As an owner operator, you are much more than a truck driver. You are a business owner. And as a business owner, each year is an opportunity for you to compete with your past self in business practices. Whether you are new to the O/O stratosphere, or you’re a seasoned driver, there is always room to boost profits. It all comes down to planning ahead.
Create a Budget
The more accurately you can predict your yearly costs, the better. With a concrete idea of how much you’ll spend per mile on variables like food, showers, and fuel, you’ll be able to know with confidence how many loads you need to haul (at what pay rate, factoring in deadhead mileage) to make a profit at the close of the fiscal year. Smart-Trucker’s example budget, which we’ve included below, will give you an idea of some of the factors to account for when putting together your plan.
Aside from fuel and truck payments, one of the heftiest expenses an owner operator will face is maintenance. Maintenance can be difficult to plan for, though, because you never know when (and what type of repair) you’ll need. A large part of putting together an accurate maintenance plan is really just about knowing your truck. While “knowing your truck” may bring to mind images of your rig formally introducing itself at the next truck stop, understanding your truck’s needs actually comes down to one thing – preventative maintenance.
Preventative maintenance typically consists of oil changes, filter and engine checks, tire alignment, and a few other small upkeep tasks. Performed on a regular basis, preventative maintenance puts you in charge of your rig’s future. And while systematic preventative maintenance may feel expensive at the time, it is a regular charge that you can account for in your budget. In the end, you will find yourself saving money by fixing small issues before the problem compounds.
Choose Your Loads Carefully
It may seem like simply selecting the highest-paying load available on FreightRover will be the most profitable, but there are actually a few different factors to consider when deciding what load to request. Take into account not only the pay per mile, but also how many miles you will be driving, and whether your destination has a lot of jobs running out of it, as well. If not, the dead time you spend driving to pick up your next load might cancel out the higher paying job in the first place. Our estimated pay calculator will help you more accurately judge a load’s potential profit.
Regardless of the state of the economy, it is important to pay attention to what time of year it is, as well as the type of freight you will be hauling. The industry is naturally busier before the holiday season than it is afterwards. Similarly, more loads are going to be available around when the school year starts in August, than when it ends in June. Use the busy times of year to your advantage, so that you are prepared for the slow times. Consider load weight, which can make a significant difference in fuel economy, versus the pay per mile, versus the total mileage, versus the destination to find the loads that will give your small business the boost it needs to succeed.
Keep Your Health In Mind
It’s easy to push doctor’s visits and healthy eating to the back burner when you’re working long weeks on the road, but neglecting your body will only result in missing out on valuable work down the line. You might find yourself forgoing fruits and vegetables in favor of more immediately filling carbs, but consuming carbs for your meals doesn’t mean healthy eating has to go out the window. Long-lasting energy comes from fiber and protein, so give your body a boost by snacking on cheese cubes, baby carrots, celery, and nuts, rather than chips or candy. And when you do stop for a meal, try to keep it relatively small – multiple small meals per day, rather than a few large meals, is better for digestion and will help your body properly transfer fiber and protein into energy.
If you have long-term health concerns, it always helps to plan doctor’s visits ahead of time, so that your driving schedule isn’t affected by sudden stops. It also pays to have comprehensive health insurance, with travel coverage, so that you don’t end up having to wait for healthcare until you make it back home. Long-haul driving can have serious impacts on your health and family life, and it’s important to consider all aspects as an O/O. Aside from physical health, long-haul drivinghas an impact on you and your family’s mental well-being. It is important to discuss the hours you will be putting into work this year with family/friends ahead of time, so that everyone knows what to expect.
Here at FreightRover, we are committed to the success of our owner operators, as well as the success of our carriers and shippers. If you would like to know more about how to increase your profits in 2017 with the FreightRover app, contact us today!