how to be an owner operator trucking business

    The 6 Steps to Becoming an Owner Operator

    Regardless of whether you’re a starry-eyed rookie driver or a grizzled veteran with a million safe miles under your belt, you’ve at least considered the possibility of giving up the security of a guaranteed weekly paycheck for the chance to live the entrepreneurial lifestyle as an owner/operator.  This is an achievable goal, but before you pick out a new truck and kick your current employer to the curb, you need to ensure that your ducks are in a row and you have set yourself up for success in what is a highly-competitive business environment.

    In order to put yourself firmly on the road to success, there are a number of critical decisions and self-assessments that need to be made.  While failing to take all of these steps doesn’t guarantee that your new venture is destined for the trash heap, following this roadmap does dramatically increase the chances that you will look back on this time with fond memories.  So use this guide as a general framework around which to build a profitable, self-sustaining business.

    1. Personal Assessment

    Taking a good, hard look at your work ethic, habits, and other factors can yield solid answers about the likelihood you have of succeeding as an owner/operator.  Do you like to spend weekends holed up in truckstops watching races or ballgames, shooting the breeze with other drivers for hours on end, or trolling around on the Internet?  If so, you may not be cut out for the rigors of truck ownership.  Some of the personal factors you will need to examine include:

    • Driving Preferences – How hard do you like to run?  Do you prefer to maximize your available hours so that you can run as many hours as possible or is it more important to you that get a choice parking spot and a place in the buffet line while the food is still fresh?
    • Hometime – If you prefer weekends at home regardless of what that time off might mean to your take-home pay, you might be better off remaining on the company payroll.
    • Family Considerations – Do you have special family considerations – such as a spouse with a strange work schedule or shared child custody – that heavily restricts when you’re available to drive?  While it’s possible to successfully manage these issues, there may be times when hometime may have to be sacrificed in order to remain profitable.
    • Health Considerations – Is your health generally good?  While you may have a current medical card, do you have health conditions that will get progressively worse over time?  If so, you might want to remain on the company payroll as an employee because serious health problems can strike a death blow to your business if you’re not financially prepared.
    • Insurance – Do you need employer-sponsored health insurance or do you have a spouse that has an employer plan that covers you?  If not, in most cases, you’ll discover that insurance can be a costly expense that might be beyond your reach (depending upon your health, age, weight, and other factors).  Pending health legislation might change that, but until all the details are worked out there’s simply no good way of knowing how it could impact you.
    • Short- and long-term career goals – What are your goals?  Are you a “lifer” or do you plan on eventually moving into a non-driving position?  If you’re planning on making a move within 3 to 5 years, you probably shouldn’t plan on becoming an owner operator.  However, if your long-term plan is to stay on the road as long as possible, your plans could very well include becoming an owner operator.

    These are just a few of the practical considerations that you need to think about before making the decision to become an owner operator. By honestly assessing your personal wants, needs, and goals you can ensure that becoming an owner operator passes the compatibility test and is in your best interest.

    2. Financial Considerations

    Your finances impact every part of your life – and will be a critical component in your eventual success or failure as an owner operator.  To help ensure that you’re realistically ready to make the leap into full-fledged truck ownership, it’s important that you examine your financial house to ensure that everything is in order.

    • Personal Budget – While some truck drivers tend to think that budgeting is the thought that goes into allocating how to spend their last $20 – three days before payday – it is really much more.  A personal budget is a financial lifestyle that allocates money equitably to all of your bills so that everything gets paid and you don’t have to resort to selling your CB for $10 in order to keep from starving.  Getting a handle on all of your income and expense items, creating and living by a reasonable budget, and planning for a rainy day by setting aside a little bit each week “just in case” is not only wise – it’s critical to your financial health.
    • Eliminate Excessive Debt – Setting yourself up for success as an owner/operator might sound easy, but it can be a challenge, particularly if you’re carrying around excessive debt.  Like most Americans, truck drivers tend to carry too much credit card debt, and it chokes off your ability to borrow money for business purposes – and is too frequently the way some truck drivers finance their road expenses if they have a short week.  By eliminating most of your credit card debt, you can reduce the amount of money that you have to earn each week, which can improve your bottom line, as well as your chances of succeeding as an owner/operator.
    • Emergency Fund – What will you do if you get sick, have a true financial emergency, or need to access cash in a hurry?  If you set aside 3 to 6 months of your living expenses, you won’t be dependent upon your dispatcher for cash if something comes up.  This is especially important when your dispatcher slips out the door for lunch on a Friday afternoon and then goes AWOL for the rest of the weekend –leaving you high, dry, and penniless until he or she returns the following Monday morning.
    • Disability Insurance – It’s important that you get disability insurance, especially if you plan on becoming an owner/operator.  If you get sick or injure yourself, you will need cash for everyday living expenses as well as having the means to continue making your truck payment while you are out of commission.  You may have an emergency fund, but that money will be siphoned off in record time – especially if you have a truck payment to make each month.
    • Life Insurance – If you have dependents or other financial obligations, you need to have some life insurance in place to pay these debts and provide for the future financial needs of your loved ones in the event that you exit stage left before you are old and ready to step into eternity.  Term life insurance is extremely cheap and is a much less expensive alternative than signing up for credit life insurance for your truck loan.
    • Credit – Finally, your overall credit situation paints a vivid picture about the overall state of your financial health.  Just as your blood acts as the conduit for transferring oxygen throughout your body, your credit rating affects your ability to access the capital you will need for equipment, fuel cards, credit cards, etc.  Before attempting to obtain truck financing, it is important that you eliminate or minimize any hurdles that could prevent your credit application from being approved. Checking your credit report for inaccuracies, clearing any judgements, unpaid bills, and ensuring that you aren’t carrying too much personal debt can improve your chances of being approved for truck financing – and achieving your goal of becoming an owner/operator.

