Does It Ever Pay To Be A Solo Driver Who Leases With An Option To Buy Or Buy Right Out

Topic 18070 | Page 1

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BillTheSlink's Comment
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NOTE: I am not thinking of doing such a thing now, or for that matter even ever. I have no idea whether I would even like trucking, let alone make such a commitment to it. Here's why I am asking:

I was in Kroger today doing the weekly grocery shopping when I saw a young kid with the local truck driving school's hat on and so I struck up a conversation. It turns out he's just old enough to be hired by most of the companies at 23 and he had several pre-hire letters he was considering and had met with several of the recruiters who had come to the school. He had came down here from NY and hadn't been able to find to find a job since graduating high school there, so lacking any funds for an extended education had turned to trucking out of desperation. The company he had almost settled on was pushing him to come to orientation, and you guessed it, lease a truck. I explained to him from everything I had been told here that was a major mistake and he needed to wait quite some time before ever doing that. I gave the kid the name of this forum and told him to come here and you guys could explain it far better than I could, but I couldn't remember if the address in truckintruth.com or truckingtruth.com, as I have the site bookmarked. I really hope he does come here because, and I hope if he does he doesn't take offense at this, although he seemed smart and all, he seemed like the type who could be pressured and swindled. Certainly not an Alpha male type. The picture he painted of the school where he didn't do his homework and has already got saddled with a bunch of debt and didn't even know that some of the companies that he's being recruited by such as Prime would have trained him for free if he would have only worked for them for a time.

This got me to thinking though. I know you guys say not to lease or buy a truck when you start out because you need to just concentrate on learning to drive and live on the road and not try to run a business too, but does it ever pay to buy or lease the truck if you're a solo driver? I could see where it would if you were a husband and wife team as you could run the crap out of the truck, but with e-logs and all there is only so much ground a single driver can run in a day. A team could be able to run twice that amount, but there is a limit to that too. So my question is, does it ever pay a solo driver to be an owner operator? If it did pay more, some day it might be something I might aspire to since you get some more freedom, such as your right to turn down some loads, what route to take, where and when to fuel, eat, take off, etc.

Owner Operator:

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

Pre-hire:

What Exactly Is A Pre-Hire Letter?

Pre-hire letters are acceptance letters from trucking companies to students, or even potential students, to verify placement. The trucking companies are saying in writing that the student, or potential student, appears to meet the company's minimum hiring requirements and is welcome to attend their orientation at the company’s expense once he or she graduates from truck driving school and has their CDL in hand.

We have an excellent article that will help you Understand The Pre-Hire Process.

A Pre-Hire Letter Is Not A Guarantee Of Employment

The people that receive a pre-hire letter are people who meet the company's minimum hiring requirements, but it is not an employment contract. It is an invitation to orientation, and the orientation itself is a prerequisite to employment.

During the orientation you will get a physical, drug screen, and background check done. These and other qualifications must be met before someone in orientation is officially hired.

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

Rainy D.'s Comment
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Point blank.,..if you just learned to drive a truck you have no business leasing. Cause knowing how to drive does not make you a trucker yet.

Here's a perfect example. Just last week a guy gets out of training.,. Leases a truck. All happy cause he can now pick his loads and take as much time off as he wants (but still has that $1000 per week payment).

His FIRST solo load he picks up across the street from the terminal , brings back to the yard to scale...takes the corner too fast and rolls the truck. Bam. Product everywhere....$300,000 cleanup bill.

So now he is on the hook for the lease agreement fees (what they are I don't know) plus the schooling obligations and whatever deductible the company would charge him.

But he wanted to be cool....and be his own boss....and drive a neat looking truck.

So its not always just about how much money can you make. Its about making stupid mistakes as a rookie and not doing it on your own dime lol. Another driver I knew went lease right away and got stuck in mud TWICE in the first week. Because she was a lease driver SHE paid the tow bills, not the company. $1000 bill each time.

BTW...rumor has it prime pressures into leasing. I was asked one time what I wanted to do. That was it.

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Rainy D.'s Comment
member avatar

BTW...I decide when and where to stop. I decide where I want home time and when. Most of the time I can fuel where I want, I just message dispatch to opening the card.

Here's some insight though...most lease ops train or team. What does that tell you?

