Consider your maintenance schedule. Working for a trucking firm, you probably never had to think about when your rig needed regular maintenance – or how to pay for it. Or how to manage the billing, or tracking your payments, or building a customer base for future loads.
You may sign up with a company like Universal that can help you manage many of these tasks, or you might decide to go it alone. You’ve got a lot of decisions you need to make before you open an owner-operator trucking business.
Owner-operator Trucking Business Basics
Here are some of the bases you’ll need to cover to enjoy success:
- Start by doing an honest self-assessment. Running an owner-operator trucking business is demanding both physically and mentally. Self-employed truckers spend lots of time on the road, even when compared to most company drivers. They must also be self-disciplined since they have no boss looking over their shoulder or reviewing their time card. At the very least, an owner-operator should have a minimum of one-year over-the-road experience, be in good physical health, and have access to good owner operator trucking software (more on that in a minute).
- How do you buy a rig? Any method of financing a truck requires either decent credit or a lease-to-own deal. But lease options vary widely from one company to the next. A contract where the company that finances your rig and gives you loads can be rigged against you as the owner-operator. Make sure you understand what you’re getting into before signing your name – buying a truck on a lease-purchase plan from your employer puts all the power in their hands and none in yours. If you’re at all unsure, then have a legal professional review the papers for you. Then chosen wisely, a lease-to-own package can be an excellent start for your owner-operator trucking business.
- Have a plan for managing the paperwork, especially for your IFTA tax reporting. This is vital to your profit margins and your peace of mind. Fortunately, TruckingOffice owner-operator trucking software includes tools that make IFTA matters as simple and painless as possible. For example, it features a Miles by State calculator that will safeguard you from costly errors, the kind that can trigger an audit and result in big fines.
- Decide whether you’re going to run solo or have a partner. Each option has its share of pros and cons. On the one hand, having a partner can keep you on the road longer, enhancing your bottom line. It can also stave off loneliness by giving you someone to talk to during those long hours on the road. On the other hand, it can tax your patience if you and the other person don’t hit it off. Plus, of course, it means sharing your revenues. Going solo can save you from these problems, but it also means you’ll be shouldering all the burdens yourself.
- Be realistic about expenses. Sure, owner-operators draw in a lot more money per mile than company drivers. But they also pay maintenance fees, taxes, and other costs to which most company drivers never give a second thought. When crunching the numbers, don’t forget about your personal expenditures while on the road. Allow a reasonable amount for living on the road: restaurant meals, hotels, laundry, etc., while still thinking ahead for emergencies, such housing when the weather is bad or unexpected repairs.
- Take practical steps to safeguard your health. Transportation professionals deal with irregular rest schedules, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels, and sleep apnea. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to prevent these problems or lessen their severity. You don’t need a gym in order to do push-ups and sit-ups or go for a daily walk. Plus, many truck stops these days offer healthy alternatives to the usual greasy fare.
- You’ll need the right owner operator trucking software—the kind that can help you stay on top of everything from dispatch schedules to calculating and sending out invoices. That’s why you should take TruckingOffice for a free 30 day test drive. You’ll be amazed how it helps you master each aspect of your business.
That’s just the start of opening your owner-operator trucking business.
Find out for yourself what we mean by giving TruckingOffice a try starting today. You’ll soon wonder how your owner operator trucking business ever got by without it. Please contact us for more information.