What is the Spot Freight Market?
What is the Spot Freight Market? How Can Truckers Find Loads?
Time is money. You've got to pay your bills, and you want to bring home as much money as possible each week. Finding freight loads needs to be simple, easy, and dependable. Plus, you want the highest rates per mile. Maybe the spot freight market works for you. Or, you're not sure how to pick the best load boards. No matter what, in trucking, you need to find consistent, profitable loads without wasting time finding the freight.
The Freight Market Today
Trucking, the shipping industry, what shippers do, hasn't changed much over the years. However, the technology used by everyone involved, from the shippers to the trucking carriers, has evolved. But, the simple fact remains, freight continues to need to be delivered, and much of it is delivered by truck.
While the pandemic hurt many industries, the trucking and freight market is bouncing back. Trucknews.com notes the shipments between the U.S. and Canada have achieved a "68.7% increase over 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports." In fact, "trucks hauled $68.3 billion of the freight in both directions across the borders between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico."
At first, many drivers were forced to stay home. Trucknews.com stated, "More than 28,000 truck drivers lost their jobs in April 2020." But, the website says that "truck driver employment has rebounded to pre-Covid levels."
Now, trucking continues to be a leader in freight and shipping. Across the country or across town, trucking delivers the goods.
Comparing the Contract Freight Market vs. the Spot Freight Market
When finding freight, there are differences between the contract freight and the spot freight markets. Both are profitable often; throughout the year, you'll take advantage of both contract and spot rates.
Contract freight offers "year-long security of price and capacity." InTek Freight & Logistics shares that "A contract rate is the rate a motor carrier, freight broker or logistics service provider (LSP) agrees to use when moving a shipper's freight for a set lane and its freight characteristics over a set period of time."
Spot freight helps shippers out when contract carriers aren't enough or special times when the contract price hasn't been agreed to yet. InTek Freight & Logistics explains that a spot freight rate is a price a "freight service provider offers a shipper at a point in time to move their product from point A to point B."
One of the critical differences between contract and spot freight rates is the timelines. A contract rate is typically for a year, while spot freight rates depend on the market and may change hourly. Sometimes, you've got your contract rate loads; spot freight can fill in the gap for your income. But, how do you find these loads?
Introducing Load Boards
Finding and booking any loads is a lot of work and takes you away from driving, the way you earn. Finding suitable loads is even trickier. Organizing the best loads takes hundreds of phone calls, completing setup packs, and invoicing. Load boards eliminate the hassle of sorting out all those administrative details. When using load boards, the load board company dispatches loads to you and helps you "consistently maximize your dollar per mile."
Convoy.com describes a load board as "an online marketplace or matching system that allows shippers and freight brokers to find carriers for their loads, while enabling carriers to maximize their earnings to find loads that keep their trucks full."
Whether you've got your own truck or work for a company with a fleet, load boards connect drivers with loads and keep you making money. Load boards help match you with loads, making the whole process far more efficient and enables you to maximize your earnings. How does it work?
Some load board companies include an app, or you may log in to a website. Then, you can post or search for a load (as a carrier) or an empty truck as a shipper or a broker. Shippers and freight brokers list the loads they've got available to be picked up. The load information includes type, weight, pickup, and delivery instructions.
Choosing a Load Board
It's not just about getting loads. Because there are multiple load boards available, it's a good idea to look through what they include and their pricing. Additional features not only make your work easier but may keep you safer, give you access to dedicated freight contracts, and much more. When choosing a load board, ask these questions:
- What do the safety and compliance features look like? How does it list the safety requirements?
- Does it have compliance monitoring?
- Can you bid instantly, or do you have to make phone calls to confirm your bid?
- How is the search setup? Can you filter and sort by freight type, delivery time, locations, etc.?
- Does it include freight factoring so you can be paid sooner?
- Is the load board compatible with other trucking systems like your transportation management system or in-transit tracking software?
- Does the load board partner with companies that save you money, like fuel savings and tire discounts?
- Do you have to provide your own equipment, or do they have equipment available?
- If you're using their equipment, do they have dry vans, refrigerated trucks, flatbeds, stepdecks, or Conestogas?
You've got a job to do. Deliver the goods safely, on time. If you're worried about finding freight, handling the phone calls, setup packets, invoicing, and still trying to find new loads consistently, using a load board is a time-efficient and inexpensive way to keep your wheels turning and cash flow coming in. At BigRig Dispatchers, we take pride in giving you load consistency, guaranteed week-to-week, and month-to-month. Plus, you'll stay compliant with your weight and regional restrictions. Our honest, dedicated team is available for truck dispatching 24-hour a day.