The challenge of becoming an owner operator is only the first of many to come. Once you're an owner operator, you'll have to figure out how you will find loads, make money, and do business going forward. For many, there are two main options: either you lease to a company, or you go independent under your own authority.
Leasing to a Company
Leasing to a company can make a lot of sense, especially if you lack experience or you're not ready for the responsibility of handling everything on your own. There are many benefits to leasing to a company:
- guaranteed loads
- the company handles paperwork
- the company provides reduced cost maintenance
- the company provides trailers
- the company provides dispatch services
- the company offers fleet rate insurance
There are many more benefits that can come from leasing on. However, it's important to remember that not all carriers are the same. Some offer you more than others, and some have more work than others do. Choosing the wrong company can turn into an especially negative experience.
Choosing a good leasing carrier will guarantee you work, steady pay, and loaded miles. You can also gain important contacts and learn more about this business without putting your own business on the line to do so.
Driving as an Independent Owner Operator
Being an owner operator on your own authority is not easy. Yes, you will have the full independence that comes with having authority, but you will have to put in quite a bit of work. Your responsibilities will include:
- finding work,
- marketing yourself, and
- keeping your business afloat.
You will need a detailed business plan, funding, various licenses, and permits.
It sounds like a lot, and it is, but the potential payoff reflects the work you put in. As an independent driver you can
- choose the loads you're best suited for,
- select your own lanes,
- make your own schedule,
- turn down loads you don't want, and
- negotiate rates that benefit you.
Since you're taking in all the profit without having to kick a percentage back to a carrier, it's possible to make far more money. In addition, you can use various avenues to make contacts and find loads, such as online load boards and brokers.
No Easy Answers
Understand that choosing one or the other is a completely personal choice. You will have to consider your goals, the kind of schedule you want, what kind of work is available, your budget, and a host of various other things. You may want to talk with a place like Voyager Nation for more information.
Many owner operators start with a carrier while they build their contacts and credit, and work on gaining their authority. Conversely, many owner operators with their own authority will turn to a carrier if work dries up or their operation runs into problems. In fact, some carriers offer more pay to drivers with authority. Remember that as an owner operator, you're running a business. Even if it's just you and your truck, you still have to make decisions that will benefit your business.