Thinking Of Becoming An O/O

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Tony O.'s Comment
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I'm thinking of picking up a truck and doing dry van hauling on the east coast. I live in Tucson and am wondering if anyone here is also Tucson based. I owned 2 trucks in the past when I lived on Maui but its a totally different type of situation driving in circles on an island vs driving state to state. I've never had to deal with pay per mile or percentage or even log books on an island. I'm doing as much reading as I can to try and make smart decisions but I know there's no better information than the info from someone who does this day in and day out. Our last son is leaving for collage this summer and we're going to be empty nesters. The plan would be that I haul 2-3 weeks a month with the wife as my ride along partner. If anyone has any advise, pro's & cons, do's and don'ts that you're willing to share I would truly appreciate it. I'm wanting to buy a truck and lease on with a company (any recommendations). I have no intent at this time of getting my own authority. Thanks for your time.

Dry Van:

A trailer or truck that that requires no special attention, such as refrigeration, that hauls regular palletted, boxed, or floor-loaded freight. The most common type of trailer in trucking.
G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Welcome Tony...

Please read this link:

When is the right time to become an owner operator?

If you are truly looking for advice, you've come to the right place. To be clear Trucking Truth advises NOT to lease for a myriad of reasons, the least of which is all of the lease agreements are heavily weighted to favor the trucking companies.

Go to the blog section found in the menu bar for additional articles detailing L/O.

Owner Operator:

An owner-operator is a driver who either owns or leases the truck they are driving. A self-employed driver.

Steve L.'s Comment
member avatar

The O/O’s I know fall into two categories; 1) Very organized and only go home every 8-12 weeks or 2) have been at it forever and drive a sort of triangle route that pays them well. All the rest I’ve known gave up.

You’re gonna want to be a master at managing log-hours. So you can maximize income potential. As an O/O it’s not as much about cents per mile as it is gross and net income.

Keep in mind; if it were incredibly profitable to own the truck, the big companies (Schneider, Swift and others) wouldn’t be doing as much leasing. Plus, if you’re a lease operator with one of them, aren’t you really in competition with them for loads?

I’m certain you can make good money as an Owner/Operator. The ones I mentioned are very happy with their income. The ones who didn’t make it (and there are more of them) were very disillusioned.

Good luck!

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Tony...do you have your CDL A? If yes, how much experience do you have driving a tractor trailer.

What is motivating you to consider this path Tony?

Just to be clear, if you have less than 1 year of tractor trailer experience please do NOT even consider L/O or O/O.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.
Tony O.'s Comment
member avatar

Good Morning Thanks for your time and the information. Yes I have my A with tanker and hazmat endorsements. I owned 2 trucks on Maui and moved out to Tucson about 2 years ago. But I’m sure that OTR isn’t like driving on an island just going in circles every day. It’s something that the wife and I are thinking of doing since the last of the kids will be heading to college this summer. The thought process is that she could ride with me since no ones left at home. Our financial situation is stable enough that we’re thinking we can do ok with the income from the truck. But I think that’s the fear. I don’t want to be delusional about that and end up digging a hole. The reality is we would need to bring home about 4K to maintain the house. I don’t know if that’s doable hauling say 3 weeks on one week off.

Tony...do you have your CDL A? If yes, how much experience do you have driving a tractor trailer.

What is motivating you to consider this path Tony?

Just to be clear, if you have less than 1 year of tractor trailer experience please do NOT even consider L/O or O/O.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

HAZMAT:

Hazardous Materials

Explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Large amounts of especially hazardous cargo are required to be placarded under HAZMAT regulations

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Susan D. 's Comment
member avatar

The problem with owning or even leasing a truck is not simply about just driving it. It's more about surviving while running your own company in an extremely cut-throat business WHILE you are driving it.

There are a myriad of costs and hassles you will NEVER have to deal with as a COMPANY DRIVER. Company drivers often actually often EARN MORE or only very slightly less than an O/O when you consider the actual net income associated with truck ownership. All without the aggravation of that ownership. Additionally, while owning a truck can be profitable for some, very business saavy people, you will be putting your financial future in serious jeopardy, because the financial risks are HUGE.

