There’s no one level of professional driving that’s necessarily right for everyone. That was one takeaway from the “Shift Into Success” class held Thursday at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas.
The class, presented by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, focused on determining costs and net earnings for leased and independent owner-operators.
A lot of people “are awesome drivers, but they are not business people,” said Andrew King, research analyst for the OOIDA Foundation. That can be a major hurdle for a company driver looking to become an owner-operator or an owner-op looking to get operating authority and possibly build a small fleet.
Operating independently is a huge responsibility, given taxes, permits, invoices, new entrant safety audit, finding loads and other duties, King said. “Is this really what you want to do?”
OOIDA is often asked by aspiring owner-ops what hauling niche they should go into, such as flatbed or auto hauling, said OOIDA Executive Vice President Lewie Pugh. “I tell them, ‘Go with what you know.’ You’ve got enough to learn without having to learn a whole new business model.”
When it comes to success as an independent, OOIDA has consistently seen failure rates of 35 percent in the first year of operation, Pugh said. Common reasons are health problems or a serious accident.
The biggest cause, though, appears to be poor money management, he said. So the OOIDA Foundation hopes to help independents by offering an expanded version of owner-op training, Truck To Success, Sept. 10-12 in Blue Springs, Mo.
King said the money management issues often stem from sufficient capital for starting a business, a lack of savings for maintenance and emergencies, and inadequate management and planning.