Long Haul vs. Short Haul: Decoding Truck Dispatching


Hello, Truck Dispatchers! Welcome, everyone! In today’s post, we’ll be discussing the difference between long haul and short haul loads in truck dispatching. This is something you need to grasp, whether you’re just starting out or are well into the journey of truck dispatching.

Understanding Long Haul Loads

As a budding truck dispatcher, it’s only a matter of time before you encounter clients seeking long-haul loads. But what exactly constitutes a long-haul load? Typically, these are loads that travel a hefty distance – think 700 miles or more. On the flip side, short-haul loads are those covering 300 miles or less. Anything that falls between these two is considered a medium-range load.

Why Drivers and Dispatchers Favor Long Hauls Now, let’s talk perks. Long-haul loads are a favorite among drivers. Why, you ask? It’s pretty straightforward: they load up once and keep the wheels rolling for two, three, maybe even four days. It’s a similar story for dispatchers. By booking just one long-haul load, you cover the truck for several days, which means less daily booking hassle for you. It’s a win-win!

The Financial Attraction of Long Hauls Here’s another massive plus: long-haul loads can be quite the payday, with some fetching as much as $5,000, $6,000, or even $8,000. That’s a tempting prospect, isn’t it? But, and there’s always a but, the per-mile rate might not be as impressive when you break down the numbers.

Bulk Buying Economics in Trucking Think of it like bulk buying at Costco. You buy more, you pay less per item. The same principle applies here. Your clients might be covering more miles, but likely at a discounted rate. And that’s not all. Long-haul loads aren’t as plentiful as their shorter counterparts, meaning they’re harder to come by.

Navigating the Challenges of Long Hauls If you do find a long-haul load, it might not meet your client’s expected per-mile rate. Consider this scenario: you find a load spanning 2,300 miles, taking your client from the East Coast to the West Coast. Great distance, right? But here’s the catch – getting them back could be a challenge. You might struggle to find another long-haul load for the return journey, or the rate might not be as lucrative, leaving your client with no choice but to accept a lower rate.

A Note on Logistical Creativity One thing to remember: this industry demands logistical creativity. There are numerous strategies to bring your client back without a hefty financial hit, but it’s crucial to be aware of these long-haul drawbacks.

Exploring the World of Short Haul Loads

The Upside of Short Hauls After diving deep into the nuances of long-haul loads, let’s shift gears and explore the other side of the spectrum: short-haul loads. The most immediate benefit? Short-haul loads mean your driver or client won’t have to venture too far. This translates to less wear and tear on the equipment and lower fuel consumption – definitely a plus in the trucking world. Additionally, being close to their starting point means they can easily swing back to their home base or service areas they prefer, without facing major logistical challenges.

Higher Per-Mile Rates: The Short Haul Advantage Now, here’s something interesting about short hauls – they typically offer higher rates per mile. Since the travel distance is shorter, compensation shifts towards the time invested in loading, unloading, or simply holding onto the load until delivery. This higher per-mile rate is often why some clients lean towards short hauls – less travel, less strain, and better pay for the time they put in.

The Catch with Short Hauls But it’s not all sunshine and roses. The flip side of short-haul loads is that they generally don’t bring in as much gross revenue as their long-haul counterparts. Additionally, the frequent loading and unloading can be quite taxing for drivers. As a dispatcher, you might find yourself booking loads daily, or in some cases, juggling two short loads in a single day. This can ramp up your workload significantly. Moreover, it’s worth noting that some clients may not be too keen on handling these types of loads due to these very reasons.

Making Strategic Choices in Load Booking

Finding the Sweet Spot in Load Booking Now, let’s tackle a critical question: What kind of loads should you be booking? It’s a choice between long-haul and short-haul loads, but the answer isn’t black and white. In my view, it’s all about striking a balance. Booking countless miles at a low rate per mile doesn’t spell a great deal for your client. Conversely, a load that offers a high rate per mile but covers a minimal distance isn’t ideal either.

The Art of Balanced Dispatching What you’re aiming for is an equilibrium where your client drives a reasonable distance at a fair rate. Ultimately, the decision lies in the hands of your client. They dictate their preferences, and your job as an independent truck dispatcher is to meet these needs effectively.

Educating Clients: A Key Role of Dispatchers Part of your role involves educating your clients about the pros and cons of each load type. While long-haul loads might seem appealing due to their potential for higher overall earnings, they often come with lower per-mile rates and less frequent availability. On the other hand, short-haul loads, while paying better per mile, might not offer the same gross revenue.

Advising on the Best Load Options It’s also crucial to highlight the availability factor. Sometimes, opting for a medium-range load might be more beneficial than waiting for the perfect long-haul opportunity. It’s a dynamic landscape, and your expertise can guide your clients towards the most profitable and practical choices.

No One-Size-Fits-All in Truck Dispatching To sum it up, there’s no definitive ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ when it comes to load types. Every client has unique goals and preferences. Your task is to engage in meaningful conversations with your clients to understand their priorities. Are they looking to cover a lot of miles at a lower rate? Or do they prefer fewer miles at a higher rate? Perhaps their needs fall somewhere in between. Whatever their strategy, your job is to tailor your services to suit their specific requirements.

Conclusion: Navigating the World of Truck Dispatching As we wrap up this discussion, remember that being a successful truck dispatcher is about flexibility, understanding, and strategic planning. Your ability to adapt to your client’s needs and market conditions will set you apart in this industry. So keep communicating, keep strategizing, and most importantly, keep your clients’ goals at the forefront of your dispatching decisions.

We hope this series has been insightful for you. Stay tuned for more discussions and tips in the world of truck dispatching. Until next time, happy dispatching!


Copyright by Roman Shmundyak December 2023


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