So, you want to be an owner-operator

So, you think you want to buy a truck and be an owner-operator.

In good economic times, it’s a bad idea.

In the current economic climate, it’s now gone from a *really* bad idea, to just a “you’re nuts” kind of bad.

You might say to the two previous statements, “But Truckie-D, you’re an owner operator”. Yup. Sure am. Have been for a long time, which is why I know it’s a bad idea — at least it is for most people.

So, here’s the rundown on being an owner-operator, or o/o for short.

Have I mentioned it’s a bad idea? Well, if you’re determined to do it, here’s the scoop.

First, if you don’t have experience driving a truck, go read my page on being a truck driver. Get hired somewhere, then come back here in a year or so. Do NOT get sucked into getting trained and buying/leasing a truck immediately.  That’s a recipe for going broke quickly.  Trucking as an owner-operator is a whole lot more than just “steering and gearing”.  The important point to remember is, you’re not buying a truck — you’re buying a business.  You need experience in the trucking business, and some general business experience if you want to be successful at it.

Can you read a profit and loss statement and make sense of it?  Can you do a cost/benefit analysis of adding an APU to your truck?  If the answer is no, you might want to consider getting some basic business education, or at least read a book or two or ten on the subject.  There are also courses designed specifically to educate new owner-operators on the business aspects of trucking. While there are management and accounting services that can help, YOU are the one ultimately responsible for the operation and profitability of your business.

Ok, if you’ve made it this far, here’s the rundown.

As I say in my page for prospective drivers, trucking isn’t for everyone. This goes double for being an o/o. There are *lots* more headaches and responsibilities than being a company driver. I know many successful company drivers who have no desire whatsoever to own their own truck. They’d rather not deal with the extra work and risk involved.

The first consideration is, are you going to lease to a company, or be a true independent?

There are advantages and disadvantages to either way. For a first-time o/o, I’d forget about going the whole way to complete independence. Yes, if you have your own operating authority, you’re collecting 100% of the gross revenue on each load, but you’re also picking up 100% of all the expenses too — and there are a *lot* of expenses. In the current freight environment, I very strongly recommend against this approach. *Way* too risky.

That leaves us with discussing leasing on to a larger company. Especially for a first-time o/o, this is a far better way of doing it, since it gives you a support system. Depending on the company, it may be better or worse, but at least it’s something.

Now, you have to figure out who you want to lease on with. If you’re already a company driver, a good place to look first is the company you’re currently driving for. This has a number of advantages. It’s usually easier to get on, since they already know you. You’re familiar with the freight they move, the customers, and their way of doing things. While this is a good place to start, you should also investigate lots of other companies.  A company that may be good for company drivers, may be much less so for owner-operators. The deals vary widely from company to company, and you want a good (or at least reasonable) deal that is a good fit for your requirements. Some things to look for (over and above the things you’d ask as a company driver):

Does the carrier provide base plates & permits?

Does the carrier file and/or pay fuel taxes?

Is pay percentage or per mile?

Are loaded and deadhead/bobtail miles paid? At what rate?

What about fuel surcharges? How much are they, and how are they calculated?

What are their accessorial rates (for things like stop offs, loading, unloading, etc.)

Do they pay tolls and/or scales?

Is there upfront money required for escrow? (or anything else, like painting or lettering ).

What are their truck requirements? (age, number of axles, weight, sleeper, 5th wheel height, painting, lettering).

Do they provide trailers? Is there a charge for their trailers?

What other benefits do they give you? (such as discounted fuel, tires, parts, maintenance, etc.)

The above list is not comprehensive, but is only a starting point for investigating different companies. It’s important to look at the total package offered by carriers, not just mileage pay. Some provide a lot of things, other provide little or nothing. For first timers, more is generally better, even if the mileage rate is lower.

Now, the part you’ve been waiting for — actually buying a truck.

I know you’ve got your eye on that overchromed, extended hood LargeCar with chicken lights and a dayglo paint job, but hold yer horses.

Pretty trucks are nice, but chrome doesn’t put money in your pocket. As the saying goes, “lots of chrome, never home”.

