Becoming an owner-operator trucker allows you to become your own boss. Growing your business as an owner-operator can come with some challenges but many rewards as well. Making more money as a trucking owner-operator is essential to surviving in the trucking industry.
Being an owner-operator can be lucrative but comes with a lot of responsibilities. It takes being smart with your money and a need to build a strong repour. Below are five tips on how to make the most money as a trucking owner-operator.
1. Position yourself as a reliable trucker
As with any profession that survives on great customer service, being an owner-operator is no different. Making the most money as an owner-operator requires more than picking up and dropping off freight if you want to score those high-ticket loads. People lean toward truck companies they trust and trust is built through the proper steps.
Establishing a name for yourself as a reliable owner-operator includes making sure loads are always delivered on time and maintaining positive relationships with your customers and fleet managers. When you build strong relationships, you become the first call a manager makes when they have freight that needs hauling. It takes time and effort to position yourself as a reliable owner-operator but ultimately this means constant work and more money in your pocket.
2. Sign up fuel cards and loyalty programs
In order to make the most money as a trucking owner-operator, you must save money as well. Keeping your expenses down is one of the best ways to increase your earnings. Fuel card programs and e-discounts for truckers make travel easier and cheaper.
Fuel advances offer carriers significant per-gallon discounts on diesel fuel, as well as savings on other services. There are programs that offer discounts on everything your truck needs from fuel to tires and parts. Some fuel programs can track your fuel spending and include fuel management tools and purchase controls to help you manage fuel and other expenses.
3. Avoid deadhead miles
If you want to maximize your earnings as an owner-operator, it is important not to deadhead. Deadhead for truckers means driving with an empty trailer with no freight. When trucks are driven without transporting cardo, you are just burning fuel without making any profit to make up for it. Anytime you are on the road, you are not only burning fuel but also putting wear and tear on your truck. Make sure you are always making money while behind the wheel.
One way to avoid deadhead miles is to backhaul. Backhauls are loads taken on your return trip back to or near your home base after completing your original haul.
Backhauls usually pay less than the typical haul because demand is lower so you make less per mile but some pay is better than none. To make more money as a trucker using backhauls, plan your route carefully and know your round-trip rates. If you are making a substantial amount of money with your original haul, the backhaul revenue can be used for maintenance purposes. Backhauls are always better than empty miles.
4. Utilize load boards and connections
Technology has not only changed the way the world operates but also the trucking industry. Load boards is an online marketplace where owner-operators, shippers and brokers can post and find loads in real-time. Utilizing load boards in the perfect way for owner-operators to make more money because you tell brokers where you are and where you want to go.
Although there are free load boards, the better ones usually come with a monthly subscription. Load boards like 123Loadboards, Truckstop.com and DAT offer more services than just load information. With the higher subscriptions, you’ll have access to other things like the best routes to avoid deadheading and industry trends. Even better, there are apps for most load boards so the opportunity to make more money as an owner-operator is right at your fingertips.
Finding the right loads that will generate the most revenue for your trucking company comes with time and research. Getting higher rates on loads means more money collected. In order to maximize your earnings as an owner-operator, you must minimalize downtime. Using the services of load boards will help you make long-lasting connections and build a rapport.
5. Learn how to repair your own truck to save money at the shop
If you are an owner-operator, reducing your repair bills will keep more money in your pockets. By learning how to fix repairs needed on your truck, you can save thousands of dollars in labor costs and time. Repair shops can take hours to fix even the smallest repairs. Like many things, one of the east ways to learn how to repair your own freight truck is to follow video tutorials.
Trips to the repair shop with your semi can take a chunk of time out of your day and a lump of cash out of your wallet. Limit them as much as possible by doing your own semi-truck maintenance and repair. Video tutorials give you the opportunity to visually follow along with someone doing the same work as you. Not every fix can be maintained by an owner-operator themselves so it is still important to know when to involve someone more skilled.