When you own or lease a commercial vehicle, you must either obtain your own operating authority or lease to another company that runs on their own authority. There are quarterly projected taxes which must be paid IN ADVANCE, insane insurance premiums, fuel and road taxes paid to each state based on the miles you run in EACH STATE (think IFTA). Then you are responsible for all the fuel and maintenance of said truck, along with the payments for that truck AND trailer. Then if you're running on your own authority, you'll be dealing with brokers etc to obtain your loads/freight to haul.

Are you a certified mechanic? Service and repairs are a fact of life and extremely expensive if you aren't qualified to turn your own wrenches.

While I am a company driver, all I do is drive. I have no worries about fuel, maintenance, breakdowns, taxes, payments, insurance (both the required 1 million liability or even health insurance for your family). The freight I haul is all arranged for me.. I don't have to deal with any of it. If my truck breaks down, I GET PAID anyway. No, it's not as much as it would be if I were rolling, but I'M NOT LOSING MONEY. As an owner operator or lease operator, all those expenses are ongoing and if you're not rolling, you are going in the hole financially.

We at Trucking Truth NEVER advise taking the path of being a O/O or a L/O for these above reasons and more.

If everything goes right (which is a financial crap shoot at best). a well established trucking company's profits are only around 3% and those companies benefit from volume discounts on fuel and maintenance costs that you won't have access to as an O/O running on your own authority.

So you need to earn or bring home $4k a month? Is that net or gross? I'm not expecting an answer but something you should consider. As a company driver, quite frankly I BRING HOME around $4500-5000 AFTER taxes and all my health insurance premiums are paid. I have NONE of the financial risks and all the other BS headaches that a business owner /driver /mechanic has to deal with.

JUST DON'T DO IT. I normally stay silent on posts like this, or will simply tell those stubborn enough to stray down that path, that I'll pray for them because they're gonna need it. But as a former small trucking company owner, daughter of a 44 year OTR veteran, and stepdaughter of a trucking company owner, I cannot keep silent on my actual opinion on this. It's a really competitive and NASTY business.

Best regards. Research and make wise decisions.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Owner Operator:

An owner-operator is a driver who either owns or leases the truck they are driving. A self-employed driver.

DAC:

Drive-A-Check Report

A truck drivers DAC report will contain detailed information about their job history of the last 10 years as a CDL driver (as required by the DOT).

It may also contain your criminal history, drug test results, DOT infractions and accident history. The program is strictly voluntary from a company standpoint, but most of the medium-to-large carriers will participate.

Most trucking companies use DAC reports as part of their hiring and background check process. It is extremely important that drivers verify that the information contained in it is correct, and have it fixed if it's not.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
PackRat's Comment
member avatar

Lease is never a good idea for a driver. The only one making money is the company that talked you into it. You would be far better saving that money and buying a used tractor outright. That's my opinion. Everyone is entitled to their own views.

Big Scott's Comment
member avatar

Good Morning Thanks for your time and the information. Yes I have my A with tanker and hazmat endorsements. I owned 2 trucks on Maui and moved out to Tucson about 2 years ago. But I’m sure that OTR isn’t like driving on an island just going in circles every day. It’s something that the wife and I are thinking of doing since the last of the kids will be heading to college this summer. The thought process is that she could ride with me since no ones left at home. Our financial situation is stable enough that we’re thinking we can do ok with the income from the truck. But I think that’s the fear. I don’t want to be delusional about that and end up digging a hole. The reality is we would need to bring home about 4K to maintain the house. I don’t know if that’s doable hauling say 3 weeks on one week off.

double-quotes-start.png

Tony...do you have your CDL A? If yes, how much experience do you have driving a tractor trailer.

What is motivating you to consider this path Tony?

Just to be clear, if you have less than 1 year of tractor trailer experience please do NOT even consider L/O or O/O.

double-quotes-end.png

Based on this, I think your best bet is to be a company driver. If you hate it or it doesn't work out for any reason, you lose nothing. As you should know, you only make money when the wheels are moving. Since you have a CDL-A and some expierence just figure out where you want to work. Try these.