    3. Go Independent – or Lease to a Company?

    One of the most important questions that you need to answer is, “Do I truly want to be independent or do I want to lease on to a carrier?”  While the answer to this question is neither easy nor short, there is a right answer.  Unfortunately, this is a decision that can’t be made for you.  Because no two truckers are alike, you will have to weigh the pros and the cons and make the best decision for you and your trucking business.

    Some truckers would prefer to be beaten about the head with a hammer than give up their independence by leasing onto a company, while others prefer the security of knowing that they will have a more consistent base of freight from which to get loads.

    Major benefits of being an independent owner/operator are that you can:

    • Select the loads and lanes that best suit you and your lifestyle
    • Not have to deal with company politics, dispatcher favoritism, and policies with which you might not always agree
    • Decide when you run and when you don’t
    • Take responsibility for load selection and not face possible dispatcher retaliation for refusing a particular load that might not be to your liking

    However, leasing your truck onto another carrier has some advantages as well:

    • Access (in most cases) to company-provided fuel cards, advances, and money transfer systems
    • Company-provided trailers
    • Load and freight consistency (and more loaded miles)
    • Access (in most cases) to fleet rates on the insurance you will need to operate your truck
    • In many cases, company-paid or reimbursed tolls, plates, and permits
    • Not having to worry about obtaining your own operating authority

    These factors will weigh heavily on your decision-making process because they will also impact the income you can generate with your truck.  Leasing onto a large carrier usually means that you will earn less per mile with your truck, but in many cases that deficit can be partially absorbed by reduced deadhead miles, less sitting around waiting for loads, and company-negotiated pricing discounts on certain items such as fuel, tires, and parts.

    The only way to know for sure which way is best for you is to crunch the numbers and see how things turn out for you.  Because no two drivers are the same, this is your decision to make, based upon a massive list of factors and variables that can vary from company to company, driver to driver, and even day to day.

    4. Equipment

    The type of equipment you choose to run, the type of operation you have, and the way you drive will be a determining factor in your profitability.  You might prefer the sleek looks and the classic styling of a long-nosed Peterbilt or KW, but can your business afford to look good at the expense of profitability and fuel economy?

    Other factors to consider include:

    • Age of truck (including mileage, warranty, and amenities)
    • Your area of operation
    • How long you’ll be out (more frequent trips home generally means you might be willing to forego some creature comforts in exchange for a lower price)
    • Fuel economy

    There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to being an owner/operator and selecting the equipment that you will operate.  Horsepower, torque, transmissions, engines, driving style, and the cost of tea in China (OK – that might be a stretch but you get the point) all contribute to your bottom line, but the habits and driving style of the the man or woman behind the wheel can also play a huge role in profitability.

    5. Legal & Accounting

    In order to become an owner/operator you will have to choose a business structure for your trucking business and plan for taxes.  Because so much goes into this process that is dependent upon specific professional advice that can only be given based upon your specific situation, you will need to locate qualified professionals that can provide you with sound advice that can help to ensure your success.

    6. Before You Buy Your Truck

    This article is designed to guide you through many of the decisions that you will need to make in order to succeed as an owner/operator.  Give careful consideration to each item and make the decision that you feel is right.

    While there are a lot of truck drivers making the determination that now is not a good time to become an owner/operator, thousands of truckers have found a way of remaining profitable – regardless of a sluggish economy, low freight rates, and high fuel costs.

    There is money to be made in the trucking industry if you make sound business decisions and with common sense, sound planning, and a little luck, you might be one of the thousands of truck drivers living your life’s dream as a profitable owner/operator.


