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Owner Operator 411

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23 June 2009

Pros and Cons of Being an Owner Operator



The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly


Pros:


You are not tied down to a 9-5 job.


You can make a lot of your own decisions.


You can make a decent living.


You get to "be your own boss".


You get to see a lot of this beautiful ol' USA (and maybe Canada and Mexico).


Cons:


You are not working a 9-5 job.  You will put in 20 hours days.  You will go without sleep, food, and showers.  You will do a lot of sitting and waiting.  Waiting to get a load, waiting to get loaded, and waiting to get unloaded.


You will be gone from home - a lot.


You must make a lot of your own decisions:  Do I buy tires, or have the engine rebuilt?  Do I take this cheap a** load so I can get home, or do I sit out here in the boonies for 3 days waiting on a decent paying load?  If I wait on a decent paying load, how much am I going to lose by not working for 3 days?


You can make a decent living, if you work your butt off, but it is getting harder and harder to do.  Every day freight rates are cut and you are forced to haul for less money.  Rates are no higher than they were 20 years ago, and in many instances, they are lower.  Most of the money you make will go back into the truck.


You get to "be your own boss", with all the decisions, troubles, and headaches that come with being a business owner.

I would like for any current truck drivers who may be reading this to add to this list by making a comment.

15 May 2009

10) Truck Driving Schools

Truck Driving Schools


FAQ for the Owner Operator
Pictures
Anti-Idling Regulations
Definitions and Industry Terms
Blackrock Auxiliary Power Unit (APU)
Interactive Cost per Mile (CPM) Calculator Spreadsheet
Privacy Policy
1) Owner Operator 411 – Welcome
2) Income and Expenses
3) Financing and Credit
4) Operating Authority or Leasing?
5) Equipment
6) How To Do Bookkeeping and Other Necessary Paperwork
7) What You Need to Know About Loadboards
8) Companies That Lease Beginning Owner Operators
9) What You Actually Need to Get Started - Licenses, Permits, Insurance, and Taxes



A reader posted a comment about truck driving schools on "Pros and Cons of Being an Owner Operator", so I decided to write a little something about them.

I hadn't written anything before because I really don't know a lot about them.

When I started driving a truck, all you had to do was go to the DMV and tell them you wanted a chauffers license.  If you already had a regular (car) license, that was all there was to it - no written test, no road test, no nothing - just pay your money and you were now a "professional driver"!

Most people learned to drive a truck by going with a friend or relative who drove a truck.  It was a lot like your parents or someone teaching you to drive a car.

Then along came CDL's and everything changed.  Now you have to have a physical before you can even apply.  You have to take a written test.  You have to pay for and take extra written tests if you want to be licensed to pull tankers, or doubles/triples.  If you want to haul hazardous materials, you have to jump through a dozen hoops - and pay even more.  And of course, there is the "skills" (road/driving) test.

When CDL's were first introduced, the "truck driving school" became real popular.  I am sure there are good ones as well as bad ones, but they all cost you a pretty penny.

Do you have to go to a truck driving school to get a CDL?  No.  If by some method you learned to drive a truck and can pass the written tests and skills test, then you don't need to pay someone to get your license.
  
Then why go to a truck driving school?  Well, how are you going to learn how to drive a truck.  Maybe in the military.  You can get a learner's permit and go with a CDL holder and learn to drive sort of like the old fashioned way.  As for the written tests, all you need to do is get the study book from your DMV, study it well and you should be able to pass your written test without a problem.

The problem is mainly insurance.  If your friend is willing to teach you to drive, you probably won't be covered by their insurance, so they may not want you driving in case an accident should happen.  If your friend has his truck leased to a company, then it becomes even more difficult.  Most companies won't even allow passengers, and if they do, they almost certainly won't allow that passenger to be learning to drive.

From what I have heard and read, in addition to providing you with a truck to practice with, and helping you study, they also teach you things like how to fill out a log book.

Remember when you learned to drive a car and got your first driver's license?  Have your driving skills improved since then?  (I hope so!)  Well, it will be the same when you go to a truck driving school.  You may get your CDL, but there is still a lot to learn.

