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What if there was an easy, accessible way to find freight opportunities so that you’re never wasting time and gas deadheading after a successful haul? Enter: load boards. What is a load board, you may ask? A load board is a matching system that pairs truckers with freight brokers to quickly find loads. Truckers may also post their truck to have freight brokers contact them about potential opportunities.
Load Boards: How it All Began
The first load board was created at the Jubitz Truck Stop in 1978 by DAT, known more commonly then as Dial-A-Truck. Posted in the lobby of the Jubitz’s restaurant was a single monitor displaying various loads, the same loads that used to be scribbled on a notepad before being pinned to a bulletin board. Underneath the monitor displaying the loads was a toll-free phone to call about the loads being displayed above. Quickly, it replaced the practice of venturing to truck stops to strike up a conversation with drivers to see if they were headed in the same direction as your load needed to go. Within a couple of years, those monitors had popped up in over 200 truck stops across the country.
Nowadays, load boards can be found everywhere and their online marketplaces can be accessed from anywhere thanks to our smartphones making it accessible to book hauls with our fingertips. All that is needed is an MC# (Motor Carrier Number) if you’re looking for loads or a DOT# if you’re providing them. In some respects, a load board could be considered a networking site exclusively for truckers as the frequent interaction between brokers and truckers creates a great way to build relationships.
At the forefront of the digital load board industry remains DAT, which hosted 179 million posts for loads and trucks alike in 2017 alone. With DAT’s efficient & effective technologies, one can acquire all the information they could ever need. You could view a broker’s credit score and days-to-pay details or the rate index to learn about the average rate for a specific region nearly instantly. If you’re new to trucking and are looking for hauls or have yet to experience how easy it is to find loads with DAT, Raney’s has partnered with DAT to offer a special on the TruckersEdge load board to its members. Sign up for TruckersEdge today and get your first 30 days free by signing up at www.truckersedge.com/377959. This offer is available to new TruckersEdge subscribers only.
Do you remember what it was like before digital load boards, or maybe even when the first Dial-A-Truck monitor was released? Do you like the convenience of digital load boards or miss the good ole days? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below!
Eating healthy and exercising while you are on the road is never an easy task. There are plenty of unhealthy options staring you in the face at every truck stop: Fast food, candy bars and of course, beef jerky. To avoid these pitfalls, it is best to be prepared and follow a simple health regimen that you can stick by. Rome wasn’t built in a day so you shouldn’t expect to have to completely change your whole lifestyle right out of the gate. But as you’ll see, many of the bad choices you make can easily be replaced by good ones. Let’s start with some good eating habits.
Make sure to eat breakfast each and every day. It is the best kick-start you can give to your metabolism and actually helps burn calories as long as you don’t scarf down a triple-decker fried waffle sandwich. Stick with egg-whites, whole grains, fruits, and granola. This also means don’t eat a lot of food before you know you will be going to sleep. Eating right before bed is just about the worst thing you can do as your body is not actively working to metabolize the food and it will sit and get turned into fat, or worse, heartburn.
Snacking is actually a good way to stay healthy, provided you are snacking on the right foods. Keep some almonds or cashews within arms reach and wash them down with some water when you start to get hungry. Nuts are high in mono-saturated fats and oleic acid which are both great for cardiovascular health. Dried fruits and granola bars (not the ones with tons of chocolate in them, sorry) also make good snacks in a pinch when you need something sweeter. If you must have beef jerky, stick with a turkey option. It still isn’t the best thing for you but its an improvement over beef.
Counting calories isn’t for everyone and if you are as busy as most truckers you don’t have time. One thing you can do though is read the label of what you are about to eat. Many food packages deceptive label their calories by very small portions so keep this in mind. It is unrealistic to cut all fast and junk food out of your life so if you are going to partake, be aware of what you are putting into your body. With fast food, try to choose items that aren’t deep-fried, like grilled chicken sandwiches or veggie replacements like portobello burgers.
Find time to exercise and stretch!
When you get a chance, stretch! There will always be time at rest stops, loading docks and when you are on-call waiting for a pickup location to stretch out your muscles. The most important groups to work out are the hamstrings and your lower back. Both of these groups suffer the most from life on the road. An easy stretch for your hamstrings is to simply lean forward and try to grab your toes. To stretch your lower back there are a couple of techniques. One is to sit up straight in a chair and put one of your ankles on the opposite knee. Then, press down gently on the leg that is lifted and lean forward a bit. This will stretch your hip flexor and lower back. The other is to lay on your back and bring your knees towards your chest and gently pull on them.
Maximize time at hotels. Sometimes you just need to spend a day outside your truck at a hotel or your work provides you with an opportunity to stay at one. Many hotels have pools and exercise rooms so don’t neglect these when you have some time to use them. Exercise in the pool is a great way to clear your head and stay healthy.
Some final tips for maintaining a healthy lifestyle on the road include keeping good sleep hygiene, good oral hygiene and seeing a physician at least once a year for a physical. If you can incorporate at least a majority of these tips into your life you will see results. Health and well-being aren’t something to take lightly. They affect just about every interaction you have on a daily basis. The better you feel, the more positive you come across to others and, in turn, the better you are treated. Best of luck and keep on trucking!
Chad Boblett is the owner and driver of Boblett Brothers Trucking of Lexington, KY. Chad also founded the Rate Per Mile Masters group on Facebook, a communications hub for more than 20,000 members, including owner-operators, truck drivers, and other transportation and logistics pros. Thank you to DAT and Chad for allowing us to share this article. We hope it helps!
