Say goodbye to bad guys

How much can I save?
Single-unit owner-operators who use one or more buying groups estimate their average savings is $2,000 a year. Their average income, however, is $4,700 more than those who don’t use group buying opportunities.

The income spread is much larger because using a buying group is only one wise habit of smart operators. They are also more likely to use other proven business practices, such as tracking cost per mile and closely evaluating profitability when choosing loads.

When he made the switch from company driver to owner-operator a year ago, Gene Warner of Columbus, Ohio, decided to get his own authority right away. What didn’t come right away, though, was knowledge of the discounts he could get from a group buying organization.

Since joining TruckersB2B in January, Warner says he’s saving at least a couple hundred dollars a year on cargo insurance and even more on fuel. He gets a fuel discount of 5 cents per gallon, plus 6 cents off for using his debit (rather than credit) card from Fleet One, a partner of TruckersB2B. “I wish I had them when I first started,” he says.

TruckersB2B, which provides pre-negotiated savings on such items as fuel, tires and software, is one of many options for owner-operators who want to take advantage of a group-buying discount.

The most common sources for such programs are the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and carriers, according to Overdrive research. Programs are also offered through truck or engine makers, parts distributors, truck stops and groups such as the National Association of Independent Truckers.

As helpful as these programs can be, the majority of owner-operators don’t participate in one, the 2005 Overdrive Owner-Operator Market Behavior Report shows.

“Leased operators are more likely to belong to a buying group than independents,” says Chris Brady, whose Commercial Motor Vehicle Consulting prepared the report. That’s true mainly because mid-sized or larger carriers have the size to negotiate good discounts. “With owner-operators in such high demand, they will try to pass that savings along the best they can to owner-operators,” he says.

No matter what group buying programs offer, smart owner-operators keep up with sales and value brands. “Just because you’re in a program doesn’t mean the price is going to be the cheapest,” Brady cautions.

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