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How Truck Dispatchers Select the Best Load

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Today, let’s discuss how to select a good load and what factors to consider during a load-booking process.

Before we look at various factors affecting your booking decision, we need to point out what a good load is. A good load is one that is good for your client but not necessarily for you as a truck dispatcher.


As a truck dispatcher, if you're charging a percentage, then the highest grossing load would be the best one for you.

Maybe you'd book a $15,000 load to Alaska and would end up making $1,000 with one phone call. That’s great, but your client will probably not be happy about it and will likely not pick up that load. 

Or, if you're charging a flat fee, then the first load you call on might be the best for you because it will free you up to move on to other trucks or even leave the office and play golf. However, that doesn't mean it is the best load for your client. 

Which Load Is the Best for Your Client? 

To answer this question, you probably need to talk with your client about what kind of freight they prefer. 

•    Rates primarily drive some clients. They want the highest rate possible, not caring about anything else. 
•    Other clients may be motivated by weight. They don't want to carry any heavy cargo and will sacrifice the rate to transport lighter loads. 
•    Another client may want to stay in a certain area. They are willing to sacrifice the weight and rate they would receive as long as they can stay in the area they prefer. 

So as you can see, there are various factors involved. By talking to your client and asking them what their ideal load is, where they would like to run, and what is important to them, you should get a pretty good idea of the best load for a particular client. 

Now that we got truck dispatcher clients' preferences out of the way, let's discuss some general factors you should consider when selecting a load. 

Pickup and Delivery Times

The first factor is pickup and delivery times. Why is this important to us? First of all, we want to ensure those times are comfortable for our client. 

For example, does your client have enough time to make it to the pickup location and get loaded? If they don't have enough time, or if it might be cutting it short, you run the risk of your client traveling somewhere and then not getting everything loaded. 

The same goes for delivery. If your client doesn't have enough time for transit, then they may not make the delivery appointment. They may get stuck with the load for another day or two, which will financially ruin their week. 

For example, in our training, we discuss various ways to calculate the transit time so you can determine if the load is suitable or not. However, it is always a great idea to ask your client if pickup and delivery times would work for them. The driver will usually have a great idea of whether they can make the pickup and if they can make the delivery at a certain time. 

So if they okay the load and feel comfortable with the timings, you can go ahead and book it. However, if they express any kind of concern that they may be unable to make the pickup or delivery on time, then you should pass. Forget about this load and move on to the next one. 

Weight and Commodity

The second factor you should consider is weight and commodity. 

With weight, it's pretty simple—the lighter, the better. All Motor Carriers like light loads, and nobody likes loads that maximize the truck’s capacity. Lighter loads are easier to transport in various conditions, and they consume less fuel. So the lower the weight, the better it is. 

Some clients, especially those utilizing older equipment, may just put certain restrictions. They may say, "Look, I don't want you to book any loads that are above 30,000 pounds." That's their requirement, which makes your job a little bit harder because you will have to find freight that meets their criteria. Other clients may care less about the weight as long as the rate they receive is high enough. 

With commodities, the situation is somewhat similar. Some of your clients will not care what they transport as long as they get a high enough rate. Some others will tell you the certain types of commodities they will not move at any rate, which needs to be considered. 

For example, a load of pelletized auto parts should be easy to transport for anyone. However, floor-loaded furniture may delay your client at their pickup and delivery because it will take quite some time to get the truck loaded and unloaded. 

Some may not want to haul recycling. Recycling can leave the trailer dirty and smelly, which may affect the client’s next pickup. So, as a truck dispatcher, you definitely want to learn what is and is not acceptable for your clients. 

Now, the next factor is extremely important, and it's also very subjective, so be sure to give it careful consideration.

Booking a load


What is a good rate? 

Technically speaking, a good rate is one that is acceptable to your client. However, let's imagine that your client is not sure what kind of rate they should accept. How can you, as a truck dispatcher, determine if the rate is fair or not? 

There are a couple of ways you can determine its fairness. For example, if you're a member of the load board, most load boards will provide you with some historical data on how much brokers have been paying for transporting a load for a particular lane. This should give you a general idea of what the load should pay. 

