If you’ve got a reefer and do a lot of runs hauling produce, you may find it tough getting work through the winter. You still have the same upkeep and bills to pay, but your income has slowed to a drip.
Sure, you’ve really got to budget in advance for the “off season,” but you can also get creative and try to find some loads that complement your regular business. For instance, some owner operators pick up runs hauling Christmas trees into the city to help offset the winter blues. Others work with brokers to help get holiday gifts to store shelves on time.
And don’t forget that UPS and FedEx hire extra owner-operators for the holiday season. Maybe the rates aren’t that good, but it’s better than running deadhead (or sitting idle at home). Working the busy holiday shipping season can keep you running much of November and all of December. Beyond that, you can look for special seasonal events that require once-a-year shipments, like major lawn and garden shows or flower shows in winter months.
You may have to balance a couple of lanes with good rates with some that aren’t so great, but they get you back to where you want to be. The net result is still positive.
Do a little homework and search load boards or broker boards by state. Get to know the going rate for a given commodity in a particular lane so you can negotiate effectively. You can find a lot of that information online, such as in Overdrive’s Gauges Report. Just remember to always keep it professional and make a good impression – it goes a long way toward building a new relationship. Referrals help too.
Once you get some experience with these new “off-season” runs, you may be able to build long-term relationships that will pay off next winter and the year after. With some research and creative thinking, you may be able to turn the winter blues into seasonal green.