Why do most owner operators fail?

Discussion in 'Ask An Owner Operator' started by Wigunowner, Nov 19, 2012.

  1. Southern Flyer

    Southern Flyer Bobtail Member

    Sep 21, 2012
    Rockmart, Ga
    Yeah it's pretty tough sometimes, we stay on top of our billing and are very selective on finding good freight to move and I stay on top of my operating cost. I didn't finance very much on the truck and I have a very quick payoff, I guess you could say we had some capital up front we put 20k down on the truck and paid for everything up front before we made the first run. I have been around trucking all my life and coming up I paid close attention to things and learned all I could. The biggest thing I would do over again is not using any fuel cards when I started up, and I had a friend of ours dispatching for me and ultimately a large percentage of what we made the first two months in business went to her as payment because we did $17,000 our first month with a flatbed, my wife was still working as an EMT at the time and didn't know a whole lot about the industry to be able to dispatch for me, we decided after things with our "friend" weren't going in a good direction, she came off the ambulance to work for me and that has really helped us, she is very diligent with making sure we stay loaded and get paid timely. I handle the driving and maintaining the equipment and she keeps the office side, I hear drivers all the time complaining about their dispatchers and i laugh and tell them I screw mine all the time when I get back in and they are like how do you get away with that and I say hell I'm married to her. After I went back and read everything you were exactly right in what you said, I was out of line. I wish you the best of luck man and hope this new year brings great things for you. I'd like to compare notes with you one day and maybe you can teach me some things I didn't know and vise versa.
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  3. Gunz444

    Gunz444 Light Load Member

    Aug 20, 2011
    I have been posting some of my own experiences here.




    There are as many reasons as there are O/O's for failure. The road is FULL of pitfalls for sure.

    The biggest reason why I think a LOT fail is they fail to do their homework and research BEFORE they take the big leap. Your post is just another example of why O/O's can SUCCEED! You are asking the right kind of questions in the RIGHT PLACE!!

    New O/O's need to read and learn as much as they can from others. This entire board is FULL of great information. If you don't spend time on this board or similar boards (this one is the best), well that might be one more reason a lot of folks fail. Dont listen to the carriers that want you to do this or that. Come here and begin your research and decide for yourself how you plan to proceed!

    Good luck to all future O/O's!

    And yes, I admit I am pimping my own posts but since they are in the "How to Make it as an Owner Operator" forum I think it is relevant.
  4. skip1955

    skip1955 Light Load Member

    Mar 1, 2012
    Harlingen, TX
    A Clear mind from forgiveness is the path to glory
  5. carrkool

    carrkool Heavy Load Member

    May 10, 2012
    adah, pa
    There is no one response to your question that covers everything. You have different types of o/O that fail.

    My number 1 is the guys or gals that want to only wear the office suit and not the coveralls. These are the people that spend all their money on the shops for stupid stuff. IE changing tires, greasing truck, adjusting brakes, replacing lights. most shops charge 75.00 or more an hour. that light burned out cost 10.00 and less than five minutes to put in. but they will put the shop in and pay 100.00 dollars to replace a light. doing basic work to your own truck can save thousands over the course of a year.

    Another biggy to me is manging fuel purchases. plan your trips figure your cheapest fuel points. now there is a trick here. and that is ifta. to figure your cheapest fuel you need to take out each states ifta tax from the post pump price otherwise you can screw yourself at ifta tax time. its better to pay the high tax at the pump than owe at the end of the year. example right now fuel is 4.01 in ohio at the 186 on 70 and 4.04 in pa by nottingham. now say oh has a .20 a gal tax and pa has a .30 a gal tax that would make the fuel in oh 3.81 a gal and pa 3.74 a gal. so pa is cheaper and you pay the higher tax so you will end up with a credit on ifta that will roll over and pay for oh ifta. its simple but hard to understand for some.

    another reason for failure is alot of companies dont care anymore and when cost go up they take so long to hand the cost down to them that the o/o burn through their savings and when something bad happens they are hurting.

    as an o/o you really dont control rates. only if you have your truck trailer and find your own loads. so thats a whole different story.....

