Pilot car operators (loadboard) 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? Yes, but 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.


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.


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 carriers happy. 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.

  1. How do i find oversized loads on this site???

    • We built in a posting feature to PiloTrac but the majority of carries preferred to “click” the pins and call the number listed on them. However, we had so many pilot car companies complain that there wasn’t a jillion loads posted we pulled it down. It’s a shame really as anywhere you see that many loads actually posted for pilot cars you can bet 100% odds it’s a brokerage company. While we don’t have an opinion either way as far as this is concerned, our primary objective is to hook pilot car companies up directly with the carriers. So, it probably has worked out for the best as now all of the carrier traffic “click and call” but what a shame. One way other the other carrier management (and especially owner ops) want the pilot car industry to catch up with the rest of the world technologically speaking and all be listed in one place and preferably live (just like a truck posting board) so whether it takes on summer or 5 years pilot car companies will eventually realize live posting is the higher road. It reduces dead-head, is much more efficient and enables companies to even book their next run before their completed with the one they are currently on. We do have oversize loads posted on the site directly by customers (the loadboard) but a pilot car company trying to market them simply doesn’t work. Most of them don’t know if they need a pilot car or not, they just want to talk to a trucking company capable of shipping their giant object and a price. Anything outside of that like permits or pilot cars is just going in one ear and out of the other: “uh huh, yea. Sure. Will do and so on. The absolute best way we know of to attract the attention you want is to hustle up the dollar a week to have a home base pin in PiloTrac, create the listing with every bit of information you’d put into your own website (because that’s what it is essentially) and live post every single time you know you’re going to be available – especially during this “sleepy phase” while the pilot car companies piss and moan about this that and everything else. Eventually one way of the other it will catch on and that will be that. People looking for pilot car companies have their hands full of multi-tasking already and the last thing they want is to run a search and data mine 15 pages of results to try and locate a company that is in say Flagstaff, AZ that is available there. Sure someone (and we welcome them as diversity is awesome) could spend tens of thousands of dollars creating their own version of PiloTrac and that would be great but there’s one big problem in the end. How are they going to get the carriers to come to it? We have all of the carriers in North America using our site daily to locate heavy haul and oversize loads and in their account and phone apps is a direct link titled “pilot cars” which takes them directly to PiloTrac.com. This is the long version and I truly hope it helps you perspective wise and all-the-way around. On a different note just this week we uploaded a free mobile phone app that allows pilot cars to post their live locations to PiloTrac. This version is for iPhone users and the Android version will be uploaded to Google Play next week sometime. It takes a few days for approval but you can find it by searching the phrase “pilotrac” or “pilot cars” within the app repository you are using. Best of fortune to you D and M Pilot Car!

    • We used to have the ability for trucking companies to post loads. However, since the pilot car companies didn’t see thousands of loads posted they seemed to be mislead and think the service was no good. Turns out the majority of trucking company dispatchers, owner operators, etc. prefer to “click and call” the pins on the map. However, trucking companies with huge jobs that at times entail multiple runs are no longer up for grab by everyone but rather the pin they click and call now. No matter what you do nobody is ever happy it seems and it’s a shame.

  2. I also have a listing and I also am not getting any calls. I received two calls the very first day I was on the site but haven’t gotten one since. It’s been over a month. Starting to wonder what I paid for???

    • A month. Hmmm. I would suggest you build the king of all listings. Add a minimum of 900 words as Google suggests you do, be creative and talk about the services you offer, your history and what got you into the industry. Also use all of the photo upload spaces (or place a youtube url). Get the phone app and persistently live post every chance your available. Also consider your geographic location. Also consider that whole month you posted for cost you $4. This whole concept is new but it finally catching on and it’s rapidly moving. At the time of this response which is late as we missed your post we don’t have enough pilot cars for our carriers. It’s one of those things that you have to stick with but in the end will pay off very well. Consider this; if you book even a single run in one year it easily pays for itself. Also, you have yourself out there in front of a huge audience and the opportunities that will start to come in will be opportunities that you never would have known about had you not posted here. We promise you the more effort you put in here the better it will pay off. Hopefully your company services info doesn’t say something like: chase, lead, high pole, 1 mil insurance. That’s not putting much into your listing. This is a much more serious environment and your listing is basically a website for your company. If you need help with your listing don’t hesitate to contact us and we’ll be happy to allocate time to help you and ensure you have a rewarding future with PiloTrac.