The first, and most important thing you want in a truck is reliability. You don’t make money sitting on the side of the road. Personally, I’ve had the best luck with Internationals. Talk to other drivers, and they’ll swear by (or at) every make of truck and engine on the road. I would avoid trucks with Cat engines. Cat has quit manufacturing engines for trucks (due to emission regulations), so it’s possible that it could eventually become difficult to get parts. Probably not in the short term, but it may eventually become an issue.

Next, is emission regulation compliance. California recently put into effect some draconian emissions regulations. The regulations aren’t terribly clear in some areas, but basically, it seems that any truck with an engine older than 1995 won’t be allowed to operate in California after 12/31/2009.     **The regulations have changed since I first wrote this post.  BEFORE you buy a truck, contact the California Air Resources Board and check if the truck you’re looking at is compliant, and for how long. **  If you live in California, you’re going to want to closely monitor the emissions regulations and make sure the truck you’re buying is compliant with the regulations. If you live outside California, you have (at least at the moment) more flexibility, but you might not be able to haul freight to or from California. These regulations also affect the resale value of trucks, so you’ll want to watch them too.

Another important consideration is fuel mileage. As an o/o, fuel is going to be your biggest expense. Small increases in mpg translate to big differences in your take-home pay. Avoid older, non-aerodynamic trucks. Look for things like side fairings, tapered (the so-called “anteater”) hoods, streamlined mirrors, etc. Newer, aerodynamically efficient trucks are certified by the EPA as “Smartway” trucks. Avoid huge, fuel-sucking engines. Engines for OTR trucks in the 400hp range are adequate. You may not be the first one up the hill, but you’ll have a bigger bank balance when you get there.

Unless you’re an established team, DO NOT go out and buy a brand new truck. While new trucks are (at least in theory) more reliable, a solo driver will find it extremely difficult to make the payments — even in times when freight is good. The way freight is right now, it could be nearly impossible.  A good, mechanically sound used truck is the only way to go for a solo o/o.

There are *lots* of trucks for sale, especially right now. A good starting point to look is http://www.truckpaper.com. They also have paper copies available for free at most truckstops. Take a look, and you can get a good idea of what the particular brand and model of truck you’re interested in is currently selling for.

Now, you need to figure out where to buy a truck from. There are dealers, auctions, online auctions, private individuals, remarketing companies, trucking companies, and others, who would all like to sell you a truck. Each has advantages and disadvantages. Dealers will generally be priced higher, but a good dealer will stand behind what they sell. Warranties are a very good thing to have. Even a limited warranty, that only covers engine, transmission, and axles is a good thing to have. Those are the components that can be *very* expensive to fix — especially engines. There are aftermarket warranties that you can buy. I’ve never bought one, and I’ve heard both good and bad things about them. Investigate the company offering the warranty, and the terms of the warranty very thoroughly.  Make sure you check the BBB about them too.

Auctions and private individuals are generally the cheapest place to buy a truck, but “ya pays yer money and takes yer chances” when you do that. You can get a good (or even fantastic) deal,but you (or somebody knowledgeable that you trust) have to check out your prospective purchase very carefully.

Remarketing and trucking companies usually fall somewhere in the middle on price. They will frequently have easy financing options, often with little or no money down. A well maintained former fleet truck can be good value, but again, you need to make sure you’re getting a good one, not one that was poorly maintained and beat to death. Avoid trucks that were used in tanker service — surge from tankers is hard on drivetrain components.

Wherever you buy a truck, have somebody hook a computer to it, and compare the electronic engine odometer with the one on the dash. Speedometers break, or are turned back, but it’s hard to do that on an engine computer without replacing it. When you’re pretty sure you’ve found the truck you want, if possible put it on a dyno, and have the blowby (and everything else) checked. Blowby gives you a pretty good idea of the engine’s internal health.  Having an oil sample analyzed is also a good idea.

No matter how pretty the truck looks, if it’s not 100% mechanically and DOT, look elsewhere.  Trucks that need work can be a good deal, but they’re a very risky proposition.

