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"Owner Operator 101" Everything you need to know from A to Z.



Owner Operator 411

a

12 February 2009

2) Owner Operator Income and Expenses

Becoming An Owner Operator

2) Income and Expenses





We have been in the trucking business since 1967, and since 1972 as an owner-operator. Having been around so long, I can guarantee you, you will not get rich quick driving a big rig. You probably won't even make a lot of money.

Well, let me clarify that. You can gross some big bucks, and a lot of owner operators will throw out those numbers when they are talking to you, such as “I made $150,000 last year.” They aren't lying, they did GROSS $150,000 last year, but what did they net?

After expenses, the average owner operator will not make a lot of money, but will only make about ¼ of what they gross – and most don't gross $150,000.

Why does one make so little money if ones grosses so much? Simple: Expenses. The owner-operator has to pay ALL of their own expenses. I mean everything. Want to carry a roll of toilet paper in the truck? YOU buy it. Need a $20,000.00 engine overhaul? YOU pay for it.

We are not netting any more today than we did when we bought our first truck in 1972.  Why?  Deregulation!  Before deregulation, rates were set by the government, and there were few carriers.  After deregulation, every Tom, Dick and Harry could apply for and become a carrier.  Rates started going down.


Let me give you an example.  I used to pull a flatbed, and I routinely hauled steel coils from Washington, PA to Houston, TX for $2,800.00.  Pretty good money for 1975.  Then one day, I was offered the same load for $2,500.  I refused it.  Within a year, the rate was down to $1,800.  The rates have never really recovered.

First, for those just starting out, let me explain some terms.

GROSS: This can have two meaning for some owner-operators, depending you whether you have your own authority or are leased to a company.

Example:
ABC Company will pay $500.00 to have their load hauled. If you have your own authority, they will pay you the $500.00. This is your gross. If you are leased to XYZ Company, ABC will pay XYZ $500.00. This is the gross revenue for the load or "truck gross". XYZ will take a cut of that money and pass on to (pay) you what is left. Let's say they keep 25% (for their services). Then out of that $500.00, you will gross 75% of $500.00 or $375.00.

EXPENSES: What it costs to operate your truck. This is pretty much anything and everything. The IRS tells you what is allowable and what is not, but for the most part, just use your common sense.

Need tires? Allowed.

Got a ticket speeding (breaking the law)? Not allowed.

Need to eat? Allowed. Unless you live in your truck. There is an IRS rule about being away from home before you can take the cost of food. If you live in your truck (don't have a permanent residence), then you are not away from home.

Your dog that you take with you needs to eat? Not allowed.

Your daughter that you take with needs to eat? Maybe. Does she just go along for the scenery? Not allowed. Does she drive and/or help in other ways? Allowed.

Your truck needs to eat (fuel). Allowed.

As you can see, the expense has to be directly tied to the operation of the truck before you can claim it. Whoa! Wait up. Some of these expenses can be deducted, and some have to be depreciated, and some you may have a choice of which you want to do. More later.

NET: What is left over after all expenses are paid.

O.K. What do we have now? You worked your butt off last year and grossed that $150,000.00 that someone told you about. You bought fuel (the #1 expense), tires, oil, and grease. You paid for insurance, minor breakdowns and routine repairs, and upkeep. You paid for a cell phone, and meals on the road.

What else? Oh, yeah, you paid taxes. You probably paid taxes when you bought your truck. You paid taxes when you bought your license, you paid taxes for making money, and you paid taxes to use the roads so you could do your job - in addition to the tolls you paid to drive on the roads. Whew! That's a lot of taxes. Lucky for us, these taxes are deductible on your income tax return. You bought tools, and had your truck washed. After you paid for all of these things (and more), you have about $30,000.00 left. That is your net.

Please note: this is only an example of how you arrive at a net figure - not actual figures.
"Wow! I netted (cleared) $30,000.00 last year", you may think to yourself. That is more than I would make working a 9-5 job. That is true, but you weren't working 9-5 to make that money, either. Chances are you were gone from home, at the very minimum, Monday morning to Friday night. In reality, you were probably gone longer than that to make that kind of money. Many truck drivers, especially those who make the big bucks, are gone from home for weeks at a time. While they were gone, they were working 14 hour days. They may be making a lot of money, but they never get to see their family. They miss out on all the things their kids are doing in school. They miss out on their kids growing up. They miss out being with their spouse. They miss out on living.

When you do get home, you will make it up to your family, right? Well... the truck probably needs some routine maintenance done. Aren't going to do it yourself? Fine, you still have to take the truck to a shop, and probably wait while they do the work. If your kids don't have ball practice, or your spouse doesn't have a PTA meeting, take them with you. They will love sitting around a shop while you get the oil changed, but, hey! you are all together. After that, you can go home and sleep until time to go out again. If the kids really want to see Daddy, they can sit around the bed and watch you sleep. When you get up, if they aren't in bed, you can have a family get-together while they tell you how funny you were snoring.


I know I sound kind of pessimistic, but so many people think it is easy to drive a truck and make a lot of money and maybe even get rich, but it just ain't gonna happen.


If you think my figures are unrealistic, see The Real Cost of Trucking at Truckers report.

There are some good things about being an owner-operator and I will get into that in a later post.

***NOTICE - CAUTION***: I am an owner-operator, not a tax professional. I drive a truck for a living, so don't take me at my word about taxes. Have a tax professional check it out, and give you their advice. Not all accountants are created equal.


Try to find someone who knows about trucks. Some truck expenses have their own rules, like how much you can take for meals. There are special IRS rules regarding meals that only apply to someone in transportation, and rules applying to people regulated by hours-of-service. If your accountant doesn't know anything about trucks, they might miss that and not allow you to deduct enough for your meals on the road.

More on my next post. Later I will also try to get into what it was like when I first started driving way "back in the day" and will try to put some old pictures on here, too. So keep checking back.

69 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think you sir are full of shit and probably have a lot of bad luck because of your attitude!

Road King said...

Thank you for your comment.

I don't think I have a had a lot of bad luck - due to my attitude or otherwise. I have made a decent living as an owner operator for over 37 years, but it hasn't always been easy.

In writing this blog, I may sound pessimistic, but I have been trying to impress on people who are thinking about becoming an owner operator that there is more to this business than just buying a truck and driving.

You have to have some business sense, and be able to plan and manage. If you want to make good money, you have to be willing to drive thousands of miles a year, and work hard.

I know people who have been company drivers for years who have decided to buy their own truck. They figure they know all about trucking, and why should they let someone else make all the money, when they can be raking it in with their own truck.

Some of these people have made it as owner operators, but all of them said they never realized there was so much more to it than when they were company drivers.

