You’ve recently completed your training and gotten your CDL. Way to go! There are lots of possibilities and potential for growth in your career. Lucky for you, we’ve interviewed dozens of seasoned and newbie owner operators over the last year who’ve offered their advice on how to start a trucking business and have a long-lasting, successful career as an owner operator. If you’re looking for tips on how to start your new trucking business, this blog is for you!
Buy (or Lease) Your Truck, Trailer
One of the first things you’ll need to do when you start your trucking business is to get a truck. You have a few options to choose from, including buying, leasing or lease-to-own. Buying your truck and trailer outright can be expensive, which is why many new owner operators choose to lease their first truck. The benefit of buying your truck is that once you’ve made all of your payments, you own the truck.
“Do your research. Do a lot of research,” advises owner operator Gabrielle Simmons. Don’t just get what you think looks the best or feels the best because ultimately the price and maintenance a lot of times are going to make or break your business. Do your research, run your numbers and then decide on a truck from there.”
Get Your Authority To Operate, USDOT Number
As a new trucker, you’ve probably heard the words “authority” and “MC number” often. Most of the time, these words mean the same thing. To start your owner operator trucking business, you’ll need to get authorized by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a government agency that regulates the trucking industry. You can apply for your authority and get a US DOT number (if needed) online using FMCSA’s online registration system. The filing fee is typically $300. Keep in mind that you will need to show proof of insurance as part of getting your authority. For more information on getting your MC number, visit https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/registration/get-mc-number-authority-operate#types-of-authority.
Start a Maintenance Fund
As an owner operator, unexpected repairs can kill your profit margins.That’s why all of the owner operators we’ve interviewed over the last year or so recommend that you start and maintain an emergency/maintenance fund.Most seasoned owner operators recommend that you have at least $10,000 in reserve to pay for repairs.
“Unexpected things happenthat nobody is ever prepared for,” said Tiffini Springer, one of the co-founders of Redneckanize who also runs a trucking business with her husband. “When you drive for a company, you just call the company and they fix the truck. But when you’re an owner operator, a completely new motor in your truck costs you between $10,000 and $15,000 — and that’s if you fix it yourself.”
Use Technology To Maximize Your Profits, Build Relationships
One of the best things you can do to ensure that you maximize your revenue is to use technology-based tools that save you time. Trucker Tools’ free driver app does exactly that, providing you with real-time information on routing, fuel pricing, rest areas, truck stops, parking, weigh scales, DOT locations, Wal-Mart store locations, available loads, nearby doctors, repair centers and more. With Trucker Tools’ free driver app, you have all the information you need as an owner operator right at your fingertips.
According to 28-year trucking veteran Gerald Johnson, Trucker Tools’ free driver app also helps new owner operators build important relationships with brokers through its digital freight matching feature.
“The tools for finding loads in Trucker Tools’ driver app are great, especially for owner-operators. As an owner operator with your own authority, it’s imperative to be able to build relationships, Gerald says. “Trucker Tools gives owner operators access to brokers and allows them to build those relationships with brokers. If you build a relationship with a broker, the next time that broker is really in need of getting a truck, they’re going to call you up. You don’t have to go search for a load. And when a broker gives you a load, they may not have a backhaul for you, so that’s where Trucker Tools’ driver app comes in again.”
For more on how you can find (and book) loads in Trucker Tools’ free driver app, read Four Reasons To Ditch Load Boards, Use Trucker Tools’ Free Driver App Instead. To download Trucker Tools’ free driver app, visit https://www.truckertools.com/web/carriers/.