Now, let’s deal with the least fun part of buying a truck — paying for it. You can either buy, lease, or rent. Forget rent. Yes, it’s deductible, but you never have any equity in the truck. Leasing is a popular option. Lease payments are deductible in full (check with your tax adviser on this), and they normally come with a buyout clause. Buyout clauses normally range from $1, up to 10-20% of the total price. Leasing does give you some tax advantages, but you normally don’t have any equity in the truck until the lease is completed. Buying makes more sense to me, especially for a first time o/o. Since you’re not buying a brand new truck, you’re not going to have to eat a big chunk of depreciation as soon as you drive it off the lot. Even with a used truck, there will be a little, but not nearly as much. So, effectively, you have at least a little equity in the truck, particularly if you’ve made a down payment. If you decide you really don’t want to be an o/o, you can always put the truck up for sale, and will (at least hopefully) be able to pull at least some of your equity back out — something you can’t do with renting or leasing.

A short lesson on spending and tax deductions:

There is always someone trying to sell you something for your truck.  Whether it’s a salesman at a parts counter, or an ad you’re reading in a trucking magazine, they will often tell you “it’s deductible”.  They may even be right about that.  Just because something is deductible, doesn’t mean you should spend the money on it.  Here’s a very simplified example:

We’ll say that your income is $100 and this puts you in the 25% tax bracket.

You have the choice of spending $50 as a deductible expense, or not spending the money, and paying the taxes on it. expense for the same thing.

The first option comes out as: $100 – $50 = $50 – 25% = $37.50 take home after taxes.

The second option comes out as $100 – 25% = $100 – $25  = $75.00 take home after taxes.

While this is greatly simplified, it serves to get the idea across. Just because something is deductible, doesn’t mean it’s a good deal. The bottom line is, your bottom line. Consult your tax adviser about what is more profitable given your particular tax situation and income bracket.

Whatever way you go, look at the total cost. All of that money is going to come out of your pocket. Make sure it’s within your ability to earn with a comfortable profit margin left over.

If you can buy a truck outright for cash, that’s the best way. Then, even if freight gets even worse than it is now (which could happen) you won’t have to worry about making those easy weekly payments.

Now, you’re the proud owner of your very own truck. This is when the headaches really begin.

Your wife isn’t going to get an anniversary present this year because you had to replace your turbo.

Little Johnny’s not going to get a new bicycle for his birthday because you need a new steer tire.

You missed Little Mary’s soccer game because you had to change the oil.

The dog is going to have to wear a ragged sweater so you can put on a new muffler.

The list goes on and on.

Then, there’s all of the paperwork, and the money that has to go with it. Estimated taxes. Self-employment taxes. Federal Heavy Vehicle Use Tax. State income tax. Ad Valorem tax. Fuel Tax. Taxes that you never knew existed. You’d better have been putting aside a chunk of money every week. The government has NO sense of humor when it comes to not paying taxes on time.

You’d also better be *real* careful with birth control, because the exorbitantly priced medical insurance you had to buy doesn’t cover pregnancy for the first two years.

Are you sure you want to be an owner-operator?

If you read this and it helped you, or you have questions this page didn’t answer, please leave a comment. If you don’t want your comment published, add “not for publication” at the beginning.

Comments and questions welcome.

27 comments so far

  1. Kevin on

    I appreciate you sharing this information. I have been driving a truck since July 2008 and want to become an owner operator once I get a year in. I have found it very challenging to find information on even the basics of being an owner operator. I have spent countless hours searching on Google for information. I have not contacted anyone at my company yet because I do not want to hear some sales pitch. I want real life advice and information just like you provided here. Do you know of any other reliable resources?

    I have always wanted to drive a truck and my truck is my home. My mail goes to my brothers house and I have less than $500/mo personal expenses (cell, internet, and the basic necessities).

    I hope to hear back from you.

    Kevin

  2. truckied on

    Hi Kevin,

    Don’t know of much in the way of resources for prospective o/o’s; that’s one of the reasons I put that page online.

    As I say on the page, right now going o/o is a *really* bad idea. The only way I’d do it right now, is if I had enough cash on hand to pay for a decent used truck outright. That changes things from *really* bad idea to just plain old bad idea.

    I don’t know where you’re planning on operating, but pay close attention to the CARB (California Air Resources Board) emissions regulations that just recently went into effect. There are a number of other states that are considering adopting those same regulations, which would render any older truck more or less worthless.

    There’s still some stuff going on about the regulations, so I’d most certainly take a wait and see approach to see how it all shakes out in the end.

