Accepting Loads to Inactive Areas


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One of the biggest expenses for the expeditor is the fuel expense, especially for empty miles. The Fuel Surcharge (FSC) is usually only for the loaded miles, so driving a lot of empty miles can substantially reduce the profit, even erase it. A lot of Dead Head miles can chip away at the profit, but it's also important to consider where the load is going. It would sometimes be better to not accept a load on face value, if you have to drive a lot of empty miles after delivery to reposition to an active area.

If you know a load is going to a bad area, you might appeal to the dispatcher. You can ask him if the area has been active lately, or if there are already a lot of trucks there. "That's not a great area to get out of. Can you help me out a little?" Asking for a bonus might make the difference. He may not offer anything additional, but if you ask, you might get a bonus. Maybe he'll say he has to offer it to others first. Maybe you'll take it anyway as is, even though you know the route has tolls, or you'll have to drive 100 miles to reposition. Maybe you're already in a bad area and this load gets you closer to a good area ... and that's better than an Empty Move or Dead Head. So, you might be considering taking it as is, but if you know it has extra expense, or it's going to a slow area, you might ask for a bonus ... or just turn it down. For example, 1500 miles to Great Falls, Montana will not make you very much money if you have to drive on your own to Salt Lake City after you deliver.

What are the inactive areas?

The areas of activity can change. It isn't always wise to judge an area by past experience. You can go to an area and sit for a few days, but that might not mean it's always that slow, causing you to avoid that area entirely. Things can change.

Generally though, the West is slow, if not dead, for expeditors. The exception might be Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Sacramento. Denver has some activity, and possibly Salt Lake City.

The Mid-West can be slow. You might easily sit for days in parts of Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, etc. Kansas City has some activity, and other areas such as Davenport and maybe Des Moines. Possibly Topeka. St. Louis is okay sometimes ... and maybe Fargo on occasion. Also, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and Little Rock. South Dakota hasn't been very active ... Minneapolis is okay, but other areas of Minnesota might be slow. Wisconsin can be okay, especially as you get closer to Chicago. That's a vey busy area ... Chicago ... and also Detroit ... active.

Texas can be great in certain areas if there aren't a lot of trucks there waiting for loads. West of Ft. Worth can be slow until you get to El Paso, which has been okay. But central Texas has activity ... Dallas, Ft. Worth ... Houston ... some in Austin ... San Antonio ... Laredo ... Del Rio ... Brownsville ... those are usually active areas ... the most active is possibly Laredo, but there can also be a lot of trucks there waiting. Also, Laredo can be busier or slower depending on the automotive industry. If plants shut down for a couple of weeks around July 4th, shipping out of Laredo is affected.

Florida isn't the best area to get out of ... asking for a bonus might be a good idea. Miami, Tampa, Orlando, Ocala, Jacksonville ... those areas have some activity, but it's also not unusual to sit for a few days. Parts of the South can be slow ... like Mississippi and Louisiana. Alabama can be okay. Most other areas in the South have some activity.

Summary of Active Areas

Over The Weekend

Even good areas can be slow over the weekend. Sitting is a part of the expeditor's lifestyle anyway, but it's no surprise to sit from Friday to Monday. Getting a motel might fit into the plans, but a load-offer still could happen. And going out of service might mean starting the week at the bottom of the board. So, the correct strategy is important. Any area could have a load over the weekend, but some of the busier areas where you especially might want to stay ready to go are: Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta, and Laredo. Again, a load could come at any time from anywhere. You might be called for a swap or a recovery where you take a load from another driver. This could happen at any time anywhere.