And an interesting stat I just got today....most rollovers or rear end driver cause accidents at my company are caused by lease ops in condos...the reason? It was suggested they are governed at a higher speed. I'm not sure I buy that argument though. Does three mph really make that much of a difference? Or are lease ops not maintaining their equipment as much as company drivers since they pay the bill? Are lease ops more in a rush to make that weekly payment.?

To answer your original question..you will get lease ops who tell you they make a killing and others who can't get by. Who is telling the truth you just won't know. But I KNOW lease ops who have been driving for 18 yrs+ who train and complain they are in the hole but the student gets paid. I know a lease op who teams with his wife and when she needed to get off the truck for medical reasons, he either trained or took a teammate for a few months. Again, an experienced driver of 20yrs. I also know a lease op who paid off his truck now takes of three months a year. But during that time takes on students and runs the truck into the ground to do so.

It's nice to have goals....but get your CDL first. Get to a good company and ask other drivers in that company for info. Ask for a copy if the lease agreement and READ and understand the entire thing.

But in a nutshell....not a good idea for newbies.

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.
G-Town's Comment
member avatar

So...BillTheSlink,...Whadda Yah Think?

The subject of leasing is a topic TT prefers to avoid, it can be a rather controversial and heated exchange. About a year ago Brett asked for us to defer these conversations and focus on helping new drivers get a good start on their careers.

For a rookie driver though, the answer is a flat out NO. I find it very disturbing that any company would lease a truck to a totally novice driver, fresh out of training. Like buying a car, it can be an emotional decision.

LDRSHIP's Comment
member avatar

Since the topic has been brought up, I had a thought cross my mind. I don't know how valid this business model would be or how financially viable it would be.

Anyways thought crossed my mind instead of owning or leasing to buy, do a rental lease for your truck. I know some basic maintenance you would be on the hook for but routine and major maintenance you would think would be the rental company's issue.

Just a thought. I really haven't done any in depth research or anything. Just a thought that crossed my mind. I was thinking it may be a viable option to test the waters of being an O/O without going all in.

Steve L.'s Comment
member avatar

The answer to the question is yes. There is a point where it pays to be an owner. If it never paid, nobody would ever do it, not even big companies. The real problem is determining when, where That pint is.

I'm a company driver who has owned businesses (not trucking, but heavily regulated). I have two friends who took the lease op deal, with two very different results. One loves it and makes very good money. But he loves seeing the country and only gets home every 3-5 months. He drives mostly in the northeast because the loads pay better. My other friend got out of the business in less than two years. He didn't wanna be gone more than a week, wanted the newest, most expensive truck and had other issues.

Bottom line; not every business model works in every geographic area nor every economy. Most people don't consider this. They just see lots of trucks and figure; if they can, I can.

I hope this helps.

Steve_HBG's Comment
member avatar

Daniel from California has an interesting (to me) account of successfully leasing with Prime and leaving that arrangement to happily pulling dual tankers.

As for me personally, every time I think about leasing, I simply think about the pain associated with walking without shoes on broken glass: I can't do it, but some people can...

Reaper's Comment
member avatar

The answer to the question is yes. There is a point where it pays to be an owner. If it never paid, nobody would ever do it, not even big companies. The real problem is determining when, where That pint is.

Id love a pint right now thanks for offering.

BillTheSlink's Comment
member avatar

So...BillTheSlink,...Whadda Yah Think?

The subject of leasing is a topic TT prefers to avoid, it can be a rather controversial and heated exchange. About a year ago Brett asked for us to defer these conversations and focus on helping new drivers get a good start on their careers.

For a rookie driver though, the answer is a flat out NO. I find it very disturbing that any company would lease a truck to a totally novice driver, fresh out of training. Like buying a car, it can be an emotional decision.

Sorry it took so long to reply to my own thread, but I have been on my phone and I can't figure out how to get the darn thing to post after I compose a message.

Sorry, I didn't mean to bring up a taboo subject. I knew a newbie had no business leasing a truck, but I didn't know if it's like a valid dream to have or something.

BTW...I decide when and where to stop. I decide where I want home time and when. Most of the time I can fuel where I want, I just message dispatch to opening the card.

Rainy, can I ask whom you drive for? It sounds like a wonderful company.

Old School's Comment
member avatar

Rainy is with Prime.

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