Choosing the Right Carrier as an Owner Operator
Making the decision to lease your truck on with a company that will help provide the freight needed to turn a profit can certainly be quite an undertaking. How do you know you're making the right choice when deciding who provides you with the best opportunities?
Perhaps the most important question you should be asking yourself is, what is best for me and my situation? The following considerations should be made as you begin the process of choosing the right carrier.
Know Your Needs
The first thing to keep in mind is that you are the master of your own destiny, and the master of your truck, so you get to decide what you do and where you go. So, make sure to consider the following queries.
Do you already own your truck and you're simply looking for a place that will help you keep it moving? If so, your decision should be a business move based on what type of freight you'll be hauling, where and how often. Only you know what's needed to keep your fiscal wheels turning, so be sure that your carrier choices will cater to your needs and expectations.
If you don't own your truck, perhaps you're leasing it from a dealership, then you'll want to make sure that the company you're considering signing with will accept the type of truck you're driving. Most carriers will be accommodating, but there are some out there who can afford to be picky regarding what type of equipment they need and what they'll allow.
Choose wisely. Not only will you be considering these questions as if you're already sole owner of your truck, but you'll also want to make sure that the freight they provide will be sufficient to accommodate your truck's payment. Just remember, every penny counts.
Know the Freight
Once you've established which company you're going to lease on with, make sure their freight is something you're qualified to handle and comfortable hauling.
Do you have a hazmat endorsement? You should put it to use with a carrier that supplies hazardous material freight. Most companies will pay a higher dollar if you're able to haul goods that require such an endorsement.
The same goes if you're looking to pull tankers, or maybe you have experience with reefers or flatbeds. There's more to the trucking life than just dry van opportunities, so make yourself a value that any company would be happy to have in their fleet. Apply for any and all endorsements that you can!
Do Your Due Diligence
The best way to find out what a company is offering an owner operator is to ask questions. Lots of questions. It never hurts to perform your own homework by doing a Google or Glassdoor search on any prospective carriers. Make a pros and cons list if you need to, but once you've done that, pick up the phone and call a recruiter or representative with those companies. Get a live human being on the phone to address each and every question you have.
Ask anything that pertains to your specific needs and expectations. What type of miles can be anticipated? If home-time is important to you, ask them how long you'll be expected to stay on the road. What does a weekly settlement look like, and what type of deductions can be expected?
And if a sign-on bonus is offered, make sure to read ALL the fine print. There are almost always stipulations that must be met if you're going to qualify for and receive the entire bonus.
Finally, once you've dotted your i's and crossed your t's, prepare to enjoy the freedom that is the open road. You've already performed all the hard work by finding the perfect fit, the easy part is watching the world go by from the best seat in your house. I think you'll like the view.