The main advantage of going to a truck driving school is having a truck to practice with and take your skills test with.

Even if you already know how to drive, it may be difficult to obtain a truck for your skills test.  As I wrote in another post, in some states you can rent a truck (so I've been told), to use to take your skills test, but that is not possible in all states.

Also, if you are not listed on the truck insurance policy, then you may not even be allowed to use a borrowed truck.  I tried to let a friend take his test with my truck and even though I drove him to the test site, he wasn't allowed to use my truck because he wasn't on my insurance.

So beware, if you are thinking of going to a truck driving school.  Find out exactly what they will teach you, and how much time you will get in the truck, actually driving.  Make sure that when you finish you will actually have a CDL.  Try to find someone who has gone to the one you are thinking of going to and see what they think about it.

Like most things, truck driving schools can be beneficial, if you choose the right one.


I am sorry I have to do this, but due to spam "comments"  I feel I need to moderate comments from now on.
I am sorry for any inconvenience this may cause to my legitimate commenters.

05 May 2009

9) What You Actually Need to Get Started


 
1973 White Road Commander

FAQ for the Owner Operator
Pictures
Anti-Idling Regulations
Definitions and Industry Terms
Blackrock Auxiliary Power Unit (APU)
Interactive Cost per Mile (CPM) Calculator Spreadsheet
Privacy Policy
1) Owner Operator 411 – Welcome
2) Income and Expenses
3) Financing and Credit
4) Operating Authority or Leasing?
5) Equipment
6) How To Do Bookkeeping and Other Necessary Paperwork
7) What You Need to Know About Loadboards
8) Companies That Lease Beginning Owner Operators
10) Truck Driving Schools


OK. You have done all of your research, and decided you really do want to become an owner operator.

Hopefully, you have:
  • Read this entire blog
  • Talked with other owner operators, especially at the company you want to lease on to.
  • Run a "What If" with the Interactive Cost Per Mile Calculator and found you really could make a profit.  Not just a profit, but enough income to pay all of your expenses and to have enough to live on, too.  (Don't forget, you also need to save enough to cover repairs or a major breakdown and enough to live on while you are getting the work done.)
  • Made a business plan.
  • Gotten your family to support you.  You would be surprised how many people quit driving a truck because their family doesn't like for them to be away from home.
  • Decided what kind of entity you want to have.
  • Decided what you will be hauling so you can spec your equipment properly?
    Have you found a truck?  Do you need a trailer too?  If you are leasing to a company, many of them have requirements as to how old of truck they will lease.  Be sure to check it out before you buy.
  • Made sure your equipment will pass a DOT, state and company inspection.
  • Talked with a loan officer at the bank, credit union, or loan company that will financing your equipment to see what information they require, and to see if you can even get financing for your equipment?
  • Figured out how you are going to get your Commercial Driver's License (CDL).  Will you be going to a truck driving school?  If not, do you know how you are going to take a road test?
  • Found an accountant or tax professional and got a list of what you need to keep track of before you start buying equipment.
  • Check out Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) for vast amounts of information.  As before, I recommend that if you do become an owner operator, that you join OOIDA (non owner operators can join, too).
I would advise you to get your CDL first.  If you can't pass your tests, it would be a shame if you had already bought a truck and/or trailer.  Then you would be stuck with having to try to sell them.  Now is not a good time to try to sell your equipment.


You do not have to go to a school to get a CDL.


You do have to take both a written test and a (skills) road test. If you can pass both, then you will be issued a license.


A word of CAUTION, however,  I know you can rent trucks in some states, but in my state that is not possible. I know of no place (and I have looked) where you can rent a truck to take a road test.


Also, we tried to loan our truck to a friend to take his test in, and examiner giving the test wouldn't let him use our truck because he wasn't listed on our insurance. Don't forget, you have to take your road test in the "type of vehicle" you will be operating. In other words, you have to have a "Class A" type vehicle to get a Class A license.


In my state you must 'supply your own vehicle" and pay the road test examiner $75.00.


