Could I Make Money As An Owner Op With My Wife As My Co-driver?

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Jack Burton btlc's Comment
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I've read alot about leases being a bad deal and you don't make money but what if I leased and teamed up with my wife? How much would we make? Would it be let's say 1.36 a mile each or would it be let's say 1.50 split? I thought this is a great idea but would like to know what you older more experienced drivers think.

Old School's Comment
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Jack, you've been toying around with this idea of leasing ever since you first started in our forum almost ten months ago. Here's what you have got to ask yourself: "Why is it that I want to lease a truck?"

If your answer is, "So that I can make a lot more money," then you should not do it.

We have several successful lease drivers in our forum, and by successful I mean they haven't hit a real snag yet. But there are natural laws that govern economics and business, and one of them is this nasty little creature called "mean averages." If one thinks that they are smart enough, savvy enough or just plain lucky enough to beat the system and somehow get away without having to experience this law, they are only fooling themselves. The lease operators in here who are honest tell us that they are only making about 3, maybe 5, percent more than they were as a company driver, and usually they are really having to work extra hard, seldom ever taking any time off, just to do that. We still stand by our position that this is a terribly risky proposition given the odds of success at it.

You seem to be focused on what you are going to be "making per mile." What you have to realize is that a lease never tells you a number that you are going to be "making per mile." It only gives you a number that you will be "paid per mile." Considering that number to be what you are making per mile (like a company driver can legitimately do) is a completely irrational form of math that we jokingly refer to as Owner/Operator math. The other thing about Owner/Operator math is that folks always think they have a better idea than anyone else has ever come up with. Here you are thinking that if I just convince my wife to team with me, we could be making a killing! As a team, you are going to be putting twice the wear and tear on the truck, using twice as much fuel, and exposing yourself to twice as much liability. All of those things are consistent hindrances to you being able to beat the mean average of the industry. There is no getting around the issues with leasing, they are going to bite you eventually.

So, even though we have decided to make it a policy here to not discuss leasing, I am trying to answer your question, "Could I make money as an owner op with my wife as my co driver?"

The answer is, well maybe, but you are much more likely to make money operating together as a team while working for one of the major carriers as company drivers. This eliminates the risk to yourselves and places it back where it should rest, on the folks who are making the capital investment. Why would you want that risk on yourself when you have nothing to show for it at the end of your lease other than the same shirt on your back that you started out with? And that is only the case if you beat the odds against you. The folks who actually own the truck are going to be grinning from ear to ear thinking, "Man, we made off like bandits on that truck while the drivers took on all the responsibility of the payments, the fuel, the maintenance, the insurance, the tires, and all the other expenses we normally have on these trucks."

How important is your marriage to you? There is also the possibility that you could really hate team driving together and never seeing one another but for a couple of hours each day, or maybe you will both hate trying to sleep in a moving truck as it bounces along down the deteriorating interstate roadways. A successful team truck needs to be rolling along most of the time, if it is not, you are just kidding yourself.

You are not going to find support for your idea from the moderators here. Of course you can try it and see for yourself, or you can go to OOIDA's web site and see how they would advise you. They know this game better than I do, and I think you will find that they are in agreement with me, for the most part, when it comes to leasing a truck.

Interstate:

Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).

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.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
6 string rhythm's Comment
member avatar

Team as company drivers with Old Dominion. You two would gross around 200k annually. And you'd be home weekly.

Big Scott (CFI Driver/Tra's Comment
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If you don't understand what Old School means by risk, just read Susan D's "Worst Day Ever" forum entry. As a lease operator you would be paying for those repairs out of your pocket. What if one of you gets hurt or sick and has to come off the road? You pay for every blown tire repair. Every breakdown. All fuel. And so much more. As a company driver, you get breakdown pay. The company pays for fuel and repairs. The worst you have is a little time off. As a lease or owner when you breakdown, you pay for the repairs and you're not getting any income while your source for income is broken. Also, most major carriers keep their fleets no more than three years old. So, if you are with a company long enough you will get a new truck every couple of years. With a lease or purchase, you are in that one truck for the long haul. Hope that helps. Be very, very careful when thinking about lease owner and you have never driven a truck. Good luck.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Yes, owner operators have ALOT more expenses in terms of upkeep, truck payments, fuel, insurance, and everything else that's deducted weekly, on top of whatever you receive afterwards being 100% untaxed so you need to take put aside 25% of that for taxes.

The thing is though, owner operators do end up grossing a lot more per week. My uncle who pulls for Schneider tries to average about $500 a day in revenue for 7 days, grossing him an average of $3500 a week. After truck payment, insurance, tags, maintenance account, and fuel, he brings home around $1000-$1500 a week. (Just this last week he grossed just over $5100, said it was a record week for him). This may not seem like much, but after his 5 year lease is up, his $850 some odd a week truck payment will be gone and he'll bring in that much more per week if he continues to run like he does.

Owner Operator:

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

Old School's Comment
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This may not seem like much, but after his 5 year lease is up, his $850 some odd a week truck payment will be gone and he'll bring in that much more per week if he continues to run like he does.

