Transitioning from being a company truck driver or hauler with a lease to an independent owner-operator is not an easy task. There are notable differences between being independent and driving for someone else. Most of these differences are positive, of course. Independent owner-operators do not have to worry about dealing with confrontational dispatchers anymore, for example. But the main difference between independent truck drivers and others is that owner-operators are simultaneously small business owners. The truck is the owner-operator’s company. Therefore, it requires thinking outside the box to become successful. Here are several expert tips on how truckers can become successful as independent owner-operators:
Adapt the Mindset of an Entrepreneur
One of the most challenging tasks truckers face when becoming owner-operators is overcoming the company driver mindset. Hired truckers don’t have to worry about much other than clocking in the required miles. Owner-operators, on the other hand, face many more challenges. Rather than just being a driver, owner-operators must think about the maintenance of the truck, planning routes smartly to optimize fuel use, calculating tax payments, and much more. Truckers who want to be independent should think like an entrepreneur, not a worker.
Make a Business Plan
As small business owners, owner-operators must have a business plan. This step is just as important as the actual driving. Having a business plan is essential for assessing the finances of the independent operation. In other words, truckers should know how lucrative the driving is. It’s strongly recommended for truckers to log in income and expenditures. The business plan would also include writing down goals, such as future growth targets. No small business is complete without a business plan, and truck-owner operators are no exception.
Assess the Competition
Independent truck drivers should expect to face formidable competition from larger truck companies. One of the keys to running a successful business of any kind is to know what the competitors are doing. If a large company has a monopoly on a route, the owner-operators will have to come up with innovative ideas to drive for a profit along the same route. Knowing the competition will also help owner-operators understand where the demand lies because this is where the real profits are.
Aim for Efficiency to Increase Profits
Small businesses only make profits by being efficient. Truck driving can be notoriously inefficient, especially when owner-operators have to spend time networking, calling shippers, and making deals. Truckers should develop a system where time consumption is minimal and fuel efficiency is at a maximum. Apps like HWY Pro, developed by Bill Busbice and colleagues, is one simple tool that enables truckers to be efficient. Likewise, independent drivers should invest in the right tools and technology to maximize efficiency levels.
Last but not least, independent truckers should learn more about trucking as a business sector. There will be considerable research required to know where the industry is headed, which areas have the most business opportunities, possible challenges the sector may face in the future, and so on. Knowledge and preparedness as mentioned above are crucial to becoming a successful owner-operator.