Also (any state) before you can even apply for a permit, you must have a long form DOT physical.  Cost depends on the doctor.


Don't forget, if you are applying for your own authority, you have to have a drug and alcohol program in place.  You will be required to have pre-employment  drug testing before you begin to operate your truck.  If you are leasing your truck to a company, they will do handle the drug and alcohol testing.


After you decide what type of entity you will become (sole proprietor, partnership, LLC, corporation, etc.) you may have to get an Employer's Identification Number (EIN), also called a Federal Employer's Identification Number (FEIN).  It's FREE! and will be issued immediately if you apply online. If you will be a sole proprietor, your EIN will be your social security number, unless you will be hiring employees (including family members), then you will need an EIN.  All others will have to file a IRS Form SS4, or file online at Employer ID Number (EIN).  See: 6) How to Do Bookkeeping and Other Necessary Paperwork Permits and Taxes for more information about sole proprietorships, partnerships, spousal partnerships, employees,and more.

After you get your federal EIN, you will have to apply for a business license with your home state.  (If you are going to be a sole proprietor, you will apply using your social security number, unless you will have employees - then you need an EIN.)  You may also have to apply for a business license with your county (parish), and/or city.  If you are going to be a LLC (limited liability company or LLP (limited liability partnership) the you will also need to have liability insurance.

Are you going to be leasing to a company or getting your own authority?  In some states you will need a USDOT number before you can get your license plates.   ** This requirement is being phased out by September 1, 2012.  Since it is until effect until then, I am not sure if you would be required to have it at this time or not.  Check with you state registration office. **  If you are applying for your own authority, you have to have a USDOT number.

Will you be operating intrastate or interstate? (intrastate is within one state only, interstate is operating in more than one state).

Will you be hauling hazardous materials (hazmat)?  Then you need a hazmat endorsement (any state).  You will also need to have a background check and be fingerprinted and get a Hazmat Endorsement Threat Assessment.  Go to Transportation Security Administration for details.  Cost is $89.25.  It is valid for 5 years, unless you transfer (to another state), upgrade (add endorsements), or renew a license, then you need to go through (and pay) all of this again.

If you will be loading or unloading at ports, you will need a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC).  You can get information about this at Department of Homeland Security - TWIC.  The cost is $132.50 and is valid for 5 years.


If you plan to operate in Canada or Mexico, you will also need a passport.  United States government passport information. Cost is $120.00

The answer to each of these questions determines what you need to apply for.  Go to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) registration and licensing for a matrix (list) of the required forms, and to apply online.

You will, of course, need license plates for your tractor and your trailer (if you are purchasing both).  Contact your state Department of Motor Vehicles to find out how to apply.  Unless you are applying for license plates within 30 days of your purchase of your tractor, you will need a copy of IRS Form 2290, Heavy Highway Vehicle Use Tax Return, showing you paid your road use taxes. This is an annual fee.  It is  $550.00 a year for an 80,000 pound vehicle (except logging.)

The type of trucking insurance you need will depend on whether you are leased to a company or have your own operating authority, what type of goods you will be hauling, and whether your equipment is financed or paid for.  Be sure to read all of the pages at the FMCSA website.  Join OOIDA ($45 a year) and they will give you all the help you need to decide what kind of insurance you need.  You can even purchase it from them.  Just as with your personal vehicle insurance, your driving record, type of vehicle and the company you buy from will determine the cost

If you are leasing your truck to a company, you may also be required to be fingerprinted, buy Occupational Accident Insurance, and/or Worker's Compensation Insurance.

I know that everyone reading this wanted a nice, neat little list of what you need and how to get it, and how much it would cost.  As you can see, however, there are so many variables, it is impossible for me to tell you exactly what you need.  In addition to the federal requirements, each state has their own rules.