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    { 56 comments… read them below or add one }

    Keith Johnson January 1, 2010 at 2:49 am

    I found your information very helpful and informative. Thank you

    Reply

    Larry Payne January 1, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    Thank you for helpful hints that you give on how to become a O/O . Me and my wife has had this dream for yours now. But i cant seem to get anyone to realy talk to me about starting my own Buss. Iam 47 yrs. old now i think it is time for me to do my own thing know. Just keep wrighting more . Agin thanks Larry Payne

    Reply

    Virginpacific May 19, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    I have my own Authority and here are some of the extra workloads that will be put on you.
    One important think was left out in this article. If you go alone with your own operating Authority be prepared to have at LEAST $30,000.00 in CASH. If ONE customer don’t pay for 60 days and some take 90 you better have more. That cash flow should be at a low interest and not use a CREDITCARD to operate. at 20%.
    Your workload will go up by at least 20-30% making extra phone calls filing IFTA. Filing report that are required by FMCA . Pay for x border transponders. Cargo Insurance. TRailer $50,000.00 Trailer Ins.
    If your truck have a serious mechanical breakdown on the rd. Like a clutch, You better be prepared to have the cash right there to pay for it. The company that you drove as a lease operator will no longer advance the money. Before your receivable was collected by the company, now it is your problem and you better hope you get paid. Yes I know all about Factoring. Factoring is the MOST expensive way of collecting receivable and if the company don’t pay them YOU are still responsible. In My opinion Factoring is a RIP OFF. To go alone sound good but with ONE truck it is a uphill battle.
    For me it has worked out really good but I had very good contacts before I started and service the oil Ind.
    Just make sure you will have good customers before you start and don’t be afraid to say NO to a load.

    Reply

    Odell December 17, 2014 at 11:07 am

    Thanks for that information V.P. Im 42 years old and has been driving now for 7yrs. I wanted to become an operator from the beginning but I know experience is better before hand. I plan to start out with a used truck under 3 or 4k miles @ $25-$30K. MY question is would you recommend leasing to like Ceva/ Landstar or starting out with my own Authority. . Thanks

    Reply

    Holly M. Rafford January 2, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    I am thankful for the information. I have had my cdl for a year. I have the opportunity to be a co-driver with an O/O. I plan to run with him for about a year to continue gaining my experience, while learning how to make a truck profitable. I will also learn how to deal with brokers.
    I also have a 4yr degree in business, which will help. I also plan on joining both OOIDA and WIT. I also have found a bookkeeper who specializes in trucking.
    I understand the concept of setting goals and delaying gratification. I had to do that while putting myself through college. I also do not have a lot of credit card debt; I have only one card through my bank.

    I have not decided if I’m going as an independent driver or lease my truck to a company. Of course, that decision will be made easier if I get married.
    After a year, I plan on purchasing my truck. With God, all things are possible.

    Reply

    Jay January 4, 2010 at 11:13 am

    As a new part of this great world of transportation it is comforting to know that there is still people out there that want to help instead of hurt you for there own personal triumphant’s while watching you crash and burn ! Bravo for being such a force of knowledge! And Bravo for wanting to share with positive reflection instead of slamming a door in ALL OUR FACE’S

    J.J.

    Reply

    big al January 5, 2010 at 9:22 am

    the house always wins,if it was a fair shake the army wouldnt be in business

    Reply

    RONNIE January 11, 2010 at 8:58 am

    YES YOU ARE RIGHT WITH GOD ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE
    I PLAN ON BUYING MY OWN TRUCK GET MY OWN AUTHORITY
    TO RUN AS I PLEASE CUT OUT THE MIDDLE MAN(COMPANY)
    GET PAID A PERCENTAGE OF LOADS NOT MILES
    SET UP MY OWN MAINT ACCT AND FUEL ACCT
    ETC.

    Reply

    RicKRock January 13, 2010 at 2:26 am

    I found your information helpful. I’v known for along time that Transportation is my life. I’ve been in trucking for 11 years now. My father was a O/O he was the one that turned my attention to the broker. I’m currently a company driver and tired of the BS plus I’v been topped out so I’m not really going anywhere. I feel real confident about everything. I have shippers lined up and will get even more. I’v been planning to start a trucking company on my own and I feel that having my own truck is what I need to do. My plan is to build a shipper data base and in the process build relationships. I will get my own carrier and broker authority building my cash flow and be a full-time Brokerage with my own fleet. I will do this all my self. I will tell everyone that in this Transportation Industry shippers are the key to success, but just as risky as making a jump to O/O so is the other part of transportation. (Logistics) I like a challenge and I think a lot of O/O operators don’t know what there doing. Those are the guys that go upside down and get out of the Industry. You as a O/O have all the resources to be as successful as you want. If you don’t believe me GET OUT MY WAY AND LET ME SHOW YOU HOW A REAL TRUCKER DOES BUSINESS.

    Reply

    Debby December 25, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    Great Mind Set! That’s what it takes to be successful. We started our own freight hauling business a few months ago. Expedite loads pay the most. Seems to be the best for us.