Many of these people got in over their heads and some had to sell out and some went bankrupt.

My goal for this blog is to tell the truth about being an owner operator, with all of the good and bad, so people can make a well educated decision and possibly avoid disastrous consequences.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate your honesty and candor. My husband is among those that think he will own his own truck and make 14,000 a month and we'll pay off all our debt and buy a house, ect. I knew there would be alot more to it and I'm so thankful I found this site. I am going to show him tonight and hopefully talk him out of this mess. It seems like a financial nightmare to me, not to mention the 3 small kids he will be leaving at home. Any advice you have would be appreciated. theginns@yahoo.com

Road King said...

Anonymous,

You are so right. Being a truck driver is hard, and being an owner operator is harder.

If you don't know what you are doing, and don't have good organization skills, it really can be a mess.

I would hate to see anyone get in over their head and maybe end up filing bankruptcy, just because they thought all they had to do was buy a truck and start driving and they would soon have plenty of money.

As I said before, it is possible to make a living being an owner operator, but it takes a lot of hard work, and it gets more difficult every day, and you sure aren't going to get rich.

Having 3 kids, I sincerely hope you can convince him to do something else. Right now I really doubt if he could make enough just starting out to support them and yourselves.

Maybe later if the economy gets better, of if he would drive for someone else first and learn the ropes, then he could succeed as an owner operator.

Whatever you all decide, I wish you luck.

Manuel said...

wow, what an amazing site. I hope you get rich of this man. You really know what your talking about. Just wondering when you say $30,000 Net does that figure include a truck payment? I'm thinking of buying a truck cash, going to diesel mechanic school and work as a diesel mechanic for two years. Then I figure i can do most of my own maintenance not to mention spot problems before they happen. Without a truck payment what is a rough estimate of net earnings for a team??

Manuel said...

Who do you recommend for replacing an engine?

Road King said...

Manuel,

Thank you for your comments. I am so very sorry for not answering this comment sooner.

The $30,000 figure probably would include a truck payment, but it depends on your gross income and other expenses, not to mention the size of your truck payment. Payments can run up to $2,000 a month.

I hope you checked out the "Interactive Cost Per Mile spreadsheet calculator" post.

Buying a truck for cash can help keep your monthly expenses down (and you can still depreciate the cost of the truck). However, if you use all of your cash to buy a truck, you would not have any money left over in case of an emergency, e.g. a breakdown.

You may be better of putting 50% or so down on the truck and keeping the rest of your cash in reserve for unexpected expenses (the interest you would pay on the financing is also deductible).

Going to diesel mechanic school would definitely help you as an owner operator. The more work you can do yourself, the less expense you have.

Preventive maintenance is very important. I can't tell you how many owner operators I know who have had to have a major overhaul just because the didn't catch some minor problem and fix it - "a stitch in time saves nine" is very true. These people did not let these small problems go on purpose, just out of ignorance because they did not not know something was wrong with their truck.

I can't give you an estimate on your earnings as a team or as a single driver. So much depends on what and where you haul, whether you have your own authority and can negiotiate your own rates, or whether you are leased to a company. It also depends on what expenses you have. Do you have to provide all of your own permits, or does a company provide some/all? Do you have to file an pay your own taxes, such a state fuel taxes, or will a company do that?

Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) have done several surveys about cost of operations and other information pertaining to owner operators and you can see the results here: http://www.ooida.com/OOIDA%20Foundation/Recent_Research/OOIDP-08.html

Keep in mind these facts only came from people who responded to a survey. Those who are better organized and know what their costs are were more likely to respond. Those who are not doing very well in their operations, or who have no idea what their costs are probably didn't bother to respond.

Also OOIDA did not state how many respondents there were. Are these results based on 10 answers, 100, 1000, 10,000? The less respondents, the less accurate the results as to the "average".

You might also want to look at their "Industry Facts/Owner Operators: at http://www.ooida.com/OOIDA%20Foundation/Tools/industry_facts.html

Several years ago, OOIDA did a survey and found that company drivers made (took home) more than an owner operator.

Sorry I can't really give you an answer.

As to your second question, any dealer who also has a shop should be qualified to replace an engine. However, don't overlook small shops. I use a small shop and his work is just as good as the "big boys". He is qualified to do warranty work. Whatever you use, check out their reputation by asking other owner operators and maybe also the Better Business Bureau.

Whether you use a small or large shop, be prepared to pay $60 to $100 an hour for labor.

If you become a certified mechanic, you may do better to stick with that than becoming an owner operator.

Good Luck in whatever you do.

Manuel said...

You're the man!!! This site rocks!! So much knowledge. thanks for being so cool and sharing. I feel bad you're not getting paid to do this. Maybe an ebook would be good. I bought one for thirty dollars the other day. It didn't even come close to having as much information. thanks and God bless for the help

Road King said...

Manuel,

Thank you for the suggestion. What an awesome idea. I don't know why I didn't think of that. I will start working on an eBook right away, as soon as I figure out how to set up the payment, etc.

I am glad to be able to help others, and in return, I am being helped. What a wonderful world!

Manuel said...

Hey Road King I'm looking forward to buying an e-book from you. If one does not want to lease on to a company how does one go about getting freight? Have you ever had to cold call a company before? Maybe this is a chapter in your book. I would love to read some examples. Also another question for the book, Do you think a fleet of four new paid off trucks can compete with the big trucking companies. If you had four new paid off trucks and trailers to move how would you go about competing? Would you target team freight or solo freight? Would you pay drivers on a 1099 or the regular way? Anyways I'll keep asking questions maybe it will help you put the book together. I can't stop my brain from thinking about this things. Thanks

Road King said...

Manuel,

Thank you for your continued interest and support.

Basically, there are two ways to get freight if you are not leased to a company. 1) Use load boards, or 2) Get a contract directly with a shipper.

I have already discussed load boards. While there is freight to be had on them, often it is the "leftovers". When a carrier has their own trucks (company trucks or owner operators), they choose all the good loads they can handle. Then if there are loads they can't cover, they may post them on a load board.

A lot of loads on load boards are what is called "broker freight". A broker is sort of an independent dispatcher. They take loads from all different kinds of shippers and then try to match the loads up with carriers. They usually have several carriers they work with regularly. If they have freight they can't move with their regulars, then they post the loads on the load boards.

Most of the time, the loads can't be moved because they don't pay enough for the carriers to accept it, so it gets posted.

A cold call for what? Freight? A contract? I have used load boards, and I have had to call brokers or shippers for posted freight, but if you mean, have I ever called a shipper cold for freight, then the answer is, "No."

Yes, if you have four trucks and trailers, you could compete with the big companies. Even if you only had one truck, you still could. That is what owner operators who have their own authority do everyday, but it won't be easy, especially as you don't have any experience.