    Even if the company you’re driving for now would lease you on as an o/o after only a year, I’d wait until you have at least two years of otr experience before even thinking about buying a truck. I’d also suggest you get some experience as a trainer too. It’s amazing how much you learn by teaching. Also comes in handy if you ever want to hire a driver.

    If you have any specific questions, feel free to post them and I’ll post an answer.

    Regards,

    Truckie-D

  3. DounkTott on

    Отличный блог, интересное и полезное содержание!
    [Nice blog, interesting and useful content! ]

  4. [...] So, you want to be an owner-operator [...]

  5. Pamela Martin on

    Truckie-D. Why not get out of it and go back company then? My husband is an O/O for the past 10 years. We have always bought older used trucks with a monthly note of around $1000/mo. With all of them we have had to do several thousands of dollars in repairs a year, so now thats its time for him to get another truck we considering getting a glider kit (no EGR and better fuel mileage). The note on a new truck will be less than or equal to an older truck plus the fuel savings. VS. going back company driver and getting out of the headache all together.

    Also if you profiting more than $30K a year you could incorporate as an S-corp and not have to pay self employment taxes on some of that income.

  6. jim on

    yea i still do to. iam a company driver for a large chemical company. i drive a tanker and want to get my own. ive been driving since 1991.

  7. crlee3 on

    I stumbled upon this article looking for advice and hopefully to find some figures of what owner operators bring home. Plenty of advice, but the figures are a little blurry. So here’s the deal, the company I work for has a lease purchase program and although I haven’t read through or experienced other companies programs, this one doesn’t seem too bad. I was an owner operator and trained new students and I was averaging ~5500/week. Sometimes more. My gross pay ranged from, oh, 6000-8000$/week. After a series of payments, deductions and things I didn’t quite understand I was left with around $3000. So 30% for taxes and I’m left with $2400, which to me is a boat load of money. I never had any serious maintenance issues. I’d like to mention also that I had a responsible amount of cash deducted from each settlement to a maintenance account. My question is (after a long rant) can you make that kind of money with your own authority? If you could please reply directly to (email redacted). Also, thanks for a very informative and humorous article.

  8. crlee3 on

    Not sure if my previous post made it through, but as an o/o leased with a big company after all is said and done I’ve got $2400-2500 to my pocket. Keep in mind I’m also training fresh meat. Is it possible to make that kind of money with your own authority with your own truck and trailer?

  9. steph on

    Thank you for writing this. I knew there were taxes & expenises, but to read this, is a little overwhelming to say the least. My husband is curently considering becoming an o/o in IL. He has his CDL but is not currently using it. He has talked to my cousin, who is an o/o out of TN. He has had his own truck & company for many years. His company went under at one time, so he had to go back driving for a trucking company, but he is back driving for himself. So he has been helpful in giving my husband the ends and outs, and what mistakes he made in the past. So he is encouraging my husband to to lease on to a company to have more guaranteed loads. My husband is thinking about buying a straight truck instead of a semi, to save some money, as he was told that he can still make good money with this truck, he just won’t have bigger loads. But by leasing on with a company he will aleady know what he will be making. So I am just asking your opinion, as an outsider, as this is a huge investment for both of us.

  10. truckied on

    Having your own authority makes the whole thing much riskier. If you have a number of good shippers to haul for (i.e. that pay promptly), it can be quite lucrative. Bear in mind though, your expenses are going to be *much* higher. The required insurance isn’t cheap, and it never stops. Some drivers do quite well with their own authority — others go broke quickly. It helps considerably if you have someone at home to find freight for you.

    Drive safely!

    td

  11. truckied on

    Personally, I’d go the semi route. With a straight truck, you’ll mostly be doing expedited type freight. Pays well, but can be erratic. Also, many companies that lease on straight trucks require teams. If you need more or less steady income, maybe not the best choice. It also depends on the particular area you’ll be operating. Also, straight trucks aren’t all that much cheaper than a semi tractor. The thing to remember is, you aren’t buying a truck — you’re buying a business. So, you have to look at your particular market, and make a business-based decision. What are the potential revenues and expenses for each choice? Which will give you a better net? Making a decision based solely on the price of the equipment is probably a bad idea.

    Also, go and get hired/leased if possible BEFORE buying any equipment. Different companies have varying requirements. Not having any recent experience may also be an issue. Find out before signing on that dotted line!

