Are you thinking of taking the next step and switching from being a Company Driver to an Owner Operator, but want some tips before making the transition? Well, good news! I'm currently in a Lease Purchase program and am more than happy to share what I’ve learned. It’s worked so well that my bills and operating costs have been consistently in the green.
This is not just going to be a one-shot post, but rather a series of different topics to make sure I don’t miss anything in each category. I will go over them in great detail so you will have a better understanding. Speaking from experience, becoming an Owner Operator is not an easy task, but with some starting tips, it can be a smooth transition. There will be four blog posts in this series:
- Asking the right questions
- The hard work of researching
- Signing the dotted line
- Operating successfully
Part 1: Asking the Right Questions
The first questions you should ask yourself before making the move to become an Owner Operator are:
- Why do I want to become an Owner Operator?
- Am I willing to put in the time to become successful?
- What sets me apart from others so I can be the best?
- Am I ready to do the market research to find the most profitable operation?
- Will my family be understanding that I’ll have to spend more time on the road compared to how much I was as a company driver?
Why do I want to become an Owner Operator?
This question seems easy to answer, but the answer will be different for everyone. Many people say it’s because they’ll make better revenue. However, you lose the convenience of having your taxes already deducted by your employer, so it may look like more money than it really is.
I asked myself this question when I first decided to make the switch, and my initial answer was that I wanted to make more money. But I didn’t think very in-depth about this until later. One day, while watching the “World Wide Developers Conference” recap from 1997, something hit me when I was thinking about why I wanted to become an Owner Operator. Now, mind you I’d already put in quite a few years asking myself this question. What stuck in my head this time was something I had never considered before. I realized that instead of just making more money, what I really wanted to do was to enhance my customer’s experience. Once I realized this, I began thinking about how I could do that in the transportation sector. Once my answer was more solidified, I began integrating it into my core values for my business.
Am I willing to put in the time to be successful?
This question seems a little harsh when you first read it. But, to be blunt, this will make or break you as an Owner Operator, so it’s important to consider it and answer honestly. When starting a new business venture, it takes tons of hours to get it rolling. If you’re only looking at the short term and aren't 100% dedicated to it, the fall will be quite painful.
Fortunately, there are lease purchase programs where you can walk away from the lease. I personally feel these kinds of leases set you up for defeat by giving you the mindset that if you can't make it work, you can easily walk away. That's why I have signed a non-walk away lease so I HAVE to succeed.
What sets me apart so I can be the best?
I have asked myself this question many times throughout my career because, as a Lease Purchase Owner-Operator, this is the first stepping block for building your brand and business model. As a company driver, you can find out what types of equipment you are great at running and can figure out your niche. From there you will be able to decide the best way to operate your trucking business in order to be successful.
Am I ready to do the market research to find the most profitable operation?
This is an interesting question because it ties in with Question #2. The difference is that when doing the market research, you’re looking for the Lease Purchase program that will benefit you the most. In all honesty, it took me almost seven years to find the right fit for me. For example, I run a non-walk away lease that’s paid by percentage instead of a flat rate per mile. This means I have to put an emphasis on researching freight lanes and so forth. It might be time-consuming, but it’s important to consider everything when doing market research to make the best decision.
Will my family be understanding that I’ll have to spend more time on the road compared to how much I was as a company driver?
This question is honestly the most important of all. Being an Owner Operator means putting a lot more time into your business. If your family isn’t OK with this right now, you should wait until you’re at a more stable time in your life to make the time commitment. This profession is a tough one and having a strong family support structure is the key to your success.
In my next post, I will go into doing the hard work of researching. Until next time…..