Stephanie Wilson

By: Stephanie Wilson on June 29th, 2023

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Navigating Power-Only Loads: Pitfalls and Strategies for Success

Business Advice | Logistics | Cargo Claims | Transportation | Best Practices | Freight Management | Freight Broker

As a freight broker, you constantly seek ways to optimize your business and increase profitability. One strategy that may catch your attention is accepting power-only loads, a service where you provide the tractor and driver while the shipper or receiver supplies the trailer.

While power-only loads can be a lucrative source of business, it's important to be aware of the potential pitfalls. Here, we'll look at the top things to consider before accepting these loads and examine strategies to make them successful.

Pitfalls of Power-Only Loads

Unknown Trailer Condition

Trailer Inspection - 6.29.23One of the main pitfalls is that you never know what condition the trailer is in. Since you are not responsible for the trailer, it's up to the shipper or receiver to ensure it's in good condition before handing it over. You could end up with shipping equipment in poor condition through no fault of your own.

To mitigate this risk, do your due diligence before accepting. Ask the shipper or receiver for details about the trailer's condition and recent maintenance. If you're uncomfortable with the answers they provide, it may be best to pass on the load.

Limited Visibility

When you're hauling your own trailer, you know what's inside it and how it's loaded. But with power-only loads, you have limited visibility into what you're hauling. This lack of visibility can create a safety hazard for your driver and others on the road.

To address this issue, ensure the shipper or receiver provides you with all the necessary information about the load, including weight, dimensions, and any special handling requirements. You should also instruct your driver to thoroughly inspect the trailer before hooking up to it.

Increased Liability

Another pitfall of power-only loads is that they can increase your liability. Since you're responsible for the tractor and the driver, you could be held liable for any accidents or damage that occurs while hauling the trailer. This liability can be significant, especially if the trailer is carrying hazardous materials or high-value cargo.

Are You Covered - 6.29.23To protect yourself, make sure that you have the proper insurance coverage in place before accepting. This includes liability insurance, cargo insurance, and anything else that may be required for the shipment.

The owner of the trailer should ensure that the hauling truck provides evidence of a Trailer Interchange Endorsement to include a Trailer Interchange Agreement and or Non-Owned Trailer Physical Damage coverage. 

Non-owned trailers are not cargo. Once their wheels begin moving on their own, they then become equipment and any damage to the trailers are not covered under motor truck cargo insurance. 

Increased Complexity

Power-only loads are more complex than traditional loads because you're working with multiple parties. You must coordinate with the shipper, the receiver, and the driver to ensure everything goes smoothly. This complexity can lead to miscommunication and delays, resulting in lost time and money.

To simplify things, ensure you clearly understand all the parties involved and their responsibilities. Communicate regularly with the shipper and receiver to ensure everyone is on the same page, and be prepared to adjust your plans if necessary.

Unpredictable Income

Unpredictable Income - 6.29.23Since you're not hauling your own trailer, you have less control over your rates and schedule. You may also have to deal with unexpected delays or cancellations, which can impact your bottom line.

To manage the unpredictability of power-only loads, have a solid understanding of your costs and expected income. Ensure you're pricing your services appropriately to account for any additional risks or complexities inherently associated with these loads. You should also have a backup plan in place in case a shipment falls through or you encounter unexpected expenses.

How to Successfully Manage Power-Only Loads

When accepting a shipment, here are some special considerations to keep in mind:

  • Do your research – Make sure the shipper and receiver have good reputations and track records of providing reliable equipment and shipments. Determine if the trailer will be empty or contain cargo. 
  • Ask for details – Request detailed information from the shipper or receiver about the trailer's condition, weight, dimensions, and any special handling requirements. This information will help ensure your driver is adequately prepared and equipped to handle the load.
  • Contract - 6.29.23Have a well-defined contract – Make sure you have a clear agreement with the shipper or receiver outlining each party's responsibilities and liabilities. This will help prevent misunderstandings and protect you in case of disputes.
  • Communicate effectively – Maintain open lines of communication with the shipper, receiver, and driver throughout the process. This will help you stay informed about any issues or delays and allow you to make necessary adjustments to your plans.
  • Be flexible – Power-only loads can be unpredictable, so be prepared to adjust your plans if necessary. Have backup options in case a load falls through or your driver encounters unexpected delays or expenses.

Unlock Your Potential with Armstrong

We understand the nuances that power-only loads present, and we provide our brokers with the necessary tools and support to navigate these complexities. By partnering with us, you can access a wealth of knowledge, established industry relationships, and a reputation built on reliability and excellence.

As you evaluate your career path, consider joining Armstrong. We foster a collaborative and supportive environment where your growth is encouraged and your potential is realized. Visit our Careers page to learn more about what we have to offer.

About Stephanie Wilson

With over 20 years of experience, Stephanie handles the intake and administration of cargo claims while also resolving emergencies such as hostage loads. As Armstrong's Claims Manager, Stephanie is also responsible for streamlining the department and fostering transparency in the claims process.