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Wednesday 27 May 2020
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Becoming Big Rig Owner-Operator

So, you think you want to buy a truck and be an owner-operator.

In good economic times, it’s a bad idea.

In the current economic climate, it’s now gone from a *really* bad idea, to just a “you’re nuts” kind of bad.

You might say to the two previous statements, “But Truckie-D, you’re an owner operator”. Yup. Sure am. Have been for a long time, which is why I know it’s a bad idea — at least it is for most people.

So, here’s the rundown on being an owner-operator, or o/o for short.

Have I mentioned it’s a bad idea? Well, if you’re determined to do it, here’s the scoop.

First, if you don’t have experience driving a truck, go read my page on being a truck driver. Get hired somewhere, then come back here in a year or so. Do NOT get sucked into getting trained and buying/leasing a truck immediately.  That’s a recipe for going broke quickly.  Trucking as an owner-operator is a whole lot more than just “steering and gearing”.  The important point to remember is, you’re not buying a truck — you’re buying a business.  You need experience in the trucking business, and some general business experience if you want to be successful at it.

Can you read a profit and loss statement and make sense of it?  Can you do a cost/benefit analysis of adding an APU to your truck?  If the answer is no, you might want to consider getting some basic business education, or at least read a book or two or ten on the subject.  There are also courses designed specifically to educate new owner-operators on the business aspects of trucking. While there are management and accounting services that can help, YOU are the one ultimately responsible for the operation and profitability of your business.

Ok, if you’ve made it this far, here’s the rundown.

As I say in my page for prospective drivers, trucking isn’t for everyone. This goes double for being an o/o. There are *lots* more headaches and responsibilities than being a company driver. I know many successful company drivers who have no desire whatsoever to own their own truck. They’d rather not deal with the extra work and risk involved.

The first consideration is, are you going to lease to a company, or be a true independent?

There are advantages and disadvantages to either way. For a first-time o/o, I’d forget about going the whole way to complete independence. Yes, if you have your own operating authority, you’re collecting 100% of the gross revenue on each load, but you’re also picking up 100% of all the expenses too — and there are a *lot* of expenses. In the current freight environment, I very strongly recommend against this approach. *Way* too risky.

That leaves us with discussing leasing on to a larger company. Especially for a first-time o/o, this is a far better way of doing it, since it gives you a support system. Depending on the company, it may be better or worse, but at least it’s something.

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