As a new truck driver, owning and operating your own truck can be overwhelming. From managing expenses, regulations, and maintaining your equipment, there’s a lot to learn.
However, by implementing the right practices, you can navigate the industry and achieve success. Below, we list six tips to help you out.
Build a Network of Reliable Contacts
Operating a successful trucking business requires incorporating a community of dependable people. Create relationships with suppliers, mechanics, dispatchers, and other truck drivers. Also, looking for Owner Operated Trucker Jobs can help you get better leads and more opportunities to make contacts.
These people can provide guidance on routes, help you identify potential issues, recommend trustworthy contacts, and offer moral support. This network can help you overcome obstacles and keep your business running smoothly.
Calculate for the REAL Cost of Repairs
Everyone will tell you that you’ll need to make repairs to your truck. The important thing to remember about this tip is that you should never calculate too short.
In order to consider the real cost of repairs on your rig, you need to factor in:
- The cost of the part + the cost of the repair (labor) + downtime + payments on your truck
- Cost of the part – If you need a part repaired, it doesn’t hurt to shop around and find one for cheaper. After-market parts can save you hundreds.
- Cost of the repair – If you can learn to work on your own rig then it could save you a great deal of money – only if you know what you’re doing. If you don’t trust yourself to do it right, then make sure you consider how costs vary from town to town. If you break down in a big city, you may find that prices are wildly different than your hometown.
- Downtime – Depending on how long your rig is down, you could be missing out on a lot of revenue. Try to schedule your maintenance during pre-planned downtime so you aren’t losing money. Replace parts BEFORE they break.
- Payments on your truck – If you want a new truck and it breaks down (or you get in a wreck) shortly into your year, don’t forget that you now need to make payments on a vehicle that isn’t making you any money. Have your truck payments saved ahead of time so you don’t have your truck repossessed.
Calculate the REAL Cost of Fuel
There are hundreds of tips and tricks out there to improve your mpg. It’s best to turn these into good habits because the savings, in the long run, can be substantial.
One great tip is to monitor your fuel consumption. It’s proven that keeping your speed around 55 to 60 provides most trucks with ideal fuel efficiency. According to CardLog.com,
“For every mile per hour you travel above about 60 mph, your fuel economy decreases by 0.1 mpg. That means if you drive 65 mph for 100,000 miles, and gasoline costs $2.50, you end up paying $2,000 more than if you were to drive 55 mph.”
Driving faster may get you to your destination faster, but it could be costing you big time.
Learn Regulations for Different States
Each state has its regulations for trucks, and it’s essential to ensure that you’re operating within those regulations. Compliance is critical for avoiding legal issues and fines, ensuring safety on the road, and maintaining your insurance policy.
Make it a habit to understand and adhere to state-specific regulations, including weight limits, road restrictions, and inspection requirements.
Calculate Future Fuel Costs and Expenses
Before starting a trip, calculate fuel costs and other expenses accurately. This will help you make informed decisions about whether to take the trip or not. Take time to estimate fuel usage, your approximate mileage, lodging, and other expenses that may come up during your travels.
Use various online tools and plan out your budget accordingly before hitting the road.
Invest in Quality Equipment and Maintain It Regularly
Investing in quality equipment is essential for any truck driver to operate a successful business. Ensure that your rig is in excellent condition and able to handle the job required.
Regular upkeep of your truck can help avoid any impending issues and save you from considerable expenses down the road. Schedule regular maintenance, including oil changes and tire checks, and upgrade your equipment as necessary.
Use GPS Navigation Systems
GPS navigation systems can help you save time, reduce stress, and avoid traffic delays. Wasting hours on getting lost can quickly affect your delivery time and be costly if you miss the windows for loading or unloading schedules.
Install a reliable and accurate GPS system and learn to use it effectively. It can also help you optimize routes by avoiding construction zones or roadblocks.
Plan Your Routes
Planning your routes for each trip may seem like a no-brainer, but it can have a significant impact on your business. Identify potential areas of congestion and find alternate routes. Strategically plan out rest stops and loading/unloading times to minimize downtime spent sitting idle.
Doing so can also help you adjust your budget accordingly, identify potential stops to refuel, and calculate the time spent on downtime.
The most important thing for a new owner operator to know when getting started in this career is that you aren’t just a driver anymore, you’re a business person. Business becomes your big picture, while driving is simply a part of that.
Any independent profession requires that the individual be very dependable. You’ll need to set your own schedule, manage your own finances, foster good relationships, and prepare for the worst. During your downtime, (if you have any) it’s worth it to read up on how to be a successful business person and what habits can set you up for success.
You need to change your view of your profession and think like a businessperson. This means doing work you may not have thought of before, like networking or watching supply and demand trends so you can negotiate your pricing.
While being an owner operator offers you a great deal of freedom, it also places a large burden of responsibility on your shoulders. Keeping the right mindset will mean the difference between that responsibility being too heavy or carrying you into success.
In conclusion, owning and operating a trucking business requires effort, discipline and dedication, and these tips can assist any new owner-operator toward success. Build relationships, plan ahead, maintain your equipment, use GPS navigation systems, and learn regulations in different states, and you’ll soon find yourself on the path of triumph. Consider these tips and reach your fullest potential as a successful owner-operator in no time!