For this special edition of the Overdrive Radio podcast, the business-services consultants with ATBS were kind enough to share audio from ATBS President Todd Amen’s March 20 conference call for owner-operators outlining annual mileage, revenue and income averages, among other metrics, for segments among its clients — from leased reefer, dry van and flatbed haulers to own-authority independents and specialized haulers. (You can also tune into the call via ATBS’ Youtube Channel at this link.) While we’ve reported the basic details of what the firm releases annually in the recent past, Amen gets into the weeds around some expectations ATBS sees, mostly to the positive, for owner-operators in trucking for the coming year, including:
**The expectation of many fleets who lease owner-operators (and employ drivers) of significant per-mile pay hikes in the coming year. (Those paid on a percentage of the load will already be benefiting from rate hikes in the spot and contract markets, the latter of which have as yet increased more slowly.)
**Predictions for the coming year, including steadily increasing capacity pressures driving up rates as April 1 arrives and the ELD mandate’s more thorough enforcement sets in. Insurance companies will increasingly play a role, Amen believes, as ELD violations impact carrier metrics in the CSA program. Amen also believes that net income will grow significantly for owner-operators on average as a result through this year. We’ll see if rate growth significantly impact productivity stresses in live-load and high-detention niches like reefer and flatbed.
**Temptations to change freight niches as rates continue strong, or leasing carriers as sign-on bonuses and pay hikes make news, will continue — Amen urges owner-operators to consider the full costs involved (which can well exceed $10,000) in making a switch: “Today, you should be able to make money doing pretty much anything if you’re a smart owner-operator.”
**There’s a sort of counterintuitive dynamic in an up market where owner-operators run fewer miles given the pressure on income is not great. Amen cautions that good times of course don’t always last very long — if you can, take advantage of the market while it’s hot.
And as for the strong freight economy at present, Amen predicts it will continue strong for at least 18 months. Time will tell.
Take a listen: