The best way for Owner Operators to find shippers

find shippers

It’s not a mystery that a lot of Owner Operators don’t like working with brokers, and feel like brokers and not doing honest business with them.

That being said, it’s very clear why there’s a recent trend in O/O to find shippers.

While shippers usually do business with brokers, it’s not uncommon that an Owner Operator or the fleet owner does business with them directly.

Is it really better to go directly to shippers instead of working with brokers?

Brokers flip the loads, and they take a pretty good chunk out of the rate. If you take the broker out of the equation, you will be getting a lot more profit out of every load.

It’s definitely better for you to do business directly with a shipper.

All those rates you see on load boards are set by the brokers. They get the loads from the shipper and the price for them, then they set the rate as low as possible according to the current state of the market, so they can make as much money as possible.

That small part that’s left is meant for carriers and O/O’s to deliver the load.

It’s only business, but some loads are posted with ridiculous amounts, so the grudge that Owner Operators hold for brokers is somewhat understandable.

The best thing O/O’s can do to squeeze more money out of the load is not to take those cheap loads in the first place or to try and negotiate a better rate with the broker.

What conditions should you meet for shippers to do business with you?

There’s a good and valid reason why shippers mostly do business with brokers.

You can find shippers that are willing to provide you with constant loads, but you have to give them equal or even better service than they already have with the brokers.

Shippers’ priority is to move the load and get it delivered fast and safely.

Shippers don’t want to waste time and deal with a lot of O/O’s at the same time, that’s why they do business with brokers.

They hold one person accountable for all of their loads. It’s much easier for them to be in touch with one person for all of their loads, compared to dozen of O/O’s at the same time.

Naturally, you have to be capable to handle all of the loads the shippers have for you or they won’t have a reason to do business with you instead with of the broker.

So, the first thing you have to be capable of is to deliver all the loads the shipper has for you weekly. This means that depending on the shipper’s capacity you need to have a small fleet of trucks at least.

If you own just a single truck, they won’t choose you instead of the broker who is in contact with a lot of carriers and can move all those loads for them.

If you own a small fleet, you have good chances of finding a shipper whose load volume matches the number of your trucks and trailers.

The best advice for O/O’s with a single truck who wants to find shippers and work with them directly is to focus on building a fleet and then take that final step for bigger profits.

Where should you start if you want to find shippers?

If you think you have enough capacity that you can find shippers and start delivering freight for them, there are a few ways you can find them.

But, before you find any leads and start contacting them, you should develop a strategy and set a clear goal that will help you secure the deal faster.

First, you should know what kind of shippers you are looking for based on your trailers. It will be much easier for you to find shippers if they have a constant volume of loads of a specific type.

For example, if a shipper deals with construction material all the time, they need a fleet of flatbed trailers or step decks.

Do a little research and make a list of shippers that your trailers would be a good match for.

Where to find shippers?

The fastest and probably the best way to find them is by searching the internet.

Start by searching in your area, so you can physically go and see them in person quickly when needed.

Use Google and Facebook, they will most likely have some kind of listing or profile on these websites.

Create an excel sheet and fill it out with the leads you found. Once you generate a couple of leads start contacting them.

You can contact the shippers in a few ways:

  • By email
  • By phone
  • In person

If there’s a generic info type of email on the shippers’ website, you don’t stand a lot of chance to get a response.

Your chances are a bit better if you contact them by phone, but the best way possible is if you go in person and schedule a meeting.

What do you need ready for the meeting when you find shippers?

Prepare a good presentation for your company.

You don’t have to go so far and create an actual presentation, like a slideshow of your equipment and so on, but instead, have all the important info about your business on your website.

It’s important that you leave a good first impression of a reliable carrier. Offer them a better rate than they have with their current broker, and you will most likely be in business with them soon enough.

They might give you a few test loads so they can be assured of your quality. It would be great if you have a couple of testimonials or recommendations from your previous business partners ready to show.

In conclusion

If you stay organized and stick to your plan and strategy, you will eventually find shippers to do business with.

But, don’t waste your time and try to get a deal with them before you’re ready to handle all the loads they have for you.

There’s a lot of brokers who can handle all the loads for them, and shippers won’t bother to switch to someone who can’t deliver all the loads for them.

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