Owner Operators - The Dock: Tips for the Owner Operator
Finding Your Niche
So you've decided that you want to get your own truck and be an owner/operator, but
before you head to the dealership to plunk down your down payment you need to take a
look at exactly what you are going to do. Being a successful owner/operator is more than
just owning a truck. For example when it comes to putting your truck on the road there
are a number of options available to you. Deciding on which option is best for you needs
to be more than just looking at the revenue per mile for various types of freight. If you're
going to be successful you need to find a niche where you're not only happy but in which
you excel. For example, when we first started trucking my wife and I had no idea where
we fit, but we quickly found our niche - we were able to run. I know, everyone can run,
but does everyone enjoy running? We enjoyed keeping the wheels turning 23 hours a day
and so when we decided to get our own truck we started looking for the best way to put
that talent to use. There are others out there who are really good at details. Movers for
example have to have a real talent for paperwork as they have reams of it with every load.
There's a wide variety of freight out there from groceries to oversized loads and all of it
requires different talents to get the job done. We would have been terrible at all the sitting
that goes with hauling oversized permit loads - but the guy who does it likes the down
time and enjoys the challenge of getting something way to big for the highway from the
factory to the delivery. There are as many different jobs out there waiting to be done as
there are people to do them. The key is to find the job that fits you and then look around
for the best way to get into that area.
In our case, refers wouldn't work, for while produce and other refer freight always needs
to be on time dispatchers usually schedule for the slow and receivers quite often would
not take the freight early. JIT freight on the other hand is usually run on a much tighter
schedule and requires drivers who can keep the wheels turning. So we leased on pulling
dry freight and rapidly got a reputation for being the ones to call on when you had the
impossible load that just had to be there. The point here is that this is exactly what we
wanted to do. We saw the impossible load not as a chore, but as a challenge and we
thrived on meeting that challenge. So of course we were good at it, we all tend to be good
at doing the things that we enjoy. It can sometimes be a little difficult trying to figure out
what it is that you find challenging, but once you find it you need to pursue it as your
career. In the long run you will make a lot more in a niche you belong in than you will
in a higher revenue/mile job simply because you'll get a lot more done when you enjoy
what you're doing.
We all enjoy the freedom of the road, the lack of supervision and independence that
comes with trucking, that's why we truck. The difference between the average trucker
and the super trucker is simply that the super trucker has found his niche. He's not only
happy trucking he's getting the deeper satisfaction that comes from seeing every load as a
challenge and knowing that he's the one who can meet that challenge.
Till next time, be safe.
John Ewing is a former owner/operator and the author of The Truckers
Helper, business management software for truckers. If you'd like to ask
questions or make comments on this article please visit our forums at
http://www.thetruckershelper.com/. We will be happy to answer any questions on
trucking or managing your trucking business.