Load boards have become a common tool in the trucking industry, offering a digital marketplace where carriers and owner-operators can find available loads to transport. While load boards provide valuable opportunities to secure freight and keep trucks moving, they are not without their drawbacks. In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of using load boards to help trucking professionals assess whether they are worth the investment of time and money.
Pros of Using Load Boards
- Access to a Wide Range of Loads: Load boards aggregate a vast number of available loads from various shippers, brokers, and industries. This gives carriers and owner-operators access to a diverse range of freight opportunities.
- Flexibility: Load boards offer flexibility in choosing the loads that best fit a carrier’s or owner-operator’s preferences and needs. Users can search for loads based on criteria such as location, cargo type, rate, and more.
- Reduced Empty Miles: Load boards help reduce empty miles by matching available loads with trucks that are already in the vicinity, optimizing routes and minimizing deadhead miles.
- Increased Visibility: Load boards provide transparency and visibility into the freight market, enabling users to stay informed about market rates, demand, and trends.
- Quick Booking: Load boards often facilitate quick and straightforward load booking, allowing carriers and owner-operators to secure freight without extensive negotiations or paperwork.
- No Membership Fees: Many load boards offer free or low-cost basic memberships, making it accessible for small carriers and independent owner-operators.
Cons of Using Load Boards
- Competition: Load boards are highly competitive, with many carriers and owner-operators vying for the same loads. This can result in lower profit margins and increased difficulty in securing desirable loads.
- Quality and Reliability: Not all loads listed on load boards are of high quality or reliability. Some may have limited information or be posted by less reputable brokers or shippers, leading to potential issues.
- Broker Fees: When booking loads through load boards, carriers and owner-operators may need to work with brokers who charge a commission or fee for their services.
- Time and Effort: Browsing load boards, bidding on loads, and communicating with brokers or shippers can be time-consuming. This administrative work can detract from driving time.
- Inconsistent Income: Load board users may experience income fluctuations, as load availability and rates can vary based on market conditions and competition.
- Lack of Direct Relationships: Load boards often lack the personal touch and direct relationships that carriers and owner-operators can build by working directly with shippers or brokers they trust.
Are Load Boards Worth It?
The value of load boards depends on individual circumstances and preferences. For some trucking professionals, load boards are a valuable resource that helps keep their trucks loaded and generates income. For others, they may not be the ideal solution, especially if they prioritize direct relationships, consistent income, and reduced competition.
To determine whether load boards are worth it, trucking professionals should consider factors such as their business model, goals, capacity, and the specific load board they choose to use. Some find success by using load boards as one of several tools in their freight procurement strategy, while others prefer alternative methods such as establishing long-term contracts or leveraging their industry connections.
Ultimately, the decision to use load boards should align with a trucking professional’s unique needs and circumstances, and it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons to make an informed choice about whether load boards are a worthwhile investment.