The fact that they would paid off would be a tremendous plus.

If you didn't use a load board, then you would have to try to get a contract directly with a shipper. This could be difficult, as most of them already have carriers that they use.

Team or solo? You could probably go either way, but a lot would depend on what you were hauling. Some shipments are shipped "JIT" (Just In Time), meaning it is supposed to get there just in time to be used (so that it doesn't have to be stored or warehoused). If you are hauling a JIT load from New York to California, that has to be there in 48 hours, you would have to have a team.

Drivers are always paid the "regular" way. They are employees and would need a W-2. You could pay them by the mile, or a percentage - it doesn't matter, they are still employees.

Don't forget, if you hire drivers, you have a lot of employer obligations, such as safety training, different taxes (employer's share of social security and medicare), and a lot more paperwork and headaches.

1099's are for "non-employee" compensation (self-employment income) for owner operators.

By the way, the book has already been published.

Please click on "Road King" below and contact me directly.

Manuel said...

cool, I can't wait to read the book. I don't know if you have ever heard of a book titled Guerilla Marketing. It gives many examples of how to market a product successfully and for minimal cost. I would print out business cards with my trucking experience and my blog or website address. Than I would go into the pilot, flying J, TA etc. and look for drivers that have a deer in headlights look (newbies) I would talk to them briefly and then give them a business card or business cards to hand out. And watch my bank account grow.. Just me, I'm a bit off my rocker though. Thanks for the info road kind. God Bless.

Anonymous said...

Hello,I was reading some of your info on the owner opera
tor subject! the reason being,, im kinda at the crossroads in my life as fa
r as a career change! Ive been a journeyman diesel/heavy equipment mechanic
for sometime now and have made descent money..To be a mechanic or a good
mechanic as you already know ,,There is a big difference on how you can get
from a-b!! Ive also owned and operated my own landscape company in the past
and found like in any business very stressful,challenging to you and your
family with sometimes a low to no return for your hard work,, I stopped the
business after 9 years due to the high wear on the body and the constant s
tress of bids and when or where is your next job!! but that's our country an
d way of life today in our economy!! sometimes it makes more sense to just
work for someone,due to all the BS of business,,Ive been on both sides!! My
question is: Is this industry worth the time! I can drive,I can
repair a truck from front to back, but what does that matter out in the mi
ddle of no where? With my knowledge of business and operations Ive debat
ed on a diesel mobile repair or owner operator!! The reasoning is no matter
the company or wage or future with working for someone your still just an
EMPLOYEE!!! The funny or sick truth to business is your always an employ
ee to someone,,be it the state,government or whoever your contracted with!!
you obviously know your stuff and I'm looking at options " IF THERE WORTH
LOOKING AT" so some or any info would help...thanks for your time!!!!!!

Road King said...

Anonymous,

Thank you for your comment, and the compliment.

With your background in mechanics and business, I think you could do well as an owner operator, but as you well know, you need to have cash (saving) to tide you over until you get on your feet.

You are wise to realize that a person is never their own boss, but always has someone they must answer to.

You didn't say if you were thinking of getting your own authority or not, but it is easier to get started if you lease your truck to a company in the beginning.

Truck driving is also hard on the body (truck drivers have some of the poorest health of all industries), and can be very stressful - trying to meet unrealistic deadlines, putting up with traffic, finding freight, trying to make ends meet, and so on.

IF you like doing mechanic work, I would advise you to seriously consider the mobile diesel repair route, as there is a shortage of qualified mechanics.

It will still be a lot of hard work, long hours, being called out in all kinds of weather and all times of the day and night, and still no guarantee of success.

As you already know, being a mechanic is hard work physically, and can also be stressful, as everyone (especially owner operators) want the work done ASAP, and want it done for almost nothing.

One advantage of being a mechanic, is that if work gets slow, you can work on diesel pickups, dozers, truck tractors, and other types of equipment, so you would have more options.

One big disadvantage, could be that you are good enough and get enough business that you would need to hire employees and expand. This could cause even more stress as you would then have even more paperwork, or the need to hire an accountant, more taxes (and maybe employee benefits), more service trucks, a garage, and on and on.

You said, "I can drive,I can repair a truck from front to back, but what does that matter out in the middle of no where?" Let me tell you, that can matter a LOT! It can save you hundreds of dollars.

Just being able to diagnose what is wrong with your truck can be of great benefit, even if you don't do any work to it. However, it you know that your truck is running rough (or quit) because you have water in your fuel and you can change your own fuel filter and not have to call a service truck out to do that for you, you just saved yourself a bundle.

I carry a lot of tools and spare parts and have saved myself thousands of dollars over the years.

Once when I wasn't too far from home, a piston went bad. I called my wife and she brought me all the parts I needed to change it, and we put a new piston in along the side of the road. Can you imagine what it would have cost if I would have had to have someone come out and tow me to a garage and had them do the work??!!

No matter which direction you decide to take, you must really like the work you do, or you won't want to do it for very long.

Whatever you decide, I wish you luck! Keep us posted on your decision.

Anonymous said...

Good dispatch and this enter helped me alot in my college assignement. Gratefulness you for your information.

Chris said...

I must say that this site rocks..thanx for being the man RoadKing. I have a question but first to give a little backround on myself...I have been driving company for about 4 1/2 years and like many other drivers dreamed endlessly about the possibilities of being an owner op.
I managed to save about $10,000 and have another $10,000 in credit to start with. As we all know the industry went kurplunk leaving me to wait patiently with my fingers crossed for things to get better. This year (2010) the economy seems to be starting to make a turn around and more companies are starting to hire. Part of it I know is because its around late Feb. to May when most companies do there hiring. I'm not an expert on these things but one thing is for sure...trucks are cheap as hell right now. And with the money in place..and all the research Ive done...the companies that are willing to hire O/Ops...I feel like I want to buy a truck this year and start learning the ropes in my truck.
Is this a crazy idea? What would be your advice on how to continue from here, if at all??
I feel personally I dont want to wait till the economy is fully back on track and truck prices shoot back up to the prices they were 2-3 years ago before the recession. I'd rather catch things on the "up-swing" and have my truck paid off sooner to increase profits. And if I do fail, I would rather make a mistake at 25-30K in debt as opposed to possibly 50-100K. I know its a gamble..but so buying your own truck it seems. Your thoughts would be appreciated. - Chris

Road King said...

Chris,

Having read my blog, you know that I am basically against anyone becoming an owner operator.

Having said that, I think you would be a good candidate because: 1) you already know something about the trucking business, 2) by having cash on hand, you have shown that you can save and manage a budget, 3) the economy DOES seem to be picking up, 4) you are correct about going in debt now for a little rather than a lot later.

