The No. 1 solution to creating and maintaining a successful small motor carrier is to be the expert for a specific niche in a particular geographical area, called a freight lane. While it's important to be diversified in your revenue sources, it's equally important not to be the haul-it-all carrier. Using the scattergun approach to selecting loads by searching load boards and brokers for the highest-paying freight regardless of its destination is a system headed for failure. Instead, establish a specific lane within which to operate; find similar types of freight in that lane which work with the equipment you own; and then become the ‘go-to’ hauling expert for that lane and freight.
BUILDING A FREIGHT LANE
The biggest challenge to developing a freight lane is that outbound and inbound freight are inherently imbalanced. The typical description of an unbalanced freight lane would be hauling steel girders from Pittsburgh to Miami. Pittsburgh is a major manufacturing hub with numerous factories and support industries, whereas Miami is a large consumer locale with very little manufacturing and consequently, very little outbound freight. In short, Miami needs the steel to build its condominiums and high-rises but has very little freight to send to Pittsburgh, thus the imbalanced freight lane. But just because a freight lane is imbalanced doesn't mean it's not worth developing. The best way to develop any freight lane is to do a lane analysis.
Using the Pittsburgh to Miami example, your truck would likely depart Miami empty, headed north towards Pittsburgh. The choices available are:
Run empty back to Pittsburgh. If this is the option chosen, you must earn enough revenue from the original load to Miami so that your revenue needs are met for all days and miles required on the round trip.
Run empty to Atlanta (or another point north) where you have a preplanned load waiting, headed to a destination near Pittsburgh. The combination of revenue received for all loads must meet or exceed your required hauling rate for the days and miles required.
Pick up a load in Atlanta going to St. Louis and another from St. Louis to Cleveland. The final leg back to Pittsburgh could be empty or loaded. Again, everything depends on earning the revenue needed for the days and miles required on the entire trip.
TRY TO BE FILLED
It's important to remember, a loaded truck followed by a loaded truck is your best-case scenario. Loaded followed by an empty, or empty followed by a loaded, is next best as long as the revenue produced meets your minimum hauling rate. Empty followed by an empty should never be scheduled unless the revenue from the total round trip covers the costs of the empty days and miles.
The best approach to finding and continuing to get the best loads for your trucks is by targeting specific areas where your outbound freight is headed. This means going from the scattergun to the ‘lock and load’ approach with your sights on the bull's-eye of available loads in your freight lane's destinations and points en route.
Contact Tim Brady at 731-749-8567 or at www.tomothybrady.com