Every time you sit down to plan any of your freight load pickups or deliveries, you’re actually planning a campaign.
This isn’t to suggest you need to have a "this means war" mindset, but consider what some of the best military thinkers always took into account.
In other words, are you leaving extra space, especially close to the rear doors, in most of your trailers when planning and finding freight routes?
Here’s where using an load board can really pay off. Every time you send out a truck that’s three-fourths or even seven-eighths filled, that is space that could have been used for a well-paying LTL.
Think about it. Let's say a company needed a get a spare part or replacement component to its manufacturing plant ASAP. In actuality, that freight shipper is paying top dollar for something slightly larger than a breadbox in most instances. This scenario could mean several thousand dollars going directly to your bottom line—in the profit column!
Utilize either the weight capacity, the cubic foot capacity of the trailer, or both to maximize revenue. If a shipment doesn’t use all available weight and/or space, and you really don’t have the time to pack it full, then you must invoice the existing shipment at a rate as if it did take up the trailer’s entire capacity.
Of course, this is likely to anger – or lose – the freight shipper already on board, which is another compelling reason you can’t wait to plan or find loads until you see the whites of their eyes.
In a standard 53-foot trailer with a 110-inch interior height and a 100-inch rear door opening, you have approximately 4,000 cubic feet of space. This means that if your weight capacity is 40,000 pounds, each cubic foot is worth 10 pounds of space. To be sure you’re getting the revenue to make a profit, you must determine how many cubic feet the items in this shipment require. This should include the cubic air space above any item or shipment that you are unable to fill, due to unusable space created by the configuration of the item(s) hauled. In the cases where a freight shipper requires the trailer to be sealed at origin, that shipper pays for the entire cubic feet and weight capacity of the trailer.
Ask yourself whether Hannibal would still take elephants across the Alps in modern warfare.
Maybe you need to get rid of any white elephant routes you’ve been trying to make profitable and either re-work the shippers into new scheduling, or – if their servicing costs painfully close to what your company is getting paid – drop them. If they keep your drivers waiting for unreasonable times, or have constant delays in pick-up, or their dock workers are openly hostile to your drivers, let another carrier deal with them. It happens. Why continue the headaches?
What if you split a route into two legs? Could you find extra loads along the new leg which would add to your revenue? Use your load board membership to its capacity and think about a pincer maneuver for gathering each trailer load. Would it be better to run your drivers out on an interstate lane to deliver and then have them gather multiple small loads along state roads on their way back to your interstate terminal? Are you leaving good-paying freight at regional airports? What about railroad yards or manufacturers in rural areas?
These should be mapped out well in advance, at least within each quarter. Monthly is better; weekly, more profitable. The further into the future you plan, the easier it is to know your costs, know your projected revenue, and schedule filling the gaps that invariably occur.
And maybe you need to consider some skirmishes. Have you thought about using a straight truck to pick up single or oversize crates from problematic areas like congested downtowns and then off-loading that freight into your waiting OTR trucks? In other words, why send an aircraft carrier into a riverboat fight?
Your dispatches from the front lines are the OTR reports from each of your drivers. There isn’t one good reason for taking a load that doesn’t put money in your carrier’s pocket when your driver pulls away from the dock. Going on a gut feeling of “I think I made money on that load” just doesn’t cut it in today’s trucking environment.
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