Terry Martin of Oakley Trucking, Little Rock, Ark., has held an owner operator trucking job for the last 20 years. He knows a thing or two about what it takes to thrive in owner operator trucking jobs long-term.
It’s not easy, he says, but with the right business practices, it can be done. Here are Martin’s top 5 tips for running your business more profitably as an owner operator, in his own words.
1. First thing, you gotta want to work.
If you’re not running, you’re not making any money. Chances are, you bought a big truck and you have a big truck payment. If that truck ain’t running, you ain’t making any money. You’ve got to want to work. I grew up on a farm. We worked from sunup to sundown. That’s just what I know, from being out here on the road, too.
2. Establish a strong preventative maintenance program.
Doing the little things, like making sure your truck’s greased and your tires have adequate air pressure, will make or break you. Preventative maintenance is crucial. Put some money aside for it. Because if you break down on the road, it’s going to cost you and it’s going to cost you big. There are a lot of little things an owner operator can catch before things start going wrong. Your batteries start aging, change them. Check the tire pressure and tread depth. If you have good air pressure, that will save you on fuel.
3. Find a good company that’s a good company for you.
They’re out there. Talk to other owner operators on the road and ask their opinions. Talk to the company and see how long owner operators typically stay there. If they have a high turnover ratio, that’s not too promising. Different companies do different things. Find a company that’s going to take care of you and keep you running.
4. Drive responsibly so you’ll get decent fuel mileage.
Try to maximize your fuel mileage as much as you can, because that’s where you’ll make a lot of your money. You can save a lot of money just by saving on fuel. The more you can cut down on your fuel costs, the more money you’ll put in your pocket.
5. Last thing, keep yourself healthy.
If you’re getting sick and not passing your physical, you can’t afford to be down. Eat right and try to get some exercise. When you’re not healthy and you’re not allowed to drive, you’re not going to be making a living.
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