Owner Operator Choices

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One of the most difficult concepts I have tried to grasp over the past number of years and the one I have cherished the most is the one that goes “I am in this position because I chose to be here” I take 100% responsibility for me.
I am not trying to get to heavy on you here but think about it. The situations you are in with your family friends and your carrier you are in because you choose to be in those situations good or bad. There are no chains that keep you where you’re at in a good or bad situation. You are in charge of you, simple concept right, well if this is true then why do we seem to be so hell bent on sticking with the ordinary in our lives when the extraordinary is within our grasp? We all have the power to change if were motivated to do so.
So you are not happy with your current carrier and you are contemplating making a change, as some of you are. What do you do now? Many drivers will simply look through the ads and make a short list of carriers to call and see what they have to say. They might listen to what their buddies have to say about where they’re working, listen to the CB rumor mill etc, each of these little bits of reconnaissance have some limited value.
What I am saying to you is what have you done to make the place you are at now a success and why is it bad? Ask yourself what can I control in this situation and what can I do to minimize my cost of operation and maximize my profit. If you haven’t done this exercise then you haven’t given yourself the opportunity to succeed and feel good about the quality of job you do.
So what can you control as an Owner Operator, you control many significant operating expenses such as your MPG, is it as low as you can possibly get it, you control your maintenance cost are you doing everything necessary to minimize this expense. Do you have a good relationship with the shop that does your work do you handle as much roadside minimal breakdowns as you can by yourself by carrying your own tools, grease etc?
Do you have a good accountant/business advisor and financial support staff who knows trucking and can offer advice when needed. Is you finance cost in line with what it should be, how is your relationship with your dispatcher is it cooperative or aggressive? Are your living expenses outside your truck operating cost reasonable?
Now look at what you can’t control, you cannot control the amount of miles you are offered and if there aren’t enough for you to make a living you will need to move on ASAP. You can’t control certain cost the carrier is probably going to pass on to you that might include your base plates insurance cost etc.
I am not trying to talk anyone out of leaving the carrier that their currently at what I am trying to do is slow down is the owner Operators who have had 5 jobs in 5 years and cannot understand why everyone’s always picking on them. Look in the mirror one of reasons you became an owner operator is for the independence, when you made that decision you became a small business person, are you sure you’re acting like one?
The other concept that needs to be seriously looked at is that when you generate revenue per mile, what you actually have left after expenses is around 40% of your gross. When you save a dollar, that dollar goes directly to your bottom line, a smart responsible owner operator is constantly focused on reducing their operating cost.
One of the miracles of trucking is the maze of different pay packages that exist in this business. No two are alike and they all have their own little nuances that can make or break the O/O.
One of the biggest phalluses with them all is that bigger is better it may very well be that the carrier that advertises the highest gross will not be the carrier that will put the most in your pocket. Shop wisely and investigate what process’s and offerings each carrier has that is offered to the O/O that might help you reduce your variable cost. Some carriers offer reduced shop rates some might offer discount group offerings on cell phones fuel health benefits, whatever it might be investigate it all and see what might be available that you can leverage off to help you succeed.
Many of you reading this get it and I applaud you, for those of you who dont, Bottom Line: get in charge of your results and take responsibility for them dont sit around waiting for someone or some company to blame your mediocrity on? Step up folks!
Safe driving

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Mr. Ray Haight has enjoyed a successful career in transportation starting as a company driver and Owner Operator logging over one million accident free miles prior to starting his own company. After stepping down from a successful career managing one of Canada’s 50 largest trucking companies, Ray focused on industry involvement including terms as Chairman of each of the following, the Truckload Carriers Association, Professional Truck Drivers Institute, North American Training and Management Institute and the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities voluntary apprenticeship of Tractor Trailer Commercial Driver, along with many other business interests, he enjoys a successful consulting business, also sitting on various Boards of both industry associations a private motor carriers. He is also Co-Founder of StakUp O/A TCAinGauge an online bench marking service designed to assist trucking companies throughout North America focus on efficiency and profitability within their operations.

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  • Good and timely article Ray, but I’m guessing you meant “fallacies”
    “One of the biggest phalluses ….”

  • The one point overlooked and more important is that most owner-operators continue to view themselves as being in an employee/employer relationship as do the carriers. Therein lies the biggest problem.
    You cannot be an independant business person and continue with those ways of thinking. I’ll leave it at that without going into the many other things I’ve harped on for these many many years.