The costs are also impossible to calculate without knowing exactly who, what, where, why and how, but here is a rough list:
  • Money to pay for a truck driving school, if you are going to go to one
  • Down payment(s) for your equipment.
  • Licenses
  • Permits
  • Insurance
  • Enough money to operate until you get your first settlement check
  • Enough money to live on until you get your first settlement check.  I would recommend having enough for at least 2-6 months 
  • Money put up for breakdowns (it could happen on your first trip)
If you need to buy products (training manuals or safety and compliance tools), J. J. Keller is a good source for safety and regulatory compliance products and services that help you increase safety awareness, reduce risk, follow best practices, and stay current with changing regulations.  They are used by most of the large trucking companies.

I hope this has helped you.  I would be interested in your comments.  Let me know if you think this has been useful.  If you need information about something I didn't cover, let me know, and I will update this.

Read my other posts for details and resources for of some of the information in this post.

Be sure to subscribe to this blog to get the latest information, as I keep updating this site.


I am sorry I have to do this, but due to spam "comments"  I feel I need to moderate comments from now on.
I am sorry for any inconvenience this may cause to my legitimate commenters.

28 March 2009

8) Companies That Lease Beginning Owner Operators Who Have No Experience

'83 Kenworth

Getting Started As an Owner Operator

8) Companies That Lease Beginning Owner Operators Who Have No Experience


FAQ for the Owner Operator
Pictures
Anti-Idling Regulations
Definitions and Industry Terms
Blackrock Auxiliary Power Unit (APU)
Interactive Cost per Mile (CPM) Calculator Spreadsheet
Privacy Policy
1) Owner Operator 411 – Welcome
2) Income and Expenses
3) Financing and Credit
4) Operating Authority or Leasing?
5) Equipment
6) How To Do Bookkeeping and Other Necessary Paperwork
7) What You Need to Know About Loadboards
9) What You Actually Need to Get Started - Licenses, Permits, Insurance, and Taxes
10) Truck Driving Schools


This list has been updated. See: Part 2 (below).


If you want to become an owner operator, but you don't have any experience, if you are just beginning, if you are fresh out of truck driving school, who will hire you?


Below is a list of companies I found on the internet through various sources that stated these companies would hire an owner operator who has no experience.


Most of these companies have websites, but a few of them don't. I do not know anything about them, so I am not endorsing them.


So, if you are looking for an owner operator trucking job, check out these companies. (Remember, the owner operator is really a trucking business, not a "job".)


List of Companies - Part 1: (Scroll down for Part 2)


4 Star Bulk Transport
Allegiance Transportation, LLC
Altar Hauling, LLC
American Best Transportation
American Shipper
American Trans Freight
Amexx Express, Inc.
Astle's Trucking, Inc.
Barr-Nunn Transportation /Owner Operator Division
Baxter Express Services, Inc.
Bear Transportation Solutions
BGD Express, Inc.
Boats on Wheels
Cain and Forshee Trucking, LLC
CalCoast Cargo
California Cartage Express
Celtic Xpress
Champion Logistics Group
Cheema Freightlines, LLC
Chicoda Carriers, Inc.
CLC Trucking
Clearpoint Transportation
Confident Transport, Inc.
Container Express, Inc.
Cortrans Logistics
Crown Carriers, Inc.
CRST Malone, Inc
Dahl Trucking, LLC
Dart Trucking Company, Inc.
DD and S Express
Dimax Express, Inc.
Divide Transport
Divinity, LLC
Dog House Trucking
DTI Logistics
Eagan Transport, Inc.
Elizabeth
Enterprise Truck Line
Federal Logistics
FFE Transportation Services, Inc
First Team Transport Group
Four Season Environmental, Inc.
FTI Inc.
Gentle Touch Auto Transport, LLC
Go 4 Trucking, Inc.
Gorno Transportation Services
Grace Transportation Services Inc
Heartland Express
ICMS
Integrated Transport Logistics, Inc.
J and J Christian Transport
J L Shandy Transportation, Inc.
JB Hunt
Jimmy's Transport Express
Keytran Transporters
Knight Transportation, Inc.
KP Inc.
Legacy Express, Inc.
Lenny B's Express
Lessors, Inc
Liberty Transfer
Lucky Trucking
M and L Logistics
Magann Atlantic
Marten Transport/Owner Operator division
Mason Dixon Intermodal, Inc.
McLeod Express, LLC
Meadowlark Companies
My Express, Inc
NJ Re-Cycle Inc.
North Atlantic Leasing, Inc.
Owl Wire and Cable, Inc.
Panther Expedited Services, Inc.
Pavco Trucking Company
Perpetual Motion, LLC
PGT Trucking/Owner Operator Division
Pioneer Freight
Rhodes Farms & Trucking, LLC
RR Express
S and S Transport, Inc.
Shippers Support
Showtronics, LLC
Silver Streak Transportation, LLC
Snowy Owl Transportation
Southeastern Trailer Transport, LLC
Southwind Transportation
Sterling Global Express
STS Limited
Sunteck Transport Carrier Group
Supreme Auto Transport, Inc
Swift Transportation
SZL, Inc.
T Sammons LLC
Tennessee Steel Haulers
Timberline Transport, LLC
Transportation Network
Transtrak Expeditors, Ltd.
Truner Brothers Trucking
Universal AM CAN Ltd.
Velocity Express
W. J. Donovan, Inc. (Mayflower Transit, LLC Agent)
W. S. Carrier Services, Inc.
Western Sky, Inc.
Wheeling Transportation
Woody's Trucking' LLC
Zelenka Nursery, LLC