Learn from a CPA
My advice to anyone getting their motor carrier authority would be to create a relationship with a CPA. I have been using the same CPA to do my taxes since the first year of getting my authority. My first-year profit and loss numbers were a clear sign that a major mechanical failure could have taken me out of business, and I am sure my CPA thought the same thing.
Three years later, after making many improvements and becoming more efficient, I went to see my CPA to review my numbers. After going through each line item, my CPA told me that I had solidified myself. This was a big deal to me since it was coming from someone who’s known my business numbers from the beginning.
Being solidified, to me, means I am running a profitable business, and big obstacles are now small bumps along the way. I want to maintain this status so, at the end of the tax year, I can focus more on looking for ways to be more efficient and cut expenses.
But for 2018, I want to learn how to do my own taxes. As much as I like handing over all my numbers to a CPA to figure out my taxes for the year, I would like to take a more hands-on approach this year. I think the more understanding I have about taxes, the better business decisions I’ll make.
I have decided to use Quickbooks for accounting and payroll this year. There is tax software that links with Quickbooks that should make it easier for me to start learning how to do my own taxes. Almost all tax preparers understand Quickbooks so this change might help improve accuracy if I decide to continue to use a CPA. I’m also trying to read as many books as I can about that topic.
One of easiest ways to cut costs is to look at each line item of expense and start writing down all the ways you could lower it. For example, insurance on my truck and trailer, plus $100,000 in cargo insurance, came to $6,209 together in 2017. That’s a reasonable rate, but I can get it lower. The easiest way for most of us to save with insurance is to adjust the values we have on our equipment.
Also, I get charged a $7 processing fee each time I make a payment, but if I made one payment in full at the beginning of the term, I would only pay the processing fee once. It’s not a lot of money, but it adds up.
If keeping track of money coming in and going out is something that you struggle with, then find a CPA who will do this for you. When you need this kind of service, it’s money well spent.
If you’re looking for other areas to save, Raney’s partners with DAT to offer a special on the TruckersEdge load board to its members. Sign up for TruckersEdge today and get your first 30 days free by signing up at www.truckersedge.net/promo254 or entering “promo254” during sign up. This offer is available to new TruckersEdge subscribers only.
Leading up to the ELD mandate on Dec. 18, 2017, some industry observers had predicted a mass exodus of trucks from the industry. But that hasn’t happened, at least not yet. According to data from the U.S. Department of Transportation, the number of active carriers has actually ticked up slightly since ELDs became mandatory. There was just under a 1% increase in active carriers between December 18, 2017 and February 18, 2018.
A few months before the mandate went into effect, a DAT survey revealed that 30% of respondents, mostly owner-operators, said they planned to leave the industry rather than implement ELDs. Last week, DAT re-surveyed that same group and found that 91% of respondents have implemented ELDs. Of the group that had not yet implemented ELDs, more than half were exempt from the mandate.
The big question is, how many carriers will drop out of the industry after April 1, when trucks without ELDs will be put out of service? Data is still being analyzed.
ELD’s Impact on Trucking
Even though the number of active carriers has not dropped since December, the ELD mandate has certainly had an impact on the trucking industry. Here’s how:
Reduced capacity – In the first full month following the ELD mandate, January 2018, load-to-truck ratios — a measure of supply and demand — hit record highs. For vans, the load-to-truck ratio hit 9.9 in January, meaning there were almost 10 load posts for every truck posted on DAT load boards. That was 3 times higher than the previous January.
In January, the van load-to-truck ratio was just under 10 to 1.
Record-high rates – Rates also jumped to record highs in the first weeks following the ELD mandate. However, at the time it was hard to tell if rate increases were due to the mandate or to other factors, such as last-minute holiday and e-commerce deliveries, severe winter weather in many part of the country, or fewer trucks available as drivers took time off for the holidays, or some combination of reasons.
By February, those factors had worked their way through the system, but van rates were still 32% higher than in the previous year. And February’s high rates didn’t appear to be the result of increased demand. There were more loads offered on DAT load boards, but data from DAT RateView shows no dramatic increase in the number of spot market loads that actually moved in February 2018, compared to February 2017.
Van rates hit record highs in January, following the ELD mandate.
Decreased productivity – Carriers who stayed in the industry and adopted ELDs were met with new challenges. For example, what previously was a one-day trip may have turned into a two-day trip when the driver ran out of hours, because ELDs lack the flexibility of paper logs. See our blog post about how ELD’s Impact Could Be Greatest on 450- to 600-Mile Lanes.
Less patience for sluggish shippers – Another outcome of the ELD mandate has been increased impatience with shippers and receivers who detain carriers at the docks. A recent article in American Trucker noted that for the past 4 to 5 years, shippers have had the upper hand. But now, “ELDs are changing the economics of trucking in such a way that the smart carriers who really understand their costs are just saying: I can’t do this. I can’t wait five hours to be loaded.”
Thank you to DAT’s blog for allowing us to share this article! What’re your thoughts on the changing landscape of the Trucking Industry? Do you believe that given some tweaking ELDs will bring about positive change in the Trucking Industry, or are ELDs the final straw?
If you’re in the market for an ELD to meet the mandate, DAT’s Keep Trucking offers an affordable solution you may want to check out!
Raney’s Truck Parts is proud to partner with DAT to offer a special on the TruckersEdge load board to its members. Sign up for TruckersEdge today and get your first 30 days free by signing up at www.truckersedge.net/promo254 or entering “promo254” during sign up.
* Offer available to new TruckersEdge subscribers only