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The Good and the Bad About Paid and Free Load Boards

According to Owner Operators – how load boards make our lives easier and harder

This is the first part in a series about how the paid and free load board system affects carriers, brokers and dealers.

Load boards are what make the world go round for most owner operator car haulers, especially new ones. As the first truly popular online load board, Central Dispatch made the auto transport business accessible for carriers, brokers and even some dealers. After its inception in 1999, anyone could create a car hauling business or brokerage and become profitable by finding or brokering loads through Central. Many load boards came after Central, but none have beaten it’s influence.

While load boards have improved and connected the industry, some industry professionals would say that the load board system has simultaneously aided in lower pay and worse conditions for carriers.

We talked to some owner operators for their opinions on the Good, the Bad and the Wants of each load board. For the purpose of this series, most load boards fall into two categories: broker owned/ free load boards, and Central Dispatch.

Central Dispatch

OVERVIEW

Overall, Central Dispatch seems to be a necessary evil for owner operators; a hurdle to overcome before creating lasting broker or dealer relationships to fill their trailer. All of the available loads and the route planning is there, but paying over $1,000 a year for the service is hard, especially when many things could be changed that would improve the experience dramatically.

Central Dispatch Pros Wants and Cons comparison chart versus free load boards

Broker and free load boards:

OVERVIEW

Broker owned load boards are generally free, and seem to be a dime a dozen. We’ve grouped them all here, because most carriers see them all as secondary to Central Dispatch. The major 5 at the time of this piece are: CarsArrive, MetroGistics, Ship.cars, Ready Logistics (a.k.a. 1Dispatch) and United Road.

Overall, broker-owned and free load boards are easy because they are free, but have a host of problems, from strict operating requirements to speed of payment, load availability and required load processing apps.

Operating Requirements

CarsArrive requires 3 months of an active authority and minimum $1 million in liability insurance.

Load availability

car haulers love super dispatch, download the free Super Dispatch app. Free Load boards vs. Central Dispatch ad

Click on the photo to download the FREE Super Dispatch app

CarsArrive, Ship.cars and MetroGistics have far fewer loads than Central Dispatch, and to many Owner Operators, that means they will rarely use them.

United Road consistently boasts the most loads of any free load board, but many are double posted to Central Dispatch.

App Functionality

Check out our Broker Owned Apps blog post to learn more about this

Ready Logistics (also known as 1Dispatch) has the best processing app of a broker. More than one Super Dispatch customer has remarked that they likely modeled theirs after our own.

United Road’s app is notoriously bad – give yourself a lot of extra time to process UR loads.

Payment and Speed of Payment

United Road appears to have an automatic payment system, instead of manual billing. Carriers have reported being paid in the middle of the night, very quickly after delivery. Unfortunately, you must use their United Road App (Veritas) to get paid in this fashion.

MetroGistics Ready Logistics appears to have the fastest payment of any broker, by far.

CarsArrive appears to be the quickest of the broker-owned free load boards.

Pros of broker load boards:

  • On places like CarsArrive, night bookings are possible, so carriers don’t have to call anyone.
  • Getting paid is much quicker when you book directly with the broker.
  • On a broker load board, you always know it’s a legitimate load. Carriers don’t have to guess if it’s double posted or not actually brokered to that broker.

Wants for broker load boards:

  • Boards like United Road need better descriptions. Currently, it’s not clear when a car is inoperable or not.
  • Overall, broker load boards need to pay better.
  • You should be able to use third party apps to process loads (like Super Dispatch.)

 

Do you have anything to add about Central Dispatch or other load boards? Is anything in this piece inaccurate, in your experience? Who is the best load board, and why?

Let us know in the comments.

How To Use Central Dispatch: Tips From A Load Sniper

Central Dispatch: Why Do Car Haulers Pay For It?

Over-the-road car haulers and independent owner-operators must turn a profit if they plan to keep on running. It is financially imperative to the transport company that dispatched loads fill every empty spot on the trailer during every leg of a trip. Load boards like Central Dispatch, Ready Auto Transport, and CarsArrive Network offer nationwide car carriers the best chance of achieving this objective of staying fully loaded. However, occasionally combing through long lists of loads is simply not enough to compete in such a highly competitive market as auto transport. With intense demand and limited supply, it is the hair-trigger tools of the experienced “load sniper” that provide a company with a fighting chance of staying in business. This is the advice of a long-time veteran auto transport dispatcher.

