The matching of an owner-operator with a fleet can be a delicate courtship. Carriers, wary of rapid capital expansion, are looking for owner-operators to meet growing demand. Many owner-operators, burned by out-of-control fuel prices and stagnant compensation during the downturn, are shopping for carriers that will treat them fairly during times of economic upheaval.
If you’re looking around, though, don’t make a rash decision based solely on a fat sign-on bonus, high per-mile pay or a fuel surcharge. Consider the money points as well as the less explicit matters of respect, home time and other things.
And remember, this is a two-way street. One reason the best carriers are the best is that they are not careless about choosing who they pair up with.
As the late-1990s driver shortage developed and large carriers began to lean on owner-operators, Craig Transportation became more particular with its owner-operator leases, said Lance Craig, chair of the Truckload Carriers Association. “That meant learning more about what they expected from us and how they run their own operations,” said Craig, addressing TCA’s annual Independent Contractors meeting last month, held in conjunction with the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas. “Our approach has been to migrate toward the more sophisticated independent contractor – the individual who is in touch with cost per mile, etc.”
Just as couples tend to pair up by like backgrounds, education and expectations, then maintain good communication, the best carrier-contractor relationships are also like to like, with open dialogue. You might not feel “sophisticated,” but if you’re practicing the basics of good business, you are. Benefits will come your way, not the least of which can be a strong, fair fleet partner.