Considering A Life Changing Career/lifestyle Move, Need Advice!

Topic 12873 | Page 1

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Varg D.'s Comment
member avatar

Hello!

I have followed these forums for quite a while, but never actually posted. You guys seem to be a very helpful community.

I am 32 years old and married. I am from North Carolina. I am a small business owner of a game shop, in a very small town of about 4,000 people. I have owned this shop for about 3 years now.

Before I opened up my small business, I was a retail store manager for many years. I climbed my way up the corporate ladder until it became clear I hit a dead end. Later that same year, I was able to seize the chance to open my own business. I had saved up enough.

I had a business partner. Coupled with a loan to cover my bases, I jumped into it with both feet. Within the first few months of opening, some very deep legal issues came to light with my business partner. He was cut out and let go. Needless to say, no amount of years knowing someone is enough to prepare you for life's surprises.

I have come to a hard realization with my business being located in this small town. No matter what tactics I have tried, it does not seem to be taking off to a point where my wife and I can live comfortably. We are able to pay all the home / business related bills. However, there is nothing to show for it afterwards in the bank.

I do not want to wake up in 10 years with that same situation hanging over our head. Having no savings and always barely making it by the skin of our teeth. Many months all the bills are due and we have less then $100.00 in our bank accounts.

We scramble with events, advertising, whatever can be done to have a good week at the shop and make enough to stay in business. It has been working so far, but I honestly do not want to live the rest of my life this way. More importantly, I do not want my wife to, she deserves better.

I am not one to give up easily, but it is coming to a crossroads with my business. I can either ride this horse until it limps and dies in a pasture. Or I can cut the reigns and go my own way to try to mitigate the debt. This is weighing heavily on my mind.

Now that brings me to trucking. I have done a great deal of research on the subject over the last 6 months. First, my focus was on the negative side of the industry; You know, to brace myself for the inevitable kick in the balls the first few years will be. Only after did I try to take in the positive side of the coin. The thing is I have a very strong work ethic, so the stories did not chase me away.

For reference, I made $33k a year as a retail store manager. I see a lot of people posting pay scales from $20-30k in the first year. This would be something we could live on, but not long term. After the first year of trucking, I start to see a huge variety of pay. From 40-80k depending on what you are doing, LTL , Flatbed, etc.

With LTL & Flatbed careers, I am aware it is a more physically demanding job than what I am used to on a daily basis. It would be a better fit for me versus OTR. My end goal is to get some job of the the local variety to get me home on at least the weekends, to spend more time with the wife, etc.

It seems to be pretty common to need to prove yourself with OTR experience for a year or so first to make this happen. I am looking at this as not only a career but a lifestyle, which seems to be the attitude you will need to be successful in the industry.

On a darker note, I have seen so many posts about truckers complaining about wages, "I have been doing this for 5 years and make 35k a year!" Doomsayer speak basically. Can this actually happen to hard working people with a good attitude and work ethic? Or are these people that blame others and never take responsibility for anything? Is this a scary reality that could happen to even the best of drivers?

For someone like me: One speeding ticket currently on my record, and it is a bad one.. 18MPH over the legal limit. 53 in a 35 MPH zone. no drug/alcohol problems and no criminal history Could I eventually settle into a job making 60k+ a year with a stable company within a few years?

I have read a ton of blogs and forum posts about how to survive in the first year, because that is obviously the hardest time most people will have. Given the 98% turnover rate I have been reading about, is it really all downhill after that first year? Do you see the light at the end of the tunnel?

I have decided against trucker company sponsored schooling in lieu of a private school. This is the program I have been looking at http://www.cccti.edu/coned/courses/TruckDriverTraining.asp . I am somewhat nervous about this class, because I have seen many many posts of people stating what they paid for private or even company sponsored schooling and it always seems to be in the $3-6k range. This entire 9 week program is only approximately $1900.00.

Is there anything I should be worried about with this course? Does it seem pretty legit to you actual truckers? The next available course starts in March of this year. I am highly debating signing up for it and giving this whole new experience a run.

Then I stop and think again, oh wait.. I own a small business that is limping around. This is one of the main hurdles I seem to face.

LTL:

Less Than Truckload

Refers to carriers that make a lot of smaller pickups and deliveries for multiple customers as opposed to hauling one big load of freight for one customer. This type of hauling is normally done by companies with terminals scattered throughout the country where freight is sorted before being moved on to its destination.

LTL carriers include:

  • FedEx Freight
  • Con-way
  • YRC Freight
  • UPS
  • Old Dominion
  • Estes
  • Yellow-Roadway
  • ABF Freight
  • R+L Carrier

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Varg D.'s Comment
member avatar

In all honesty if I had some regular 9-5 job, I would not even be making this post. I would put in my two week notice and go for it. But, with what I stated earlier: The business is struggling in the area that we live. I honestly do not ever see it doing any better, especially as the game shop lifespan is very questionable at best. Given the rise of digital format of gaming, card and tabletop game stores are going the way of the buffalo. I love the nature of the business, but economically speaking - it leaves a lot to be desired.

This is no slight to my customer base, I have some amazing regular customers that have helped us make it this far. We are just in a very economically challenged small town and they spend what money they can afford to. It just does not seem to be enough to provide the living I want for my wife and myself. Quite frankly, most of all, I am tired of our livelihood being determined by how much money people can spend in our shop. Times are hard enough as it is for everyone.