    Drive safely!

    td

  12. chul on

    thanks ur blog
    best read so far

  13. reece on

    hah i drove for 2 years until my boss (co-driver) crashed the truck over an embankment, flipping it roughly 4-6 times down 35 feet, until some trees could stop it from rolling. We both survived and I just got a big cash payout and I am now looking into getting my own truck (business) Thank God. It was a rough start but was all worth it in the end. Im wondering if I should go back to team making $1100-$1400 a week. After taxes. Or should I buy a used truck in good shape and call it home. :)

  14. truckied on

    Personally, I’d go the good used truck route for cash. Not having to make those easy monthly payments helps considerably when freight slows down.

    Drive safely!

    td

  15. Pamela Martin on

    yeah but then if you get a older used truck you are still forking out repairs that average out to be as much or more as a montlhy truck payment. Ive been owner operator for 10 years and in the long run you will average what you would make teams or less with alot more stress.

  16. truckied on

    In my experience, a good used truck and a sound maintenance program works out to be very cost effective. For a team, a new (or at least newer) truck makes more sense because of the miles being run. For a solo, a good used one every time is my recommendation.

  17. David on

    First, thank you for taking the time to write a highly detailed and educated post. Just finding accurate information on truck driving in general is hard to come by for new truckers, let alone for prospective o/o’s.

    I have seen a few others on the net advising against becoming an owner operator. I am beginning to wonder why because the mathematics should speak for itself. If there isn’t any money in it, no one would be doing it. And as it is, there are still plenty of o/o’s on the road. I hate to ask this question because I don’t want to come off as suspicious but is it also possible that some o/o’s are trying to discourage newer prospective o/o’s because of freight scarcity or is that just a rumor? I’ve seen several truckers just purposely give bad advice for reasons unknown to me.

    I’ve seen one o/o on youtube who actually did his finances for a week and showed us accurately what he made. He only brought home $700 after taxes and expenses. He says, “this” is why i tell you guys its not worth it. Yet, he’s still there being an o/o. And on the other hand, I’ve talked with other o/o’s personally when I was OTR, and they were talking about just how much money they were making! One guy told me he made over 250k just last year and after taxes and expenses he saw about 150 of that. He was a solo o/o. So this low paying market just doesn’t make any sense to me. No one I know would go through all that kind of hassle if you saw less than 1k a week on a regular basis. Is it possible that there are just some people who have had really bad experiences, had to learn the hard way, and this has led them to have a real distaste for it? Is the reason why there is hardly any information out there on becoming an o/o due to the fact that it is largely a much more profitable endeavor than some would like us to believe?

    So long as I have a truck that isn’t breaking down every five seconds, is $2,000 a week after taxes and expenses something that is feasible? How can it not when o/o’s can comfortably make 10k a week before taxes and expenses? I realize there are fluctuations but what would you consider a rough figure to be able to expect? What regions do you recommend traveling to and from that are most lucrative? I live in the Southern Central portion of Pennsylvania right now, which from what I understand is a hub for freight transportation.

    I know there are many very real risks involved but that is true with any new business starting out. Not just with trucking. If it were that easy, everyone would do it. I personally have more of a business/profit mindset and I’m a good saver. I have already determined to go the smart route and either buy the truck outright or lease. I haven’t made up my mind which I’d rather do. Of course I’ll have to save up more before I’ll be able to buy outright which requires time. And ideally I want to have a good amount of savings on the side to absorb any substantial unexpected costs when starting out.

    I’ve never been an o/o but honestly I’d like to see more of them out on the road to break the stranglehold that companies like JB, US Xpress, Werner and Swift have on the freight market. I think someone somewhere is committing highway robbery by handing out drivers less than $500 a week. Where is the incentive? Honestly I’d rather work at McDonalds where I can still flirt with the co-workers and have some semblance of a social life. I would love to see these trucking giants brought to their knees and I only wish people could believe in themselves more to be able to do it. Because it can be a reality. They depend on us, not the other way around.

    In my opinion, so long as the world doesn’t grind to a hault, there will always be money in trucking. When one aspect gets tight, like fuel, then things like fuel surcharges will come into the market where they previously weren’t to compensate for that lack. The average person very much wants their coffee and doughnuts every morning and they will pay a lot of money to keep that happening.

