For some truckers, being a company driver is just one stop on their trucking journey, for others, it’s a life-long career. Many owner operators start out as company drivers and then, for one reason or another, opt to go out on their own. We recently spoke with Tamara Spivey about her career in trucking in how and why she transitioned from being a company driver to an owner operator. During our conversation with Tamara, she shared her advice on how to make a successful transition from company driver to owner operator.
Pay Attention to Expenses, Build an Emergency Fund
According to Tamara, being successful as an owner operator is all about managing your time and your money wisely. Tamara’s first tip for a successful transition from company driver to owner operator is to save money and learn to become a great money manager. You have to make sure you have all you need to survive on the road, while keeping unnecessary expenses in check. Free tools such as Trucker Tools’ driver app can help you keep find the cheapest fuel, the best routes and reduce the time you spend on finding and booking loads. As an owner operator, you also have to plan for unexpected expenses, like truck repairs. Most veteran owner operators recommend that you have a bare minimum of least $10,000 in the bank for emergencies when you first start out as an owner operator — or some sort of financial resource that you can draw on when emergencies happen, because they will.
Know Your Industry, Do Your Research
For Tamara, the transition from company driver to owner operator felt a little like she was back at square one in some ways and starting her trucking career all over again. Tamara says that she had to do a lot of research on companies to find out who she did and did not want to run loads with. Tamara advises new owner operators to pay attention to profit margins on loads and to do research on any company that you’re considering working with. Talking to other truckers about their experiences with specific companies also can help you identify good companies. Tamara shared with us that she’s gotten good leads on companies from friends and fellow truckers.
Think Like a Business Owner — Not Just a Driver
When you’re an owner operator, you get to make all the decisions. With that comes great freedom, but it also means you have more responsibilities than you do as a company driver. According to Tamara, to be successful as an owner operator, you have to wear two hats: small business owner and driver. If, for example, you find a good paying load as an owner operator, you have to consider reload opportunities in that lane and whether you’ll lose or gain money on the load going in and out of that location. As an owner operator, you’ll be challenged to think beyond that single load and consider the big picture. It can take time to develop your small business owner skills and knowledge, but doing so can help you stay focused on running a lean and profitable owner operator business.
For the rest of our conversation with Tamara, read Owner Op Tamara Spivey on Truck Parking in Atlanta, Advice for New Drivers and the Value of Trucker Tools’ Driver App for more great tips and insights.
To download Trucker Tools’ free driver app, visit https://www.truckertools.com/web/carriers/.