Bang for your buck: Choosing the right load
Kevin Rutherford, a trucking columnist and satellite radio host, illustrated the options owner-operators face in deciding which loads to take. He also pointed out what an operator needs to know to choose profitable hauls.
Rutherford says you need to evaluate both the loads and the destinations. A higher-paying load to a particular market may be minimized by lower-paying loads leaving that area. If you’re going to a place with limited load availability, you should consider potential deadhead costs to get the next load, he says. Think twice about accepting a load to a market that doesn’t pay well for outgoing hauls, unless you happen to live there and want to go home.
David Wolff, a consultant at financial services firm ATBS, says to consider time, miles and rates. Some operators look for loads with lots of miles that pay lower rates, but the time involved to deliver may reduce the overall payoff. The bottom line in profitable load selection is knowing your costs per mile and break-even point. That means factoring in your trucking expenses, both fixed and operating. Also, don’t forget to add in your personal expenses at home. “If you choose to sit for a day and pass up a load because you felt it didn’t pay enough, be aware you will lose this amount for every day you sit,” Rutherford says.
If you want to take time off, do it at the beginning of a month or quarter, not at the end when more freight is available, Wolff says. “Every dispatcher is trying to get as many miles on his board as possible every week. Understand those cycles and take advantage of them.”
Rutherford says to keep track of fuel costs per lane. Since fuel costs more on the West Coast, the cost per mile will be greater on a Los Angeles-Denver run than it will be for a Houston-Alabama, trip. Your fuel mileage will also be less because you’ll have to run through the mountains.
Another consideration is load weight. Reducing weight by 10,000 pounds will increase fuel mileage by 4 percent, Rutherford says. The lighter load might pay less but will cost less in fuel and reduced wear on the truck and engine.Hyper Smash