Contributing author Joey Slaughter is the owner of Blue Ridge Transport, LLC. A Ringgold, VA based carrier. Joey started his company in 2010 after serving time as an unhappy employee with a local trucking company. The time spent there was not fun but, in hindsight, was a turning point that propelled Joey into the wonderful world of being an entrepreneur. Please visit JoeySlaughter.net for more insightful blogging.
Taking advantage of the spot market can be very profitable if you do your homework. Even though I have 48 state authority, 75% of the time I operate in the southeast quadrant of the U.S. I prefer to stay south of I-40 and east of I-35 if you want to map it. This limits me at times because there are a lot of trucks in that region, but with a family, I’m more concerned about being home regularly. If you’re not as concerned about being home as often, there are many more opportunities for you.
The key to capitalizing on the spot market is to use the law of supply and demand in your favor. Have your truck positioned where there’s a low supply of trucks and a high demand for them. Be careful though, because many times that great paying load will send you to a place where the law of supply and demand is working against you. For example, you get excited because you scored a $3.50 a mile load to Williston, ND. You’re celebrating all the way there and thinking about how you’re going to spend that money! As you get closer and start load searching, you find out you’re headed to a black hole for trucks. You didn’t factor in deadheading 600 miles out of there or waiting a week for a load that pays $1.25 a mile did you? Now you’re worse off than if you stayed in a crowded freight lane and averaged $2.00 a mile.
Learning the ins and outs of freight cycles and traffic lanes takes time and comes with experience. I recommend that you talk to as many experienced owner -operators as you can. Sit at the counter at truck stop restaurants. Sure, you’ll hear some lies, but after a while you’ll start to learn what to remember and what to forget. Independent truckers with their own authority are the best resource for learning the market. In most cases we don’t have a front office handling our business, we’re doing it and we have our finger on the pulse of the spot market. You can also learn a lot from independent owner-operator Chad Boblett, who facilitates the Rate Per Mile Facebook page I recommend that you follow this link to join up and start learning.