A Strong Carrier Network is a Catalyst For Growth

Area of Improvement #3: Searching for Load Coverage

In the daily hustle of fulfilling load orders, the last thing your brokers want to do is spend time toggling between multiple load board screens and calling multiple carriers to find the best option. In a perfect world, the best quotes would show up right when you need them. We don’t live in a perfect world, but there are certain strategies a smart rep can take to ensure the most competitive rates are available for you when you need them. 

Searching for load coverage is the third area of improvement freight brokers should analyze to optimize their workflow. This area of improvement presents a significant opportunity for your team to enhance your load board usage and strengthen your carrier network. When you do both of these things, you’ll enhance your bottom line through better quotes and the more efficient use of your rep’s time. By asking your team these two critical questions, you can motivate them to identify areas for improvement and drive positive change. 

  • What is our process for identifying available carriers for specific loads?
  • How do we nurture and maintain relationships with carriers?

First, let’s quickly review how we got here. 

The Eight Areas of Improvement

Searching for load coverage is the third of eight (8) common areas of improvement in the freight broker process. How your team handles these tasks can lead to inefficiencies in daily performance and create pain points for your customers and carrier partners. In addition, breakdowns in this area often trigger inefficiencies in others, further reducing your margin. To read more about the Areas of Improvement, download our eBook, Don’t Let Inefficiency Eat Your Bottom Line: 8 Areas to Improve Your Freight Brokerage, here.

This blog will help you evaluate your company’s process for finding the best load coverage for your customers. As you review this task with your team, calculate the cost of labor hours, tools, software, and other expenses expended during this step and the return on your investment. 

In addition, assess how strong your carrier relationships are and how you can enhance them further. Strengthening these relationships is not just a task but a strategic imperative that can significantly impact your operations and revenue. 

Lastly, search for optimization ideas to make the process easier, more accurate, and beneficial for all parties. 

Let’s evaluate your team’s process, time, tools, and areas of optimization for searching for load coverage. We’ll start with the basics. 

Using Load Boards

Load boards are important tools that facilitate connections between carriers and shippers. Some of the most popular boards, like DAT and Truckstop.com, offer millions of daily load opportunities. Load boards provide your reps insights into competitive rates and carrier information. Because there are so many load board options available and each one offers different levels of service, load options, and availability, they can be confusing and time-consuming. In addition, it’s unlikely that one single load board will be your go-to answer for every load. They are just one tool in your toolbox. 


The cost of load boards varies. Subscription-based models are common, with fees ranging from around $35 to $150 monthly for basic to mid-tier plans. Consider the cost and the specific features each load board offers, such as load tracking, carrier monitoring, and data analytics, to determine which option best meets your business needs.


Reposting to load boards is essential but can cause inefficiencies in your workflow. Your team will often need to repost loads on load boards to ensure their listings remain visible. Since new loads are constantly added, a listing can quickly get buried, reducing its visibility to carriers. Reposting keeps the load at the top of search results, attracting more potential carriers who may not have seen it initially. 

Ghost Loads and Double-Brokering

In addition, load boards provide challenges such as the presence of “ghost loads” (loads that are no longer available but still listed) and issues with double-brokering, which can undermine their productivity and reliability. 

Double brokering is a fraudulent practice where a carrier or broker re-brokers a load to another carrier without the knowledge or consent of the original broker or shipper. Essentially, the intermediary accepts a load from the broker and reassigns it to a different carrier while pretending to handle the transport themselves.

Storing Load Board Data

Evaluate how your team collects, compares, and stores load board data. If your team isn’t aggregating all quoting information into a central place, you may be missing valuable data that would help your team quote more accurately in the future. 

This is where the caliber of your TMS is critical to your team’s success. Your TMS should organize load information in a structured format, making it easily searchable and accessible. It should also store historical data, allowing you to track your lane averages, analyze past transactions, and make more informed decisions.

Evaluation of Load Boards

As you assess your team’s process of using load boards, ask your team these questions. These questions are designed to help you judge the effectiveness of your current load board usage and identify areas for improvement. 

