Use these insights to decide if you’re ready to commit to being an owner-operator.
Are you thinking about making the leap from employed truck driver to owner-operator? Despite the obvious differences of being able to make your own schedule and choose your own loads, there’s also a lot of responsibility that comes with being an owner-operator. Where a lot of freedom is given, much is earned.
At Bennett, we trust and respect our owner-operators in all areas of the business, which has directly contributed to our success. If you’re questioning whether or not the owner-operator lifestyle is for you, there are several factors you should consider before making the leap. Bennett drivers offer the following advice on some aspects of the job you may not have considered.
1. Make Sure You File for a USDOT and MC Number
2. Do Your Research
Driver Terri-lynn McNeese says it’s important to do your homework before committing to the owner-operator life. “My husband and I did our research years before jumping in,” McNeese says. “We talked to people who were successful owner-operators to learn from them beforehand.”
McNeese stresses, “No question is a dumb question. Find a mentor in the business and follow their lead.”
3. Understand Your Equipment Costs
As a company driver, a lot of the costs associated with the actual trucks aren’t felt personally. As an owner-operator, this isn’t always the case.
Truman Hardin, a Bennett owner-operator, estimates that 60 percent of his income goes back into his truck. He says, “We make great money, but what a lot of people don’t realize is much of that goes into fuel and maintenance costs.” Nonetheless, for Hardin, being an owner-operator is “a hard yet rewarding job.”
“I’ve been an owner-operator since 1974. I come from a trucking family but didn’t want to drive for anyone. Just make sure you know your limitations when it comes to the laws and be prepared to have some good stories to bring home.”
4. Have Your Finances in Order
Being an owner-operator requires some major financial planning. The truck alone costs thousands of dollars, not including insurance or other costs. McNeese says, “Know how to handle your money. That’s the one thing I would have loved someone to tell me. Know when you’re getting in over your head.”
McNeese also recommends finding a great accountant and saving for emergencies.
“Have yourself a nest egg you can fall back on. You’re doing nothing but accruing bills when you’re on the road. You’ve got to have a solid foundation and be ready for anything to happen. Not a ton of cash, but be prepared for a week or two of down time, plus repair costs if your truck needs repairing.”
5. Paperwork is Involved
Lastly, owner-operators fill out lots of paperwork. Period. Jeffrey Littlejohn, a Bennett owner-operator, says the job requires a lot of behind the scenes work to be successful.
“I like to see the machine run, so I set goals for myself and try to get better every day. Treat this job like a business; save your money and stay on top of your paperwork. It’s the difference between being successful and not.”
If you’re considering a career change, it’s time to think about joining Bennett. If you want to learn more about what it’s like to drive with us, contact one of our recruiters at 800-367-2249!