One of the most common complaints from owner-operators and small trucking firms is the lack of access to dedicated freight. Dedicated freight can allow a small carrier to grow or an owner-operator to become a small fleet. Most importantly, it can provide a steady stream of revenue.
Shippers with dedicated freight, though, typically send those loads to larger fleets with the capacity to handle large volumes and the flexibility to adjust capacity on the fly. The result is that smaller carriers and owner-operators spend time searching load boards — as much as 10 hours per week, according to Convoy.
On Wednesday, Convoy is attempting to flip that script and open up the dedicated freight doors to all carriers in the country. The company has announced that it has rolled out nationwide dedicated freight opportunities with contracts that can last up to six months. The freight is available within the Convoy mobile app.
“Since our inception, we’ve made it our priority to maximize earnings for carriers by keeping their trucks full on the lanes they like to run, with less hassle,” Ziad Ismail, chief product officer at Convoy, told FreightWaves. “We’ve heard from owner-operators and carriers with small fleets that they want access to this type of regular, steady contract work. We knew we wanted to address this need and make it more readily available. We’ve built the offering in-app to streamline carriers’ ability to search for and bid on work that keeps their trucks full.”
The addition of dedicated freight, which comprises about 10% of all freight on the Convoy network currently, has been well received by both carriers and shippers.
“We have heard from shippers that they like dedicated freight as well,” Ismail said. “Convoy has continuously been increasing the quality of our offering. Dedicated freight leads to further increases in service levels as carriers are familiar with a facility and can operate more efficiently.”
With the new dedicated freight offering, Convoy users can search for and bid on dedicated freight contracts that provide as many as 40 live and drop loads per week. Once a carrier wins the bid, all the loads for that shipper are sent directly through the app.
Ismail said dedicated freight, which is tagged within the Convoy app, differs from current loads in that no rate is attached.
“Carriers propose and submit their bid for a dedicated contract and they are awarded the work based on bid amount and their past performance,” Ismail said.
Once a carrier has won the contract, loads are sent automatically to that carrier via email and through the app.
“As a small operation, we’ve never been able to access anything like this from the traditional brokers we’ve worked with,” said Kenia Vazquez of KRV Transport, a San Antonio-based carrier that has been working with Convoy since 2018. “Dedication gives me peace of mind that I don’t have to be constantly looking for new shipments. With dedicated freight I know I’m going to have the loads I want and that I need to keep my business running.”
Inderjit Gill of JSG Logistics in Fremont, California, said having just a handful of trucks has limited access to dedicated freight.
“Many customers and brokers will ask you, ‘Do you have 20 trailers?’ in order to access their dedicated contracts. And for us, with only six trucks, that would be impossible to secure those contracts,” said Gill. “But the fact that Convoy closed that bridge and made it possible so we could be known as a dedicated carrier on a dedicated route has saved our business during turbulent times.”
If a carrier is unable to complete a load under a dedicated contract, that load is then offered to the wider Convoy network through the app. Consistently underperforming runs the risk of having that contract canceled and losing access to future dedicated freight, Ismail said.
One unique feature of the dedicated freight opportunities is that the freight may not come from just one shipper.
“Our dedicated freight offering extends beyond just one shipper,” Ismail said. “The dedicated contract ensures they have loads to haul to and from specific metros, but the shippers and facilities will vary from day to day and week to week. Additionally, our goal with all of our offerings is to further improve the carrier experience; we believe our free QuickPay, hassle-free lumper payments and detention requests address the issues carriers face and make us an appealing company to haul for. Carrier feedback underscores that.”
Ismail said Convoy anticipates more opportunities to haul dedicated freight to become available as the offering matures.