  • What percentage of our carriers come from load boards?
  • Which load boards are we using? 
  • Which load boards are the most successful? 
  • How do we gather quotes from load boards?
  • Do you keep a history of quotes through load boards?
  • How often do we have to repost a load? 
  • What is our lane average? 

Estimate how much time your brokers spend reviewing load boards and comparing rates. Calculate the cost of their time, the subscription costs of each load board, and other resource costs. Identify the load boards that yield the most favorable outcomes and examine the method by which your team collects quotes from these platforms. Evaluate whether a comprehensive history of quotes sourced from load boards is maintained. Determine the frequency with which loads must be reposted and analyze the average performance within specific lanes. 

The answers to these questions will help you refine your team’s approach to leveraging load boards and driving operational efficiency. Yet, the approach is meaningless if you don’t maintain a robust and committed network of preferred carriers. 

Strengthening Your Carrier Network

A strong carrier network is your company’s backbone. With it, you’ll proficiently find the most optimal rate for your clients, ensure timely deliveries, and maximize customer satisfaction. Maintaining long-term carrier relationships expands the pool of available capacity and enhances flexibility, adapting swiftly to changing market conditions and customer demands. In addition, a diverse and well-established carrier network fosters healthy competition, driving down costs and improving service quality. By nurturing and expanding your carrier networks, you’ll streamline operations, reduce empty miles, and increase profitability while maintaining high service standards. 


Explore how your team engages with carriers when seeking coverage. If reliance on email is the norm, there’s a risk of essential messages getting lost in spam filters or response times being compromised due to busy representatives. Evaluate if your team has visibility into all interactions with carriers to ensure consistency and trackability throughout the process.

Preferred Carriers List

Maintaining a preferred carrier list is a priority. Ask if your team members know and regularly use preferred carriers. If there is no regular rating system or method to find your preferred carriers, measure how long it takes a broker to find this information and/or whether they bother to do so. You’ll find inaccuracies and inefficiencies there. 

  • Does everyone on the team have visibility to our approved carrier list, including contact information, lanes covered, ratings, and past loads?
  • How do we rate our preferred carriers?
  • Are we documenting every conversation with a preferred carrier? 

Carrier Onboarding/Compliance

A large part of a strong carrier network is rooted in continued tracking of carrier compliance. Carrier compliance helps your team stay accurate and honest. It’s worth the time and effort to find and fill gaps in services or compliance so that finding load coverage is competitive and seamless. We’ll discuss this in more detail in an upcoming blog post. 

Ideas for Optimization

As you evaluate this area of improvement, look for automation, tools, resources, and data that can inform you in making good decisions about your next steps towards optimization.

Here are a few examples that might work for your team. 

  • Estimate how much time you may save if both posting and reposting to load boards were automated through your TMS. 
  • Look into a capacity tool like the ones mentioned below that aggregates load board data into one dashboard visible to all team members. 
  • If your preferred carrier list lives in a spreadsheet or on individual broker notebooks, explore digital options like shared project management software or a capacity tool that can accurately track carrier changes and updates. 
  • If your team relies on emails to communicate with carriers, implement tracking so emails do not get lost or caught in spam filters. 

Some of the capacity tools on the market right now include:

  • Parade
  • CargoChief
  • DAT
  • Truckstop
  • TruckerTools
  • MacroPoint Capacity

In all cases, look for tools that make your workflows faster or more manageable. Don’t add unnecessary steps to the process. This can happen if the tools you choose don’t integrate with your existing platforms, like TMS. The goal is to find an integrated process that can be standardized and optimized for speed, productivity, and consistency. 

Wrapping Up the Third Area of Improvement

Successful load coverage starts and ends with the quality of your team’s relationships with carriers and their ability to leverage load boards as tools instead of barriers. Treating carriers with the same respect as shippers nurtures vital relationships. It ensures that your customers have access to low rates and your reps can provide better customer service. This affects your margins and revenue. Establish a foundation for reliable and effective processes when searching for load coverage. Strengthening carrier networks and optimizing processes for load coverage are pivotal steps toward enhancing efficiency, reducing costs, and maintaining high service standards. 

Stay tuned for more blogs on the rest of the 8 Areas of Improvement.

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