It starts with a dedication to being your own boss, and taking on the sole responsibility for the success of your owner-operator trucking business. There’s a lot to deal with in the first few years, but once the operation is moving smoothly and you have good back office people in place, your life as an independent trucker will possibly be best decision you ever made.
Staffing your Back Office
Even if you’re on a shoe string budget, it’s critical to have someone managing the financial aspect of the business if this is an area you’re not strong in. Don’t let ego or cost-cutting measures change your mind otherwise. New owner-operator trucking business ventures are made or broken within the first few months, and with tight cash flow, you want it managed properly.
A book keeper will give you the security of being focus on finances, leaving the operation of the truck and loads to yourself. Having a firm grasp on what your financial status is will allow you to fine tune your bidding process on jobs.
Unless you’ve been keeping a little black book in your back pocket of potential clients, your first load job will most likely come off a load board, where short notice, one time drop-and-go’s are listed and bid upon ferociously by independent owner-operators. This is by no means a suggested method for acquiring long term, or even good paying clients, but it is a place to start to build a reputation and pick up loads when nothing else is available to you.
The bidding process is more cut throat on a load job board, but the principles are the same- offer the lowest price to attract a client, but not so low as you won’t make any money.
Once you are established with a few loads under your belt, you can begin knocking on doors. Don’t overlook other shipping companies, as many have a sub-contracting branch to help with their overspill. Your focus should be on building long term relationships with reliable customers.
Hiring Additional Drivers
A solid owner-operator business plan for a trucking business in the beginning is to limit liability and run just one truck. But, as your business grows, you might want to begin building a fleet. Your first drivers should be reliable and professional, so look to hire those you know and trust, or look for references from the trucking schools.
There are additional ways to pull drivers into your business, and don’t overlook the possibility of coming to a hot seat partnership with someone as a way to lower costs and increase profits. Whatever your choice, take the time to make sure it’s in your best interest and not because it just feels like the right thing to do. Expanding too fast without a plan can be the beginning of the end for an ill prepared trucking business owner-operator.