You should be able to get a decent newer (about 2005) used truck for about $20.000. It won't be top of the line, but it will get you started.

If you really want to do this, then you might consider my eBook, "Owner Operator 101", which will walk you through, step-by-step about how to start your own business (licenses, taxes, bookkeeping, record keeping, etc.), right on through about how to maximize your profits.

santiago said...

hello, i've been interested in the business for a while, but have no experience. my father inlaw and brother inlaw are owner/operators and they make a pretty good living, not rich like you say but they do alright. i was thinking of starting off with two trucks and having two drivers for them, and i would handle the business aspect. after reading your site for the past couple of hours, i'm a little intimidated. i've ran my own business before but i have no knowledge of trucking, but am sure i will have support from my family with experience. for now it is just an idea in my head, but my question is: right now i make 60,000 a year, can i make alot more than that in this field or not? by the way my father has two trucks and my brother inlaw has one truck leased to companies and work steady. will i still make a decent amount not driving.

Road King said...

Santiago,

First, I didn't mean to imply that an owner-operator could get rich. If I left that impression, I am sorry.

It is difficult to make a living as owner operator, just ask your father-in-law and brother-in-law. It can be done, if a person has discipline, enough savings for emergencies, and as you say you do, a business background. Some knowledge of trucking is certainly a big plus. There are literally hundreds of rules and regulations, with more coming out every day. Family support and advice will certainly help.

If you are currently making $60,000 a year, I would not go in to trucking -- unless you absolutely hate your job. Don't do it for the money. In addition to all of the expenses of being a truck owner, you will have the additional expense, paperwork, record keeping, bookkeeping, taxes and headaches of having an employee.

Drivers (as a rule), do not care about your equipment and will not take care of your truck as an owner operator would, so you would probably have extra maintenance costs.

Check out the CPM spreadsheet and crunch some numbers. When you figure in driver wages, don't forget to include payroll taxes, worker's compensation, and any benefits (insurance for instance) that you may want to provide.

Fleets can make a profit because of quantity, but it is very difficult with only one truck.

If you want my straight out advice -- don't do it.

If you do decide to, Good Luck!

I would be interested in knowing what you decide.

Thank you for your interest in this blog.

William said...

First of all, I admire that you have been driving for over 35 years. Anyone that can do this job for that long is somewhat of a hero. But, I have to disagree with you on the pay. I work for a company out of North Texas and with a 450$ a week truck payment, I take home, after expences, around 1500$ on an average of 3400 miles a week at about 1.15pm. Add the truck payment back into my net and thats well over 2000$ a week, as an owner op, at 1.15pm. I've talked to alot of other owner and lease drivers and 1.15pm is almost at the very bottom. What did you average per mile? How many miles did you average per week? Were you paper or paperless? How good is your tax preparer? What kind of fuel mileage did you get? How fast were you driving on average? Did you eat out all the time or did you make your own meals? Alot has changed in over 35 years so maybe you need to check your bottom line a little closer.
I agree that you should do your research before starting this profession, but it's not as bad as you make it out to be.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Just purchased your book owner operator 101, and although I find the book very informative I don't understand why you think you can;t make a lot, or make more working a 9-5 job, or come out broke. I will be starting off with a friend of mine who has had his own authority for a few years now and has been making 5-6K per month after all expenses hauling nothing but 1.50-2.00 dollar per mile loads to the east coast. And the only place he finds these loads is off load boards. He even makes more taking a few Partials in one run if nothing else is available. He runs about 3-4K miles per week. After reading the first few pages of your ebook, I found it rather discouraging and ended up scratching myself in the head the next few days. Althought this guy is not a close friend of mine, he will show me the inns and outs of the buisness. Hopefully I can get influenced somehow. Thanks for all the resources.

Road King said...

William and Anonymous,

I am commenting on the two previous comments together, as they are so similar.

Anonymous, thank you for the purchase.

Obviously, money can be made as an owner operator, or I would not have been able to stay in business so long.

There are too many people who think all they have to do is buy a truck and they will make "truckloads" of money. I was purposely discouraging so that everyone reading this blog (or eBook) would not get the false impression that they could or would get rich. Maybe I went a little too far!?!

There are so many carriers and types of operations, it is impossible to say what a person will or will not earn, just as there are so many expense variables, each person's net may vary greatly. William, I am pleased that you are doing so well. I know a lot of owner operators, who are leased to several carriers, or have their own authority, and I don't know of one that is doing as well as you are. Oh, that sounds snooty. What I mean is, you are doing better than average -- from my point of view. Congratulations.

OOIDA did a study a few years ago, and they found that on average company drivers made a few cents per mile than did owner operators.

To answer your questions. I grossed an average of $1.18 per mile, and I ran about 2500 miles a week. I ran less than average as I was choosy about what I hauled. Also as I neared retirement age, I did not have to run as hard as I did when I was younger. I got about 6 miles per gallon, yet my fuel cost ran about 50% of my gross. (I hauled heavy loads in mountainous terrain). My equipment was paid for. I admit that one reason I did not net more is that I spent more than average on preventive maintenance. I put new tires all the way around every two years, and if anything was wrong with the truck or trailer, it was fixed before I would haul a load.

My wife is my tax preparer, and she is excellent -- no one can squeeze a penny like she can. I have a refrigerator and carried food and drinks, and seldom ate out.

I still maintain that while an owner operator can make a decent living, he will not get rich. Also, trucking in general is not for everyone. This is a profession you have to love or you won't stick with it.

So, thanks again guys for your comments.

Anonymous said...

I am currently in the military and very interested in purchasing a truck and hiring a driver. I have 5 years to retirement but plan to have the truck on the road within the next month or so. I will make a $20,000 down payment, and have a good chunk of money in the bank to use as maintenance money. Is $2000 per month net income for me sound good? Please let me know. my driver will run about 2000 miles per week.

Road King said...

First, you need to go the the "CPM calculator spreadsheet" and crunch some numbers to see if you will really net $2,000 a month. Although you have a good down payment, if your driver only runs about 2,000 miles a week, I don't think you can net $2,000 a month.

You may be able to clear that much as an owner operator, but as just an owner, you will have extra expenses, such as driver wages and employer taxes.

Check it out carefully before you make a decision.

Net income means income what is left over after all business expenses are paid. It can also be termed "personal income" or what you clear. No one can answer that question except you. Can you live on $2,000 a month (mortgage/rent, utilities, personal vehicle payments, insurance, groceries, etc.? If so, then $2,000 a month would be enough for you, if not, then, no.

Good Luck! and Thanks for serving!!

Anonymous said...

