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What is a Load Board? How do Load Boards work?

If you have recently joined the transportation industry or are researching the industry, you may have come across the term ‘Load Board’. In this blog we will breakdown what a load board includes, how they work, various uses, benefits, downfalls, available options, and costs.

What is a Load Board? How do Load Boards work?

A load board is a tool used to connect freight brokers and shippers to carriers. Essentially, it is an online marketplace where shippers and freight brokers can share their load availability and owner-operators and carriers can share their truck availability. A load board is utilized by players in the spot market, but occasionally will be used to source capacity or loads in the contract market.

How does a Carrier use a Load Board? How does a Freight Broker or Shipper use a Load Board?

An owner-operator or carrier will commonly use load boards to post their own trucks. The truck posting will typically describe where the truck is currently located or will be located, the desired destination city/state/region, the date of availability, equipment type, weight capacity, and the carrier’s contact information.

Carriers will also use load boards to search for loads posted by a shipper, or more commonly a freight broker. The posted load will describe the freight, the pickup city and state, the destination city and state, the date of availability, the expected delivery date, weight, the posting party’s contact information, the truck and equipment requirements, load securement specifications, and occasionally the preferred rate for the load that would be paid to the carrier. This preferred rate is often a starting point for negotiations. Some load boards may also have a ‘Book Now’ feature which allows shippers or freight brokers to automate the load tendering process. If a carrier can meet all of the load and rate requirements they can automatically book the load by using the ‘Book Now’ feature.

To summarize, carriers use a load board to post trucks and search for loads while freight brokers/shippers use a load board to post loads and search for trucks.

Most load boards typically have a profile page for each user which tracks an assortment of information. Carrier profiles will include contact information, MC and DOT numbers, insurance, factoring, FMCSA safety ratings, preferred lanes, and reviews from freight brokers/shippers. A freight broker or shipper profile will include contact information, MC and DOT numbers, factoring, insurance, average days to pay, and reviews from carriers.

There are typically research tools available with load boards for both carriers and freight brokers/shippers. Some include average rate ranges for each lane, carrier directories for searching carriers by equipment, size, domicile or home state, and reports of market trends.

What are the benefits of using a Load Board? Why should I use a Load Board?

While load boards typically come at a monthly cost, there are several benefits to consider. If a carrier or freight broker is just starting out, a load board is great way to start building relationships which helps build reputation and credibility. Both brokers and carriers will find it difficult to secure opportunities without previous experience or credibility. However, brokers and carriers working in the spot market actively posting to a load board may be more willing to work with a newer MC or DOT number.

Load boards present the opportunity to connect with carriers and brokers and develop strong, meaningful, and mutually beneficial relationships outside of the load board. In turn, these relationships could provide additional opportunities that may never make their way to a load board. A load board will help brokers and carriers find trucks and loads they would likely not find on their own.

A load board allows brokers and carriers to expedite the process of finding and securing a load or truck, and also expedite the research process through tools such as profiles, rate ranges, and reviews.

The convenience of posting to a load board can trim the effort required to source a truck or source a load. For example, rather than calling all the brokers that a carrier can find for available loads, the carrier could post their truck and let the brokers interested in that truck call the carrier. And vice versa for the broker.

Even a carrier who works primarily in the contract market can benefit from using a load board. When business is slow, a contract carrier could fill their extra capacity with spot loads to keep wheels turning until business picks back up.

In summary, load boards can help:

  • Build reputation and credibility

  • Create strong broker/carrier relationships

  • Find new opportunities you would likely not find on your own

  • Quickly find loads/carriers

  • Research broker credit history and reviews/research carrier safety and reviews

  • Let the brokers/carriers come to you (post a truck, post a load)

  • Fill extra capacity with spot loads

What are the cons of using a Load Board? How much does a Load Board cost?

It is worth mentioning that there are a few downsides to using a load board. One to consider is the potential of building an unhealthy reliance on a load board to fill capacity or find loads. A broker or carrier should be building relationships outside of the load board and only use the load board as a secondary tool when needed.

Another consideration is the unwanted solicitation from unfavorable carriers or brokers. Some load boards have unfortunately built a reputation of fostering brokers and carriers who maintain poor or unsafe business practices. It is your responsibility to do your best to research a carrier or broker thoroughly before agreeing to work with them. An increasing industry issue, known as Double Brokering, has stemmed from this problem of unethical business practices. In short, Double Brokering is when a carrier confirms that a load will be transported on their own asset, but the carrier actually sells the load to another carrier and does not disclose this to the shipper or broker. Double Brokering is illegal and can lead to a variety of issues involving liability, payment, theft, etc.

An obvious downside to using a load board is that it costs money, but not always. Some load boards are free, and some can cost around $50-200 per month, depending on the bells and whistles you decide to include.

What Load Boards are available? Which Load Board is better?

There are many load board options available, but below are the most popular in the current market. These prices are subject to change.

Historically Less Than $50 Per Month

Historically More Than $50 Per Month

  • DAT Express *We recommend this load board

  • DAT Power *We recommend this load board (same load board used for DAT Express but more features)

Are Load Boards worth using?

Yes!! We believe the benefits of a load board outweigh the costs.

Are you curious about learning more on transportation tools or business tools? Are you thinking about starting a trucking business, but not sure how to get started? Check out our course on How to START Your Trucking Business!

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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 - Copyright 2023 - does not assume responsibility for any omissions, errors, or ambiguity contained herein. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction or operation.


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