Published February 23, 2023

What is drop-and-hook freight?

Trucking companies and their shipper customers are always looking for ways to be more efficient and reduce operating costs. An opportunity to do that can have significant impacts, is during the process of loads being delivered to or picked up at the dock. At this point in the process everything needs to go right to ensure loads move on time and no delays occur.

One of the most effective ways to gain all the benefits for both carriers and shippers is through a procedure called “drop-and-hook.” If you are unfamiliar with the term, drop-and-hook describes a way of picking up a truckload of freight differently than how a typical live load works. In basic terms, it describes when a driver must wait on-site for the freight to be loaded into their trailer. Conversely, the driver doesn’t have to wait for a pre-loaded drop-and-hook trailer. Here, the driver arrives at the shipper’s facility, and their empty trailer is “dropped” in the yard to be loaded later. The driver can then “hook and go” with a trailer that’s already loaded and get on the road. Below we’ll explain the advantages of dop-and-hook loads for both carriers and shippers.

How does the drop-and-hook work?

For drop-and-hook to work, there needs to be a lot of coordination between the trucking company and the shipper. When the two can work in sync, the benefits far exceed any extra effort.

The goal for the driver is to make the process as quick as possible. Time is money for drivers; the less time they spend at a dock, the better. The process isn’t always perfect, and there can be delays for the driver if things don’t go according to plan due to other issues out of their control. For example, loaded trailers might not be ready or in the location the driver was expecting. Or, it could be hidden behind other trailers or even stored in an offsite lot. Drivers may need help from the facility to move it into a position where it can be accessed. Loaded trailers can also be challenging to hook up due to equipment issues. Many drivers, however, will say any of these issues are worth it if they can avoid waiting around for loading and unloading at the dock. Once a process for communication is worked out between the carrier and shipper to keep track of what equipment is on-site at the facility, and for what load each will be used for next, the benefits start to emerge.

How is drop-and-hook different from live load?

Finding drop-and-hook opportunities is not easy at the beginning. As we already noted, it takes a consistent volume of freight from a single shipper to sustain itself and ensure an adequate flow of trailers are making it to the facility for preloading. The problem is that not every shipper can offer this. Or, if they do, they may be unaware of the benefits of drop-and-hook to their operation. This means it’s sometimes necessary for trucking companies (smaller owner-operators and large fleets alike) to be proactive in finding these mutually beneficial opportunities.

The best place to find drop-and-hook arrangements for carriers is often by talking with companies near their headquarters or terminals, so there is easy access to equipment and drivers. Remember, the shippers benefit as much as you do with the arrangement, yet they may not be as aware of what they stand to gain—so it’s on you to help them understand.

Loadsmart gives carriers access to drop-and-hook loads

Another tactic is to rely on drop-and-hook load boards which allow trucking companies to find shippers who already understand the many benefits of having trailers spotted at their facility. This is a quick way to establish this type of load volume. The good news is that this opportunity builds on itself, so that carriers can become reputable as the best drop-and-hook trucking company in a city or region.

The benefits of drop-and-hook freight to trucking companies and shippers are significant and address many challenges both face related to creating more operational efficiency. This includes better utilization of employee resources and fixed assets (e.g., tractors, trailers, warehouses, and dock space).

Phone Icon
(646) 887 6278