Road King,

My mistake. My driver will be driving abou 3500 miles per week. The $2000 per month net income for me is just extra money for the household. Remember I will be retiring in 5 years and will receive over $3000 a month in retirement. So again, him driving 3500 miles per week and me making about $2000 per month net. Sounds good now?

Road King said...

Anonymous,

Yes, that does change things. It seems that since the $2,000 a month will just be extra income for you, then you will probably do o.k.

Thanks for the extra info.

Anonymous said...

Phil in Arkansas asks-

Great info, thank you. I have a question which may be off topic, but perhaps not. I would like to be home nights and weekends due to personal reasons.
Can anyone address the courier or local driver side of owner/operator business? I live in an area with little employment opportunity and would be willing to buy a class b truck if there was a realistic chance at paying off the truck and making more than minimum wage. Anyone experienced with this side of the trucking world care to offer advice or links to pertinent articles?
Thanks in advance.

Road King said...

Thanks for the compliment.

O.K. drivers! Can anyone help Phil in Arkansas?

Since I have never done business with a Class B truck, I can't really address you question.

As with trying to start any type of business, a lot of research needs to be done to see if the market is there.

As for being able to make more than minimum wage...? Humm. After you gather more information, use the spreadsheet calculator to see if, or how much, profit can be made.

Good Luck!

Anonymous said...

Hi,
My husband was thinking about buying a box truck...a 16ft. He plans to do local moves, deliveries, and short same day runs. Do you think there is good money in that or would we be wasting our money purchasing a truck? He has worked for several delivery companies but he does not have a CDL.

Road King said...

Anonymous,

I'm sorry that I can't really answer your question, as I don't know much about box trucks or local deliveries, even though that is the way I started out in 1967 as a company driver -- a lot has changed since then.

What I can tell you is that you need to do a lot of research before getting into such a venture.

He should talk with the some of the companies he worked for (maybe other current drivers) and see how business is at this time. Go to the suppliers he delivered for and see if they even have enough work to keep them busy. Go to the customers he delivered to and see if they are getting good service from their current delivery companies. If not, could he provide a better service (on time, less damage, etc.) than what they are currently getting?

If you do think this is what you want to do, I strongly urge you to use the cost per mile calculator to figure your expected income and expenses to see if you will even be able to make it on your own.

Sorry I couldn't be of more help. If any of my readers know more about this subject, please help this lady and her husband out by leaving a comment.

Thank you.

AJ Trucking said...

Road King,
I read the post, and most comments and your replies to those comments. being a trucking company owner, and a mentor for new owner operators, I see your point of view that being an owner operator is not for everyone. Many are better off sticking with a company driver job and make more money and have a peace of mind. As you said, to be an owner operator (successful one), you have to sacrifice a lot, and as a company driver (you don't) have to. If you can, then you are a good candidate to be a profitable owner operator.
So what are your thoughts on the carriers' profits (blood suckers) who employ company drivers to move their trucks and have to eat out the losses caused by these "unsacrificing" company drivers?

Road King said...

AJ Trucking,

Thank you for your comment, and for validating what I've been saying that being an OO is not for everyone.

Well, everyone has to eat, and everyone has the right to do it however they want to; BUT, some do it ethically and others will do whatever it takes (it's a dog eat dog world).

What I don't like are carriers who have both company trucks and OO's and then favor their company trucks. They do this not for the benefit of the company drivers, but for their own benefit -- they make more off their company trucks than they do from the OO trucks. So, who get the shaft? The OO, of course. Most carrier that uses both company trucks and OO's do this.

Anyone else have any thoughts on this? Would love to hear them.

Anonymous said...

Keep up the good blogging! Much appreciated..

Road King said...

Anonymous,

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Road King, I have been driving 10 yrs and came off the road for 4 yrs now. I have been thinking bout buying my own trk and running regional. Is it possible with the way fuel is right now to
make it? Im not looking to get rich i would like to be comfortable. Btw! Fantastic information thank you for ur time and effort.

Road King said...

Anonymous,

Man, once you get that diesel in your veins, you can't get it out, huh? LOL!

Thank you for your positive feedback.

With your background, you could probably make it, assuming you don't buy equipment that is too expensive and get in over your head, and you have some savings to cover you for unexpected expenses, and to live on if should you have need to for some reason.

Money can be made running regional. A person doesn't have to haul long and be gone for weeks at a time, IF he has the right freight, paying a decent rate.

Fuel costs is the number one or number two (depending on your equipment payment) expense you will have, and it doesn't look as though it will get any better.

If you haven't done so already, please use the CPM calculator to see what you should be able to net.

I see comments all over the internet all of time such as "How much does an owner operator make?" How much you "make" (gross) doesn't really matter -- it is how much you NET that you need to worry about.

Quite frankly, I think you could probably do as well being a company driver. You would eliminate the headaches of being a self-employed business person. Of course, there are drawbacks too. Usually a company driver is on forced dispatch. That is a decision you will have to make for yourself.

Whatever you decide, Good Luck. Keep in touch -- let us know your decision and how you are doing, please.

Anonymous said...

I go by polarbear. Im the one with the 10 yrs experience. I wilk keep in contact, thx for the input.

Road King said...

Polarbear,

You aren't THE Polar Bear of IRT are you? Just kidding.

You're welcome. I hope I was of some help. If you need more info, let me know.

Nice to meet you.

Anonymous said...

I thought it was going to become some boring old publish, however it seriously compensated for my time. Ill post a link to this web page on my blog. Im certain my website visitors will locate that extremely useful.

Road King said...

Anonymous,

WOW! Hey, man -- you just made my day! Thank you.

Thank you for the link. If you blog relates to trucking, please feel free to post your link here.

Not only do I try to give information and educate people about becoming an owner operator, I do try to make it entertaining (with a little humor) and interesting (personal stories and trucking history). I am glad to know that at least one person thinks I've succeeded a little.

night train said...

Good info here Road king. I have a few questions for ya. ive been a company driver for a year. I come from a truck driving family so i no the pros and cons of the life style. Ive got it in my blood and i love it. I have an opertunity to haul feed for a very good company. The pay is 1.38 a mile loaded and empty, plus fuel surcharge. home about every nite. dump the load and head home. (no more waiting on back hauls sweet) I have 30000 in the bank and my living exspences are low. I would like to buy a 20000 truck, finace 10000 of it. Leaving me 20000 in the bank i would need my own authority,tags, insurance, ext. fuel card provided. Is 1.38 good pay if i have to pay for the authority? What does the authority cost per year? at 2500 miles a week what do you think my net could be? Thanks for all the help.

Road King said...

Night Train,

You asked some very good questions, and I am pleased to see that you are asking these questions before taking any actions.

