All You Need to Know About Semi Truck Repair and Maintenance

semi truck repair

Did you know that approximately 5,000 people lost their lives in road accidents involving personal vehicles and semi-trucks?

This is why it’s imperative to take all necessary steps to ensure your truck is in shipshape at all times. Being unprepared for different issues on the road often leads to disastrous outcomes.

Mind you, semi-trucks take more damage than any other type of vehicle. And the moving parts and materials used to make them degrade over time.

So to stay on the safer side and preserve your beloved rig, you must undertake ongoing semi truck repair and maintenance.

Check out the guide below for everything you need to know about caring for a truck.

Different Kinds of Semi-Truck Repair Jobs

Here are some semi-truck repairs that you are likely to come across:

1. DIY vs. Professional Repairs

Whether to DIY or call in an expert mostly depends on whether you’re a company driver or the owner of the vehicle, as well as what kind of repair the truck needs.

But you can prevent common semi-truck repairs by having regular servicing and preventative maintenance done on your rig.

2. Simple vs. Not-so-simple repairs

It’s advisable to carry basic tools when driving to deal with simple repair task that may arise at any time.

These are repair tasks that even a novice trucker can DIY and wouldn’t need a lot of time. Some examples include:

  • Replacing a burnt our headlamp
  • Installing a tail-light and grommet
  • Replacing mud flaps

On the other hand, larger repairs and body works require the services of a professional.

Take note that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations behoove truckers to complete daily inspection reports and deal with anything that requires corrective action. This includes issues like

Disabling and Cosmetic Damage

As you know many drivers scrub their wheels in off-set or tight docks

Semi-Truck Repairs After a Breakdown

Drivers will normally have their trucks towed to a repair station depending on the nature of their breakdowns, prior preparations, and the services as well as parts available in the area.

Tire Repairs

If you don’t have spare tires, have a professional replace any blown-out tires due to the weight concerns.

All in all, you’ll need to be extremely skilled and have a large number of tools together with parts to solve major semi-truck issues.

General Semi-Truck Repair Tips

Consider the following quick repair tips to semi-truck problems:

Procure Vital Tools and Services

Even if you’re excellent at DIY repairs, it’s difficult to survive during breakdowns without hazard triangles, flashers, warning devices, and towing services.

Purchase Quality Spare Parts

When it comes to spares, you can choose brand new parts (from manufacturers), replacement parts (third-party manufacturers), or used parts.

Ensure to always consider quality, warranty, and your semi-truck repair financing options before you buy any spares.

Semi-Truck Maintenance Tips

You can prevent many simple as well as not-so-simple problems by having regular servicing and preventative maintenance done on your rig.

Yes, regular maintenance will keep your brakes from grabbing, the engine from humming, and the undercarriage free from dust.

Here are some preventative things you can do to avert major repairs:

Create a Plan to Check Brake Wear and Failure

Brake failure arguably the biggest cause of accidents involving semi-trucks.

Thus, it’s crucial to have a professional service your vehicle’s brakes regularly to avoid catastrophic results that often lead to damages and third-party lawsuits.

How long a rig can roam between brake servicing depends on the driver’s driving habits. And no matter how good of a driver you’re, always have your brakes inspected and the fluid changed every once in a while.

Also, have the brake pad, bushings, pins, and springs changed regularly as they wear quickly. For the drums, your experts should replace them at the same time with shoes since they develop heat cracks and also wear down.

And don’t forget to ask your service provider to grease the S cams, slack adjusters, and check the horses as well as linings.

Conduct Tests to Curb Engine Problems

Drivetrain and engine problems are notorious for taking trucks off the road.

Thus, it’s advisable to always keep an eye out for signs such as loss of oil pressure, decrease in power, and excessive smoking. These symptoms indicate that you’re riding on an unhealthy engine.

Other than that, your maintenance provider should undertake period compression tests as well as monitor exhaust and engine coolant temperature.

This way, you’ll nip all major engine issues in the bud.

Prevent Body Problems

Many load carriers endure extended downtimes because of body corrosion.

Corrosion emanates from rusting, which is mostly caused by the chemicals and salt used to treat ice and snow.

If you’ll be driving through snowy areas, you can’t prevent rust, but you can slow down the corrosion process by:

  • Having big paint chips removed
  • Washing your truck every ten days
  • Spraying door locks to protect them from moisture
  • Cleaning the rig immediately after rain, snow, or sleet
  • Avoiding parking or driving in large puddles

Good vehicle storage will also prevent rusting.

Maintain Lubrication

Keep your truck lubed in the steering, drivetrain zerks, and suspension with only high-quality grease.

In fact, it’s best to lube all applicable fittings and parts as well as check for slop and leaks in the drivetrain area before each haul.

Be Wary of Extended Idling and Short Trips

City driving and short trips are engine killers.

So if you can, try to avoid them or simply prepare well in advance. You can have a pre-lube system installed so that your vehicle delivers oil to critical parts using an electric pump to avoid cranking. You can also go for a tuber timer for alerts when the engine heats up too much.