    Reply

    hank wilbur January 14, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    well if the dot treated me and all the rest of us fairly . im talking about fines when you have a light out or brakes that need some work or any problems with the rig. you got to understand that everone that drives will know if thiers a issue with the way the truck handle. none of us or you would drive risking our live, k so if work is slow its hard to keep your truck in top shape cause the funds are not there. so what im trying to say is the new point system is stupid. lets all work on these issues together and we can do more,mmmm did anyone understand what i was trying to say. ok bye

    Reply

    Joseph January 28, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    Good point. This was a point not mentioned in the article; some of your money will be going to the state through the guys driving the black and white 4-wheelers… Some times they’ll pull you over going down the road but most of the time they’ll pull you over at a weigh station just because your an o/o..

    Reply

    calvin boxley January 14, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    iam just getting started i want to get my own mc but iam new to this so should i go with a company or go on my own what is better lost va

    Reply

    mrba trucking January 22, 2010 at 9:04 pm

    Thinks for all the information. I have my own truck, authority,insurance(all type)mistake i made.Make sure you deal with a truck insurance company.I spent 29 years working on the space shuttle in corp.Things started to go down and my son was driving trucks out west to far from home so we went in business to gather.I will continue to read as many comments as possible.I need all the help i can get.We only been in business about 2 months

    Reply

    JEROME DAVIS January 22, 2010 at 10:10 pm

    YOUR INFORMATION WAS INFORMATIVE, ESPECIALLY THE INFORMATION CONCERNING O/O OR LEASE PROGRAMS. O/O NO BENEFITS IN SOME SITUATIONS, LEASE PURCHASE PROGRAMS YOU CAN RECEIVE OR HAVE COMPANY BENEFITS. ON THE OTHER AT THE END OF A LEASE YOU CAN GIVE THE TRUCK BACK AND WALK AWAY INSTEAD OF TRYING TO FIND A BUYER FOR YOUR TRUCK IF YOU TOOK OUT A LOAN TO PURCHASE A TRUCK.

    Reply

    Jim Sanderson June 5, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    Excellent information and advice. Thanks.

    Reply

    Dan kennedy July 7, 2010 at 11:48 am

    Excellent to the point common sense article. There is a reason companies are constantly trying to out sell one another to drivers. The bottom line is indeed thier bottom line. The rates are all the same the profits are from the best managed outfits from the big office to dispatch to the drivers. Thank you for the outstanding article.

    Reply

    Frank Marino August 2, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    Very informative information. I am 62 years old and just beginning to research the possibility of becoming an O/O. In spite of being just about at retirement age I must continue to generate income. I drove tractor-trailers as a young man for 12 years. I feel confident that becoming an O/O will be a good thing for me. I have a good basic knowledge of the trucking business and, with web sites and articles like this one out there to help gives me more confidence and motivation. Thank you, I will continue to check your web and articles.

    Reply

    eclipse November 13, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    I started as a lease operator worked a whole year with no pay because I hauled Trade Shows and the Mayflower back then sold me a horrible cab-over it needed an engine ac work and a tire but they just told me to just go ahead and buy two. It needed a seat the older seat pit me in the hospital due to a back spasm! Ok after that I went as a company driver for a long time and well after 13-14 years I just had enough of these companies turning trucks down to the dangerous 62 mph zone and I just bought me a good truck from a dealer that some drivers think is a bad choice but they are really good people and they are paying for my computer system to be repaired and so LY little 2004 will very soon be on the big road making a living doing it mu way at a company that many drivers (again put down) they too are good people. I guess I AK blessed or got a hard head or I’m lucky and so guys after all this I learned a few things. Don’t buy or be roped into a lease purchase and if these guys post b5 stuff about a company take it with a grain of salt because Sdrivers sometimes look a

    Reply

    AgentP January 5, 2011 at 11:00 am

    Yes, good info. My reason for considering O/O is company driver politics. I currently work for a company with a Teamster’s contract that’s a joke. Steady work, 60 mph truck, zzzzzz…. every electronic satellite tell-all device that allows the safety manager to openly humiliate good drivers on a daily basis by posting speeding percentages on a bulletin board. I have a good driving record….no accidents….one speeding ticket in my personal vehicle. No reckless behavior in a commercial truck. I make a fairly decent living driving 2,500 to 3,000 miles per week, and give alot back to the company in the form of unpaid miles….atleast 200 per week. (PC-Miler crap). But I get the impression that the company could care less about me or my family, and the union doesn’t back the drivers on the harassment issues. Companies talk about safety, but put the drivers asleep on the interstates. Turning a 550 mile run in 11 hours of driving shouldn’t result in a layover….costing me time from my next day’s run/pay.

    Reply

    AgentP June 21, 2014 at 1:13 am

    Oh damn….did I really say all of that? lol.
    TMI……TMI…..
    I think the reason alot of people get into trucking is thought of freedom, and not having a boss
    looking over their shoulders after punching a timeclock. That’s just not the case anymore….we all are depending on whoever pays for our services.
    There are issues to deal with in all aspects of life, including a business relationship. If you don’t have what it takes to survive as a company driver, my guess is, you’ll really be flustered trying to run your own trucking business!
    Hell, first things first….learn how to read and write and do basic math. Not trying to rain on anyone’s parade but……trucking is alot more than holding a steering wheel.