However, it is not necessarily the most accurate idea because today's market might be hot. In this case, brokers might be willing to pay more than they were paying in the last couple of weeks. Or vice versa, there may be a lot of trucks and insufficient freight in the area, making them unwilling to pay what was paid in the past couple of weeks. 

To solve this problem, you will have to call multiple freight brokers to see who is paying what. That should give you an idea of the current market rates. You can then determine which one is better than the rest. Also, with experience, you will be able to sense what the market is doing. You’ll have an idea of how the rates are today, and you will be able to advise your client as to what may and may not be a good rate for any given load. 

A Freight Broker’s Credit Rating

Another factor you should look at is the credit rating of a freight broker

If a broker is offering you a fantastic rate but their credit rating is bad, that may mean that your client will never actually collect the money. And that makes this great rate not so great. 

While in certain situations, there are ways you can protect yourself when dealing with a less credible broker, I advise that you just avoid them. There is no need to take any additional risks. Just look for another load from a broker who has a good credit rating. This way, you know that your client will actually be paid for the load they transport. 


The next factor we need to consider is how urgently you need to book a load. 

For example, if you're looking for a load for your client today that wouldn't be picked up somewhere until tomorrow, you don’t need to rush. Therefore, you can call on as many loads as you can. You have time, so you can pick the one that works best for you. 

On the other hand, let’s say that your client needs a load right now, and it is 4:00 PM. We know that after 5:00, freight brokers will start going home, and there will be very few new postings on the load board. 

You are kind of in a rush now. You may have to settle for a less ideal load because otherwise, you run the risk of not booking anything at all for today and your client's truck will not move. 

And that leads to another suggestion; whenever you can, try to pre-plan your client's trucks. 

What is a pre-plan? Pre-planning is a situation in which you know where your client's truck will deliver tomorrow, and so today, you are already looking for the next load out of that delivery area. By booking in advance, you will reduce your own stress levels. And motor carriers absolutely love pre-planned loads. So whenever you can, try to stay one step ahead of your client and try to book a load out of their delivery destination. 

Never Lose Sight of These Factors

Let's quickly recap the factors you should consider when booking a load. We need to think about: 

•    Pickup and delivery times 
•    Weight and commodity
•    Rate 
•    Credit rating of the broker  
•    How urgent it is for you to book a load 

You may be wondering what an ideal load is for me. 

Well, I prefer to go for what I consider a no-hassle load. For example, with pickup and delivery times, I prefer that both are in the morning. Why in the morning? If the delivery or a pickup is in the late afternoon and something goes wrong, I may not be able to salvage the situation. However, if my client goes to pick up a load in the morning and the commodity is not ready, I still have plenty of time to find another one for this client. 

Also, when looking at pickup and delivery, I consider the destination. I want the load to go to an area where I can easily find another one. 

Even if it pays great, the load that goes to the middle of nowhere may result in my client either coming back empty or picking up a load at an unattractive rate, which will not make them happy. So, I want the load to go somewhere where I can easily find another one at a reasonable rate.

With commodities, I just follow my clients' instructions. 

And again, when it comes to the rate, I usually know what is and is not acceptable to my client. I will either accept a rate that I know my client will like or run it by them to see how they feel about it. 

With the credit ratings of the freight brokers, I avoid brokers with poor credit ratings and concentrate on working with credible companies instead. 

And of course, urgency plays a crucial part in my decisions, so I try to pre-plan. This way, the urgency factor is unimportant, and I can take my time to find the best possible load for my client. 

There is one more thing I would like to mention in closing. This does not have a direct relationship with your selection of a load but may be very important to your relationship with your client: transparency. Try to be honest and transparent with your client. 
Always provide accurate information, and don't sugarcoat anything. If the load is not good or you don’t think it's good, go ahead and tell your client. Letting them know that you care will help your relationship in the future. It will create a relationship that may last for years, which means you will generate revenue from this client for years to come. 

© By Alfa X Logistics November 2022

Are you thinking about becoming an independent truck dispatcher? LearnDispatch offers online truck dispatcher training courses which are suitable for people not familiar with transportation industry. Learn more about our training by visiting Training Details page or choose your course by clicking here.

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