Inflate Your Tires Correctly

While over-inflated tires are prone to premature tread wear and blowouts, under-inflated tires can negatively affect your rig’s fuel efficiency.

It’s, therefore, paramount to inflate your tires to the proper levels.

Check for Storage and Fuel Tank Contamination

If you want to keep your engine purring and the fuel flowing seamlessly, strive to keep the tank free from moisture or contamination.

Ask your maintenance provider about the most favorable moisture control treatment.

Protect Your Trucks With Proper Semi Truck Repair and Care

Next to equipment and fuel, semi truck repair and maintenance are the costliest aspects of any trucking business.

And the truth is that you’ll be saving yourself a lot of expenses in the future by creating a regular maintenance plan.

For trucking gigs, sign up to Com Freight today!

The Loading Life: How Freight Brokers Can Find Carriers Fast

freight brokers

Shippers use freight brokers because of their expertise in the field of logistics. Freight brokers know what carriers can meet the shipper’s transport needs. And brokers have the tools to find carriers fast.

The logistics industry has a lot of moving pieces. Shippers, carriers, and consignees all need brokers to coordinate their interactions. And there’s no time to waste!

Logistics are crucial to U.S. commerce. Without a fast-moving shipping industry, the business would come to a grinding halt. Discover ways that freight brokers can find carriers fast.

Try Cold Calling

Once you find the name a freight carrier you’d like to use, it’s easy to find a phone number in a business listing. Many carriers have adopted technology for tracking, but relationships are still developed on the phone. Email and web forms are typically not the preferred methods of communication.

When you call a carrier, don’t try to sell yourself as the best broker they’ll ever work with. It’s good to describe your needs, such as where you’ll need to move freight, the size of the loads you need to be transported, and the frequency. Most in the logistics business will be impressed with action, not grand promises.

Show an interest in how the freight carrier currently transports their freight. Get ready for a lot of carriers to turn you down. But sometimes it’s just the luck of the draw. You might hit a carrier that has a need to fill.

Build Personal Relationships

The transportation industry is very much a business of relationships. You’ll need to build a solid reputation if you’re going to be a successful broker. You’ll need to have a good rapport with shippers, consignees, and carriers.

It’s not just about getting your carriers some freight to move. They’ll want you to share their values. And not just “corporate values.” 90% of trucking businesses have six trucks or less. Truckers want you to have the same values they grew up with. And nothing will get you more business like doing great work for your current customers.

Carriers are going to talk to one another. Establishing s referral system is a great way to generate new business. Come up with a single sheet that explains your program and send it to shippers.

Find Leads with Everyday Products

Most products surrounding you at the moment spent time as freight and were transported on a truck. Office furniture. Delivered by truck. Cars. Delivered by truck.

The device you’re reading this on? Truck. Just look up the products you use every day. Find out where they are manufactured and how they are delivered.

An easy way to find carriers is to think about the items that you’ve ordered yourself. Review bills of lading, tracking numbers, or other shipping info to find carrier names. By doing so, you can find local carriers that contract to national networks, expanding your options.

Give Internet Search a Shot

More and more carriers have started recognizing the value of having a web presence. The reason for the slow adoption is that many carriers are small businesses or independent contractors. There are internet load boards to find a near unlimited supply of qualified carriers.

Work with great carriers. If you’re going to build a network of the best carriers, you’ll need a reputation of working with the best. Do you have policies with carriers setting expectations for deliveries? Are you ranking your carriers’ performance over time?

Create Your Own Detailed Systems

When you have a shipper request, can you quickly locate carriers you’ve used in the past for the shipper, consignee, or cities involved? Can you pull up a bill of lading that shows performance data on the delivery? Having quick access to this data can help you select a carrier fast.

Some shippers require carriers to have a certain safety record. They may ask to see a copy of the terms and conditions you have set up with the carrier. Having this information will give you a huge advantage over other freight brokers.

Know Your Freight

You’ll really need to know your freight if you’re going to convince carriers to haul for you. Some carriers prefer certain kinds of freight. Sometimes equipment can be more suited for other goods. You’ll have more success with a carrier if you can describe the type of freight.

And even more, if you can discuss how it compares to products they are currently transporting.

You’ll also be able to qualify your carriers easier and faster. You’ll know who’s sure to be on time for critical freight. You’ll know who has the best record for fragile shipments. And you’ll know who offers the most competitive rates.

Master the Ins and Outs

Along those lines, it will benefit you to become a master at setting uploads in advance. If you ask a carrier to transport freight into Albuquerque, you’d be smart to already have a load set up to come out.

Carriers don’t want to be stranded in a city with no way out for days at a time. Every day the truck sits empty is money lost. Carriers will want to work with you if you promise a quick turnaround. Drivers want to get on to their next destination or on their way home back to their families.