    Reply

    BurmaBoy March 12, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    Your article is good, but THERE IS MORE TO IT.
    I have my own truck, and now have all the CREDENTIALS needed to be an OWNER / OPERATOR.
    I could not find any source that has the STEP BY STEP and ADVICE to get started.
    I even agreed to give the owner of a trucking co. “5 cents a mile” for his knowldge and run for him as told, using my own AUTHORITY. He turned out to be USELESS, before I started.
    Like some of you, I have had my own computer company, and owned two other busines and have a Ph.D.

    I drove heavy equjipment in the Marine Corps. and was trained as a disel mechanic. I drove in college for a friend of mine, running Chicago and the mid west.I drove as a company driver for 3 years., after graduating from a top CDL driving school. I learned quickly that THAT IS NOT THE WAY TO GO!

    After buying my truck, I have leased on with a tucking co. and found out THAT IS NOT THE WAY TO GO.
    Not even my friends with their own truck could give me the STEP BY STEP ‘know how’, because they lacked ‘business acuumen’.
    I spent 3 weeks getting ALL the CREDENTIALS right down to my own IFTA stickers and PREPASS.
    After STUDYING ALL THE REPORTING REQUIREMENTS to avoid DOT AND FMCSA fines. (and DISQUALIFYING conditions).

    At 64 retired, and alll my kids finished with grad school, I am now ready to run on my own under my own authority in all 48 states and Canada.
    I love to drive, loaf the country, see my kids and grandsons, from Texas to Philadelphia. And will now make a good buck at the same time, ON MY SCHEDULE. (not some dumb dispatcher)
    I’m working on my book ‘TRUCKING the way it should be – the inside scoop’.

    If you need help, before it is published, contact me at ‘vardonrp@yahoo.com’ or call (210) 632-1778. I’m here to help – not to make a buck of my fellow drivers.

    Reply

    Chris May 14, 2011 at 10:01 am

    I bought my own 99 Mack, and a 99 flatbed just over one year ago. I have my own operating authority and would tell anyone that is the way to go. Start out with using brokers, then make direct shippments for companys. Leasing onto a company is nothing but having you make money for them on their operating authority. There is plenty of freight out here to make money on, get a freightboard account start building a list of brokers and deadhead miles will be small. If we had more owners/operaters out here with their operating authority freight rates would increase, because big companys Swift, J.B. Hunt pay the drivers .40 cents a mile making them $2.00 a mile. I hardly ever ship anything for less than $2.00 a mile.

    Reply

    Alexander December 13, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    Chris,

    Thank you for information and incouraging message. My wife and I currently decided to get into the trucking industry as O/O. Neither of us have ever driven for someone before, but have educational background (wife: Acc. Degree in Accounting, 12year management, me: 3 years education engineering: 8 years exp. industrial industry oil/refinery/construction – around trucks etc. ) I am mechanically inclinded and plan to fix my own trucks after 6months to a year of driving. We have a great budgeting system for our personaly life and are stick to the plan very well. We have all of the business acumen, ability to learn, self-initiative, and skills to run this business. However, we do lack the pin point experience of being a driver and O/O.
    Chris, any further information that you can forward would be helpful and verymuch appreciated. I wasn’t aware of Freight Board Account, but I have started researching it! Thank God for people willing to share their coined Knowledge and Experience. May God Bless you and everyone on here with positive input!!!!!

    Reply

    Truckngirl June 13, 2011 at 11:27 am

    Excellent information. I have been a company driver for 6 years now. I am so frustrated with the greedy companies that make money off of the blood, sweat and tears of company drivers, that I too would like to buy my own truck. This article has been very informative and I am looking forward to seeing more accurate and positive information regarding owning and operating my own authority, using brokers and making the money that I really deserve. Please continue to bring light to this confusing topic.

    Reply

    challuch June 17, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    Great info for starters. I am getting my CDL and signing on with a company for one yr. My plan after that is to become an O/O. I have owned my own passenger transportation co. in the past and I think that there should be a step 7 for O/O’s, and that is to line up reliable vendors. Everybody from insurance brokers to maintenance mechanics and even needs like where to get new tires should be worked out as much as possible beforehand. Any problem that can be conceived and successfully planned for ahead of time is one that won’t leave you laid up and losing $$ once you start rolling.
    I hope that this becomes a regular topic so that I to can find out all I need to know and more.
    Thanks

    Reply

    Ken January 6, 2014 at 8:27 pm

    what have you put together? a list of reliable vendor companies would be very helpful for all the people reading this article and researching to get their own situation started.

    Reply

    Ron Semrod July 5, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    Thanks for the info. It jibes with what I’ve been learning out here.

