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Pilot car operators loadboard

Pilot car operators loadboards and more.

Pilot car operators load board.

Photo courtesy of D.J.’s Pilot Service, Cotton Valley, LA

If one we’re to manage and operate a pilot car company why would one promote the use of brokers or a loadboard operated by brokers? Are brokers needed in the truck escort and pilot car industry? Well, let’s have a look at the industry as a whole. Before the internet and loadboards the only way a truck driver hauling an oversize or over dimensional load could hire a pilot car (or truck escort) company was to either hit the yellow pages or call down a list of numbers they had collected over the years. During this time pilot car brokerage companies were desperately needed in order to organize the industry and keep things flowing. If you we’re a pilot car company operator or manager your entire existence as a successful company was dependent on someone to give you more runs.

Oversize trucking and the early times.

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Photo courtesy of RockportKY.com

Then the start of the internet came. During this phase of the pilot car and truck escort industry the early days didn’t change much. Every pilot car company on the planet started building websites hoping that someone would call them with lots of work. But guess what? For most companies this didn’t happen. Why? Well the first reason is because the pilot car brokerage industry was already established. Why wade and search through web crap when all you had to do was pick up the phone just like you’ve always done? Whether or not the broker had a loadboard didn’t matter as long as one: the load got covered and two: the pilot car company took the run after the brokerage company took their percentage. One has to realize there’s not a lot of money on the table to begin with. If the run pays $1.25 to the broker and they take only 10%, that only leaves about $1.12 a mile for the pilot car company. Not real lucrative for the pilot car company operators. But we all have to eat. A small hand full of truck escort and pilot car companies did flourish during these start up days as they were internet savvy and could get their pages to show up in the first results of the search engines. However, the pilot car brokerage industry had long before discovered that advertising was everything. So they put way more effort into building their websites to maintain their positions within the industry and guess what? It worked. Still today,  20 years after the internet was born the pilot car and truck escort industry is not fully developed. They’ve got plenty of loadboards for pilot cars but the majority of the runs on them are brokered runs. A huge vast majority of the the work available to pilot car company operators and managers is from loadboards that are run by brokers.

Working with the tools you have.

Pilot car company directory system.

A directory that will suit all pilot cars is her – N0t!

Getting up to speed and catching up with technology. Many companies gave it their best shot at running pilot car directories including us. It was an honest effort but there remained a problem. With a list, no matter how you organize it, shake it up or whatever; randomly, alphabetically, last edited – someone always has to be at the bottom of the list. Not to mention all of those who are in the middle. While this was a good effort to organize the industry it was not the solution. While it did open up the industry exposing more pilot car companies directly to the oversize and over dimensional trucking industry carriers it didn’t fix the problem. It was totally random, unorganized and not energy efficient as you may have just hired a company but in many cases there was also another pilot car company that had an available driver just a few miles down the road. The industry cried for a true loadboard to be built but the technology required to do it was cost prohibitive. So while a website may have called their service a “pilot car load board” service all it really was, was a list of runs primarily posted by brokers. The same old game.

A solution for the pilot car industry is born.

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Live posting and positions that are location based.

Finally, a solution is born. With WideloadShipping.com being smack in the middle of this confusion and carriers demanding some kind of accurate place to quickly locate pilot cars we realized that something had to be done. We needed a solution to keep our carriers happy as that’s our bread and butter. Not because there’s a basket of money to be made with cranky pilot car companies because there simply isn’t.  The industry is too small and there aren’t enough companies to make significant amounts of money. Not only that many of the pilot car companies running are doing so for cut rates because they are forced to take runs that are brokered (which pay less) because that’s mostly what is readily available to them. We knew that some sort of position based technology was going to be required. Whether it involved some program that tracked cell phones on a map or involved sending a text message to some elaborate system, position based technology would be the only solution. Not only to balance out the ration of pilot cars running direct vs running for a brokerage, but to make the industry run more efficiently with one centralized location for all pilot cars. After spending months of research on the internet and dealing with computer program developers as well as speaking with hundreds of pilot car companies  PiloTrac was finally born. The concept was put on the building table in the summer of 2012 and the actual build started in April of 2013 which eventually cost over $60,000 and was not released until November 23, 2013. It drained us pretty darn good. But, what PiloTrac did for the pilot car industry by enabling a visual geo-location live directory displayed on a map instead of a list was revolutionary. Visitors can see a home base pin for every pilot car and truck escort company in North America displayed on a live Google map. Thus making the industry more efficient by being able to actually see where the company has equipment located in relationship to where you need service. Pilot car and truck escort companies can also post their available locations live as well so oversize trucking company drivers and dispatchers can see where pilot car companies have equipment available today as well as in the future. Yes, into the future. Here’s how it works. Let’s say a pilot car company takes a load to Kansas City that will deliver in 8 days. That pilot car company operator can then post that pilot car as tentavely being in that location on that day so oversize trucking dispatchers can see them and book them for use either ahead of time or on the fly the day they need them. It’s a win-win slam dunk for everyone involved but will take some time to get everyone on the same page so users should be patient and consider it’s only $1 a week to use. It’s connected to the largest network of heavy haul and oversize carriers in the world so little by little everyone will get used to it. We’ve already heard fantastic success stories and are very pleased with the build overall. Mobile phone apps are available for download on iPhone or Androids so companies posting to the map and change/edit/delete their postings as needed from the road on the fly.

Now, to fully address question the idea of brokers being needed in the pilot car industry. Yes they are. At least for now. They’re still essential to the oversize and heavy haul trucking industry. Not every company can have a contact in every place nor can they book themselves every single run they make with PiloTrac. However, the percentage ratio of pilot car runs that are brokered is simply way too high. The industry needs to even itself out with the pilot car companies dealing direct with the majority of the runs that are available –  not just a hand full of brokerage companies as it’s simply not a fair way to handle everyone. Diversity and equality is what makes this great nation so great!

Your comments are welcome below.

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