The logistics industry can be called the lifeblood of U.S. commerce. The human body transports oxygen and nutrients throughout the body using the blood. Just like businesses send goods throughout America using freight carriers. The brain regulates and keeps the circulatory system running smoothly. Similarly, freight brokers help organize shipments and carriers.

Remember the Other Transportation Methods

Truckload motor carrier services are a common arena for freight brokers. But there are other shipping methods out there. Some parts of the country are well served by air freight and rail.

If you keep these other shipping options in mind, you may be able to find a carrier faster. You’ll also develop relationships with even more carriers.

Find Carriers Fast

Brokers must know how to coordinate the needs of shippers, consignees, and carriers. Because critical issues can come up at any time, freight brokers must be ready to respond quickly.

The logistics industry relies on freight brokers to ensure that shipping goes smoothly. Brokers need advanced tools to find carriers fast and coordinate delivery. Sign up for the ComFreight Logistics Marketplace for free. Find empty trucks and carriers now!

How to Finance a Trucking Business Expansion

Trucking Business Expansion

Without trucks, the American economy comes to a complete standstill. 3.6 million heavy-duty Class 8 trucks transport 10.5 billion tons of freight each year.

Are you the owner-operator of a trucking business? Read on to learn ways that you can finance your trucking business expansion. 

SBA Loans for Trucking Funding

Your local Small Business Administration (SBA) may be able to give you a very low interest rate to finance your trucking expansion.

SBA loans are generally long-term loans. You can borrow up to $5 million with a repayment term of up to 10 years for equipment.

If you want to buy several trucks, open a new location or buy a competitor, an SBA loan is a good place to start. 

Operating Lease

If you need access to new trucks, but can’t afford high monthly loan payments, an operating lease may be a good fit for you.

With an operating lease, you lease (or rent) a truck from a supplier. You don’t own the truck. At the end of the term, you give the truck back or pay fair market value to keep it.

The monthly lease payments are quite lower than many loan payments which makes this option good for business owners who need to keep costs down.  

Small Business Line of Credit 

Another option for commercial vehicle financing is a business line of credit. The good thing about lines of credit is that they are not a one-time loan.

A line of credit gives you access to a set amount of funding. As you pay it down, you can use the funds again. This way you can fund your company’s growth.

And, you only pay interest on the amount you use, not the full amount of the line of credit. Having a line of credit for an owner-operator trucking business gives you peace of mind because you have access to funds should you need them for unexpected costs.

You only need to apply once and then you always have that line of credit available for you to use as needed. Don’t forget that your business has various tax deductions that can help you save money come tax season. 

Equipment Financing 

When you want to replace trucks or acquire new ones to add to the road, equipment financing is a great option. Basically, you use your existing trucks or other equipment as collateral for the new loan.

Because the loan is secured (through your collateral), the lender can afford to give you a lower interest rate.

It is common for new and expanding trucking companies to choose this financing because it is a long-term option that comes with low interest rates. Typically, you can expect to pay between 6-9% interest.

Best of all, there’s no penalty to pay off the loan early. So if business is booming, go ahead and pay off the loan as soon as you can. 

Short-Term Trucking Business Loans

Short-term trucking business loans work best for companies that need to take on a new expense in order to grow their business. 

Let’s say you have a profitable new route available to you, you’ll need to fund the labor and other expenses for the job before your customer pays. This is when short-term loans are worthwhile.T

You can get approved for a short-term loan in one day, which makes it a great way to get funds quickly. 

Be careful though, the APR can be as high as 50%. Yet, if you repay the loan within the first year, the total cost is a pretty good deal.

If you plan to pay this loan back in full as soon as your customer pays you, it’s a great option for expanding your trucking enterprise.

Invoice Factoring

It’s important to understand that loans aren’t the only options for trucking funding.

One -outside-the-box option for you to consider is invoice factoring. This option lets you turn unpaid invoices into cash. 

You sell your unpaid invoices to a factoring company who pays you cash for the total amount minus a small percentage. This factoring company then deals with your customers to get paid.

Not only does this give you an influx of cash all at once, but it also frees you up from having to work on accounts receivable work. 

Plus, invoice factoring doesn’t impact your credit rating in any way. You can get your funds in just a few quick days from a factoring company.

Invoice factoring is not a loan. It’s just a smart way that you can get an influx of your cash without going into debt.

Working Capital Advances

Another trucking finance option is a working capital advance. This option is not a loan. It is a new source of funding for various types of business.

These advances give you funds upfront that you will then pay back over several months. The advance amount you qualify for depends on your company’s revenue.

Over the following months, you will put a certain percentage of your income to pay back your advance.

This option is not available to everyone. To qualify, you must be in business for a minimum amount of time and earn a certain revenue each month.

Approval is easy and only takes a couple of hours. That means the cash could be in your account in just a day or two.

If your trucking business has got a steady track record, this may be your best bet. 

Final Thoughts on Trucking Business Expansion

Thanks for reading! We hope this guide helps you understand your options for your trucking business expansion.

