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5 Tips to Make More Money as an Owner-Operator

Are you a trucking owner-operator or a carrier looking to make more money and increase your owner-operator salary? Growing your business can be hard, especially in such a hot freight market. But with a little planning and easy-to-use technology, you will be growing your business in no time.

Whether you have ten trucks in your fleet or are an owner-operator trying to put more money in your pocket, here are steps you can take to make more money in trucking.

5 tips to make more money as an owner operator

1. Be the first to call on the best load

The game for who can get the best paying loads is ultra-competitive, so make sure you have the best freight matching tool to get to the hottest lanes and loads first. Don’t waste time calling on loads that have already been covered. To find the perfect freight for your truck or team, invest in the best load board for growing your business.

Our definition of “best” is a load board that goes way beyond the old-school notion of a load board that just finds loads. It helps you be quick on the draw to get the loads you want with brokers you can rely on. It gives you valuable information and decision tools that help you make a solid game plan and save precious time. Ideally, it helps you perform every aspect of your business with speed and ease and returns a higher owner-operator salary.

When evaluating load boards, ask yourself:

Is it comprehensive? There’s really no reason you should have to bounce around from load board to load board, website to website, to find loads and keep track of all the details. If you take this approach, by the time you decide on a load, chances are high that it’s gone when you’re ready to book it.

 Is it innovative? Fast and easy to use? Nothing’s more frustrating than fussing with clunky technology, the very thing that’s supposed to simplify your job and make it easier. It’s one thing to find a good load, quite another to book it before someone beats you to the punch. The best load board is one that helps you be fast and first. What if you could book loads instantly on your schedule, from the road, maybe even outside broker business hours?

Book It Now on iPhone

Does it include other tools to help you make more money?

Look for a load board that goes the extra mile to help you choose brokers to work with and other important information, like broker credit score, experience level, and how long it takes them to pay you. Truckstop.com employs a whole team that checks every broker on the load board regularly, so broker data is relevant and up to date.

The best trucking load board lets you drill down to find loads that are right for you. Look for tools that sort loads by rate, origin, and broker ratings. Some include heat maps and search options that serve up the best-paying loads. The most innovative, established load boards help you find backhauls, let you post your truck and your specialty so brokers can find you, and have an instant load-booking feature, just to name a few. It will let you get as detailed as you want, saving you tons of time to make more money.

Another great feature that can help you be fast and stay ahead is Book It Now. Book It Now offers the opportunity to instantly book with just a few clicks. This feature is available to all carriers on the Truckstop.com Load Board. Once you’ve been added as a preferred carrier by one of your broker partners, you’ll see any Book It Now loads available from that company. You can book these loads at your convenience – at any time of day – with just a few clicks. It’s that easy!

With Load Board Pro, you’ll see loads from thousands of trusted brokers posted in real time – including Book It Now loads. Don’t miss out on a great-paying load because you were waiting for the load board to refresh.

2. Work with the right brokers

When you work with brokers you can trust from the get-go, your cash flow keeps you and your drivers on the road. Truckstop.com’s Load Board Pro ensures that all brokers are verified before allowing them to post freight to the Load Board. With CreditStop Broker, you will see a broker’s rating and their days-to-pay. This helps you plan cash flow while building relationships with long-term partners.

3. Negotiate the highest rates

Work smarter, not harder. Many owner-operators and carriers are under the impression that increasing your pay requires increasing your hours. That isn’t always the case.

Once you’re equipped with some tools and strategies you can start enjoying the job you signed up for and the freedom and flexibility that comes along with it. The key is not to work more hours, but to make more money per mile. It basically boils down to finding the best loads out there, getting the best possible rates for every load, and keeping your cost-per-mile as low as possible. When you get these things dialed in and working together, you will make a higher profit as an owner-operator.

Look for a load board that provides insight into rate trends so you can negotiate better with brokers to get fair pay that offsets your expenses and returns a profit. The best load board gives you visibility into spot market rates (a one-time rate for hauling a load), which vary widely depending on many factors, like seasonality (winter loads during the holiday season could command higher spot market rates, for example), supply and demand, and loads-to-truck ratio, to name a few.

rate mate widget

When you understand spot market rates, you can back up your negotiations with solid, current data and push for a higher rate when the broker is holding out for a lower one. Ideally, your load board should have a rates tool that arms you with this and other information critical to helping you make more money as an owner-operator.

Getting higher rates for each load means more money in your pocket over the long haul. But how do you know that you’re getting paid fairly on a load? On Truckstop.com Load Board Pro, you can use RateMate to see posted, paid, and submitted rates by equipment type and lane when talking with a broker about a load. This will give you more power when negotiating.
One alternative to the pain and stress of negotiations is our Book It Now feature, available to all carriers at no charge. Book It Now loads offer the opportunity to book loads with just a few easy clicks. Become a preferred carrier with your most trusted broker partners to gain access to load details and rate information up front, then confirm your bookings instantly with the click of a button. This is an excellent way to save time and streamline your process, making it easier to make more money.

I refer to the rates tool within the Truckstop.com Load Board to know what the rates should be for new lanes.  If a broker sets a low rate on a load, I have real data to back me up when I say, “this is what the rate should be.”

– Mel Pink, Jackson Moving and Storage

4. Focus on the people

Relationships make the freight community go ‘round. If you can form long-lasting relationships with trusted brokers who call you first when they have freight you want to haul, you will always have a full truck and get paid on time.

“I have built a list of broker relationships using Truckstop.com — so when I need a load, I call one of my contacts because I know their lanes. If I know I’m going to have a truck in Laredo, I call one of my brokers that I met through Truckstop.com’s Load Board. I know I can trust them to help me get my drivers loaded and pay on time.” –Mel Pink, Jackson Moving and Storage

5. Plan your routes in advance

Want to plan ahead so you can know your profits in advance? With Truckstop.com Load Board Pro, owner-operators like you can plan multiple trips, which allows you to be more strategic in your trip routes and make more money in the process.

When planning in advance, make sure you’ve got a solid understanding of your cost per mile. It’s a fundamental calculation every owner-operator should know, arguably the single most important number you need to get a clear view of your profit margins. Once you’ve established your cost per mile, you can start making adjustments to get this number down, so more money goes into your pocket.

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What could you do with more money in your pocket? Don’t work harder and longer hours for the same amount of money. With simple technology and a little planning, you’ll be growing your trucking business in no time.
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