Your plan of buying your truck and keeping $20,000 in the bank is sound. Without knowing more details, I think you may have a good chance of making it.

Are you sure you would need your own authority? If you are leasing to the carrier you would be hauling for, you would not.

Since you mentioned a fuel card would be provided, and you would be hauling for a very good company, it sounds to me that is what you are planning on doing.

Of course, if you are signing a contract with a shipper, then you would need your own authority.

If you do have to get your own authority, there are some other considerations. You said you would be hauling "feed", which may be an exempt commodity, and would determine which type of authority you would need.

Without knowing more details, I really can not answer your questions.

First you need to determine if you need your own authority.

Second, contact OOIDA (Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association) to see what the costs of your insurance will be. If you do have to get your own authority, they can help you with that, too.

You also need to use the Interactive CPM Spreadsheet Calculator to see if $1.38 a mile will allow you to make a profit. Just plug in all of your expected expenses (truck payment, insurance, maintenance, fuel, etc.); the miles you expect to run; and your expected payment, and it will figure your profit (net)/loss.

With fuel prices rising, I would over estimate your fuel costs, as I can almost guarantee what you will be paying today is not what you will be paying next week, next month, or next year.

Initial authority is $300.

Thanks for writing. I hope this helps. Keep us posted and let us know what and how, you are doing

Good Luck.

Anonymous said...

I have a friend with who started a small trucking company with his son about 4 years ago who is doing pretty well with 4 trucks now. His son (a fairly experienced driver) drives and he employs three other drivers. He is looking to expand his business and has offered to manage a used truck (that he would locate) that I would purchase (in the $20K range). He would register the truck, run it under his insurance and motor carrier number and the driver would belong to him as well. The way he presented it to me is that all I would have to do is purchase the truck. He would essentially handle everything else. For this his company would get 20% of what the truck grosses. I would get the remaining profits after expenses (driver payroll, insurance, fuel, maintenance, tickets/fines, IFTA’s etc). Under these circumstances, do you think there is potential here for me to see a return on my investment?

Road King said...

Anonymous,

Without knowing all of facts, I don't like the sound of this at all.

He wants you to buy him a truck, so he can expand his business.

1) I doubt that after he pays all expenses and driver wages, taxes, etc., and takes his 20% (of the gross, no less), there would be any, or very little, left for you. If you are thinking of doing this as an investment, your return would be practically nil.

2) If you do decide to do this, get it in writing. See a lawyer. You should be in effect a silent (inactive) partner at the least.

3) Make sure that you would not be responsible for any expenses. What happens if he has a NOL (Net Operating Loss)?

4) Depending on your arrangement (contract), would there be any tax advantage/disadvantage for you?

I would run away from an "offer" like this. If you do decide to do it, be very careful. I frankly don't see any advantage to you, as I don't think your return would be worth it.

Very few OO's have a net of 20% of the gross. Make him show you his books, proving he will have a profit for you.

I would be interesting to see a follow-up to see what you decide.

Gizmo said...

I was told that we can deduct our doggie because he is our security device as opposed to purchasing expensive security equipment. I'm keeping my receipts anyway.

Road King said...

Gizmo,

WHO told you this? I hope it wasn't an accountant. Some accountants get really creative, but sometimes that can get you in trouble.

I can't say for sure that this would not be a legitimate expense, but I don't think so. Here's why: the IRS says that "To be deductible, a business expense must be both ordinary and necessary. An ordinary expense is one that is common and accepted in your industry. A necessary expense is one that is helpful and appropriate for your trade or business. An expense does not have to be indispensable to be considered necessary." See: Deducting Business Expenses - What Can I Deduct?

As you can see, the definition is not absolutely clear, as you could argue that a "guard dog" is 'helpful and appropriate'. You could try deducting the expense of your dog in place of a security device, it you wish, but if you ever get audited, my bet is that it would be disqualified. Better safe than sorry. Also, once you get audited, you open up a whole can of worms.

To be safe, I would NOT try to take this expense. If you really want to, ask your accountant to contact the IRS and ask for a ruling.

My motto is "I don't mess with the IRS."

It would be interesting to see what you find out, or what you decide to do.

Readers: have any of you ever taken this deduction?

Anonymous said...

If a company pays $1.5/mi and you drive 3200mi/wk regional then you gross $4800. Total truck expenses come out to $3400/wk. That even includes maintenance. You have $1400 left. Now give yourself 2 weeks off for the end of the year holiday season. Then give yourself 4 weeks off for the truck possibly breaking down a few times and you not driving due to waiting for your truck to get fixed. Thats 46 weeks times $1400 which equals $64,400, which is more than twice your $30,000 amount. Now some places are paying more than $1.5/mi. So yes, you are totally full of sh__!

Road King said...

Anonymous,

You are correct. I am full of sh__!. I don't know anything.

Now to the facts:

The $30,000 was only an example. I did not say that is what a person would net. Of course you could make more (or less).

Check out Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) Industry Facts/ Owner Operators and you will see that owner operators averaged a net income of $45,532 in 2011, and drove an average of 108,000 miles a year. Using your figures, you would be driving 147,200 loaded miles a year. This is not impossible, but is difficult. Not because a person can't drive that much, but because when you factor in time for loading/unloading and deadheading and/or bobtailing, it can seriously cut into the time left for hauling a load.

I have consistently said that one of the purposes of this blog is to discourage a person from thinking they can buy a truck and make lots of money. I am not saying it can't be done, I'm just saying don't jump into it thinking you are going to get rich.

I appreciate your comment.

By the way, how long have you been in the trucking business?

Thank you for writing.

Mike B. said...

My name is Mike by the way. First, thankyou for answering my post with grace and meekness. I was mad as hell when I read your posts because you singlehandedly destroyed my dreams with your post. Second, after talking with more companies about expenses I realize that total weekly expenses can easily be $5000 a week. So I was wrong. If I ran 3300 miles fuel would be $2,400. The truck payment could be $600 for a used overhauled truck. I would have to set aside $400 a week for maintenance. And plates, taxes, tolls, authority can easily come to $1,400. I would also have to set aside $200 for the time I may wait to have my truck fixed during the maintenance times and the 2 weeks of the year that I refuse to work (which is a total of 5 weeks). That comes to $5000 a week. If I forgot something or over priced something let me know. Now, there are companies claiming that their average haul is $2 a mile. I figure its $1.8 if you factor in the times you have to bobtail and wait for loads. I would run regionally driving 3300 miles in a week. Times that by $1.8 and you get $5940! Thats $940 net. Only! And I have to pay taxes on that! Thats how many miles I would run regionally. Seems to me that the only way to even make good money as an owner op is to live on the road and drive 7 days a week thus breaking the law and cooking the log book! I have been a company driver for 7 years. I would like to know if I am overpricing the amount for permits, authorities, taxes, tolls, plates etc. And I too say thankyou very much for your blog.

