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Thinking of becoming an O/O?


Hello all, and thanks for many great comments on Ray’s rules, I plan on showing all the suggestions I received on this blog and also those sent to me directly a soon as I get the time. I am also planning on giving my 2 cents on load brokers, who by the way gave me the most feedback and comments on the article, go figure! In the meanwhile, here’s something to consider……
Thinking of becoming an Owner Operator?
One of my many day jobs just happens to be trying to help truck drivers to decide if it is a smart move for them to become owner operators and if it is to then advise them of how to get started and be successful. At ATBS I receive many emails and phone calls from folks who just need a little guidance and in some cases a simple gut check to ensure that they have covered all the bases in making their decision.
From those conversations I have developed a list of items to contemplate for those of you who are thinking of making the plunge and that I think might help some of you make up your minds on the subject. The conversations usually ramble a bit as I get to know what has driven the wannabe to begin thinking that this might be a good idea and a give me a little bit of a background on the individuals history in the industry, they also quickly notice that I try and get to the point as quickly as possible, not to be rude but to try and take some of the emotion out of the equation of a business decision. You can slide a long way on desire but at the end of the day the facts don’t lie.
First of all I try and determine if the individual is totally enamored with the idea of owning a pretty truck and being in control of the unit as far as tricking it out to be a show truck, and is this their main motivation above all else. This is usually a quick call, my advice, don’t do it unless you are independently wealthy and this is going to be more of a hobby than a career, you will die on the vine and be known as a wannabe.
On the other hand If wannabe is enamored as explained above and also has a desire to be an independent business person and or just has a burning desire to succeed and do whatever it takes to be successful in the trucking industry, then we move on to step two. Far too many people decide to become owner operators for all the wrong reasons and they look through rose colored glasses and see nothing but pasture’s a plenty of money. What they should be seeing is plenty of hard work behind the wheel, just as they had as company drivers, and in addition to all that hard work, they’ll need to maintain the vehicle, look after their paperwork and keep track of two dozen other critical things that need attention. This is of course where it all breaks down.
Step two is usually when I ask the wannabe if they have done a cash flow on their personal situation to determine if they have any idea what their monthly needs are on a personal level. Many New owner operators enter this industry under financed to begin with and when you’re under the gun financially before you turn your first mile your chances of lasting are dramatically reduced. I have advised many wannabe’s to wait until they were on sound footings financially before they look at becoming owner operators again.
Step three is when I try and explain what it will take for them to be successful and that they are becoming a small business and what that looks like from a business person’s perspective compared to a company driver’s perspective. Let me explain what I mean from the company drivers perspective, I have seen countless people become owner operators because they decided that they found a good deal on what they thought was a sharp dependable truck and they happen to know a company that wanted to hire more owner operators, usually it’ the one they currently drive for. There is nothing wrong with this scenario on the surface, it is done all the time, but unfortunately I give this person a 31% chance at sustaining this business for more than 5 years, this number is based on Industry Canada’s own numbers (http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/sbrp-rppe.nsf/eng/rd01228.html) I give them a 10% chance of ever realizing what the full potential of that small business really is financially.
From a businessman’s perspective, at the risk of turning this article into a blatant testimonial for ATBS, we happen to have Business Manual for Owner Operators that were very proud of. In its pages there are 25 chapters that are in a somewhat logical order, buying the right truck is contained in chapter 15, choosing the right carriers is in chapter 18. What I am saying is that there is plenty of homework, education and planning that should be done before one should ever part with their hard earned money in the form of a down payment on a truck. It is this preparation that will increase your likelihood of winning at the game and making a realistic return on your investment in that truck. (http://www.atbs.ca/)
This is a hard industry but I think you would be hard pressed to find one in these hard times that isn’t difficult, that doesn’t mean that some folks won’t prosper, out of ruin and turmoil always comes winners, how does that happen? I think it happens because these folks prepare and plan and leave no stone unturned in their effort to be successful, they do their homework up front and they have a dogged determination to succeed.
Use your head when making a decision this size and research every bit of information you can find on this industry, can you imagine the increased likelihood of your success over the average Joe if you did this, why wouldn’t you do this, it’s your future your playing with here. Thomas Edison said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Come to find out he also said, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight it’s the size of the fight in the dog” this is my favorite of his. I said “Use your head and do the homework driver.”
Safe Trucking
Rjh


Ray Haight

Ray Haight

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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10 Comments » for Thinking of becoming an O/O?
  1. meslippery says:

    Well Ray as a company driver when things turn againts you
    you can park there truck.
    You have only your time invested.
    As a o/o you have alot more to think about.
    To each there own.
    But even before speed limiters and EOBRS (PENDING)
    I still thought, in all but for a few sweatheart deals,
    It was NOT A GOOD plan.
    But I am not always right.
    meslippery

  2. Delia Ann Kennedy says:

    I have a personal interest in bomber and motorcycle jackets. There is a crossover between the two. I came across this blog and I was wondering what sort of jackets truckers prefer for those subzero temperatures. I am guessing they like anything along the lines of the old flight jackets, which often had sheepskin linings (shearling). Or are there other preferences at work due the unique nature of the job?