The fast, open load matching and freight bidding marketplace of the future is here! Learn how Com Freight works and get started today.

Secure Trucking Contracts: What is a Freight Load Board and Why Should I Use One?

trucking contracts

There are 3.68 million Class B trucks moving 71% of the country’s freight across this great nation. That’s 10.55 billion tons of freight moved every year.

So how can your carrier business get a piece of that huge pie? You win trucking contracts, that’s how. But wait, that makes it sound too easy.  

When you have access to load boards, it is that easy. Not sure what a load board is? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Keep reading to learn what a load board is, how it works, and how it can benefit your carrier business. 

What Is a Load Board?

A load board or freight board is an online marketplace that allows freight shippers to post their needs. Then carriers can bid on these shipments. 

It works to create a centralized location to connect shippers, carriers, and brokers.

How a Load Board Works 

Load boards are hosted online and work as an online portal that shippers and carriers log into. Some boards require users to pay a fee for access. 

The Carrier 

We are referring to carriers, but load boards work for truck owner-operators, small fleets, and larger freight companies. The process works the same for all of them. 

When a carrier sees that they have empty trucks, they can log into the load board and look at the listings posted by shippers. They will narrow down the listings based on load size, pay offered, and geographical origin and destination. 

This allows the carrier to find the loads that fit their services. They wouldn’t want to pick up a shipment headed to California if their lanes are all focus on the east coast. 

Once they find a shipment that fits, they can bid on it. At this point, they are competing with other carriers who are also bidding on the shipment. 

Sometimes the shipper is purely money motivated. In this case, the shipper will pick the lowest bid. The carrier will need to know how low they can bid while still remaining profitable. 

On the flip side, the carrier can also post empty trucks. This is useful for when you have a shipment going to an unpopular destination. You can then pick up a shipment for the return trip and cut your operating costs. 

The Shipper 

Shippers will use the load board by posting their needs. This could be a business that delivers oversized products, such as furniture. 

They will sell their item, then post on the board where the item is located, where it needs to go, and information about the item. Relevant information includes the dimensions of the item and its weight. 

It is also vital to include if the item has any particular restrictions. This becomes important when the item is perishable or considered hazardous. Both of these types of shipment have special requirements that limit who can transport them. 

The shipper will then field the bids from potential carriers. Often, they will reach out and negotiate the specific terms. They will then choose one and move forward. 

Shippers can also browse the open truck listings. This is a great way for them to score deals. Most carriers offer discounted rates on these return shipments since the carrier made the bulk of their money on the outgoing shipment. 

The Benefits of Using a Load Board 

Load boards provide a platform to make it easy for shippers and carriers to connect. It gives carriers one central location to access potential customers. This reduces the time and labor cost of finding new business. 

Intuitive 

Most boards are easy to use. They will display all of the necessary information for you to make an informed decision. 

Up to Date Information 

The best load board will give real-time information. This way you have the most up to date information and opportunities available to you. 

If you want to stay competitive, you need to act fast and bid competitively. You can’t do this with out-of-date information. 

Affordable 

Many load boards are going to be free or charge a low amount to use. This makes them a smart investment in the future of your business. 

Mobile Friendly

If you are a smaller carrier or a driver that owns their own truck, you don’t have a lot of free time to hunt down loads. Load boards today are mobile optimized.

That way you can hunt your next shipment while out on your current shipment. Now you reduce your downtime, and as we all know, downtime means lost profits. 

Available 24/7

Best of all, load boards are up and running 24/7. You are no longer limited to business hours to call on potential shippers. 

Integration

Look for load boards that can integrate with your existing systems. Many load boards offer an API that can allow direct access to the board from your own portal site. 

This allows you to book and manage your shippers quickly and easily from one place. 

Score More Trucking Contracts

These days load boards are the go-to way that truck owner-operators and small freight fleets find new loads. It gives them one easy to use portal for finding new shipments. 

This reduces their labor costs in trying to go out and hunt down their own shipments. With an effective bidding strategy, they will have enough trucking contracts to keep their trucks full and on the move. 

After all, you aren’t making money if the truck isn’t moving freight. So stop staring at your empty trucks and start winning bids. 

Sign up today for our freight loads board and start finding loads and getting paid. 

Thanks for the Great Story Tino at NVS Transport!

Started in 2016. My Business was in a rough patch not knowing where to find loads and with who to factor with. Little by little I started getting a hang of things but factoring was still an issue. Then in 2018 I found Comfreight Factoring. They are the BEST!! Great Customer Service! They helped me with invoices issues and any load issues. Very Friendly Customer Service Rep especially Bianka- Great Rep! They have there own load board which u can find loads! They match any brokers with lower percentage payment! With ACH there is no fee and delivers in ur bank account the very next day! And so many more. What’s so Awesome I just found out there working on a Wire Transfer which u won’t have to pay any fees- Which is Awesome! I have been with Comefreight Factoring over a year now and they have treated me like family and has helped my business in so many ways it’s just Awesome! I’m proud of them and Bless them on many successful years to come!