Being a newbie just looking into the industry, I get nervous about all the articles about these autonomous trucks that will be "flooding" the market in the next decade. On the worst end of the spectrum of opinion, they will be supposedly making drivers eventually obsolete. I am not sure about that as it sounds like drivers will still be needed to operate the trucks. I guess maybe I'm getting way too far ahead of myself.

It makes me a little wary, on that front, to make this kind of a change wondering if in 10 years I will be back to square one with no job. With my only skills in retail and driving... I am not sure where I would go from there.

I appreciate anyone taking the time to read this train of thoughts. I would greatly appreciate some comments on the situation. I am looking for some advice from the more experienced and new drivers alike. I know at the end of the day, this totally boils down to my decision and no one else can make it for me.

I would love to hear how some of you would handle my situation if you would find yourself in it. Do you close your small business for a chance to make more money? Or ride it out till you are literally out of business, time and money?

Thanks a lot in advance, and I hope to hear from some of you!

Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

I took a look at your link. It's a Community College, sit there's points for legitimacy. Being certified by PTDI is a really good thing. It looks like you can choose a full time or weekends only path. Such a deal for $2 grand! (Hint: many truck companies will pay off your tuition.)

CCC&TI looks like a good school.

Given the rise of digital format of gaming, card and tabletop game stores are going the way of the buffalo.

A more accurate comparison would be "going the way of the pager shop" or the video store.

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.

Rob S.'s Comment
member avatar

I just want to make a comment on the "self-driving" trucks you mentioned. Please do not worry about a computer replacing a driving job. Look, even trains need conductors and those suckers run on dedicated tracks, so I always laugh at the worried Nancy's thinking a computer will replace a driver.

Also, you mentioned that if you had a regular 9-5 job you would go for without hesitation, but you have your own small business in a town of 4,000 that in your words has no future, and you are hesitating? Don't understand your logic. To me it seems that you have nothing to lose but a lot to gain.

Good luck in whatever avenue you pursue.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Varg D.'s Comment
member avatar
Also, you mentioned that if you had a regular 9-5 job you would go for without hesitation, but you have your own small business in a town of 4,000 that in your words has no future, and you are hesitating? Don't understand your logic. To me it seems that you have nothing to lose but a lot to gain.

Yea, I guess that logic is flawed when having it read back to me. 9-5 jobs come and go everyday, it took a lot of time and love to start my own shop and the relationships I have formed with people, so I guess it is just more of a sentimental bond then anything. As my post said at this point it really is seeming dead end. I guess I just needed to have someone else point it out. I appreciate the insight, and thanks.

Brian M.'s Comment
member avatar

I completely understand the struggles of being a small business owner. Something else to keep in mind is how much the Internet has affected small retail shops like yours. I believe retail stores will dwindle in numbers by the ten of thousands in the near future. Look it has already affected walmarts revenue because they were late in the game. If it impacting them just imagine how it's impacting smaller retail stores. Anyway, there are many good companies to drive for that you will be able to make what you need in a relatively short period of time. Some might hit it right out of the gate. Your speeding ticket may impact some of your choices of companies that will hire you, though you won't know till you start filling out apps. I just helped my co-driver with his taxes and he made 46000 his first year so it is very obtainable. Because the wage scale is so wide in this industry and its performanced based you will always hear drivers complain about what they are making. Don't listen to them, it's usually a problem within themselves. They turn down loads, they don't know how to be efficient, they spend to much time at home. Whatever the case maybe I can assure you probably 95% of them are their own worst enemies. Feel free to pm me if you need advice. As Errol stated your school looks like a good start but don't discount some of the company schools. There are a few that really are great places to start

DWI:

Driving While Intoxicated

Varg D.'s Comment
member avatar

Thanks a lot for the response Brian. I appreciate it greatly. I am a very worried about the speeding ticket, I was told some companies won't even look at me with that on my record. So hopefully I can find at least a tolerable company to get my OTR expierence for a year or so, and wait for that to come off my record and then I might have some luck getting something local.

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.

Phil C.'s Comment
member avatar

Depends how old you speeding ticket is, is it 3,5,7 years old? Have you considered trying to do something different/additional to help your business? Like adding things gradually to help sales. Games and computer accessories, or something that isn't already offered in your town. I've always felt that as towns grow, they suddenly need new businesses, I was about to invest 20k into a hydroponics and organic gardening store and specialize in building greenhouses in a town that hit 20k people, and as I was about to jump right in, when I heard a radio ad for a new business that had just opened specializing in the same things, needless to say they have been hugely successful which proved my business plan, I was just too late. MEdical supplies is a good bet for a town that size, as is specialty foods and kitchenware, try and determine what people are driving out of town to get the most and add those items maybe. I'm not trying to dissuade you from trucking by any means, just offering additional ideas.

Phil

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Thanks Phil for the ideas, I will absolutely exhaust every resource I have with the business before I opt to close it and pursue other options. I definitely don't want to close up shop with how much work I have put into this place, I just want to start making more money then I am now to provide a better life for my wife and myself.

The speeding ticket is fairly new, I just received it last August.

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