List of Companies - Part 2:


A.I.M.E. Logistics
Agricultural Express
Barton Transport, LLC
Blackwater Logistics
Buchanan Hauling & Rigging, Inc.
C and C Transportation
C. White and Son, Inc.
Cargo Express, Inc.
Central Freight Lines, Inc.
Christenson Transportation, Inc.
Clark Transfer, Inc.
CR England
Cramer Transportation, Inc.
Crete Carrier Corporation
CRST Van Expedited
Cypress Truck Lines, Inc.
Danny Herman Trucking
Dependable Carriers, Inc.
Dice Transport, Inc.
E H Transport LLC
East-West, Inc.
Express – 1 Expedited Solutions
Finnegan's Moving and Warehouse Corporation
Fortrans
Fremont Contract Carriers
Frontrunner Logistics, Inc.
Hammell Transport Service, Inc.
Hotshot Logistics, LLC
Howells Motor Freight, Inc.
HTS
JK Moving and Storage, Inc.
JN Trans
Joe Zaputil Trucking, Inc.
Keystone Freight
Langer Transport Corporatation
Link America
Liquid Transport
Loadstar Transport
Lonestar Transportation
M. S. Molitor Trucking, Inc.
Maverick Transportation LLC
May Trucking Co.
McCrary Enterprises, Inc.
Midnite Express, Inc.
Midwest Express Corporation
Midwest Livestock Express, Inc.
Nancy Baer Trucking, Inc.
National Distributors Leasing, Inc.
O. L. Price Trucking, Inc.
Pride Express LTD
Pro Fleet Transport Corporation
Reeve Trucking
Refrigerated Delivery Service
RH Stover Transport
Risinger Brothers Transfer
Road Warriors Auto Transporter
Roehl Transport, Inc.
Ron Burge Trucking, Inc.
S and M Transportation, Inc.
Safe Handling, Inc.
Sammons Trucking
Schneider National, Inc.
Sherman Bros. Trucking
SJ Tranportation
Summitt Trucking
Sunset Pacific Transportation
Tandem Transport
Towne Air Freight
Trailway Enterprises, Inc.
Transco Lines, Inc.
Transport Service Company
Triple S. Trucking
TST Expedited Services
Turner Brothers, Trucking
Venture Logistics
Wayne Transportation
Werner Enterprises
West Atlantic Transportation Corporation
Whitlock Transportation Services
Wofford Farms
Workhorse Transportation
Worthington Sensitive Products Transport, LLC
Zalt Transport, Inc.



I am sorry I have to do this, but due to spam "comments"  I feel I need to moderate comments from now on.
I am sorry for any inconvenience this may cause to my legitimate commenters.