Tino started his trucking company in 2016 and we’re so happy we helped and continue to help him grow his business. ComFreight HaulPay is all about helping the small trucking or logistics company.

We love hearing from happy customers, so feel free to share your story by emailing us as [email protected] and we’ll be sure to post your story on our blog and social media as well.

Thanks everyone!

Copyright © 2019 – ComFreight.com™

Don’t Forget the Write Offs! Tax Deductions for Truck Drivers

tax deductions for truck drivers

There is over 1.8 million truck driving jobs in the United States. And the industry needs more drivers.

There are great reasons to become a truck driver. The pay is good and there are tons of benefits like a full pension, health insurance, and a 401k. 

The downside is you travel a lot of the time. But sometimes, that travel pays off in other ways. 

Especially when it’s time to pay your taxes. Luckily, there are a few tax deductions for truck drivers most other people don’t get. 

We want to help you get a bigger refund this year. Keep reading to learn what truck driver deductions you need to know about. 

Determine Your Tax Home in Order to Receive Tax Deductions for Truck Drivers

Since truck drivers travel so much, it’s often harder for them to have a permanent home. However, if you want to claim any deductions, the IRS requires you to have a “tax home”. 

A tax home means you must have a permanent location where you receive mail. You’ll need to use that same address to pay your taxes. 

When to Use your Business as a Tax Home

Most use their regular place of business as their tax home. In this case, it won’t matter where you live. 

Your tax home also includes the whole city or general area where your business or work is located. For those with more than one business location, use your main place of business as your tax home. 

When to Use Your Home as a Tax Home

If there is no main place of business, use where you live regularly as your tax home. And for those who don’t have a regular place of business and no home you live at regularly, you’re considered a transient. In these cases, your tax home is wherever you work. 

Travel Expenses

Truck driver expenses differ depending on whether you travel for work or not. If you’re local, you can’t deduct travel expenses.

Travel Expense Requirements

To get travel expense deductions you must be away from your tax home for longer than a day’s work. You also must need to sleep or rest due to work demands while away from home to use travel expenses. 

If you return from work the same day you left and also have an hour off for lunch in between jobs, it’s not considered traveling from home. 

Common Travel Deductions

However, if you do travel for work, you can deduct expenses such as transportation to and from work. Expenses also include your meals, including tips. 

Keep in mind that there is a per diem cost for meals of $66 per day. 

Your lodging is also considered a travel expense. Always keep all of your on-the-road travel receipts. 

Keep a List 

You should also create your own tax deductions for truck drivers list to help you document the amount, time, place, and business purpose for each expense to back up these expense claims. 

Personal Necessities

Other truck driver tax deductions you can take are personal necessities. These are only items you’ll need to work on the road. 

Which means that any calculators, overalls (or other specialized clothing), luggage, log book papers, gloves, sunglasses or coolers for food are deductible. Even mini-fridges and bedding for your sleeping berth are deductible.

However, items such as gifts for your family or a new suit that’s perfect for a wedding you found while traveling for work are not deductible. 

Electronics

Keep in mind, you can only use electronics as a deduction if you only use them for work purposes. As long as they’re only used for business, you can even deduct repair costs for these items. 

Deductible electronics are your DB radio, GPS, and GPS map updates. If you have a cell phone and/or laptop you use for both personal and business, don’t worry. 

You can still deduct up to 50% for these items.  

Truck Upkeep Expenses

Keep in mind that truck driver taxes differ from others who use a vehicle for business purposes. The IRS qualifies semi-trucks as non-personal-use vehicles. 

Therefore, the standard mileage method isn’t applicable but other actual expenses for the truck are. Some common deductible truck expenses are for:

  • Fuel
  • Insurance
  • Oil
  • Repairs
  • Washing

Other expenses like batteries and tires are also tax deductible. And you can take these deductions whether you own or lease your truck.

You can not deduct any costs that are reimbursed by your employer. Also, check to see if there are any cost limitations. 

Expenses such as fuel are only a deduction if you’re paying out-of-pocket, it won’t be reimbursed, and it doesn’t exceed $100.

Fees and Dues

Most truck drivers are required to have some type of union or collective trucking group affiliation. You can deduct the dues for those memberships. 

If you’re not required to be part of a union but wish to join one, you may still be able to deduct the expense. Just make sure you can demonstrate that your membership helps with your career. 

Licensing Fees are Deductible

There are also licensing fees associated with getting and maintaining your commercial driver’s license. And these fees are also 100% deductible. 

You can also deduct any costs associated with your continuing education requirements. 

Publications are Also Deductible

If you subscribe to a trade magazine or journal and it’s directly related to your work, it’s deductible. 

Load board subscription fees are also usually a legal deduction. 

More Deductions for Owner-Operators

There are other truck driver deductions for those who are owners or operators. If you fall into one (or both) of these categories, you can also deduct the cost of your insurance premium payments. 

