Owner Operator Trucking Jobs, Five Great Pieces Of Advice

Owner Operator Trucking Jobs
Owner operator Jeff Clark, by his truck at PTI in Green Bay.

Jeff Clark has an impressive resume. For starters, he has a business degree, and a business mindset. He’s worked as a company driver and owner operator. Jeff finished his owner operator career with Freightliner, leased on as part of Team Run Smart.

There’s so much to take away from this conversation, but I’ve picked out what I think are the top 5 points. Owner operator trucking jobs are a dime a dozen because getting into some of the big company programs is just too easy. But if you really want to succeed, Jeff has some great ideas.

1. Have Your Finances In Order

Jeff points out the problem with buying a truck as a way to “fix” your personal finances. In his opinion, if you can’t walk into your bank and borrow 100 grand, you’re not ready to become an owner operator.

We’ve talked in previous episodes about “ready, fire, aim” as a business model. There’s a place for that, but not when you’re broke. You don’t want your house foreclosed on because you can’t afford to repair your truck.

2. Breakdowns Should Be Avoided

Search any trucker’s forum and you’ll find some owner operator who’s broke down and under load. What always strikes me is how the truck owner thinks this is the broker’s problem. The way I see it, you’re responsible for delivering that load. Rent a truck. Let the broker find a power unit to finish the load.

Jeff has a different take on this one. DON’T BREAK DOWN! It’s Jeff’s opinion that most breakdowns could be avoided with proper maintenance. In fact, it’s more than his opinion. It’s his experience.

  • Know your truck, and don’t try to get that last mile out of every component.
  • Be sure you’re setting aside enough for a well funded maintenance reserve.
  • Even if you don’t spend it all on maintenance, you can tap into it for a down payment on your next truck.

3. Have A Five Year Plan

Unless you’re running team, you’re most likely financing your new truck over 5 years. Your business plan should also be a 5 year plan. If you’re buying a used truck, a 3 year plan will probably work. Your business plan needs to be funded for the length of time you will own the truck.

4. Know Your Lanes

If having your own authority and finding your own truck loads isn’t for you, lease on with a carrier who can keep you rolling. If the independent owner operator is your dream job, go for it. Just know your lanes and rates. Be sure you know how much your going to make getting back from that high paying outbound run.

We can help you there with Trucker’s Edge Pro®. Powered by DAT®, Trucker’s Edge Pro is the ideal load board for any independent looking to maximize their rate per mile. Everything from 15 day lane averages to tri-haul recommendations are included in the plan. You also get broker credit scores and average days to pay. You can even get the loads that post a rate listed first. Click Here For Your Free 30 Day Trial.

Full disclosure here. The trucking podcast has a financial relationship with DAT and Trucker’s Edge. This means you get to try any plan, free for 30 days. It also means we get a small commission if you stay, and we think you will. Don and I are proud of this relationship, and the integrity of the entire DAT team.

5. Ignore The Words Cheap Freight

As I write this, I’ve been following a driver who’s stuck in a major city, looking for a decent load. He’s been there for 2 days because he has a bottom line number and he can’t get it. The closest he can find is 24 cents lower. To me, it’s all ego from here.

  • He should have known the rates out of that city before he went in.
  • Knowing the rates were low, he probably would have been better served taking something that got him out quickly, and back to better paying lanes.
  • Rather than blame it on cheap freight, greedy brokers or a down economy, he could have made a better business decision a few days ago and been in a better lane by now.

Is it really cheap freight? In this case, it’s certainly low paying. Suck it up, put on your big boy pants and get the hell out of Dodge, cowboy. The business and the family it supports would probably be better served by breaking even one day, and living to fight another.

Several Other Great Points

These are just a few highlights of our conversation, but I can tell you this much. If your goal is to end your career on top, with good health, a successful family life and a beautiful home on a lake, Jeff is certainly worth listening to. He’s earned my respect as a successful owner operator, and I’m sure he’ll earn yours.

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