The term owner operator describes a truck driver who owns their own trucking business. Also known as a truck owner-operator, it is a term for independent contractors who own or lease their trucks.
As an owner-operator, you work independently from a trucking company. Instead, you act as a sole proprietor and serve your own clients with your owned (or leased) truck.
To do well as an owner-operator, you should have a solid knowledge of the trucking industry and have skills for running your own business, including:
- Managing financials
- Obtaining your own insurance
Eight Steps to Becoming a Trucking Owner-Operator
Below are eight tips on how to become an owner-operator so you can have the freedom to own your own business instead of working for other trucking companies.
1. Obtain Your Commercial Driver's License
Most truck drivers already have their CDL, which is a commercial driver’s license. The process of getting a CDL is very straightforward, only slightly more complex than getting a standard driver’s license. Begin by getting the CDL manual from your local DMV so that you can legally drive your rig.
2. Purchase Your Truck
Once you have the necessary licensing to work as an owner-operator, you then need to purchase your truck. Whether you have saved enough to buy your truck outright or you plan on leasing or financing it, this purchase is a careful decision. If you are signing a lease agreement, have an attorney look it over to make sure all of the terms are favorable. Some companies, like Kavkaz Express, offer Rent-to-own options as well, which allow you to pay for the truck directly from your paycheck.
3. Get Insurance Coverage
As a business owner handling expensive freight, it’s important to have the right insurance coverage in place to protect your business (and your clients) in case of any accidents.
The types of insurance you should consider:
- Motor Truck Cargo Coverage: Protects the merchandise in your truck if it gets stolen or damaged.
- Non-Trucking Liability Insurance: Covers you, as the driver, when they aren’t inside the truck.
- Physical Damage Coverage: Covers damage to the truck if a collision occurs.
- Lease Gap Coverage: Covers the difference if you total a leased truck and the truck’s value is less than the remaining loan amount.
4. Calculate Your Business Costs
Before getting started as a trucking owner-operator, you’ll want to add up all the costs involved. Learning how much it costs to be an owner-operator will help determine if the price is manageable.
Common start-up and maintenance costs include:
- Truck maintenance
- Truck installment loan
- Truck insurance
5. Procure the Necessary Documents
Before you can step out on the road with your new truck and commercial driver's license, there are specific documents you need, such as:
- Trucking insurance
- USDOT motor carrier number
- Various endorsements to ensure you can haul different types of trailers
6. Learn How to Get Loads
Getting clients and shipping loads is the main source of income for an owner-operator, so it makes sense to learn as much as possible about how to get them. Some owner-operators try to find their loads, while others work under the purview of a larger company, such as Kavkaz Express. We offer our owner-operators the best dispatch service in the industry, coupled with competitive dispatch rates.
7. Set Up Your Business
Although it’s fine to run your business as a sole proprietor; eventually, you’ll want to consider forming a business and hiring employees. It’s helpful to consult with an attorney about the formation of your business. However, many owner-operators have found that a limited liability company (LLC) works well for this type of business model.
8. Organize Your Finances
Even if your business is profitable, it’s still helpful to know what is going on with your finances. The first step in managing your finances is to track incoming and outgoing funds. This helps immensely at tax time as all your records will be in one place. Make sure to keep track of receipts for things like gas and truck maintenance, as you can write these off as business expenses.
When you’re ready to become an owner-operator and drive with a trusted trucking company, turn to Kavkaz Express, LLC. Call us at (303) 532-5955 between 9am - 6pm, Mon to Fri, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.