There are also the leasing fees for the truck and any interest payments you made on your loan. The loan must be for the truck’s purchase or any upkeep. 

Depreciation Deductions

Also, vehicles begin depreciating as soon as they’re purchased. And it’s something you can deduct. 

You can use this deduction for every year the truck is owned, used, and depreciates in values. 

Check with an accountant or the IRS to see how much you can deduct from your vehicles each year. 

Learn About All Your Deductions

While we mentioned quite a few tax deductions for truck drivers, there are still more. Always ask your accountant to see if there are any other typical deductions you can use. 

Also, always keep your receipts and document what you can during the year. You’ll find tax season is far less stressful this way. Click here to learn how to prepare for this year’s tax season

Strategic Freight Bidding: 7 Tips For Developing a Successful Bid Strategy

freight bidding

Thanks to skyrocketing freight rate hikes in 2018, many shippers are changing their strategy for 2019. Spot truck rates increased a whopping 20% from 2017 to an average of $2.14 per mile.

So how are you going to adjust your freight bidding strategy? You want to take into account the changing industry trends for both the rate and shipper bidding strategy and still remain profitable. 

Keeping reading for a guide to developing a successful bidding strategy for your commercial trucking company.  

1. Know the Market

You can’t start successfully bidding if you don’t know what the current market rates are. There is no doubt that shippers have their thumb on the pulse of marketing pricing. So you better know it too. 

Use cold hard facts and data to know the historical pricing of each lane. Then combine this with a bidding software solution. 

By combining these resources you take the manual labor factor out of the process. Your software will alert you to annual drops and raises in price for a particular lane.

That way you aren’t under or overbidding. For example, we mentioned at the beginning of the article that we ended 2018 with rates at $2.14 per mile.

But by the end of January, they had dipped below two dollars. If you aren’t keeping up with the market, then your rates will be off.

The second advantage to keeping in touch with the market is that you see trends and are able to adapt and adjust with the changing market. Remember, successful companies do not operate in a vacuum.  

2. Know Your Competitors

Before you start creating your competitive bidding strategy, you need to do your research. Find out what your competitors are charging.  

This process of knowing where you stand is called mapping your competitive position. This strategy works because it doesn’t just compare price. It compares price with the benefit the customer receives from the product. 

By doing this dual comparison you take into account that a higher priced product may be providing more of a benefit. This would make the higher price worth it in the eyes of the customer. 

Keep in mind that this is not a one-time project. Just as you change your bid strategy, so do your competitors. So this research should be ongoing. 

3. Optimize Your Bidding 

Have a conversation with your team about what opportunities are best for your fleet. What lanes do you underperform in? What lanes do you dominate in? 

Use this data to help shape your bid strategy. If you want to improve underperformance, figure out why and focus your bidding in that area. 

Or maybe you decide to cut the underperforming lanes. Then you can dedicate more resources to the lanes that you dominate in. 

4. Stay Consistent 

Whatever strategy you are your team decide on, stay consistent with it. This will be the only way to tell if it works for your company or not. 

After you stick with the strategy for a while, and you have sufficient data, then you can analyze its performance. If you find that your strategy has holes or lacks in areas, then you can address those. 

When you do decide to make changes, only make one adjustment at a time. Otherwise, you won’t know what change works and what change isn’t. 

5. Leverage a Solution to Maximize Profit 

Now that you have your strategy in place, you need a bidding platform and management solution that will help you maximize your efforts. This will save you in both effort and time. 

You will want to look for a service that can fully integrate into your other software and programs. That way you have a seamless workflow from bidding, to shipment management, to invoicing and accounting. 

6. Get Familiar with Mini-Bids 

Shippers are now using a strategy called mini-bidding. This is where shippers bid out only a small portion of their volume. This is different from years past where shippers leverage their high volume to negotiate for lower rates. 

With the price hikes though, using their entire shipping volume exposes them to a great amount of financial risk. So by mini-bidding, shippers can limit the burden of annually bidding their entire network.  

The advantage for carriers when they agree to these “surgical bids” is that they don’t have to completely redraw the lanes map every year. The extensive annual bidding process is time-consuming for both parties. 

Consider agreeing to longer than a year generalized contracts. Then more frequent mini-bids throughout the life of the contract. 

7. Don’t Assume You Have the Upper Hand 

They silliest mistake you can make is to let your guard down on an existing relationship. Just because you have a relationship with a shipper doesn’t mean that you no longer need to cultivate that shipper’s business. 

Many shippers will analyze current relationships and rates as a way of culling the budget. So be sure to make compelling bids that make the shipper feel as though you are a “value-added” service. 

Develop Your Freight Bidding Strategy

With the beginning of the year comes bidding season for the freight industry. To ensure that you stay competitive and have a strong bidding strategy you need to stay on top of industry trends. 

This means understanding both lane rate trends and shipper’s changing negotiating strategies. Carries can no longer approach freight bidding with ambivalence. 

