesting freight that fits your exact preferences and specifications. Over time, it becomes further personalized for faster use and more targeted recommendations.
It shouldn’t be a mystery how to get freight contracts. That’s why Xpress Technologies has created a resource center to answer all your questions about finding the best freight possible.
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