• Tread Talk

How to Build Relationships with Direct Shippers for Your Trucking Company

Updated: Sep 14, 2020

To run a successful trucking company, you need to know where to secure your freight from. Whether you are new to the industry, run a fleet, or work independently, you want the best for your business. So, you're not going to just want any freight - you will want to secure high paying freight from reliable sources. Many companies get their freight through brokers and load boards, BUT another great options is getting freight through direct shippers. The top things to remember when building relationships with direct shippers is WHO, HOW, PREPARATION, POSITION, AND CONNECTION.

HOW to connect with direct shippers

Regardless of whether you are new to the industry or are an established fleet, it is your responsibility to build relationships with shippers. It is easier for businesses that are established in the industry to build relationships with shippers as they have a reputation and a published safety score. They also know their company's demand on hauls to discuss with the shippers.

For new entrants, it is a lot harder to build relationships without a published safety score. To build your reputation up, haul as many loads as possible through load boards and brokers until your score is published and direct shippers are willing to work with you. Meanwhile, contact small, local companies instead of large corporations. It is more common for a smaller, local company to take a chance on a new owner operator than a larger, more established one. And it will help you get your foot in the door and make connections. Some factoring companies, like us, put our clients in touch with direct shippers who are willing to work with new owner operators to help them succeed.

PREPARATION is key to build relationships

Preparation can go a long way when building relationships with direct shippers. When you're prepared, you'll have everything in order as a business owner, and you will be ready to negotiate the needs of your business with shippers.

Build a marketing plan for your business that answers the following questions:

  • What businesses do you plan to target and how will you get in contact with them?

  • How will you sell your services to the direct shipper?

  • What is your hauling capacity?

  • How many direct shippers do you want to work with?

Know your profit range:

  • You need to know how much you plan to make from your business before you're able to negotiate freight rates

POSITION yourself within the industry

It is key to position yourself in the industry as a professional business owner. You must make sure you have all your permits and regulations, insurance, a required DOT, and a business name and email for your trucking company. Having all these things will prove to direct shippers that you are professional within the industry and are ready to haul.

CONNECT with shippers

Develop a plan to get in touch with direct shippers to build relationships with them. Two ways to contact shippers are:

Cold calling

  • Know who you're going to call and what you're going to say

  • Keep to the small, local companies to reach out to at first and then tell them why you're the best at what you do


  • This is where you can really build your relationships. Meet and talk to people at the truck stops on your hauls and talk about where they find freight, who is reliable etc.

  • Get involved with associations and groups to network in as well

There is no middle man with direct shippers, meaning there is no broker commission or additional fees. If you haul loads through a broker or a load board you won't make as much money as if you haul loads for a direct shipper. You also are not able to negotiate the rates that work for you and your business. When working with direct shippers, the negotiations are made between the two of you to what best suits you at the time.

Know WHO you are working with

It is very important to know who you are going to be working with. You don't want to work with shippers that have bad reputations or aren't recommended. Check their credit scores and reviews before making any decisions.

Once you have established relationships with direct shippers, the rest will fall into place. And if you need additional helping in consistent cash flow, contact Porter Billing Services to find out how we can help your business grow!

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