If you’ve been driving a delivery truck for a company, maybe you’re starting to think bigger about your career. Is hauling soda or beer around the county going to give you the life style you want? Maybe you’re thinking about long distance trucking and want to find out more about how to become an owner-operator?
3 Things to Think About Becoming an Owner-Operator
Driving a delivery truck has a special set of skills that you’ve developed over time. You know how to handle the big rig and manage the trailer. You can deliver on time and take care of the necessary paperwork. Why not becoming a long distance trucker? You can set your own hours, haul the freight you want, and build a life-time career.
Well, that’s the idea, anyway. We’d like to put suggest you consider these things as you think about a career as an owner-operator. We’re not trying to discourage you, just inform you of some truths about trucking.
1. Life On the Road
There is a lot of freedom on the road – or it looks like it. In reality, trucking is a heavily regulated industry that requires a lot of personal responsibility and self-control. We’re not talking about speeding or Hours of Service (HOS) here. We’re talking about taking responsibility for a load worth thousands of dollars and delivering it safely and on time. We don’t buy the hype that people between the ages of 18-30 are lazy and unmotivated. We think the opposite: when given the challenge, most people step up and take pride in doing it right and doing it well.
Life on the road can be lonely. When you become an owner-operator, what looks like freedom to make your own choices is often limited by delivery dates, traffic and HOS. The pay rates will be all over the map – sometimes you’ll get the golden mileage rates and more times you’ll make adequate money. You can make a good living with trucking. There are some sacrifices that will be made. Time away from the people you love. You’ll have to take care of yourself on the road when you don’t have a bathroom or a shower or bed. And when you discover you can do all these things, it’s pretty cool!
2. Life with a Truck
Once you become an owner-operator, you have to accept that the truck is a big part of your life – your financial life. Just getting started as an owner-operator means you’re buying a cab.
How you do that
- lease to buy
- get a loan from a financial institution
- borrow money from family
- save it up yourself
is up to you. (We don’t suggest lease to buy, by the way.) That financial burden isn’t small and you’ll probably worry about it every month just like a mortgage. On top of that, you’ve got
- insurance on your equipment
- your trucking bond
- fuel costs
- living costs.
You can learn the tips and tricks of life in a truck. At the same time, you get to learn time management, customer relationships and how to find safe truck parking. There’s a steep learning curve to go from local delivery driver to become an owner-operator.
3. Life as an Owner-Operator
Become an owner-operator and you’re now a business owner. Owner isn’t just about owner the rig – you’re now company president, chief financial officer – and probably janitor.
- Do you know about business?
- How to create and read a profit and loss statement?
- Do you know why you need a profit and loss statement?
Business management may not be your strong suit. You’ve got to get some kind of handle on the money management. That’s where trucking management software comes in. If you become an owner-operator, you need the software to manage the business end – to be sure you’re getting the best routings for your dispatches. To track your invoices and to be sure your maintenance is done on time. To file IFTA and IRP taxes.
TruckingOffice can help you with that. Our simple software manages every aspect of owning a trucking business, including the electronic logging device (ELD).
Become an Owner-Operator
TruckingOffice can help with the details of your business. If you want to become an owner-operator, we recommend you spend a year on the road working for trucking company. Discover the life on the road and life in a truck and then decide if it’s the life for you. We’ll be right here, cheering you on. Then when that rig has your name on it – we’ll be here to help you succeed. After all – TruckingOffice makes it easy.