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5 Ways to Avoid Empty Backhauls

Empty backhauls can be a significant headache for truck drivers, leading to wasted time, fuel, and ultimately money. However, with careful planning and strategic thinking, drivers can minimize or even eliminate these empty trips. Let’s explore five effective strategies that truck drivers can use to avoid empty backhauls and optimize their operations.

Utilize Load Boards:

Load boards are valuable tools for truck drivers to find return loads or additional freight to fill their trucks for the return journey. These platforms connect freight brokers and shippers with carriers working in the spot market. Load boards can be available to anyone or private for select carriers. Getting access to multiple load boards both public and private will present more backhaul opportunities to drivers. By regularly checking load boards and leveraging these services, drivers can increase their chances of securing profitable backhaul opportunities.

Popular load boards include:

1.      DAT One

2.      Truckstop 

3.      123Loadboard 

4.      Trucker Path 

5.      Freight Finder


Establish Relationships with Shippers and Brokers:

Building strong relationships with shippers and brokers can open up doors to consistent freight opportunities. By demonstrating reliability, professionalism, and efficiency, truck drivers can earn the trust of shippers and brokers, who may then prioritize them for return loads or offer them exclusive opportunities. Cultivating these relationships can lead to a steady stream of freight and reduce the likelihood of empty backhauls.

Focus Sales Efforts in Destination Areas:

If you frequently deliver to the same areas, consider putting your sales and marketing efforts to work in those destination locations. Finding nearby shippers who may have regular freight heading back in your home direction could save you empty miles. Also, consider working closely with the receiver (or the broker who booked the load) to see if they have any outbound needs or referrals for the area.

Lower Your Backhaul Rates:

You might be thinking, “LOWER?!”, but this could be an essential strategy to securing a backhaul. You don’t need to price below your costs but consider a discounted pricing strategy to secure loads from local shippers or freight brokers. A profitable load home, or even break-even, is better than deadheading the entirety of your return trip.

Diversify Your Service Offerings:

Consider diversifying your service offerings to include additional transportation services. For example, you could offer partial services or LTL (less than truckload) services for backhauls. A partial load may not be as profitable as a full truckload, but it will help cover your costs to return home. By expanding your range of services, you can attract a broader customer base and increase your chances of securing return loads or backhaul opportunities.

Empty backhauls can drain resources and hinder the profitability of trucking operations. However, by implementing these five strategies—utilizing load boards, building relationships, focusing sales efforts in destination areas, lowering backhaul rates, and diversifying services—truck drivers can minimize the occurrence of empty backhauls and optimize their efficiency and profitability on the road. With strategic planning and proactive measures, empty backhauls can become a rare occurrence rather than a common frustration in the trucking industry.


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Soshaul Logistics LLC and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. It is meant to serve as a guide and information only and Soshaul Logistics, LLC does not assume responsibility for any omissions, errors, or ambiguity contained herein. Contents may not be relied upon as a substitute for the FMCSA's published regulations. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction or operation.


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