15 March 2009

7) What You Need to Know About Loadboards for the Owner Operator

2000 Pete 379


How to Become an Owner Operator

7) What You Need to Know About Load Boards



FAQ for the Owner Operator
Pictures
Anti-Idling Regulations
Definitions and Industry Terms
Blackrock Auxiliary Power Unit (APU)
Interactive Cost per Mile (CPM) Calculator Spreadsheet
Privacy Policy
1) Owner Operator 411 – Welcome
2) Income and Expenses
3) Financing and Credit
4) Operating Authority or Leasing?
5) Equipment
6) How To Do Bookkeeping and Other Necessary Paperwork
8) Companies That Lease Beginning Owner Operators
9) What You Actually Need to Get Started - Licenses, Permits, Insurance, and Taxes
10) Truck Driving Schools


One of my readers asked a question about loadboards, so I decided to do a separate post on them. See Coupon Mommie's comments at Owner Operator 411 – Welcome

One reason 123loadboard doesn't seem to have very much freight is because it has dropped off dramatically. A year ago, if I did a search from Ohio to Texas, I would get about 100 loads returned, now I get about 25 - on a good day. It is the same on the Members Edge load board. My dispatcher tells me theirs is the same way.

Be aware, though, that a lot of the loads posted on the free loadboards is not as complete as the loads posted on the expensive loadboards the companies use.

As I told you, I use (and pay for) Members Edge , they are part of 3SixtyFreightMatch. I just found out that the company I am leased to uses 3SixtyFreightMatch. They get all the loads I get on Members Edge, but they also get loads I do not. The loads posted on MembersEdge seem to be "leftovers". They are all cheap freight. Very few of them pay even $1.00 a mile, much less more.

My point being, there may be a lot of freight posted, but is it anything you would want to haul?

One other thing I did not think to tell you, both of the load boards I subscribe to show the rates, but the companies seldom post them. They are like used car dealers, they just say, "Call."

Now that I have answered Cookie Mommie's question, I guess I should explain for you new to this what a load board is. A load board is a place where companies post available loads and/or available trucks.

Some load boards are free and some have to be subscribed to. Some are public and some are private, that is they are only for owners leased to that company.

Almost all of them let you search in various ways.  Some have alarms or alerts that let you know when a new load that meets your criteria becomes available, either by a sound, email or a text message to your cell phone.

In the old days before cell phones and laptops, if you took a load to Houston, TX for instance, and wanted to get back home to Richmond,Virginia, the only load boards were in truck stops.

Here is how it worked. You would go to a truck stop and there would be a TV screen with a list of available loads, the broker who had it, their telephone number, what type of trailer, and the origin and destination.  This list would scroll endlessly.

There would be a lot of drivers (up to 20 and 99.9% men) standing around watching that board with a pen and paper in their hands. Every once in a while, the board would go, "DING", meaning a new load had been posted. All eyes would swivel to see what it was. Everyone would furiously scribble down the phone number, then run (fast paid off) to the bank of pay phones to call the broker. Hopefully, you got to the phone before everyone else, and had change in your pocket. You would then call the broker to see how much it paid, and any other particulars.

If you weren't fast enough, or if the load didn't suit you, then you would go back to board and start all over. Usually there weren't any chairs, so you had to stand. If you left to get a drink, more change, or to pee, the perfect load would come up and be taken while you were gone.

Often you would get excited when you saw a load going to your hometown, only to realize that it was for a reefer and you were pulling a flatbed.

It was not unusual to stand there from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., and have to start over the next day.

My, my, that sure was fun!  I really don't miss "the good ole days".

Now days, you sit in your truck with your laptop, tell the load board that you want a load for a flatbed from Houston to somewhere near Richmond, and it will sort out all of the loads that match. If you don't see what you want, it might still go "DING", but now you pull out your cell phone and make your call.

It may easier to look for a load, but it isn't any easier to find a load. Some industries are still doing well, of course, but freight is really slow, and the rates keep dropping. It gets harder every day to make a dollar.

Next post: Companies That Lease Beginning Owner Operators


I am sorry I have to do this, but due to spam "comments"  I feel I need to moderate comments from now on.
I am sorry for any inconvenience this may cause to my legitimate commenters.

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