Most independent trucking companies are fighting with rising diesel prices and lower freight rates, so creating and maintaining a long term relationship with direct shippers could be monumental to sustaining the company. Not to even mention about finding a direct shippers list online, but no worries, buckle up and take notes! You are about to learn all that’s needed to own the shipping of your load, no cuts, no commisions, no loses.
Naturally, carriers want to find direct shippers skipping the commission of brokers which can take a big percent of the deal, traditionally somewhere from 25% to 35% of each shipment.
Trucking industry has relatively easy entry barriers, but the reality is that finding loyal customers is going to be the most challenging task ever.
Our experience in the industry can help you to summarize the top 3 ways to find direct shippers for your trucking business. Remember that you will still need to make the customer research, some phone calls and close deals on your own.
1- Find direct shippers without a load board: McRae
Go to McRae Blue Book and find manufacturers that match your type of customers and the type of carrier service you provide. McRae Blue Book is an industrial directory that provides detailed information about manufacturing companies.
You can search through companies based on the types of products they manufacture and the detailed information about a company will even include freight rate estimates for you to compare.
Other manufacturing lists such as The Industry Week 500 are excellent guides to help freight brokers find shippers. Take a deep look at this list and focus on the industry you have the most experience with.
Companies such as Boeing and General Electric have a tremendous amount of supplies both in receiving and shipping freight. Use the list as a starting point to help you find suppliers for these companies.
Search “Boeing 737 Suppliers” and boom, a full list of the suppliers for the aircraft including company details and contact information.
2- Find direct shippers without a load board: USDA
Suppose you want to search for shippers in the agricultural industry. In that case, a great source is going to be the USDA directory with a business listing that will help you locate farmers that grow crops or raise cattle, poultry, and other livestock and contact them as well.
3- How to find direct shippers using a free load board:
To gain access to a shippers list, you need to register with a freight load board, and there will likely be a monthly subscription fee between $35 to $150. Free load boards also exist, so don’t get discouraged if a monthly plan isn’t currently in the budget.
The terms freight board or freight matching service are also used to describe load boards. These are online marketplaces where you can find information on available loads, and many provide additional services for carriers.
These services may include load matching, factoring, and access to message boards, just to name a few. There are plenty of load boards run by reputable companies.
But, always keep an eye out for bad reviews and talk to other carriers about their experiences with particular load boards. If you’re a first-timer to direct shipper freight, keep the following questions in mind to help keep your operation successful:
- What rate do I need?
- What lane do I want to run in?
- Is there enough freight in this lane to sustain my business?
1- Go to DAT, and create a free account with 30 days trial for DAT Power which will take you to this view:
2- Find the tab of DAT DIRECTORY on the right options:
3- Click on Search new business partner and find this search feature, selecting the option of Shippers only:
4- You have options in advance search, to select types of authority, locations, types of commodities, insurance, and their ratings. Depending on the type of trucks and loads you can move, select specific commodities according to your possibilities:
5- These are some example results you will get in the advanced search:
6- Review in full detail the list, with special attention to the following:
- Good ratings, choose 4 and 5 stars
- A credit score, closest to 100 is best,
- Days to pay, the lower the better,
- Commodities, that match the type of trucks you own,
- Insurance policies that are covered by you
All of these details are extremely important so you can select the best options and filter the bad ones out. Give yourself some time to search them online, and see how good a match they may be for your trucking business.
If you want to call for free, use tools like Google Voice or Aircall. Note that before being able to call, you will need to set up an account, with valid LLC company information.
7- Start making some sales scripts so you have them ready when you call them.
Making cold calls may not seem like the most productive use of your time, but it can lead to fruitful partnerships. Before you start dialing, prepare your value proposition first. A value proposition is a sales pitch that briefly outlines why your services would be valuable to that prospective client.
If you hope to make an impact with this tactic, remember that the first five to ten seconds of the call will be the most critical. You should introduce yourself but then get straight to the point.
Focus on companies in your region, as local businesses will be more open to working with you if they know you are familiar with the area.
8- Here are some tips to get effective at cold sales:
- Present your business as an expert with decades worth of experience.
- Try to research in advance which trucking company they use and the rates they pay.
- Offer them a bait to start with the first shipment at lower rates.
- Tell them of other big companies that trust you to ship direct loads.
- Leverage using TMS software as a sales pitch, with automation you provide better service to your potential customers.
Creating a long-term relationship with shippers will be monumental to gaining independence and growing your trucking business without depending on brokers or paying load boards. But will also test your abilities to do sales, leveraging your network and sales skills.
Think that customer service will represent everything to sustain that relationship and a fundamental piece in this will be using a TMS software like Ezpapel so you can keep your customers happy with automated features that pay drivers, send invoices and tracking links to customers and give you the possibility to move more loads without the hassle of manual work.