Okay, this is something folks don't realize about why these leases benefit the company, and more importantly why they want to lease their trucks out to unsuspecting drivers. Let's assume he keeps running like he does - he's running hard, and he's making a little money, but honestly he has had to put in five years to get to the point where he makes more than a good solid company driver who understands how to maximize his hours and make opportunities happen. Now he is strapped with a truck which is more than five years old. At this point in the game all the actuary tables will indicate that this truck is going to start costing you BIG TIME in repairs and maintenance, and that is not even considering the down-time involved and how that affects your revenues.

When you see these major carriers telling you in their recruiting efforts that they don't keep their trucks in their fleet for more than three or maybe sometimes four years, that is not just so they can attract new drivers with their new equipment. Their is a cost benefit to them by replacing that fleet with newer trucks on that time frame. They have been doing this long enough to realize that the cost of keeping that older truck running hard enough to make money becomes next to impossible at that age. A truck at that age is a ticking time bomb for some major repairs. These are mechanical pieces of equipment and things like main bearings and major components inside these engines have a life span. They are at the very edge of that life span after five years of running the kind of miles they should to be profitable.

If you've been leasing a truck for five years and on the outside chance you leased it as a brand new truck, you should have a truck with about 700,000 miles on it! More than likely there will be more than that because most of these lease trucks are not brand new when you start the lease.

Do you see what happens here? You really need to start another lease, or figure out a way to buy your own truck. Well, either way it is money out the door, and it is usually going to go to the company, because most drivers will end up doing another lease. Very few lease operators are able to save up the kind of money they will need to plunk down on a down payment on a new truck, nor do most of them have that kind of credit established. The companies realize this all too well, and they know you will more than likely just decide to enter into another lease! Oh, you could go ahead and buy a cheaper used truck, but you are back to square one with the problem of having a truck with high mileage and too much wear and tear on it.

It is a Catch 22 that a lot of folks find themselves in. We try our best to break it down for you here so you don't get yourself in between that rock and a hard place.

Taxman's Comment
member avatar

This might not be a good year to go from drawing a nice steady paycheck to taking a share in the profits and expenses:

http://www.truckinginfo.com/channel/fleet-management/news/story/2017/04/earnings-watch-swift-and-covenant-profits-plummet-more-than-80.aspx?ref=rel-trending

Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

Un-H-C says:

The thing is though, owner operators do end up grossing a lot more per week. My uncle who pulls for Schneider tries to average about $500 a day in revenue for 7 days, grossing him an average of $3500 a week. After truck payment, insurance, tags, maintenance account, and fuel, he brings home around $1000-$1500 a week. (Just this last week he grossed just over $5100, said it was a record week for him). This may not seem like much, but after his 5 year lease is up, his $850 some odd a week truck payment will be gone and he'll bring in that much more per week if he continues to run like he does.

Keep in mind the "gross" amount needs to cover all expenses, just like Un-H-C lists. What's left is your net pay for being an owner operator. As an O/O, you are also required to pay self employment tax which covers things your employer would pay for their employees. Un-H-C's uncle puts about $1000 - 1500 into his pocket (take home) every week. Well, according to Trucking Truth's statistics, that's about average for a company driver! And without the headaches of an owner!

This chart is taken from TT's Prime, Inc. Company Review: Weekly%20Pay_zps9tmlqyn4.jpg

As for the truck lease, there's a reason the big companies sell off their trucks when they are about 4-5 years old, just about the time the "lease" on a new truck would be up. The repairs bills start coming in.

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.

Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

Un-H-Ch says:

The thing is though, owner operators do end up grossing a lot more per week. My uncle who pulls for Schneider tries to average about $500 a day in revenue for 7 days, grossing him an average of $3500 a week. After truck payment, insurance, tags, maintenance account, and fuel, he brings home around $1000-$1500 a week.

The operative phrase is "brings home around $1000-$1500 a week". No matter the gross pay from the company, after the expenses you list, the green in your uncle's pocket is close to the average for a company driver! And your uncle still has to pay self-employment taxes and buy his own medical insurance. Here's the Trucking Truth weekly pay I copped from Trucking Truth's Prime Company review:

Weekly%20Pay_zps9tmlqyn4.jpg

Owner Operator:

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

Rainy D.'s Comment
member avatar

True story....my friend just jack knifed from high wind gusts. She was fully loaded and a lease op. Tow bill.was $3500...damage to truck estimated at $10k, and damage to trailer $1000. So almost $15,000 in damage. Plus the truck is down for god knows how long and she has to either pay for a hotel or pay for transportation home....2000 miles away.I don't know what would have happened with product damaged, but she said amazingly enough all was good. (Frozen food boxes).

That was one expensive decision to keep driving.

Yes a smart lease op would have a maintenance fund for a rainy day like this...but someone starting out (who is more likely to make bad decisions such as this)wouldn't have that much in there. Also, how many rainy days can one afford?

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