Road King said...

Mike B,

You were most magnanimous in your reply. I understand why you felt mad.

As to your numbers: it is difficult for me to say what your expenses will be-there are too many variables. First, the quotes of $1.50-$2 a mile. Are these gross amounts or to the truck? When you lease your truck to a carrier, they take a percentage off the top of the gross amount, anywhere from 8-30%, with about 25% being most common. When you are getting quotes of $2, if that is gross, you need to take the carrier's percentage off of that before you figure any other expenses. If you get your own authority, you would would most likely have to use a broker/agent, and they will also keep a percentage.

I'd advise you to lease your truck to a carrier to begin with until you learn the ropes and see if you are going to make it.

The easiest and best way to figure your expenses is to use the Interactive Cost per Mile (CPM) Calculator.

Permits: you said you would be running regional. Does that mean within say 500 miles of your home terminal, or do you mean east coast, midwest, or west coast, for instance? The cost of your permits will vary depending on where you operate and what you haul. Some carriers may provide you with your permits. Some take an amount from your settlement (pay), and some provide them as part of the percentage you pay ("free" to you). Some carriers also deduct an escrow amount to cover any expenses you may have.

Tolls: varies depending on where you operate, what you operate" more axles = higher tolls, oversize loads = higher tolls, etc.

Plates (equipment registration): run from about $1,400 - $2,000 a year. Some carriers will purchase them and charge you for them, but you do not own them. Usually if you break your lease, they keep the plates. If at all possible, I would advise you to purchase your own plates. Then if you want to change companies, you keep your plates.

Truck payment: only you know what that will be, based on how much you finance, length of loan, and interest rates, but $600 a week sounds fairly high.

You are most wise to budget for maintenance, breakdowns, and downtime.

There are many "little" expenses which are hard to think of and to budget for, such as: state business license(es), maybe city/county business licenses, a CB, cell phone (monthly bill) cleaning supplies (paper towels, Windex), hand tools, extra filters, headlights, bulbs, overalls, gloves, maps, flashlights, and an accountant to name a few. If you have your own authority, you will be responsible for drug and alcohol testing, and safety records, among other things that may be provided by a carrier if you lease your truck. These may not seem like much, but they add up. Some are a one-time, or occasional purchase, while others are bought on a regular basis.

Yes, to make a good living, you have to run hard. Many carriers require you to have a Qualcomm (which you usually have to buy and pay a monthly fee). Some carriers also use electronic logs (EOBR's - electronic on-board recorders). Both of which makes it very difficult to run illegal or cook the logs. There is a movement (current legislation in a highway bill) calling for mandatory EOBR's. See OOIDA (Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association) for more information. In fact, you need to visit their site and gets lots of useful information. They have a lot of information about getting your own authority.

I know I didn't give you exact answers to your concerns, but I hope this information is helpful. It sounds to me that you are cautious and realistic. Do some research, find out as near as you can what your expenses will be. Crunch some numbers. You may be a good candidate to be able to make a profit (but you won't get rich).

Thank you for writing. I would be interested in knowing what you decide.

Good Luck.

Anonymous said...

Roadking,

I have a scenario going on now that I'm considering, say an o/o has a truck already paid in full, working local so he's home daily and has $20k save up for emergencies. Instead of getting paid by the mile you get paid a percentage of the load, now your making $1,500-$2,500wk after all your trucking related expenses?

Road King said...

Anonymous,

The fact that you have a paid-off truck and $20,000 saved is a definite plus.

I'm sorry, but with information you gave me, it is impossible to answer your question.

What is the percentage amount you will be making? What is the truck gross (before the percentage is taken out)? Will all of the loads pay the same amount? How many loads a week will you be hauling? Are all of the loads the same distance (longer distance means more fuel expense)?

I get paid a percentage, but the truck gross varies, so I clear (net) different amounts every week.

Go to: Interactive CPM Calculator and put in your figures and you will be able to tell how much you can make per week. Don't forget to figure in non-operational expenses (insurance, permits, taxes, etc.).

I hope this helps answer your question.

Thanks for commenting.

Anonymous said...

Hi Road King. I will become an owner operator at the beginning of the second quarter of 2013 as a leased on owner operator driving local hauling gas. My question is it worth leasing a truck out from a company like Penske. More expensive than a used truck but could cut out the headache of repairs. Thank you

Road King said...

Anonymous,

I would not recommend that you lease/purchase a truck. First, if you don't read the fine print VERY carefully, you could be actually be renting, not lease/purchase.

Secondly, you need to read the OOIDA (Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association) blog "Lease purchase is not the way to get into trucking" at http://www.ooida.com/blogI/?p=185 to see why it is not a good idea to lease/purchase a truck.

It may seem like a good way to go, but it can really come back to bite you.

Let us know what you decide and how it works out.

Anonymous said...

You are right and wrong. I know 3 oo and they make way more than 30k a yr net. U must be lazy. My buddy made 95k last yr and after taxes and expenses he had 55k net. If you only made 30k net no one would do it cuz you can make more than that for a company.

Road King said...

Anonymous,

Thank you for your comment.

If you will read what I wrote carefully, you will see that the $30,000 is an example, not what I claimed to make - net or gross.

The point I am trying to make is that a lot of people think they can make a lot of money, easily, by being an owner operator. They hear what OO's "earn" (gross) and they think that is what they will be "making" (net). Words and numbers can be manipulated, some people say they "made" X amount, meaning that is what they grossed, but what did they net?

Again, my point was to be careful when listening to what others say. Run the numbers using the interactive CPM calculator, before making a decision.

You are correct that if you only net $30,000 a year, you can make that much or more as a company driver. That is why I caution people to think twice before becoming an OO.

Anonymous said...

RoadKing

Thanks for your contribution, I don't know how you keep doing it. For all the idiots that can't read he is giving you his estimates based on his experience. Sure people can make or net more...are they sharing there experiences? Keep up the good work and thanks for what you do. JP

Road King said...

JP,

Thanks for the positive comment.

Yes, I wish more people would share their experiences.

Anonymous said...

Been in the trucking industry since 1976. Done everything from solo company driver to owner operator.
Have teamed over three million miles. Have driven well over five million.
The larger companys are the way to go. What a team has to do to make good
money is get on with a company that is set up for actual team operations.
That means a company that does a lot of drop and
hooks. Sitting while being loaded or unloaded isn't profitable no matter if they pay for you to sit there on not. It doesn't come close to what you earn when the trucks going down the road.
So, make sure they have a good team operation available before
you sign on. Some of the better com[panies that use to require several years of experience are now accepting driving grads. They all have 800 numbers, so call and ask alot of questions. Also don't change jobs a lot, as this will go against you also. When you call, ask for driver recruitment and tell them what you are looking for. Good Luck. You get to see the country for free.

my site: truck driving schools

Road King said...