    there are a number of reasons in which i nor no one can really cover all of...
  6. trees

    trees Road Train Member

    Jun 29, 2010
    Interesting, I've read quite a few of the replies....... And the under capitalized situation is a big killer that's for sure....but....... I don't see anyone discussing the big, probably biggest factor that controls success....... some hints about it, the "know your costs of operation"....We all hear this...the newbies speak it at the coffee counter "yeah, yeah, know your costs", but why do you need to know your costs, down to the cents per mile??....why??? Negotiation. I probably should spell it out in capital letters.... NEGOTIATION. If you're planning on being an o/o you better be good at it, or learn it quick.... you are going to have to be able to negotiate a rate, and the people you are negotiating with don't give a #### about you.... they are going to offer you a lowball $1 per mile.... I guarantee you this.... A dummy says, "sure".... I say, "good luck with that"...negotiation skills are what set the successful o/o's apart from the one's who are driving themselves out of business..... learn your market, learn your areas, learn your rates, and realize this, it's usually not where you are, but when you are.... Monday's are crappy days to try and book loads... why?? because everyone and his brother are empty on Monday.... It starts getting better on Tuesday.. After all the cutthroats have loaded freight paying $1.39 per mile and are out burning up the asphalt on their way to their next destination.... Fridays are great days.... Fridays are the day to play "chicken" with the brokers... they know if you don't load you'll sit the weekend..but I know if they don't book the load they won't move the load and their customer will be very sad.... I don't really start pounding the phone until 1130 or so.... the best loads come really late, but, you have to be able to get to the shipper before they close... You have to manage your time, the rates are constantly changing..... don't be afraid to wait it out... I've already said too much....
    scottied67 Thanks this.
  7. trees

    trees Road Train Member

    Jun 29, 2010
    Bill's got the right idea...... I relax and cruise at about 58-59 mph in direct...... get about 7 to 7.5 mpg sometimes 8 when the conditions are perfect..... what's the hurry?? (When I wind er up and let er go I'm lucky to get 5.5 mpg) at $4 a gallon calculated over the course of a year it doesn't take long to figure out slow is better.... save money on tires too.... slower speeds equal cooler temps.... I got 350k with 4/32's remaining on my last set of drive tires.....I'm always booking light loads, I can get the same price hauling light as heavy, why on earth would I haul heavy, except when I have to?? I used to get all stressed out trying to go fast, always some clown pulling out in front of me.... slowing me down, making me scream..... punch the pedal to the floor... get up to speed, and repeat...... Nah, not anymore.... these days I just sit back and let everybody else pass me..... no big deal.... no tickets either....
    scottied67, Autocar and BoyWander Thank this.
  8. alex1010

    alex1010 Bobtail Member

    Nov 14, 2012
    You had brought up an interesting point as well regarding tire wear. With 3 trucks and 4 trailers running light loads we re cap all our own casings at le,
  9. Hollywood Tom

    Hollywood Tom Bobtail Member

    Dec 11, 2012
    Granbury Tx.
    Owning a truck doesn't mean you work for yourself you still work for whoever your hauling freight for. You can be a little more selective who you work for, but in reality that truck owns you. You spend all your time feeding it, if you do your job right it rewards you with a fairly good living. It's your silent most of the time business partner, but when it speaks you better listen. Let me say I don't own a truck my boss owns 6 so these are just my observations after driving 18 years 15 of them for owner operators or small companies 15 trucks or less. One thing I believe. If you only own 1 truck drive it yourself the wrong driver will break you in a heart beat. These are my observations I've contemplated owning but don't like the odds. Guess the risk verses rewards isn't big enough for me personally.
  10. rollin coal

    rollin coal Road Train Member

    Mar 29, 2008

    I never sweat the small stuff. Doesn't pay to get frustrated with things one has no control over. Not everyone driving at faster speeds is tailgating and wreckless. Everyone has their own way. Until you've been in my situation you really can't judge that 58mph works in it
    ISXunlike Thanks this.
  11. afterburn25

    afterburn25 Medium Load Member

    Jul 7, 2012
    Lafayette, LA
    im the same way when i first started i was going 75 mph when the speed limit allowed it i did that for a week just to get a grasp on my fuel millage. i was getting maybe 5.0-5.5 mpg so i slowed down to 65 and im getting 6.6 mpg fully loaded much higher on lighter loads. so thats the speed i stick with i might punch it up now and then to pass someone so im not stuck in the hammer lane blocking traffic but thats the only exception. those are huge savings in fuel and by going 75 you wont get there that much quicker to make much a difference anyway. also it will get you in trouble i was going 75 from el passo to tyler tx cause that is the limit i logged close to 800 miles in 11 hours however even though i did it legally dot will still give a ticket if they see that in your logs the go by 60 mph averages and also heard more then 700 miles in an 11 hour period is illegal
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