Once you have your bidding strategy in place, you need to optimize your system. The best way to do this is to streamline your internal processes by integrating your bidding, tracking, and financial processes. 

Learn how you can integrate with ComFreight to make invoicing and load matching easier. 

Ready for Tax Season? Top Tips for Filing Your 2019 Taxes as a Truck Driver

2019 taxes

Every year, people spend approximately 13 hours preparing their tax return. But when you’re a trucker and are in charge of your own business, that number can quickly go up.

The more time you have to spend taking care of your tax return is less time you can be out on the road. This cuts into your bottom line and hurts your profits.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t shorten the amount of time you’ll spend getting your 2019 taxes in order. You just need to have the right strategy in place.

And it’s far easier than it sounds!

We’ve put together a few simple tips to help make getting your tax return ready as simple as possible.

Start Compiling Your Receipts

When you’re an owner-operator, business expenses happen almost every day you’re on the road. Everything from lodging to repairs could be a qualifying business expense.

But you can only claim them if you have the receipts to prove how much you spent. Without the receipts, you’re stuck paying for those things out of pocket.

Have a look through the cab of your truck and pull out any receipts that might have slipped beneath the seats. Once you’ve found as many as possible, start looking at the types of purchases you made.

Organize the receipts by category: lodging during forced layovers, repairs, office supplies, union dues, and work-related costs. The more organized you keep the receipts, the easier it will be to prepare itemized deductions.

If you’re an employee with a trucking company, the company should have reimbursed you for many of those expenses. If not, speak with the human resources coordinator with your company to discuss compensation.

Keep in mind that any expenses a company reimburses you for cannot be claimed as a deduction on your 2019 taxes.

Get Documents in Order

If you work as a full or part-time driver with a company as an employee, you’ll receive a W-2 to report your income. Owner-operators, on the other hand, should receive a 1099 MISC form from each company they contract with.

Both forms must be sent out by January 31. If your employer has not sent out W-2s by that date, they’re subject to fines.

For contract employees, it’s a bit different. Companies are required to send you a 1099 form if you make more than $600 on a run. But that doesn’t mean they always will.

Go through your paystubs, checks, and direct deposits and add up how much you’ve earned from January to December 2018. This way, you’ll have a clear picture of your earnings even if a 1099 form gets left out.

Check all earnings against the invoices you sent to companies throughout the year. If anything is inaccurate, try to resolve it as soon as possible.

Catch Up on Quarterly Payments

This is not necessary for employee drivers, but for owner-operators, quarterly tax payments are required.

Ideally, you should have made three quarterly tax estimate payments during 2018. If you missed one or paid less than you should have, make a larger payment for the last quarter.

Remember, the IRS charges you fees for missing quarterly payments as well as underpaying on those quarterly payments. Sending a larger payment in for the fourth quarter of the year will help you avoid those fees.

This is also the perfect time to get ready for the next year. Put reminders in your phone’s calendar to tell you when it’s time to send a quarterly payment. If possible, set aside money from each payment to cover those taxes so you’ll have it on-hand.

No one likes sending those quarterly payments in, but doing so will save you money and frustration in the long-run.

Compile Both Employee and Contractor Tax Info

In some cases, drivers switch between working as a company driver and an owner-operator. Since you get two different tax forms, it seems only natural to file two separate returns, right?

Luckily, you don’t have to. If you made the switch from employee to owner-operator mid-year, you won’t have to file more than one return. Instead, you need to include both incomes on your single return.

The same is true if you switched career fields. Your old job’s earnings should be reported with your earnings as a driver.

Figure Out Where Your Tax Home Is

A tax home is where you do the majority of your business. This means if you report to the same company in the same town for business, that location is your tax home.

If you’re an owner-operator, on the other hand, your tax home may be your place of residence.

Tax homes are how the IRS determines whether or not your travel costs are tax-deductible. For most truckers who travel away from their tax home for more than one day, those expenses will be deductible.

However, if you do mostly local deliveries, costs for food, lodging, and other related expenses are your responsibility to cover. You cannot use them to decrease your taxable income or offset how much you owe the IRS.

Don’t Be Afraid to Get Help on 2019 Taxes

Taxes are difficult for everyone, but for truck drivers, they can be even more complex. Instead of trying to handle things on your own, consider working with an experienced accountant.

They’ll take all your receipts, wage statements, and records to determine how much you owe the IRS. Best of all, they’re familiar with the tax code and can help you maximize deductions to save you even more money.

Final Thoughts

Paying your taxes on time is easier when you stay organized throughout the year. All it takes is a bit of determination and persistence. Keep track of your expenses, save your receipts, and get help from an experienced accountant if you need it.

The more prepared you are for your 2019 taxes, the better off you’ll be. Need help getting your business’s recordkeeping more organized? Contact us today and see how we can help!

The Ultimate Guide to the Ins and Outs of Freight Factoring

freight factoring

Stuck in a financial rut with no financial options left? For trucking companies in need of urgent financial help, freight factoring may be something to consider.