    Any thoughts? Again thanks for your contribution.

  18. truckied on

    Thanks for your kind comments.

    “I have seen a few others on the net advising against becoming an owner operator. I am beginning to wonder why because the mathematics should speak for itself. If there isn’t any money in it, no one would be doing it.”

    It’s not just about the money. There are a lot of drivers who become o/o’s for a variety of other reasons, such as greater control of when and where you go (o/o’s can’t be force dispatched — if they can be, they’re employees, not contractors), wanting a customized truck, etc.

    “…is it also possible that some o/o’s are trying to discourage newer prospective o/o’s because of freight scarcity or is that just a rumor?”

    It can happen that way.

    “I’ve seen several truckers just purposely give bad advice for reasons unknown to me.”

    Some are malicious, some just don’t know any better themselves.

    “I’ve seen one o/o on youtube who actually did his finances… … a much more profitable endeavor than some would like us to believe?”

    In my experience, when talking to an o/o about money, they’ll either complain that they’re going broke, or making bags of money. The reality is usually somewhere in between. You CAN make decent money as an o/o — but you have to be tough, smart, and hardworking to do so.

    “So long as I have a truck that isn’t breaking down every five seconds, is $2,000 a week after taxes and expenses something that is feasible?”

    It’s within the realm of possibility, if you really want to work that hard. $2,000 a week after expenses, but before taxes is certainly doable.

    “How can it not when o/o’s can comfortably make 10k a week before taxes and expenses?”

    More like 6-7k gross max. Usually less than that.

    “What regions do you recommend traveling to and from that are most lucrative? I live in the Southern Central portion of Pennsylvania right now, which from what I understand is a hub for freight transportation.”

    Not quite that simple. Most freight markets are unbalanced when it comes to freight rates — i.e., Northeast loads pay quite well going in, but very poorly coming out. If you live in PA, you’ll find your outbound freight pays badly, but you’ll find a profitable load to get back home.

    “I know there are many very real risks involved but that is true with any new business starting out. Not just with trucking. If it were that easy, everyone would do it. I personally have more of a business/profit mindset and I’m a good saver. I have already determined to go the smart route and either buy the truck outright or lease. I haven’t made up my mind which I’d rather do. Of course I’ll have to save up more before I’ll be able to buy outright which requires time. And ideally I want to have a good amount of savings on the side to absorb any substantial unexpected costs when starting out.”

    A good general plan. Personally, what I always recommend is to buy the best truck you can for cash, or at least have a very substantial down payment. I’m not so thrilled about leasing. It does have some tax advantages, but until you buyout the lease at the end, you have no equity at all.

    You didn’t mention if you have any otr experience or not. If you don’t have at least two years otr as a company driver, get it, then think about going o/o. Really.

    “I’ve never been an o/o but honestly I’d like to see more of them out on the road to break the stranglehold that companies like JB, US Xpress, Werner and Swift have on the freight market.”

    They don’t really have a stranglehold — it’s just that competing with each other has driven freight rates down (and keeps them low). More o/o’s wouldn’t really have much effect in either direction.

    “I think someone somewhere is committing highway robbery by handing out drivers less than $500 a week. Where is the incentive? Honestly I’d rather work at McDonalds where I can still flirt with the co-workers and have some semblance of a social life. I would love to see these trucking giants brought to their knees and I only wish people could believe in themselves more to be able to do it. Because it can be a reality. They depend on us, not the other way around.”

    Yes, but unlikely to happen.

    “In my opinion, so long as the world doesn’t grind to a halt, there will always be money in trucking. When one aspect gets tight, like fuel, then things like fuel surcharges will come into the market where they previously weren’t to compensate for that lack. The average person very much wants their coffee and doughnuts every morning and they will pay a lot of money to keep that happening.”

    Not quite. In 2008 freight just dried up. I went from running 110-120k miles a year, to 70k. People were still eating, but not much.

    “Any thoughts?”

    Many. See above.

    “Again thanks for your contribution.”

    Gratifying to know that it helps and thanks for your thoughtful comments and questions.

    Drive safely!

    td

  19. alwayssmilin on

    How does o/o change with regard to running sand, water or crude in the oil fields?

