If you are thinking about becoming an owner operator, think twice.
While glancing through a truck magazine the other day, the classified ads for carriers attempting to recruit owner operators, caught my eye.
One ad in particular, by one of the larger carriers on the west coast, really stood out from the rest. The ad stated in large letters, ‘Now paying $1.00 a mile!!!’… with 3 exclamation points. I smiled to myself when I read it.
In 1984, I leased one of my rigs, on to a big carrier on the west coast…. contracted as an owner operator. Back then, the truck made $1.00 per mile, a pretty healthy rate at the time.
As a truck owner operator:
-Fuel prices at the time, in some states, hovered around $1.00/gallon
– insurance was one third of what it is now
– and the price of a new truck was a five digit number, not a six digit number.
– log books at the time were rarely, if ever, scrutinized and everyone ran as hard and as long as they chose to.
It certainly was a different game back then. The profit potential was very good and a dollar per mile was a pretty good rate.
Now, nearly 30 years later, they are offering the same rate, when all the expenses have increased so dramatically? What a joke.
This carrier’s ad was boasting about the fantastic rate they were offering o/o’s. No wonder operators continue to leave the trucking industry in droves. What an insult.
Why invest in a six digit figure for a truck, plus interest, and finance over a number of years, just to make enough money for a subsistence level living, till the operating costs bankrupt you and you’re out of business!
Anyone who is ‘sharp with numbers’ can see that the purchase of a truck nowadays, isn’t a good investment.
Sure, some trucking companies will hold the financing for the trucker. But, don’t forget, it’s a win-win for them. They benefit from your labour, and when you’re finally tapped out, they get your truck and they re-finance it for another trucker, or sell it for a profit, or add it to their company fleet. They don’t loose anything.
Carriers love operators with their own rigs, as it costs them less than buying their own trucks. It saves them a myriad of headaches too, such as hiring, training, firing and retaining good company drivers. It also avoids the potential risk of their company drivers trying to unionize, if they’re not already.
Being a truck owner operator is owning a ‘business’. Your business. Smart business people don’t jump at a chance to ‘loose money’. They aren’t attracted to a new deal unless it is going to make the whole thing worthwhile financially. That’s the whole point of being in business for yourself.
It’s about money. It’s about profit. To invest endless hours, money and pledge credit for the foreseeable future in such a venture as owning a truck nowadays, is crazy.
I don’t advise, buying yourself a short term job, by investing in a rig for someone else to control. If it was a good investment, carriers and companies would be buying the truck.
I’m sorry to say that these days, a job as a company driver, may very well be the ‘way to go’. There are plenty of these jobs to go around.
If there isn’t a job close to where you live, look a little farther from your home base. There’s something out there for every truck driver, and generally speaking, at the end of the day, you’ll be better off working as a company driver, than as a truck owner operator, in today’s market.