    Like BurmaBoy, I’ve looked for a O/O for Dummies book/website/podcast. It doesn’t exist. If anyone out there with the experience would right a step by step manual for becoming an O/O, I’d pay a premium price for it. There are seminars that I’ll be attending this year, but I’m going ahead without that luxury for now. As it is, I’ve taken often conflicting advice from the internet, somewhat random talks with O/Os at truck stops and shipper/receivers and trainers at my company. OOIDA seems to be the best one stop solution for me right now. I’ve joined and will be calling them in the next couple of days (if I get a break) to get started. I’ll probably get my insurance through them, and may use them to make sure I jump through ALL of the regulatory hoops with out a hitch. I’ve also found a company that handles all of your paperwork for a fee. (Authority, IFTA taxes, Income Taxes, Permits etc.) I think OOIDA does this as well. This part of the business seems better left to people well versed in the spaghetti like regulatory nightmare we have to deal with.

    I’m looking at pre 2004 freightliner Columbias w/Detroit 60 engine. Kevin Rutherford (sirius “Trucking Business and Beyond radio shows) recommends pre 2004 engines since they don’t have EGR and the problems that go with it, but are still capable of good fuel mileage. I’m lucky enough to have found financing for this. I’m taking out a loan large enough to cover the truck, insurance, licensing, permits, fees and a large emergency fund in case my truck needs an in-frame before I can build up my maintenance account. I’m also going to insist that the truck be Dyno tested by an outside shop before I lay the money down. This will give me a heads up on just about any problem the truck has before I put my fate in its seat. If there are problems, I’ll use that to either back out the cost of repairs from the price or start looking for another truck.

    I’ve only been driving for my company for a year and am still a bit intimidated by the broker/load board process. (i.e. don’t have much of a clue as to how it works.) Like any other business, it’s all about relationships, so I guess I’ll just build them as they come. Still, it would be nice to know how that first conversation should sound. I’ve heard that it will be hard to find brokers who will deal with O/Os with leas than a year of authority under their belts. True?

    I leased a truck with my company for a couple of months. Made money, but it felt like a sucker’s deal. Luckily it was a “walk away lease”. I kept up great relations with all of the people and was able to step out of the lease without a problem. Walked away with $1200 to spare. Most of the guy/gals who step out of the lease end up owing thousands of dollars. From what I’ve seen, this had a lot more to do with their attitude toward the people in charge than with any ill will from the company. Be a professional not a small child. Company leases seem to be set up for the poor souls who can’t finance a truck any other way. It’s like a credit card for folks with bad credit. You’ve got the credit, but your interest rate will have you paying 2 or 3 times what you should for the products you buy. (Esp if you allow the balance to build up and stay there) If that’s your situation, a company lease/purchase might be right for you, but read the fine print and get ready for several years of non-stop driving to pay off the truck. You can’t afford to go home when your weekly nut is $900-1000 plus fuel. It’s a crying shame that these companies advertise all day long about their feelings for the driver, then turn around and work them into the ground with low pay and virtually no time at home. That’s the story everywhere though. (unless you own your own business)

    The pay for a lease operator was at 89 cents/mile plus a variable fuel surcharge that went between 34 cents/mile and 49 cents per mile depending on current prices at the pump. A percentage of the load would be a much fairer arrangement. At our company, we took out 4 cents/mile for our maintenance account. This is to cover repairs. I took out $200/week for a time off account as well. As an O/O, I’ll take out 10 cents/mile as my repairs on an 8-10 year old truck are likely to be substantially more than repairs on a truck with less than 300,000 miles on it.

    I gotta get some sleep for the vampire shifts I’ll be doing for the next three nights. BurmaBoy, I’ll be calling you soon. As I learn more, I’ll post here. Some of you “old timers” chime in. It’s just plain wrong that a rookie is giving out advice here.

    Keep the dirty side down.
    Ron

    Reply

    Andre July 12, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    As an O/O with authority, is the new industry standard for making a decent amount of money with your own trailer is to consolidate 2 full shipments into 1 shipment. Meaning picking up 2 shipments with a regular dry van 53 and renting a step deck that has more cubic feet in its trailer, floor both shipments for maximum space, any excess of freight post on a load board as a partial?

    Reply

    James October 17, 2011 at 12:44 am

    Fair warning to those wishing to get into the o/o business. Buy a new truck, it will save you in the long run!

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    Virginpacific May 19, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    Agree. It sound expensive at first but will save you nothing but money over the next 3 to 5 years.

