I have been researching becoming an owner/operator for about a month. I've heard the good and the bad, the ups and downs, ways to make money, ways to lose money. And basically I believe it boils down to this simple question.
Taking everything into account, in your own personal experience, does the money that you make justify the increased hassle and responsibilities that you have to deal with to be an owner operator?
Please vote yes or no and explain why you voted the way you did, how long you've been an owner operator, and if you had it to do over would you go the same route or would you be a company driver?
Please limit answers to people currently in the business, that own or very recently owned their own truck. I need up to date current market information from O/O's with current real world market experience.
Simple Question, is it worth it?
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The happiest 10 years of my life were spent being an O/O, but and but again!!!! I was in it before deregulation and after deregulation. I saw the good go down the hill. I made money, had a good time, and got home. But then I saw rates go south. And I got out. That has been over 20 years ago, but I still miss "the days of wine and roses".
Would I get back in it now, NO!
to answer your question.absolutly no way.been there done it and will never go back.if it was 1987 yes i would and made very great money.today you only are buying a job without benifits.its simple math.do your math and you will see you may be lucky and actually make 600.00 bucks after all payments and fuel and breakdowns and so on.not to mention 100 hours a week driving the truck,fixing the truck and getting parts and so on.not worth your efforts my friend.plz trust me on this one.do not do that.if you really wanna be an owner op then go to a small package delivery place in your city ,buy a mini van and make good money and be home.less headache lol lol
Simplified answer. If you are going to do the same thing that the majority of people do at the sema prices, then it is not worth the time and effort it takes to buy a truck. Pulling freight long distances for 87 cents per mile and a fuel surcharge, staying out for 2-3 weeks and resetting your hours in a truckstop doesn;t make any sense, either pesonally or financially. Investing the money it takes to buy a truck only to put that investment to work at the industry equal to minimum wage is madness because you don't see a reasonable return on your investment.
If you have looked around and found a niche market where your services are worth more than the fleet average, where you can get home on aschedule suitable to your needs, and where you can manage your financial interest properly to return a profit, then it can be a good deal. While there are plenty of O/O's doing poorly, there are also a great many to do well and make a good living. They are not pulling vans from point A to point B for endless hours at minimal prices. Ther are good businessmen, who happen to drive a truck, not good truckdrivers who happen to find themselves in a business.
The key to owning your own truck is that you have to plan it out like any other business. You need a lot of skills and knowledge, and quite frankly, the majority of people buying a truck do not have those skills, and even worse, they are not aware that they don't have them.
You have thought about owning a truck for about a month. Now think about it for another two years. And during that two years, keep track of all the information that you can get on how the truck you drive now operates. How many miles it runs, how many nites you stay out, how often it is loaded, how often it is empty, and every single piece of data you can gather about how much that truck makes. This is the info you need to make the decision. You can't rely on ads from the trucking companies to tell you how much a truck can make, because they sugar coat everything to make themselves look to their best.
You need to figure out what you will be hauling as an O/O, where you will be hauling it, and how amenable the company is to hiring O'O's and their trucks. You need to establish yourself with the people that you will be working with, so that they already know you and how you run. Nothing hurts a new O/O more than starting everything at once. new job, new people to work with, new truck, new everything and then the guy wonders why things don't go smoothly.
Of course, this is no longer a simplified answer, but the bottom line is this. If you are going to buy a truck and lease it on at minimum wage, stay a company driver. If you have actually found a good opportunity, then buying a truck can be good business decision.
If you are in solely for the money then no it does not make sense unless you can find a niche like Burky said. How ever for me it is worth because I've been self employed for so long that to give that up and go back to having some one run my life even when I'm home is not worth it. I'm leased to Landstar and as long as you run legal and deliver your freight they don't tell you what to do. If I want to take a week, a month, six months off I ask NO ONE! I just do it, and send them a log stating I was off duty. As long as the financial obligations are met no body cares what I do.
Being an O/O is more than just the money as an only gauge.
gameaddict; try this little experiment, no money involved.
