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Owner-Operators: How to Negotiate Higher Rates with Freight Brokers (Script Included!)

Owner operators: how to negotiate higher rates with freight brokers

While sometimes it can be intimidating to ask for more money, negotiating load rates with brokers is necessary to ensure that you are maximizing profits.

Below are specific tips for getting the most money out of your negotiations with freight brokers. Give yourself a raise today by following these steps. You deserve it! 

Before the call, do some prep work.

You will amp up your negotiation strength if you’re prepared. By using hard numbers and accurate data (like 7-day rate average and market average), you will likely be able to land the price you deserve for the load.

Before you get on the phone with a broker about a specific load that you’re interested in, you’ll want to do your research. If this load is a lane you run often, you might not need to do it as intensively, but it’s always good to know the market’s current going rate for the lane you’re interested in running. 

Quick Tip: Load prices change every day, so it’s useful to have a tool that can help you understand the most recent averages. Truckstop Rate Insights (included in Load Board Pro) will give you all the numbers you need to negotiate from a place of strength.

Be assertive, yet respectful, during the negotiation. 

Quick tips: 

  • Stay calm. Remember, as the driver, you have the upper hand. 
  • Even if you don’t make a deal with this broker on this load, maintain the relationship for future opportunities. 
  • Consider all costs, like fuel, when asking for a higher rate. 
  • Come to the call with hard data for the lane you are inquiring about. 

Negotiation Script: 

YOU: “Good morning/afternoon, this is [insert name] with [company], and I am interested in your load going from [insert pickup destination] to [drop-off location]. 

BROKER: [The broker will usually give you more information on the load, like exact pickup location, temperature requirements, etc.]

YOU: Is that the best rate you can offer? 

BROKER: Yes, that’s all I have in that load. 

YOU: Well, according to Truckstop.com’s 7-day average data, I see that this specific lane is averaging about [INSERT NUMBER] per mile. Can we get closer to that? I need at least [insert number] to get this load delivered on time for you. 

BROKER: [They will either say yes or no here.] 

If they say no:

YOU: I am looking to make the average on this load, so if you change your mind or have any loads in the future, please feel free to contact me at [provide contact information].

***That’s it! 

You can view this script as a PDF here.

It really is that simple. Sometimes the broker will budge, and sometimes they won’t. With data on your side, you have the upper hand. If they can’t match the market averages, don’t worry. Kindly tell them that if they change their mind, they can contact you. (You’ll want to make sure they have your contact information.)

Sometimes these conversations will vary, but as long as you come prepared and have data to back you up, negotiations should be smooth sailing! 

Quick Tip: Remember, the trucking business is all about building long-term relationships. Do your best to be kind and keep all bridges intact. You never know what having brokers on your side can do for your wallet! 

After the call. 

If the broker won’t give you the rate that you’re asking for, you can always go back to the Truckstop.com Load Board to search for other options. 

  • Trying a new lane with a high market rate will help you maximize your profits. 
  • Check your truck’s popularity. Where will your truck profit the most? With Rate Mate, you will be able to see how popular your truck type would be for a specific lane.
  • Practice! Negotiation is a skill that can get better with experience. While you’re on the road, practice your negotiation skills so you sound confident. 

Truckstop.com can help. 

Everything you need to maximize your profits as an owner-operator can be found using the Truckstop.com Load Board. From data to back up your negotiations, to hundreds of thousands of loads, Truckstop.com is committed to helping you make more money. 

Learn more about plans and pricing here.

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