Being an owner-operator is a choice many professional drivers consider at some point during their careers; however, this career is not for everyone. Of course, speaking to other truck drivers and listening to their day-to-day lives is a good start in seeking advice. Succeeding in the trucking industry is often more than just learning how to drive a big rig. If you are thinking about making this a successful career choice, continue reading our best tips on becoming an owner-operator!
Choosing a Non-Forced Dispatch Company
After doing some research and speaking to other owner-operators or independent contractors, you can see there is a lot of work that goes into running your own business. You must make some major decisions even before purchasing your truck. Something to keep in mind when you are thinking about beginning a business as an owner-operator is finding the best non-forced dispatch company for you. Making the right choice for a trucking company is a huge decision.
Below are some benefits of signing with a non-forced dispatch company.
- Independence – You are in control of your own business. A recruiter is available to help you learn the ropes of a non-forced dispatch system.
- Owner-Operators – 100% owner-operators. You do not have company competition; this means you will be able to haul better-paying freight.
- Commitment – We are committed to your success. We have a 2-day orientation that includes safety programs and operational support.
- 100% Non-forced Dispatch – Non-forced dispatch means you get to pick your own loads. You can go home when you want. You can spend holidays, birthdays, and even school programs with your family.
- Internet Freight System – Having an internet freight system means all owner-operators have access to loads all over the country at any time of the day. You can pre-plan your own trips. This is exceptionally great for owner-operators.
- Discounts – Owner-operators are eligible for discounts on tires and fuel costs.
- Insurance – As an owner-operator, we offer cargo insurance to protect your loads.
- Load Boards – We offer a load board to all their owner-operators that you can choose from using standards that are important to you. Using this load board has never been faster or easier!
First Time Owner-Operator
Should you be a professional driver before becoming an owner-operator? Technically, this is not a requirement, but it is a good experience to have a couple of years on the road before becoming an owner-operator. Some trucking companies hire truckers after they finish driving school with a few months of going through programs before they can be owner-operators.
Typically, drivers fresh out of driving school with a new commercial driver’s license (CDL) may want to drive with a company first to get some experience and learn the ropes of life on the road. Often, drivers want to become familiar with all the responsibilities that come with the trucking industry before diving into owning their own business and putting money into a truck.
Understanding the Trucking Business
When making a career in the trucking business as an owner-operator, you must construct a business plan, figure out your cash flow, and know your responsibilities. Your cash flow includes any expenses you currently have, such as mortgage payments, vehicle payments, and credit cards. This will give you a better understanding of what you need to make a purchase or down payment on a truck.
If you have never owned a small business before, seeking advice from a financial advisor is recommended. A professional can help you construct a successful business plan. If you are good with your hands and have mechanic experience, this can help save money on maintenance. If you are good at bookkeeping and keeping track of expenses, this can also save you money.
Purchasing a Truck
Becoming an owner-operator does not happen overnight. It takes time, dedication, hard work, and putting a plan in place for your business. Once you have a reliable plan in place, it is time to start looking at purchasing a truck. Depending on what is in your budget, you may have several different options, such as buying outright or deciding to lease a truck. Buying a big rig is a huge investment and extremely important when considering your business. Be sure to carefully explore your options.
Becoming a Businessman
One tip for becoming a successful owner-operator is understanding how to be a business owner and a driver. This means being able to put investments into your business and handle situations as a businessman should. This also means learning how to put emotions behind you or any other obstacles that may come into play. Just like any business, being an owner-operator comes with rules, and you, as a driver and businessman, must abide by them. Being a businessman includes current and future planning, budgeting money, and managing income and your team if you have one.
Being a Team Player
Although you are your own boss, you will still work with your dispatcher, working together as a team. Being a team player can help you succeed in the trucking industry. Trucking companies rely on the dispatcher to give them important and detailed information. Learning how to be a team player will also help the dispatcher do his/her job successfully.
Trusting Your Dispatcher
When owning a business and being an owner-operator, having trust in those who are vital to your business is very important. Your dispatcher plays a very important role in the business. They speak to brokers, check the route, and check on loads, delivery dates, and location of loads.
How you appear, and the appearance of your truck speaks volumes and sets the tone for yourself as an owner-operator. Those who show up at their shipper or receiver location looking messy, have not showered in days, and are wrinkled are often treated with no respect and are unappreciated. However, if you show up freshly showered, shaved, clean clothes, clean truck and trailer, others will respect you more.
Being Away From Family
Being away from your family is hard. Being unable to spend some holidays or birthdays with loved ones can be very troubling for some owner-operators. However, choosing a non-forced dispatch company can help in this area. Having a family that fully supports your trucking decision can make your time on the road easier. Keep in mind being an owner-operator has its benefits. If you know a family function is coming up, you can often plan your loads near your hometown.