After years of being a company truck driver, you are considering buying a truck and leasing it to a company. Before you lease your truck with any company, you should consider a lot of factors. This brief review is just that – a brief review. I will provide expanded details in other sections for most of this issues and why you may want them.
I strongly recommend that before you even talk to any company about being one of their haulers – you research the company. Research should more then anything else include talking to multiple Owner/Operators who are already signed on with the company. Regardless of what the recruiters tell you – people in the field will tell you the rest of the story. And it is also important to talk to multiple because you can guarantee that at a few are not going to be unhappy – and generally these people are always unhappy about everything. Want to spot a driver that will give you a balanced review, look for the guy or girl with a great looking truck: clean and well maintained.
Just like the day you decided to be a truck driver in the first place, there are 100s of little decisions that you will need to consider as a possible Owner/Operator. In no special order, lets review some of the things you should consider.
Type of freight
Most drivers will stay with what they have most experience with. Few drivers will want to jump from van to flat bed or bulk to reefer without a strong reason. And the reason should not be a recruiter or magazine ad that boasts of the amount money the driver can make.
Area of Operation
Hate big city driving – pay close attention to the operating areas of the company. If you hate Northeast traffic, be certain the company does not haul there. Lots of companies will have hiring areas in the midwest or central south – but that does not mean their traffic is mostly with in those areas.
Truck Liability Insurance
Insurance companies, as you know from your personal auto experience, are weird companies. You might have 10 years experience as a driver but being a new truck owner, you might find some companies will not provide you with your bob-tail or truck base liability insurance or will jack your premiums extra high.
Every week you will be spending a lot on money on operating expenses. You will have (likely) daily fuel purchases, meals, showers, (maybe) parking and tolls. The longer it takes to get paid, the money you will have spent out of your pocket and the longer you family has no income.
Direct Deposit/Payment Settlements
It will do you no good to have $1,000s in checks sitting in the mailbox at home while you are on the road. Even if you have a spouse or family member receiving your checks and depositing them for you, the delay of the mail (2-3 days) then any delay (2-3) days for the person to make it to the bank to deposit, you have another week or so before you money is available.
Your truck will have to ‘base plated’ in the state where it is registered. Some companies offer base plate programs that allow you to base your truck in states with better (lower) registration fees.
Fuel Surcharge Payments
Most companies keep their freight rates flat, at least on an annual basis. However, fuel prices change constantly. As a result, shippers often pay a fuel surcharge as fuel prices increase. You want to make sure you get all the fuel surcharge since you are paying for the fuel.
Trailer Rental Fees
If you are required to provide the trailer, you may want to check to see if the company has a trailer program. It might (MIGHT) be cheaper if they provide trailers with plates and maintenance rather then you having to do it.
Who pays for cargo or freight insurance is a big issue. Signing on and then finding out you have to pay this could put you out of business.
Bobtail Mileage Payments
It is important to know if the company will pay you bob-tail or trailer miles when you have to drop a trailer in one location and then drive substantial distances to get another trailer, you may want to be paid for it.
Toll Road Fees
More and more states are installing sections of toll roads and those with them are increasing fees. One trip thru Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York and you will understand why you will want the company to pay tolls.
The time and fuel spent every year exiting the interstate to cross the scales and pull right back out add up. Using Prepass to motor on down the highway can save you 15-20 minutes effectively every time you pass the scales. That can add up to several driveable hours every week.
Being forced to wait to load and unload will happen often. If you are where you are suppose to be when you are suppose to be there and the shipper/consignee is not ready, who pays for all waiting? Sitting for 6 hours because of no fault of yours is costing you money unless you paid Detent Time.
Qualcomm or Satellite Fees
Nearly every company now uses some form of satellite tracking system. You should know who pays for the equipment, the installation, any required maintenance and the monthly fees.
As I stated, this is just a listing of the things you should consider. Look for detailed information on each section to learn more about how different programs/services work and can affect you – the new Trucking Company Owner.
Happy Trucking, John
TripPak – Load Submission Program