1. In mining, a principal vein or zone of veins of gold or silver ore.
2. In trucking, a monster contract with a major freight forwarder.
However, as a micro or small freight carrier, the mother lode shouldn’t be that single freight hauling contract with a large manufacturer or the dedicated run for a mega retailer’s distribution center. While the initial appearance of landing one of these hauling contracts may look like you’ve hit the gold vein, it’s not necessarily the case.
It’s the old "all your eggs in one basket" scenario. Any time you've set yourself up so the majority of your revenue is coming from a single source, you’ve placed your entire success on the whims and movements of one business entity.
It works well as long as they don’t have any economic upsets. However, if they sneeze, your operation will get the flu. If they get the economic flu, your carrier ends up with a terminal illness.
No trucking operation should ever depend on a single shipper for more than 30% of its total loads or revenue. Your best bet is to constantly be mining your current customers for additional business until you reach that 30% threshold. At the same time, be on the lookout for new customers, ones you can grow into your next shipper who provides you with consistent revenue and loads.
As you build your shipper base, always think "diversity." Diversity means you’ve got great shippers that range from 30% of your revenue to as little as1%. Then concentrate on building the freight and revenue you receive from the lower percentage shippers to grow your company. Remember, as long as you’re growing and increasing the revenue generated by all your shippers while bringing on new ones, you’ll find success when the need arises to fill the holes.
So how do you go about finding the right mix of shippers? The majority of micro and small carriers start out depending on load boards and brokers for their freight. So think of that load board as the stream in which you set up your panning for gold operation. Within the multitude of posted loads, you’ll find the special nuggets needed to grow your operation, and create the load and revenue consistency you need to bring success.
For example, let's say you called a broker with the perfect load, which works well with your outbound load by returning you to where you need to be to pick up the next outbound freight. If the inbound load from the broker pays within the range needed to make your freight lane profitable, and all you do is haul the load without inquiring whether you can set up this freight on a recurring basis, you’ve just tossed that nugget back into the stream for another trucker to find.
If the broker has multiple loads going in the correct direction that work with the other shipments you’ve set up in your lane, you must make the extra effort to land this broker and his loads.
Simply put, if you don’t ask, you won’t know the possibilities.
Finding the freight mother lode requires looking in the correct stream, and then making sure you turn over every pebble and grain of sand to find the golden nuggets that will pay off over time. Use your load board as a means of not only finding loads, but also locating customers for the long haul.
Drive long and prosper.
Timothy D. Brady is a speaker, business coach, and trucking industry guru. He provides training and educational presentations for small to large trucking companies, logistics organizations, and community groups. Learn more about Tim at www.timothybrady.com