    Reply

    crackerbox May 23, 2014 at 8:17 am

    Agreed, new is the way to go… my friend and I are in the process of buying a new truck. We plan on running as a team. We have a combined 19 years driving experience. I’m reading through this trying to obtain any helpful info I can on how to get started. Neither of us have ever owned a truck before. We’ve always been company drivers. I do know one thing though , I would only consider is buying a new truck

    Reply

    Matthew January 4, 2012 at 1:49 am

    Well I have been in trucking for 7yrs and been an owner operator now since may6/2011. Let me tell ya you can make money out here. I got lucky leased on with Crst Malone big rip offs but I was able to find a loop hole in there contract and I exploited it by loading myself all the time with brokers and partials and doing whatever I can. I made 3.10mi for 9000 miles on a customer I picked up from a broker. Before that I worked hard everyday getttin up at 7-8 looking for freight and then waiting till 12-1 to book something for what i wanted at lease $2.5mi. Book most my loads and got a bad ass dispatcher who cared. I even hooked him up with a few $ for helping out. Don’t let anyone who failed tell you you can’t make it here.

    Reply

    Rob V. November 17, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    Very useful…I just added more information to my list

    Reply

    Dave December 19, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    Starting to think serious about becoming owner operator
    Drove between 1971 to1986 then got into construction and retired after 26 years
    could not get driving out of my head, so i got my cdl ,been driving for nine months
    and with only 9 months current no one else will talk to you because of not having at least 2
    years current exp.
    ? does the same hold true if you where an o/o with your own insurance .?

    Reply

    Joe January 12, 2013 at 9:25 pm

    Hi,Do you have any advice on which insurance company has the best rates for dry van with some hazmat, Cargo/Liability. Also what load board do you recommend,Ive used 123 load board .It was ok but was wondering which one has the most loads with higher paying freight.Leasing on has not worked for me at all,It just terrible.I own four tractors and have been screwed and every company that Ive ever been with the last 20 plus years.I run my own truck and have drivers for the others often putting myself negative after paying the drivers and fuel, maintainance, ect.These companys’s deduct far to much leaving the owner operator to pay all the bill’s. I,m looking to change that for my business and get to making some real money.I appreciate any input you may have.

    Reply

    Richard February 4, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    Get back to one truck, run it yourself or hire another as a team.

    Reply

    Corey March 1, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    I own my truck. Signed on because I don’t own my own trailer. Looking to break away due to paying out more than I “pay” myself (after fuel). What I pay out, more than covers the other bills. After taking what I “need” there seems to be less for maintenance, food, personal bills and entertainment (not a need). I would also pay for a How To Dummy book. 2 yrs experience is hard to get without having 2 yrs already!!! I pull a Hopper Bottom although thinking more along the lines of Flatbed….. article and comments helpful

    Reply

    Jim P. March 22, 2013 at 7:05 am

    After 30 years with the same company (25 as a driver, 5 in management) I’m suddenly out of a job due to the sale of the company. Was thinking of becoming an o/o and doing local stuff only.

    Looking at the free load boards there seems to be a lot of loads that could get you home every night. Would getting a day cab and trailer and hauling short run local loads be a realistic way of making a living?

    Any info would help.

    Reply

    Debi March 24, 2013 at 10:34 am

    Hi Jim-
    I have a question for you. Do semi truck owners that are looking to sign on with a company have to have plates before signing on? We were told that you had to be signed on with a company before the state will issue plates. None of this seems to be accurate.

    Reply

    Brandon December 9, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    You have to have a company with USDOT/MC#’s to get tags this is true.

    Reply

    John April 5, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    Hi Debi
    I was just wondering did you ever get any answers to your question about “having plates before signing on”. I was just curious because i had the same question? Thanks

    Reply

    Grunturd June 16, 2013 at 9:54 pm

    I am seriously liking at becoming an O/O.I work oil field in north Dakota and Colorado. My company is pulling down 40 to 50k a month off each truck. Maintenance is higher but with 15 trucks running, its covered. Out here its about the type of truck and capabilities than looks. Right now my company is making 135 an hour. I can run a truck with that.

    Reply

    10fingers June 29, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    What company are you working for and do they hire newbies?

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    Shawn Hill June 20, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    Becoming an Owner/Op:
    Rule Number one: get a new or almost new/use truck no more than 2- 300K miles.
    two: keep an eye on and change fluids on time.
    third: it’s how you treat it shows up in the long run–drive it hard like an idiot won’t last, SO YOU MUST drive it with care, love and compassion and you’ll have that truck a lot longer long after it paid off and then you’ll be making $$$$$.

    Reply

    Lee Carter July 31, 2013 at 2:07 am

    Lease purchase programs should be illegal. I know very few people who have wound up with their own trucks at the end. Secondly I have never understood people that buy a truck out right then lease to a company and give them all your profit. I am a true o/o. I have one truck, one trailer and the only name and numbers on it are mine. It is not rocket science . All it takes is common sense and attention to detail. I’ve had three trucks in thirty years, each purchased brand new then maintained by me. In the early years I ran hard and as time has passed I have been able to slow down and enjoy life. I now run about 5000 miles a month and will retire in two years when I turn 60 and I owe nothing to nobody. I have a 9th grade education. If I can do this anyone can. These lease program lure people in with the something for nothing deal and that’s why so many fail. Nothing invested. nothing to lose. Yall stay safe out there.

