Last year was a very good year to be an owner operator. Rates were high, fuel costs were relatively low despite some fuel tax increases. New truck sales went through the roof. Everything was rolling along smoothly for the most part. Many new owner operators joined the trucking industry.

Then 2019 came and we have seen a dip in rates. For those who just entered the industry last year, you may be thinking of finding greener pastures. Those high rates of 2018 have subsided, and we are back to usual.

Leased owner operators seeking to better their businesses will change carriers from time to time for a variety of reasons. If you are considering a change due to losing revenue, lack of work or lack of the 2018 rates, consider the costs associated with changing carriers.

While it may sound as simple as a new contract with a new carrier, it is not without risk or cost. Permits and plates are just the start. There may also be electronics (ELD) to be removed and returned, as well as any decals representing your previous carrier. A weigh station bypass device might either need to be returned to previous carrier or adjusted to match your new plates and DOT number. Now you have to install your new ELD, if required, have your new decals installed (carrier name/logo and DOT number), get your new IFTA card and decal, have your toll pass updated to match your new credentials, insurance policies need changed, etc.

Now that the truck has been made ready for the new carrier, what about you?

There will be an adjustment period. At your old carrier, you may have known just the right person to call for certain issues. You may have become accustomed to where your previous carrier’s customer base was located. You may have even risen in the ranks of your old carrier to get the loads you want or need. Now, starting anew, you may have to climb your way up the ranks again to get the better loads. The pay increase you are looking for may take a little longer to get. Are you prepared?

Transitioning to a new carrier can be costly for both parties. The carrier has to invest time and resources to get you oriented to their way of doing things. You have to learn their system to get things done the way they expect you to. These things can take time.

Do you have the funds to weather the transition? It could take a couple of weeks, or even months for you to “catch up”. Before jumping ship, or seeking greener pastures, make sure you are financially ready to make the move.

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Greg Huggins

Greg has been in the trucking industry since the late 1980s. After spending 25+ years as an owner operator with United Van Lines, he leased to Landstar Express America in 2014. Greg is always trying to learn something new and share what he has learned with others.

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