That’s a pretty funny question to ask a trucker. But for some truckers, it’s the crux of what kind of business they want to build. And that difference between owner operators and fleet builders drives many decisions in different directions.
Choosing the Road to Your Future
We have often recommended that anyone who wants to get into the trucking industry spend a year driving for a reputable trucking company before buying a rig.
What if you buy a flatbed and then discover that you really enjoy transporting liquids? You’re locked into that flatbed until you can sell it.
A year will give anyone a chance to learn the keys to being a successful driver as well as find the niche you want to serve. Some people wash out of the trucking industry quickly while others shine. They want to stay in the industry and build their own businesses.
Owner-Operator Trucking Business
The owner operator trucker is the backbone of the trucking industry. While some reports put the percentage of truckers who are owner operators at about 16%, others say over 50%. Why the discrepancy? Because some agencies don’t recognize owner operators who sign on with big trucking businesses as owner-operators.
Either way – owner operators are a significant part of the transportation world.
We’ll say that an owner operator is exactly that: a person who owns and operates their own truck, regardless of their commitment to a single trucking company or if they are entirely independent.
Life on the road isn’t for everyone, but because the trucking industry has been changing, anyone who wants to drive can find a way to make a living as a trucker. (We’ve got the details in this post:
7 Steps to Starting an Owner Operator Trucking Business
How to buy a truck is always the first challenge.
We strongly discourage anyone from signing a contract to lease purchase a truck from a company that expects the trucker to exclusively drive for them. That’s a dangerous contract. A simple computer search will bring up hundreds of stories of truckers who were taken advantage of by unscrupulous companies that cycle drivers through an abusive system.
We know that there are thousands of truckers who have successfully purchased a truck with a lease purchase contract. But we do want to warn newbies to be careful to read and understand any contracts they sign. Not all companies take advantage of their drivers.
We recommend that anyone who wants to buy a truck go through a bank or independent lending organization. Tying your truck purchase to a single trucking business takes away all of your freedom to make the business decisions that are best for you.
The freedom of being an owner operator gives them the control over the loads they will take and what they won’t. Where they’ll go and when they’ll haul.
For some people, that’s enough. One truck. One driver. Building a bigger business doesn’t interest them.
TruckingOffice PRO trucking software has the owner operator in mind with a complete trucking business software to manage the owner operator trucking business.
Owner Operator to Fleet Builder
Then there’s the trucker who wants a build a business. They see trucking as a vital part of our economy. They want to grow from one truck to two trucks to a fleet of trucks.
Building a business isn’t for everyone. It’s a lot of hard work, not just with your hands. Watch an episode of Shark Tank and hear what those entrepreneurs have gone through to start their own businesses.
In short, a fleet builder is an owner operator who wants to run a bigger trucking business.
But building a trucking business isn’t impossible. Start by getting your own trucking authority. From a business perspective, running two trucks may not be so much harder than running one.
Buying a second vehicle when you own one already means you’ve already been down this path. You know what to look for concerning financing and insurance policies. Anyone moving from owner operator to fleet builder should have a business plan in place. With a business plan to help save money toward buying another rig, getting that loan may be much easier than getting the money to buy the first truck.
I was starting out I wondered how many trucks that I need to have to be considered a fleet. No matter how many trucks you have, if you are building a fleet of trucks then you are a fleet builder!Allen Campbell, founder of TruckingOffice
It’s the mindset that’s the real difference. A fleet builder is a person who understands the trucking industry well enough to plan for a future with more vehicles. That means a business plan with a strong understanding of how to manage the finances to get more trucks and customers who need them.
The industry can use good trucking companies that treat their drivers well and provide excellent service to their customers. If that’s your goal – you’ll be a great fleet builder. TruckingOffice wants to help you achieve that goal. TruckingOffice PRO can expand as you increase your fleet from one truck to one hundred trucks. No need to learn a new system. TruckingOffice PRO grows with you.