You must be patient, you should know what you’re looking for, and you need to be willing to wait all day long.

Central Dispatch (www.centraldispatch.com) is widely regarded as the most popular auto transport load board offering the highest volume of cars to choose from; and to many, Central Dispatch is much more than a car shipping load board. It is the single most important marketplace where brokers can connect with vehicle transporters, and therefore, it is on the verge of being a community. But given its enormous size with thousands of loads listed daily, the coveted need for time and experience of being able to sift through pages of cars is a treasured skill worth having in your toolbox. So, let’s begin by searching for vehicles.

Car Hauler BOL App

Click the photo to download.

Central Dispatch: “Search Vehicles”

Central Dispatch Search Vehicles menuFrom the “Home” screen, under “Find Shipments,” you must choose “Search Vehicles.” First, select “City Search” within 100 miles around your “Pickup” city; and then for “Delivery,” press the CTRL key and click with the mouse to select every state or region that you might consider delivering to (remember: there is a maximum limit of 15 at a time.) Keep in mind, for the most comprehensive search, select “Find all dispatches along my route.” Okay, that’s the easy part.

I can’t stress enough how crucial it is to be watching all the time.

The most important tip right off is that you must select “1 Hour or Newer” under “Highlight Listings,” with “Highlighted on Top” checked. In addition, enter “.4” into the “Min pay per vehicle/mi” field if you plan to make any money this week. And if you’ve been in business (and plan to keep it that way), you must accept “All” under “Payment Type” because there are not enough “COD” loads out there to keep everyone fully loaded at the same time. For most carriers, be sure to choose “Open” for “Trailer Type” because trying to book an “Enclosed” vehicle is not worth the frustration. “Non-Running” vehicles are an unfortunate fact of life so choose “All” under “Running?” and being open to “All Vehicle Types” is definitely worth its learning curve. And by the way, if your transport equipment is in good working condition, selecting “Ready to Ship Within 30 Days” can present you with lucrative future load options. There, you are now ready to hit the “Search Vehicles” button.

Central Dispatch Search ResultsIdeally, your search “Results” number somewhere between 100 and 200 (but not as high as 500 because that is too many). Furthermore, you can always hit the back arrow on the browser to change up the mix as needed. Most importantly, if you are searching during regular business hours, there should be several blue highlighted loads at the top of the list. Those are the fresh loads, and this is where you will usually find your anchor load. That’s the good stuff, and sometimes it’s literally gone in sixty seconds.

Finding Your Anchor Load

The best load you can hope for is a trailer full of small cars that run and drive, paying cash on delivery, and that need to be transported about 1000-2000 miles. But even if you can find just find one or two of those, you have found your anchor load. And usually, those kinds of cars pop up in blue and are only there for a mere few minutes. I can’t stress enough how crucial it is to be watching all the time. That’s why the #1 secret top ingredient to being a load sniper is the same as being an expert fisherman: You must be patient, you should know what you’re looking for, and you need to be willing to wait all day long. Sitting at a computer workstation with multiple monitors and a proven method of constantly refreshing the screen can be a full-time time job, and can also make the difference between $3,000 a week and $5,000 a week.

…occasionally combing through long lists of loads is simply not enough to compete in such a highly competitive market as auto transport.

Click the photo to download!

Following Through Is Key

Central DispatchOnce you have the broker on the phone and load could be yours, be swift about getting through the rest of the obstacle course. Have your insurance company ready to send certificates of insurance, keep your “My Ratings” at 100%, make sure that everyone is able to answer their phones, receive emails, sign, scan or print, and know the limitations of the trailer plus the status and relative location of your company’s equipment. Also, the person booking loads should not be nervous or easily rattled, because getting a big fish on the line requires experience to reel in. A great paying shipper knows the difference between a carrier that can finish the job and one that is not up to snuff. Make sure “My Documents” and “My Profile” are fully completed and professional, along with a good night’s sleep to put in a full day of dispatching phone calls. If you can manage to live up to these 900 words, you and your company stand a much better chance of being fully and profitably loaded for a better tomorrow.

Until recently, I had been dispatching for several owner operators and doing it for many years. It was an incredibly challenging chapter in my life, and the stories and experience I collected are probably enough for a movie. Please feel free to share your story and experience with Central Dispatch. Happy hunting out there, and keep on trucking.

— Super Jay

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