The focus of this series of posts, The Keys to Owner Operator Success, is on the changes that you can easily control. This post specifically centers in on owner operator time management. As the dispatcher to many trucking industry veterans, we have found time management is the most fundamental area that you need to protect in order to be successful as your own boss. It requires close attention throughout the week, including the days you have off.
What is it that makes one owner operator successful and another go bankrupt? Although many factors contribute to your overall income, there are some fundamental principles to help ensure success.
Now before we begin, we know that there are certain things you can’t control as an owner operator. For example, if you live in Chicago, your chances of finding a higher-paying load than someone based in Amarillo are much better. That’s just the nature of those markets. You cannot change your location due to your regional freight market condition. We get that.
Delivering early in the morning is essential because it increases your potential to get loaded again. Since a bulk of the industry has a loading and unloading window of around 7AM to 3PM, it just makes sense to be empty as early as possible each day. This is a sure-fire way to vastly increase profits over time. There is also the added benefit of providing more flexibility for your e-log. For example, you get into the consignee the night before for an early morning unload and your e-log is showing sleeper birth. Technically, you don’t have to leave your sleeper birth until you are ready to leave after being unloaded. This simple change could possibly save you an additional two hours in your daily log.
The independent owner operator freight industry moves fast. Having a team of dedicated dispatchers searching for loads while you’re on your current load will eliminate the wasted time spent at a truck stop looking for loads, contacting brokers, etc. An effective dispatcher maximizes your clocktime and increases your overall profit.
Another tip that can help you eliminate wasted time is to reset your 30-minute break during loading and unloading time. After 30 minutes loading or unloading, you should put yourself off duty. In most cases, this will eliminate the need to take that same break while you’re driving. For example, you arrive to load and after 15 minutes of on-duty-not-driving, you place yourself off duty to reset the 30-minute clock.
To most owner operators, weekends are all about spending time with family and friends. However, going the extra mile and doing a little preventative maintenance on your truck will go a long way in making sure your future week is not bogged down in the shop. For example, you could have a mechanic at home go over the truck and perform simple checkups on things like grease, belts, lights etc. Routine tasks like these cannot be overlooked because when road time is consumed with them, they can cut into your money. At the beginning of the week you should be ready to roll, maximizing your profit. Using time at home to stay out of the shop during the work week is a great way to accomplish that.
Simply taking the initiative and doing just these few tricks can drastically change your income as an owner operator. Managing your time properly can be the difference between staying in business and financial ruin.
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