  20. truckied on

    Good question. I do know that bulk loads like that tend to be heavy, and liquid loads are particularly hard on drivetrains. If the money and work schedule meet your requirements, it might be a good option.

    Drive Safely!

    td

  21. OMS on

    I’ve been hauling steel as a company driver for 6 years now. I’ve been with my current company for 1.5 years and I have been steadily finding better and better opportunity within my company. I get percentage, btw. Last month, I finally established a balance (family, work, finances). I am very very pleased with my work.

    Today, my boss rolls up on his way out and says in 10 days we are going to haul concrete to Toronto and I’m going to be one of the guys to do it. This is NOT good. If I figure right, he just rolled up and told me I will no longer be home every night, I will be driving two to three times as much everyday through traffic and weather, and I will be taking about a 25% pay-cut to do it. He has no idea what I have been up to this last year and a half! Last year I made X. This year I made Y, which is 30% better than X. He wants me to make Z next year which is 25% less than Y and close to 10% less than X! I told him I can’t start it until January because I’m about to have my 5th child!

    So… I need to get out from under ANYone that can roll up and do that kind of thing to me. I must get my own truck. Call me crazy, but I also want to continue working with this company if I do. I just have to find out if they would give me the same freight if I went O/O.

    Also, I have no money to get started with! But if I hang around and do this crap concrete, I will NEVER have money to get started. AND I will not find work that pays better than the concrete crap. I make as much as I do because I established good relationships with the shipping office and dispatch. The boss is not very involved in everyday operations. He just likes to show up and make declarations that change peoples’ lives now and again. But the money is there (if I can somehow have more of my own control) and so is the kind of work I enjoy doing — short haul – big pay!

    So question is, how to get a truck with little or no money, and how to negotiate a good deal with the boss, and, if that doesn’t work, how to get a good deal elsewhere? Any advice?

  22. truckied on

    Since you’ve been with your company for some time, I’d first try to work things out. If you can, great. Personally, with a boss that capricious, I’d be out the door. If you’re going to try negotiating a deal as an o/o, you want to do it from a position of strength — in other words, have an alternative lined up that you can walk right into. Good drivers are hard to find, so with a stable employment history and a good safety record, you can get a position just about anywhere. Also, remain calm and cool — you don’t want a (deserved or undeserved) bad reference.

    There are plenty of places that will give you a truck with little or nothing down if you have reasonable (or sometimes even not very good) credit. The trouble is, most of them want you to lease on with them. This can be good or bad, depending on the company. Investigate any offered deal carefully, and do the math.

    Not having money could be problematic even if you get a truck. Things that break on a truck are expensive, and the one thing you can be sure of, is something will always break. If you’re lucky (and careful), hopefully it’ll be later rather than sooner. Some places offer a warranty or maintenance program — if they’re fair and reasonable, they’re a good thing. Bad ones can be a serious ripoff.

    Running short haul freight as an o/o can be an iffy proposition. Since there are so many drivers who would like to be home frequently, much o/o short haul freight doesn’t pay very well, depending on the area. It all comes down to finding the right place with the right freight.

    Above all, don’t be discouraged — change can be a good thing, and might get you into a much better situation than you are now.

    Keep us posted about how things work out.

    Drive safely!

    td

  23. OMA on

    Capricious! Perfect word, TD! I like it.

    Thanks for reply. Good advice. Going to take some today about the concrete deal. Maybe (big, or little maybe, depending on how you look at it) it isn’t such a bad deal. The fact he felt he had to so forcefully include guys makes me pretty sure it’s a bad deal, and that he knows it is.

  24. Judas on

    No family no dog no rent no nothing, still a bad idea?

  25. truckied on

    Judas-

    That helps a lot. If you’ve got sufficient cash on hand, that’s even better. Go get some experience as a company driver first though.

    Come back and let us know how it goes.

    Drive Safely!

    td

  26. Daniel on

    I just leased on with swift need advice on paperwork and tax accountant or tax program 8287852853

  27. andrew on

    Well said… I was an o/o in 2011 and lost my shirt OTR.. I made more at the black jack tables … I’m now in the oil field biz and am getting back into o/o in the oil field.. Most guys I talk to say the same thing OTR freight just isn’t there.. From my mistakes I can now go into it with the ability to make good money but I would not recommend a new guy trying it.. Experience is a good thing.


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