For each load you get, make believe you are running it as an o/o. Write down all $$$ spent during the trip; fuel, any repairs, mileage, any maintenance, etc etc. Keep tabs of your fuel mileage and write down anything and everything dealing with $$$.
After each trip, add it all up at what an o/o get at your company or use another companies compensation rates if your company doesn't have o/o's. You need to get to your "cpm".
Once you start seeing the finite numbers for each trip, you'll begin to see that being an o/o is like a company driver; in $$$, but with a lot of headaches. I do this a lot and am thankful to be a company driver. Whenever I see a truck on the side of the road or in a shop getting repaired, I keep telling myself thank goodness I'm a company driver.
Being an o/o isn't for everyone. I would love to be an o/o but no one will pay the repair bills and everything else that an o/o needs to pay that the lease trucking company won't pay. Whenever I get the hankerin' to be an o/o, all I have to do is see a Truck on the side of the road or in the shop and I come back to reality.
Again, try this experiment for at least 6 months to a year. And if you still want to be an o/o, then go for it. But like other posters said, you may need to find that right "niche" to be a successful o/o.
Best of luck to you.
Don't do it because you think you will make more money than a company driver, in reality you won't
What you will get is more tax advantages and more write offs, especially if you are incorporated
I am an owner operator and I can tell you that you will have a lot of expenses, you have to be prepared in case you have to do a major repair to the truck, truck repairs can be very costly and could set you back a weeks pay or more,
You might have big truck payments, and if you buy a used truck you will have payments and also more repairs,
The price of fuel is very high right now, and this will be your number one expense
I really wouldn't recomend it to any one today to be an O/O, they way things are going in this industry, all the new rules, talk of having these so called "black boxes" made mandetory in all trucks, and the high fuel prices. It really is getting hard to make a decent living out here anymore,
20 years ago my father was making more money as an O/O than I am today, and back then the cost of fuel and everything else was much lower
But then again it is really up to you, being an O/O is not for everybody, the ones who are smart with their money, who find the right niche are the ones who will be successful
I wanted to thank all of you for your insightful replies. I would like to provide some background about me, so you can see for yourself the events that have lead up to this train of thought.
I drove for a company from 96 to 98, then from 98 to 99 drove for a fleet owner, which was a good personal friend and just happened to be my old dispatcher. At the time I didn't put much thought into buying a truck because all I could do was try to find a way out of a truck and get back home to my family. Back then I didn't have a cell phone that I could spend 24/7 talking to my wife for the standard monthly fee. I was lucky to spend 30 mins a day getting to talk to her and frankly it sucked.
I left the road for an IT job to be a network administrator and after several years due to that industry crashing and all the work going over seas, the job competition was so great that it became almost impossible to get a job unless you had a BA degree with certifications. That basicly put me out of a job. I am currently in college for computer programming but I'm not 100% convinced that I will be suited for that type of work.
I ran into a driver about a month ago that basicly has the same history as me. He owns his own truck and pulls a reffer and we sat down and talked at length about everything we could think of. We also looked at his cash flow for several months including all his costs, repairs, truck costs etc. I have to admit I liked what I saw.
I'm someone that likes to do things smart and try to get all my facts before making a decision. Its my wish to make a better living than that of a company driver and from what I am being told its something thats very achievable.
Perhaps I can find a truck owner that will allow me to run his truck for a while and will allow me to simulate owning it. I have heard of people that drive a truck someone else owns, but they drive it and take care of it like its theirs, they dispatch themselves, handle repairs and such on thier own.
I have decided that I would do the following if I did decide to make the leap.
1. Probably pull reffer, as they make more per mile.
2. I would not have my own authority. Dealing with everything that comes with it is a lot to take on especially at first. Leasing on would eliminate some of the hassle and overhead of being an O/O
3. Buy new
Doing something is better than nothing, and I can always be a company driver but I would like the chance to improve and make a better future for myself.
Again, Thank all of you for your great replies, please keep the input coming, the more infomation I have the better decision I can make.
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