Do you have a passion for truck driving? Are you searching for a potentially lucrative new career path? If you answered ‘yes’ to both questions, the overall answer could be to become an independent trucker.
Those successful in the industry can pull in a sizeable income. According to statistics from Indeed for March 2021, the average base salary for a truck driver is $62,171. If you operate independently, however, that yearly wage figure can jump up significantly.
With that said, there’s plenty of danger involved with going the independent route. A number of truckers try to enter the business each year – and quickly exit due to the competitiveness of the industry. There’s also the challenge of all the additional work involved when compared to simply working under a trucking company.
If you haven’t been scared off yet and want to push through with your aim to be a successful independent trucker, this guide is here to help. Below is a quick overview of what you need to consider before entering the field.
Independent contractor: is it the right choice?
You want to push forward with being a truck driver. However, what is your reasons for going independent instead of working for a company? After all, there are pros and cons for either option.
Take working for a company as a truck driver. When doing this, you don’t have to worry about purchasing your own resources, finding jobs, and benefits such as health care. However, the fixed nature of being employed isn’t for everyone.
This is when being an independent contractor and effectively running your own business can be more appealing. You are allowed the freedom to pick the hours you want to work. You can also select the routes and loads you want to take. Plus, as mentioned already, there’s the potential to earn more money being independent as you can take a larger share of the profits.
Choosing your truck
As you would expect, this is the biggest step to take when becoming an independent trucker. You’re fully committing to the role. You’re also investing the vast majority of your startup budget.
Due to the importance of this step, you want to avoid rushing in and purchasing the first truck that seems to be a great deal. It’s vital to find a truck that has the right combination of being affordable and efficient.
For instance, you may be dreaming of a shiny red Peterbilt complete with a large sleeper berth, yet performance should always take precedence over appearance. In terms of what to analyze when making your truck decision, these are four main components:
- Fuel economy
Regarding the latter point, remember that the more weight placed into your tractor overall, the lower the amount you’ll be able to carry onto the scale. The result: you will be unable to maximize your profit margins. Due to this, search for lightweight features such as aluminum cross-members. Every pound counts.
You have the truck. Now you need to put it to use and get the work required to make this venture a successful one. Before you start finding work, however, it is essential you select a rate you’ll charge prospective clients when hauling a load. It’s a fine balance picking the correct rate, as you need to be competitively priced to secure work, while you also have to generate a nice profit for yourself after covering your operational costs.
As for finding work, you need to visit a load board that matches up to your trailer type. For example, say you use a hopper bottom or pneumatic trailer to haul bulk loads. In this situation, you want to visit a hopper load board. This gives you the platform to build valuable relationships with shippers and brokers, and these relationships can make all the difference for your independent trucking venture to be a successful one.
The right planning
Traffic jams and other route-related issues can cause a lot of problems for your trucking career. Not only can delays in your deliveries cause you to be late and upset clients, but it can also cut into your profit margins as you may have to reject jobs due to the knock-on effect – not to mention it will lead to an increase in fuel consumption.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce the number of troubled driving routes that hamper your performance. A high-quality GPS is the first tool you should place into your truck, as this will send out notifications for each route about any significant updates on weather, road construction, traffic, etc., that could slow your progress down. Google Maps can also be a valuable tool to have in your repertoire, while there are various other apps – like Waze – that are useful for truckers.
Maintain your truck
You’re up and running. You have been accepting jobs and transporting goods across the state – or even further afield. This has resulted in you bringing in healthy profits for all of your hard work. However, there are various aspects you have to frequently consider when working independently as a truck driver. One of the biggest is ensuring the maintenance of your truck.
Ultimately, your truck is your main asset. If it breaks down, it’s only going to cost you a significant amount of money – particularly if you are in the middle of a delivery job. While you might balk at the idea of making regular maintenance payments, these can save you a lot of trouble in the long run.
Make the correct choices
When working in a self-employed role, there are several aspects you have to ponder. One is completing your taxes each year. To save a lot of work and potential heartache, it makes sense to hire an accountant to keep your numbers in check and file your taxes.
Another point to consider is selecting the right insurance policy. Make sure to run comparisons to find the best deal that backs your position as an independent trucker.