  3. Rick says:

    Perpsective owner-operators also really need to look at WHY some carriers wish to hire owner-operators as opposed to running company equipment. The answer, of course, is simple: It is cheaper to run an owner-operator than it is to run a company truck. Much better to give someone the illusion of independence and have him work his balls off for what in the final analysis is probably not much better than what a company driver gets…and the company driver doesn’t have a 300K albatros around his neck to “motivate” him every day. The owner-operator ruse is simply a way for the folks who beat their chests about having “skin in the game” to pass the buck off to others. It’s nothing more than the trucking version of the stick and carrot.. think about it. The carrot is miles..and the stick is that big old Petermobile that needs to be paid for.. and the carriers know that too…

  4. Doug Lewis says:

    Wanting to be an o/o is wanting to be a dog for punishment. I started in 1959 and by the time I was forced to retire by health in 2003 I had amassed 12,000,000 miles (not kilometers). Passing that mark on June 27/2003. In all that time I received 4 speed tickets and 1 overweight on the pull but zero accidents.Here are my rewards for newbies to consider.
    I missed my 1st family growing up. I got divorced. I spent every holliday but 2 Christmas days on the road.I was never home for birthdays,special occasions,anniverseries.I traded my family for my truck.To own a truck you have to operate. There is no middle ground.I loved the life but loved it to much.I fought endlessly with load brokers. Got headaches from Customs. Got terrorized by DOT checks.My only company was the stars,my CB and a mountain of music.If you choose this life choose carefully my friend.The only advice I give wanabies these days is this.Consider carefully don,t just wish.You must be carefull what you wish for.You might just get it.

  5. meslippery says:

    I Hear you Doug. But 1959 there must be some fond
    memorys ? The open road ? No speed limiters,
    NO sat tracking, No EOBRs (pending) and making money.
    I would not recommend it now. But youth and a free
    spirit dove us. It was a hard job then, now it is complete BS
    With all the tracking they have on us you would think
    they could pay us a fair hourly wage. but NO
    The only reason they have drivers is some one needs a job.
    I did not see it coming, but here we are.
    meslippery

  6. Rick says:

    Hard work indeed…12 million miles over 44 years works out to 272,727 miles per year…or 5245 miles a week…week after week after week with no weeks off..You would have to run 747 miles every single day for 44 years (seven days a week..no holidays off at all) to achieve 12 million miles in 44 years. I don’t mean to doubt you Doug..I’m sure you worked hard and you have a record to be proud of…but 12 million miles doesn’t sound right…

  7. cobra says:

    come on doug i doubt u loggeg 12m miles and still rented or bought a shack to call home all for nothing.12m miles? gimme a break!life expectancy for a donut eating and coffee sipping driver is estimated to be in the third world range.

  8. meslippery says:

    Hard work often increases live expectancy.
    Do you know any 86 year old farmers still working?
    I do.
    meslippery

  9. Rick says:

    do you know any 86 year old truckers still working? I don’t either..

  10. Jimh says:

    Quote:
    “Wanting to be an o/o is wanting to be a dog for punishment. I started in 1959 and by the time I was forced to retire by health in 2003 I had amassed 12,000,000 miles (not kilometers). Passing that mark on June 27/2003. In all that time I received 4 speed tickets and 1 overweight on the pull but zero accidents.Here are my rewards for newbies to consider.
    I missed my 1st family growing up. I got divorced. I spent every holliday but 2 Christmas days on the road.I was never home for birthdays,special occasions,anniverseries.I traded my family for my truck.To own a truck you have to operate. There is no middle ground.I loved the life but loved it to much.I fought endlessly with load brokers. Got headaches from Customs. Got terrorized by DOT checks.My only company was the stars,my CB and a mountain of music.If you choose this life choose carefully my friend.The only advice I give wanabies these days is this.Consider carefully don,t just wish.You must be carefull what you wish for.You might just get it.
    Posted by: Doug Lewis | March 24, 2010 07:48 AM”
    Unquote
    Sorry I am a little late replying to this topic, but here goes. Mr. Lewis says being an o-o is being a dog for punishment. I must disagree, it isn’t if you do it right. Obviously 12,000,000 miles in 44 years is not possible. If you miss your family growing up & spent all holidays on the road it is no ones fault but yourself. Absolutely no need to trade your family for a truck. I did it for 21 years and was home almost every weekend, and for almost every holiday. Didn’t miss my family growing up & didn’t get divorced either. I certainly never spent a Christmas on the road. Parked the truck and took at least two weeks holidays with my family each and every year. Fought occasionally with load brokers, had the occasional headache from Customs, can’t say I have ever been terrorized by DOT checks. In those 21 years I had zero speeding tickets, 2 overweight tickets, and no at fault accidents. Always paid all my bills on time and was never even one day late with a truck or trailer payment.To own a truck you have to operate, yes, but you need to operate smart to do it right. You need to know your costs, your abilities, and sometimes you just need to be able to say “NO”. The customer is NOT always right. Life is far too short to spend it confined in a metal box for 44 years.

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