Newbies - Company Driver to Owner Operator

Caution | Knowledge And Experience

A natural career move, especially after a long stint as a company driver, is to consider leasing or purchasing a truck of your own. Although this is a natural progression, it is also a very big step. It is unfortunate when a driver is tempted by the big money promises of a lease program and then learns that the life of an independent isn't exactly all it's made out to be. Too many drivers are taking this leap of faith without careful consideration of all the dangers a lease program can have. This is not to say that lease programs are bad. Many drivers experience great success with lease programs.

Lease programs are available at some carriers to drivers coming right out of school. Typically you will have to complete an in-house training period, but then you will be offered an opportunity to lease a truck and be independent. This type of "instant success" is something that should be considered with great caution, especially when you are new to the industry.

The question you should ask yourself if you are new to the industry and want to lease a truck is, "Why?" Yes, there are potentially more opportunities for freedom; you may be able to get a few more tax breaks; there is the potential for a higher income; and being in business for yourself can be quite rewarding. However, if you are just coming out of truck driving school and have little or no experience, how do you know this is the career you want to pursue? What happens if you decide you don't like being out on the road for weeks at a time? What happens if your family decides they don't like you being out on the road for weeks at a time? What happens is, you are stuck!

Knowledge And Experience
Although the ads may claim no risk to new drivers, there is always risk. If you decide trucking is not the career for you, and that does happen, you are still obligated to pay the lease. Another thing to consider is that being new to the industry you may not know enough to succeed. Truck driving schools are great at preparing you for the basics, but beyond the basics you are on your own. Maintaining your truck, making sure the loads are loaded and unloaded properly, scheduling home time, and other such daily routines are all items you need to have experience in before leasing.

As a new driver to the industry you have enough to learn already. The risks associated with leasing a truck are not something a new driver needs to be concerned with. The additional financial responsibilities can be overwhelming and many new drivers are finding that success is not so easily attainable. Surely you, as a new driver, can wait a year or two until you have the basic experience necessary to be a successful company driver before you try to be a successful lease operator.

Leasing a truck can be a good opportunity to become independent, but even the most experienced driver should be cautious before jumping into such a situation. Many trucking companies offering "new" lease programs do everything but guarantee success. With all of these advertisements, surely leasing a truck must be the right thing to do. Perhaps, but every business, whether trucking or not, makes its decisions based on the benefit it receives, not on the customer. In this case, the driver is the customer.