Not sure what that is? Let alone, if it’s right for your financial situation and business?

We’ve got you covered; read on to learn trucking factoring basics including what it is and the pro and cons that come with it.

Freight Factoring Explained

One thousand of the biggest public U.S. companies took an average of 56.7 days to pay their bills in 2017. This is up 3.4 points from the year before (2016).

So if you’re waiting for that invoice two months in you’re not alone. With operating costs adding up, a walk to the bank for a loan may seem like a good idea.

As Syracuse University professor, Kenneth Walsleben, told the New York Times (NYT) going to your local bank for a loan are long gone.

He tells NYT that small business now can turn to more creative lending options, many of which are more expensive than traditional loans. With time and more demand for creative lending, Walsleben mentioned to NYT that some of these alternative loan options have gone down.

The key word to remember? Some. What does this mean if you’re looking for an alternative loan? Research, research, research. (But we’ll talk more about this later.)

Some types of alternative loans borrowers can search for include lease-back and nonbank loans, peer-to-peer loans, asset-based lending, and, yes factoring, plus more.

So What is Freight Factoring?

Freight factoring is a type of alternative financing.

Trucking companies that are stretched thin can sell a part of their invoices to a third party (aka a factoring company).

In a couple of days, the factoring company gives the trucking business a percentage of the invoice value.

This is the biggest perk considering trucking companies might wait a couple of months before receiving that same money from the client (but read on, there’s more).

Once the clients pay the invoices, the factoring company gives the trucking business the balance. The trucking company also pays a factoring fee or transaction fee.

The Trade-Off: How Much Do Factoring Companies Cost?

Is it cheaper for trucking companies to wait for the customer to pay the invoice? Yes.

But, waiting for 14, 30, or 60 days for that paid invoice may not be an option for trucking businesses neck high in utility bills with payroll coming around the corner.

Here’s the trade-off: You pay more for access to available funds right away. Or, you save more and wait for clients to pay.

Who is Trucking Factoring For?

Like most forms of alternative loans, freight factoring is a financial option for trucking businesses that are out of options. They’ve repeatedly applied and have been denied for traditional loans from banking institutions.

They’ve opened up and maxed out several lines of credit, and have played the credit card game of opening and maxing cards.

Family and friends already have donated or loaned their business money and don’t have any more money to give.

With operating costs stacking up and a pile of overdue bills that still need to be paid, such trucking operators are out of traditional and less expensive options.

On the edge of bankruptcy, freight factoring may be an option for trucking companies to consider.

Think of it as a temporary, financial crutch to help your business get back on track.

A Possible Option for New and Seasoned Trucking Companies Out of Financial Options

Load factoring can be for new trucking companies just starting, that need financial help with start-up costs.

They can’t get a traditional loan and have already bugged family and friends for donations and loans. Let alone, they’ve depended on credit cards to get them by the start-up phase but have little to no available credit left.

It can also be for more seasoned trucking businesses that want to expand and need help to make up the financial gap. Like with the start-ups, they’ve explored traditional financing and are out of short-term options.

Thinking of Freight Factoring? Some Things to Consider

For those interested in load factoring, here are some basics you need to know.

1. Shop Around

Be it auto insurance or a personal loan or freight factoring, shop around. Get quotes from at least three, if not four factoring companies. That way, you can compare each and choose the one that best fits your financial and business needs.

2. Do Your Research

Check the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to make sure the factoring company is legitimate and has good reviews.

Search other review sites and see what prior customers have said about their service. Also, become familiar with basic factoring terms like the difference between recourse factoring and non-recourse factoring.

Just like with negotiating a car, why not use your research and many quotes as negotiating chips to help you secure a lower factoring fee?

3. Know What You’re Paying For

Does the factoring company offer non-recourse factoring, recourse factoring, or both? Which do you prefer?

A quick look in the Factoring Glossary and you’ll see that recourse factoring is a type of factoring where the third-party company does not pay up if a customer defaults on their invoice.

Non-recourse factoring is the opposite. When customers default on their invoices, the factoring company takes the loss. Meaning, the trucking company won’t absorb that loss of cost.

Usually, non-recourse factoring is riskier for factoring companies. Trucking companies that choose this type of factoring can expect to pay more.

Also, according to the Trucker’s Report, ask factoring companies what expenses your company will pay. Some factoring companies may only charge a factoring fee.

But don’t be surprised if there are other costs tacked on.

The Trucker’s Report also encourages trucking companies to ask about if the factoring company charges per load. A per load basis may be a better choice for trucking companies that don’t want to have all their invoices go through the factoring business.

Other topics to ask the factoring company include:

  • Downpayments
  • Interest rates
  • Credit scores
  • Contracts

The Takeaway

Without other financial options, freight factoring can be a great temporary financial cushion.

If considering this, make sure to do your research, talk with your attorney, and secure several quotes. Have any more factoring tips? Leave a comment below. Any questions? Feel free to contact us today.