    • Don I just saw this. I must admit it’s hard to keep up with the web comments but we love ’em and need to research a notify system that lets us know when they are posted. Ok, to address your issue;

      First know it’s not a sales pitch. It is what it is and we’ve remained that since inception. Once we changed from a alphabetical typical “directory” to a visual directory things have changed. It’s new technology and takes everyone a bit of time to adjust. However, it’s pretty clear that PiloTrac is a reasonable simple choice for the future for the broker, fleet owner on down to the single car owner. It shows potential customers not only your home base city, but where you are now or where you will have pilot cars available and customers can click the pin, book the company and everyone is happy. Some have suggested it’s designed for customers to click a different pin all the way across the map which no carrier wants they want one call and over while others have suggested it’s not for the broker or fleet. Notice however that each account is default to handle 10 vehicles so that quashes that.

      OK, for the serious customer that want’s to make money and puts all of the he-said she-said crap aside. Read the documentation and follow the suggestions. The scripting technology that operates PiloTrac is today, now technology. Meaning one yes logging in is case sensitive and all of that and yes there is a “forgot password” function on the login page. Beyond that, IF the user builds a “real listing”, meaning they upload as many photos as allowed, place in the proper keywords like: “pilot cars”, “escort”, “high pole”, “lead”, “chase”, etc. then writes original text that is lengthy (900 words minimum as suggested by Google – sorry we don’t make the rules) then the search engines are going to read that text and go “oh, there’s something here. There’s actual content. Instead of a listing that says “lead, chase, high pole and 1 million in insurance. Been in business 10 years” which the search engine then say’s “nothing here” and puts your listing on page 20. If this is done you create a “double edge sword”. One of two things happen; either that actual page will start ranking OR the actual website of the company (if they have one) will start placing amazingly better. It’s called “back linking”. This is what will start you down a path towards more customers and more opportunity.

      So, that’s one side. What about the other? The other side is traffic (your customers) are using the carrier services of WideloadShipping.com and clicks on one of the many links in their account or phone app and starts looking on the map. Just like anything else it has a tidal effect. Meaning it drifts, surges, etc. Once PiloTrac is stabilized meaning a good chain of companies across all of North America (it doesn’t need to be all of them) and there’s not blank holes in it, they’ll start using it even more and eventually rely on it whether your a broker, fleet or single car owner. So, our suggestion for any company is to stay with it and be consistent. Unless you see some new service that already has thousands of carriers like we do come up with a better system than geo-location then post every single time you leave home the date and location you expect to be empty. We have a phone app for iPhone and Android that will allow for you to post/edit/delete whatever you need to do in about 30 seconds and your done.

      Things to consider; possibly you are in a location that has nothing or very little going on. Possibly it’s not the height of season where you are located or it’s winter time or one of the many variables that comes with the entire industry. One thing is certain; if you don’t post or at least have a home base pin then you’re not going to be found in this network and there’s no doubt about the size of our network. Also the cost; while we’d love to offer free service to everyone the type of server required to run this technology is not cheap by any means. If you must know the server bills for PiloTrac average around $165 a month. Somehow that has to be paid or there’s no service at all. Paid annually at $50 a year is 96 cents a week. If you build a decent listing you’ll find this is more than easy to pay, it opens up an entire network of more business and you’re more than happy to pay the chump change to keep it. It makes your phone ring when there’s business.

      That’s it. That’s the whole nutshell. The site is full of articles that show you even more cool free stuff like how to shorten your URL so you can put your PiloTrac listing on business cards, SEO lessons so you can place higher and all kinds of stuff that not only works but works well and much of it is free. We even show you how to get a free domain name (http://www.freenom.com/en/freeandpaiddomains.html).

      We are here for ANY company that wants to succeed. We will do whatever it takes to coach every single company/person to succeed – all it takes is the desire. Like anything else your company is going to return what you put into it. Give it a lot, get a lot and so forth. The internet is a powerful tool and can take you there. We see it daily.

      I hope this has helped you in your many choices that must be made daily by all of us.

      Thank you for the comment!

    • I commented below but referred to you as “Don” pardon me!

      WLS ADMIN/PiloTrac

  3. Have listing. Not getting any calls

    • Be patient. It’s still new. Do yourself a huge favor and add as much content that you can, add photos in every slot (or youtube urls) be persistent about live posting and this will work out for you in the long run the way you want it to.

    • Hello Don,

      I got the posts mixed and sent Brad the reply but it’s the same all around.

      Best of wishes!

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