This article was brought about in response to the LinkedIn post by Jason Rabine, founder and President of Max Freightlines, LLC of Scottsdale, Arizona. To quote his post, “The word backhaul is not allowed here at Max Freightlines. This is an outdated way to squeeze a carrier into accepting a load at a cheaper rate. We don’t quote or sell loads using this tactic!” Is backhaul truly a “dirty word” when it comes to logistics?
In trucking, there’s basically three kinds of loads:
- Headhauls – Preferred loads that pay the best, have the best miles, and generally what you run 99% of the time.
- Backhauls – Loads that are discounted, do not pay prime rates, and are usually done that way because shippers/brokers know they can get by with backhauls because it is a backhaul load or…
- Deadhead – Yes, the ol’ freebie load. You can always haul that load of “sailboat fuel.” And if you have a good relationship with your broker/shipper/receiver, they might actually pay for you to make that deadhead if it means you will cover that load they desperately need taken care of.
So what are backhaul loads?
Backhauls are the subprime-rated loads that are usually found in the areas with little or no competition. My favorite example is running the South Florida lanes and getting stuck in Miami with nothing but backhaul rates. It hurts looking at the load boards knowing the brokers have all the advantage. You either take the backhaul rate or deadhead all the way back up to Orlando or Jacksonville for a decent headhaul rate. And like they say, “there’s a sucker born every day,” and that sucker is the one that books that $1.00 per mile load.
Do not haul cheap freight!
Ah, the battle cry of the last freight cycle recession. Making sure you’re hauling at a decent rate is important, not only to you, but to the whole trucking industry. The art of negotiating rates with brokers is a dying art. With the advent of “click and haul” load boards, there’s no communication. It’s just “I’m here, I’m there, pay me.” There’s no attempting to get a little more out of the deal or straight up calling the brokers out because you know the rate is cutthroat.
Not talking to a broker dehumanizes you into just another number in the machine. Get on that phone, call them, let them know that the rate is trash and it needs to meet the needs of your business to profit, not just cover fuel.