    Reply

    nofilter April 18, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    Hi Lee,
    Do you get like a fuel accounts with Fuel places (so to get a better rate)?
    Do you have shippers lined up or use the load boards?
    Is it true that nearly all load posted on load boards: you must call and negotiate the rate$ for each load?
    Do you find the scales pull you in more often than company trucks?
    Do you have places you recommend for maintenance & repair?
    thanks

    Reply

    R.L. Miller,SMSgt, USAF/r September 26, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    retired air forceound or flight engineer. Been working flatbed loads, mostly construction commodities, orange and los angeles county, in california.
    considering going out in O/O land. Can buy tractor and trailer outright if that is way to go.
    the question is: can i average better money than i make now, working for myself. now about $22.00 an hour?
    already have med/dental insurance so, do not require any “benfits”
    dont care if home nightly at not! do not, desire, to run east of ousay Oklahoma. western states and the Dakota’s is fine!
    any, constructive, words would be appreciated.
    thank you
    r.L. Miller
    msgt, usaf/ret

    Reply

    Wes brown November 24, 2013 at 8:03 pm

    I’m 40. Driven trucks off and on over the past twenty years. I just got my first truck and plan on having more. I just got tired of someone else telling me what I’m worth. I know what I’m worth and I should be able to do it in comfort. So being an O/O is the only alternate to take.

    Reply

    Dave Krawetzki November 30, 2013 at 8:21 am

    I like your six steps Samuel, well thought out and tied together perfectly.
    I’m not a truck driver and don’t ever plan on changing my CDL ‘B’ to an ‘A’, my older brother requested I give my opinion of this piece you wrote Samuel. He is a long haul trucker and has been a company man all of his adult life, primarily driving for one trucking firm that has changed acquisitions and ownership countless times. I on the other hand have owned and run a successful contracting business and everything you say applies to that type of work as well.
    I didn’t read any articles or the like before I went out on my own working out of the trunk of my car, I just did what had to be done. I would like to add my 2 pennies to anyone thinking of becoming self-employed, be prepared for the roughest ride of your life.
    Work comes 1st, everything else comes next – even when let’s say your wife is giving birth to your first born or whatever, WORK STILL COMES FIRST! Never say the word “NO”, in fact, remove it from your vocabulary. Don’t make excuses, always take responsibility for everything that goes right or wrong, remember were the buck stops. The last piece of advice is, if you’re a hot head or just not a people person, stay where you are.
    If you are prepared to make these sacrifices, you will do just fine, no worries people and good luck to you.

    Reply

    Lester December 2, 2013 at 2:06 am

    Mr Carter thank you for your comment This truly helped me make a real decision for my life. Again thanks for telling the truth. Thanks !!!!

    Reply

    Brandon December 9, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    I’ve had my authority for 8mos. now,doing great. My question is: my truck is in my name but leased to my own company. I’m financing but in terms of personal asset protection in the event of an accident, how do I protect against that?

    Reply

    nofilter April 18, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    I am currently researching LLC & Corporation.
    You have to have one of these at least to protect your personal assets but I do not know yet which one.
    if you have an accident with that truck, they will come after your personal, they may put a lien on your home. you want that truck under your company, not the other way around. or just get an LLC for the truck at least
    Corporation saves you on taxes at the end of the year.
    However it takes a lot more work to set up and maintain as a Corporate than LLC.
    That is what I have learned so far, my questions are:

    IS it more expensive to begin with???
    As a 1 truck owner, is it worth to be incorporated or just LLC????

    Reply

    Joe blow September 21, 2014 at 11:38 am

    NoFilter in response to Corp. Or LLC. I went the corporation route after talking to my tax advisor who is also a corporate accountant the cost difference was about $750…. $500 to in corporate and $250 for his fee. Before any body makes this kind of decision I was told this by a multi millionaire. If you want to be a millionaire ask a millionaire if you want to be broke ask your neighbor. So l guess what I’m trying to say is go and pay $50-100 and talk to the professional that can explain the pro’s and cons of both for you. Most of them will explain it for free in the hopes of getting your business. For me and myy son corporation wss the best money I think I have ever spent. Hope this helps

    Reply

    ken January 29, 2014 at 6:54 am

    Thanks for the advice. Question? I’ve been a company driver for 13 yrs and my company told me that they starting up a program that allows drivers lease to won trucks from the company. Is it better to buy your own truck or it ok to lease through a company? I’m ready to become a O.O. but if anyone can help me to get started in the right direction that has experienced buying one through a company on a lease to own program I really appreciate it. Thanks

    Reply

    Virginpacific May 19, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    DO NOT get sucked in to a COMPANY LEASE. They own your sole. There is a reason why these companies start those programs and that is. They make more money and shift a large portion of the expe on you. Company lease is a rip off. If you are unhappy with a company lease all you can do is to walk away with NOTHING to show for it. If you want to sign on to a company then at least lease or buy your OWN rig.

    Reply

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