I hope that helps.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

HAZMAT:

Hazardous Materials

Explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Large amounts of especially hazardous cargo are required to be placarded under HAZMAT regulations

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

Robert B. (The Dragon) ye's Comment
member avatar

Hey there Tony. As you've noticed, the vast majority here are opposed to it and for some very valid reasons but let's clear a few things up because I think some of the responses didn't completely understand your plan. Fortunately, the profit margin has increased in the last few years from around 3% to between 6 and 7% which is a nice increase but doesn't make it any less difficult in a competitive market. Leasing a truck from a carrier to pull their freight is a very dicey decision to make but that's not what you mentioned in your opening paragraph. Your intent was to purchase a truck and then lease it on (huge difference) with a carrier which is what the vast majority of owner operators do. The advantage is that you run under their authority, under their insurance (saves money) and gives you access to their fuel and maintenance discounts. That being said, it's still a difficult road to travel with plenty of stumbling blocks along the way.

My suggestion would be to start out on the company side so that you could be making money and learning freight lanes, rates etc and then after a while, if you still have that itch, at least you're more prepared and have gained more education into the markets you're potentially wanting to run in. Dry van is by far, the lowest paying freight. There's a ton of it and lots of competing companies fighting over every penny. The most successful folks tend to steer toward more specialized freight that pays quite a bit more and they don't have to run as hard. However, those folks didn't just jump right into it either. They built their reputation and in a sense, earned their way into that side of hauling. OOIDA has a ton of information regarding everything owner operator , including seminars, webinars and business classes tailored for the trucking industry. It would be your most valuable resource.

Owner Operator:

An owner-operator is a driver who either owns or leases the truck they are driving. A self-employed driver.

Dry Van:

A trailer or truck that that requires no special attention, such as refrigeration, that hauls regular palletted, boxed, or floor-loaded freight. The most common type of trailer in trucking.

OOIDA:

Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association

Who They Are

OOIDA is an international trade association representing the interests of independent owner-operators and professional drivers on all issues that affect truckers. The over 150,000 members of OOIDA are men and women in all 50 states and Canada who collectively own and/or operate more than 240,000 individual heavy-duty trucks and small truck fleets.

Their Mission

The mission of OOIDA is to serve owner-operators, small fleets and professional truckers; to work for a business climate where truckers are treated equally and fairly; to promote highway safety and responsibility among all highway users; and to promote a better business climate and efficiency for all truck operators.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

EPU:

Electric Auxiliary Power Units

Electric APUs have started gaining acceptance. These electric APUs use battery packs instead of the diesel engine on traditional APUs as a source of power. The APU's battery pack is charged when the truck is in motion. When the truck is idle, the stored energy in the battery pack is then used to power an air conditioner, heater, and other devices

Old School's Comment
member avatar
The plan would be that I haul 2-3 weeks a month

Welcome Tony O!

That plan of yours is going to be your worst problem. It makes it virtually impossible to be a company driver, which would be my personal recommendation. Unfortunately it multiplies the difficulties of being an owner operator also. This is an asset based business, and when that asset is sitting idle it's costing you money.

I concur with Robert - going to OOIDA.com is going to be your best first step in this process. They can help you - that is their specialty.

Owner Operator:

An owner-operator is a driver who either owns or leases the truck they are driving. A self-employed driver.

OOIDA:

Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association

Who They Are

OOIDA is an international trade association representing the interests of independent owner-operators and professional drivers on all issues that affect truckers. The over 150,000 members of OOIDA are men and women in all 50 states and Canada who collectively own and/or operate more than 240,000 individual heavy-duty trucks and small truck fleets.

Their Mission

The mission of OOIDA is to serve owner-operators, small fleets and professional truckers; to work for a business climate where truckers are treated equally and fairly; to promote highway safety and responsibility among all highway users; and to promote a better business climate and efficiency for all truck operators.

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