The truck driving industry offers a variety of opportunities to drivers, from working at large companies to becoming an owner operator. Truck owner operators enjoy the increased flexibility of being their own boss, but being an owner operator also comes with increased responsibility and financial considerations.
While being an owner operator may seem like a good fit, it is generally not the best choice for new drivers and even experienced drivers should consider the regulations and costs that will go into operating your own truck/business.
If becoming an owner operator is the path you have chosen, then it is important to manage costs to ensure you make the most money possible on every job you take.
How Can Truck Owner Operators Manage Costs?
- Fuel: Arguably one of the biggest costs an owner operator will have to manage, fuel prices are in constant flux, and it is important to have a system in place to save as much money on fuel as possible. On average, an owner operator could spend as much as $70K per year on fuel which is why it is important to save money on fuel by joining fuel reward programs and implementing some of these driving practices to reduce your fuel costs:
- Braking responsibly
- Lowering speed
- Staying in higher gears
- Minimizing idling
- Reducing RPMs
- Truck Maintenance: When you are the owner operator, your truck is now solely your responsibility From the truck payment to the ongoing maintenance, you must now take care of everything to ensure not only your safety, but your ability to move freight. Next to fuel, maintenance is the biggest expense truck owner operators will face, especially regularly replacing tires. Owner operators should conduct thorough pre and post inspections on every trip to ensure no maintenance issues get overlooked.
- Insurance: For company drivers, insurance is covered by their employer for the truck and most also offer health insurance. As an owner operator, you are responsible for the insurance on your truck and also your own health insurance. Insurance premiums can vary wildly depending on the type and coverage level you choose, so it is important to compare rates and select the policies that are right for your budget. Remember having a lower premium also means you will have a higher deductible, which isn’t always lucrative should you get into an accident.
- Taxes: Tax regulations are different for owner operators because unlike a company driver, truck owner operators are considered independent contractors and self-employed. This means in addition to state and federal income tax, you will also be accountable for paying self-employment tax. As you set aside tax from your income, it is vital to make sure you are setting aside enough money to cover all your tax obligations.
- Food/Drinks: As with any trip on the road, one of the biggest expenses is food and drink. Truck owner operators can easily save money by buying groceries and preparing their own meals on the road versus eating out at restaurants or rest stops for every meal. This small adjustment can save thousands of dollars each year and give you the opportunity to get creative with your cooking while on the road.
We also had the chance to speak with an owner/operator, Andy Robinson, who gave us some of his best tips for managing costs:
“Driving 68 mph instead of 70 mph will save you a little over one gallon of fuel per mile…and it only costs you around 25 minutes longer in drive time on a 600-mile trip! The average week is around 3,000 miles with ~50 weeks driving a year – money saved is money earned!
If the O/O pays their own fuel, use the Mad Flap App. It saves around 40-50 cents per gallon.
NEVER miss your PM service when it’s that time! Your truck is your money maker!”
He then concluded by saying, “Wheels aren’t turning, moneys not churning!”
Are you interested in learning more about being an owner operator? Be sure to check out our driver blog for tips for truck owner operators, company drivers, and more. You can also connect with us on Facebook and Instagram to keep up with all of our updates here at Drive My Way.