As an owner operator in today's freight market, it's likely that you're feeling the effects of low freight rates. With factors such as economic downturns and geopolitical events contributing to the decline, small trucking companies across America are struggling to make ends meet. While we don't have a fix-all solution for this issue, we at Top Dog Dispatch can share some tips and tricks that can help you fight the effects of low freight rates and improve your overall earning potential.
Be Open to Shorter Runs
While shorter loads may not seem as profitable as longer ones, they can actually be a good way to boost your rate per mile when freight rates are down. These loads can be more difficult for brokers to book, which means they may pay more. Additionally, they're often more reliably available.
Be Mindful of Location
While a load may offer big pay, it's important to consider the location and the freight rates in that area. Taking a load to an area where it's virtually impossible to get out at a reasonable rate can end up costing you more in the long run. By keeping an eye on where you're going and what the freight rates look like there, you can make more informed decisions about which loads to take.
Expand Your Capabilities
Adding certifications, licenses, or equipment can help you find loads that pay more than others. This is because loads with special requirements are often more difficult to find drivers for, which means brokers pay more. By expanding your capabilities, you can position yourself to take advantage of these high-paying loads.
Maintain Your Truck
Mechanical failures can be costly, especially when you're on the road. It's important to have a local mechanic you trust and to plan ahead for regular maintenance to avoid costly roadside repairs.
Practice Good Driving Habits
Good driving habits are also important to reducing your overall stress, workload, and costs in the long run. Being conscious of congested roadways, getting ample rest, and efficiently consuming fuel are all good habits to develop as an owner operator.
Search for Lighter Freight
Hauling lighter loads can also help reduce your fuel costs, which can add up quickly. Every pound counts, so consider whether a lighter load might be a good option for your next haul.
Never Be Afraid to Negotiate
Many loads are posted for less money than they're actually worth, so it's always best practice to ask for a higher rate. Whether you're booking your own loads or working with a dispatcher, it's important to know your worth and to negotiate accordingly.
By following these tips and tricks, owner operators can combat the effects of low freight rates and improve their earning potential in today's driver-hostile freight market.