Anonymous,

Thank you for your comment. We always like to hear from those who have "been there, done that".

Of course everyone doesn't want to drive team, but for those who do, I am sure your comments will be most helpful.

You are very correct about waiting to load/unload, even when getting paid (usually called getting paid detention.

As I have said before, if that truck isn't moving - with a load - you aren't making a profit.

Hope to hear from you again with more good advice.

Reginald Williams said...

Thank you!!!!!!!!!! Most o/o i know net around 50-70k

Road King said...

Mr. Williams,

The net amount of $30,000 that I used was only an example to demonstrate how net is calculated.

Thank you for you comment.

Anonymous said...

i have been driving for 20 years as a company driver. and have been thinking of buying my own truck. as my kids have entered there teen years. my boss offered me 2200 a week as an owner operator local driver. i have no down payment nor savings for this endevor at this time its more of a can i work the lagistics of it and make it feasable . from what iwas told by current boss i would be driving about 500 miles a day to major airport picking up and delivering freight.the company i work for only does over seas freight from air or cargo container. and i live in the north east. any advice on this topic would be helpful from an o/o stand point

Road King said...

Anonymous,

As you have been driving for so long, you know a lot about the trucking business, which is a plus.

Since you have no down payment nor savings, I would advise against you trying to become an OO.

While $2,200 a week sounds like a lot of money, think of it this way: 500 miles a day, 5 days a week is 2,500 miles a week. $2,200 divided by 2,500 miles is 88 cents a mile. This is NOT good OO pay, and I don't think you could make it on that.

Go to Interactive Cost Per Mile Interactive Spreadsheet and crunch some numbers, and I think you will agree.

To get opinions from other OO's, visit my Facebook page at Owner Operator (trucking), or an OO forum.

Good Luck in whatever you decide.

Natalie said...

This blog is soooo good and i cannot put it down.My husband has been in the business seven years and is currently driving for a friend who is an OO.We are considering getting into the business ourselves. Him driving with myself as his broker. I am a nurse but am choosing to solidfy his business to even the financial support. He travlea regionally in the OK/TX region and is home every night. I want to maintain that. We would have to finance a truck. I want to know how bad the risk will be in entering this business. I support his drive but have to be cautious for our family's sake. Thank you so much for sharing your expertise and God bless you.

Road King said...

Natalie,

Thank you for the positive comment. I am so pleased you found this blog interesting.

As I have stated repeatedly, I do not recommend anyone becoming an OO, especially at this time. Freight rates are down, and the economy doesn't look too good, at least until (maybe) after we get a new President.

I totally understand wanting to be an OO, but I bet your husband is making more money as a driver than he would with your own truck.

Is your husband's boss leased to a company that your husband could lease to? If so, could y'all get the same freight he is hauling now?

Since you said you would be the broker, I assume you are thinking of getting your own authority. I have a friend who has been an OO for 20 years. He thought he would be better off with he own authority. Due to all of the regulations, expense, and scarcity of GOOD paying freight, he went back to being a leased OO after six months. Also, I don't think you would be able to be a broker while still working as a nurse. In addition to finding loads, which can involve being on the computer for hours, you will need to deal with shippers and receivers at odd hours, sometimes in an emergency situation, which you could not do if you were at work.

My opinion is to stay where you are. Please let us know what you decide, and if you do get your own truck, let us know how it is working out.

Good luck, and thanks for writing.

Anonymous said...

I disagree. I drove flatbed for a friend for 10 months at 55c a mile. Then bought my first truck. Drove that for 1 year(4 months of that was dryvan @ 1.30 per mile dedicated). Grossed 190k that year. Net was around 98k. Was home every weekend. Sometimes I took a week off and went to europe. I have friends that drove for 2 years and now have 3-5 trucks. They pay drivers and sit in an office while their trucks are on the road. After over 30 years in this business, maybe you missed something. I have put my trucks on the road and started brokering. Driving a truck is the entry into the transportation industry. Should not be the end game goal guys. There's to much money to be made here to be stagnant.

Anonymous said...

Firstly thank you for adding to this site. Your tips and experiences are very straight forward and show the strength of living such a tough reality.

I have been driving for about 11 years 6 years of that was mostly Military, ive driven across most of the US and parts of Afghanistan. When i returned home i got my CDL and have had to constantly switch companies due to not enough pay or bad benefits that didnt suit my families needs. Ive done the OTR and wasnt for me and my family so ive been doing local. As far as the work goes i love it, every company ive been to ive loved the work. My problem is with my military backround i have very little patience for other peoples shortcomings or lack of ability to do their job properly, i.e. Dispatch, dock workers etc.

So my question is do you have any seperate pros/cons about driving O/o local or regionally or is pretty much the same? Is it possible to make decent money and still be home every or a few days during the week.

Thanks again for your time in this site and industry

Sgt. Mo

Road King said...

Sgt. Mo,

Thank you for the positive input. I always like knowing that someone found this site useful.

Finding the right fit is very difficult. That is one reason there is so much turnover. Some people are happy no matter what they are doing, as long as they are making money. Others, such as yourself, find they don't like certain types of loads, geography, time away from home, etc. For instance, most people I know hate going to New York City. In fact the rate is often higher to go there. On the other hand, there are people who don't mind going there at all.

The pros and cons are mostly personal preference. For instance, if you drive local, you often load and unload the same day - more work or waiting! While if you are OTR, you may not unload for 3 or 4 days after you load, but as you found out, it often doesn't fit well if you have a family.

The money angle depends. Yes, you can make money driving local or regionally. Sometimes it takes some diligent research and talking to a lot of people to find a company that works for you.

As I said on another post, people think if they are an OO, they can do whatever they please, but we all have a "boss", someone we have to answer to. Yes, dispatchers are stupid, dock workers don't want to load your trailer properly, shippers and receivers think you are superman and should be able to drive 1,000 miles in 5 hours. They expect you to be on time, regardless of the weather, traffic, etc., but think nothing of making you wait hours to load/unload because they don't have the product ready, or have too many trucks in the docks at the same time.
WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF TRUCKING! It's something we learn to put up with, or we have a heart attack. Trucking is very stressful and we have to learn to let the little things go and chill whenever possible.

I'm sorry I can't give you a definitive answer, but there are too many variables in trucking for concrete answers. Also, people have different needs. I might be able to be satisfied with a $1,000.00 a week take-home, while you might need twice that much.

Good Luck. I hope you find something you like. Let us know how it works out.

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