As a dispatch company, we have spent the better part of the last 4 years working alongside owner operators of all shapes and sizes. Drawing from this experience, we have learned some vital tidbits of information that can help owner operators become more successful.
Get the Right Equipment
Finding the right equipment for your trucking business is essential for those just beginning their owner operator journey. As a dispatch company with many years of experience helping owner operators get started, we don’t believe purchasing a new truck to start a new business is a good idea. The cost is usually too high early on and just serves to increase stress on yourself and your business. Finding a truck that is well maintained and getting it for the right price is key. We recommend looking for a truck with 300k–400k miles on it. Once you find the right truck, it's imperative that you regularly keep up with the maintenance.
Keep a Good Reputation
This may seem like a no-brainer, but being able to reliably pick up loads on-time and deliver them on-time is very important in developing a good reputation world of logistics. This is accomplished by a good work ethic, but also by having and keeping your equipment maintained and in good shape. Your professionalism and treatment of workers at shipper facilities also goes a long way. As is the case in almost every other industry, it’s important to maintain a good standing with your business contacts. Each freight broker you haul for is just that: a business contact. They will even evaluate and take notes on your performance for future reference.
Consistency Always Wins
Being an independent owner operator comes with a lot of responsibility. Now that you are your own boss, it can be easy to slack off and take entire weeks or months off at a time. This is exactly what NOT to do because it‘s not a gigantic company you’re hurting, it’s yourself. We find that right out of the gate, drivers are stressed about all of the new bills and will typically work really hard to build up a lot of money only to get comfortable and work less. While it’s not a problem taking time off occasionally, we don’t recommend sitting out months at a time. Owner operators can quickly find themselves in a financial hole that way. Finding a healthy, consistent balance between working and taking time off will earn you a lot of money over the course of your business.
Start an Emergency Maintenance Fund
Preparing for any situation just makes good business sense. Be sure to put money back for breakdowns starting as soon as possible. We recommend building a minimum of $10k for emergency maintenance, breakdowns, or anything gone wrong while you’re out on the road. This doesn’t take as long as you might think, especially if you’re consistently hauling loads.
Work Smart & Safe
Minimizing accidents on the job can not only keep you keep yourself and others safe, but can also directly lead to more money. Like your own personal vehicle, anytime you’re involved in an accident your insurance rates can go up. With insurance rates already sky-high for new owner operators, it’s crucial to keep costs down where you can by simply driving safely and avoiding dangerous situations. Too many dings on your driving record can put you out of business in the logistics industry and is not good for your health in the long-term.
Protect Your Credit
Every business (in every industry) benefits from maintaining a healthy credit history with financial institutions. Owner operators are no different. Having access to more capital allows you to upgrade and grow your trucking company. Need a loan for equipment upgrades? Want to buy another truck and trailer to expand your fleet? These situations are near-impossible to overcome with bad credit. As a small business owner, you’ll need to be mindful of your company’s financial health.
Whether you’re just thinking about starting or already have an established owner operator business, these tips can not only increase your productivity but your financial standing as well. We hope that you were able to take something away from this and if you think it can help someone else you know, feel free to share it to them.