How to Be a Successful Owner Operator in Trucking

Most truck drivers who suddenly spur-of-the-moment decide to become owner operators find themselves bankrupt in about a year. Successful owner operators advise fellow truck drivers to be a company driver for 3 to 5 years. It is the equivalent of getting paid to become educated in the ways of trucking. Many successful truck drivers, after working as a company driver for 3 to 5 years, take the bold step to become an owner operator.
As a company driver, you get out there and make connections and learn about trucking. This important span of time lays the foundation for success as an owner operator. It is worth taking the time to learn and forge relationships.
Owner operators all agree…decide upon a “type” of trucking. There are many distinct markets within the overall trucking industry:
• Flatbed
• Tanker
• Dry Van
• Box Truck
…the list goes on…
Once you have your unique specialty, you have your own distinct set of skills. For example, when you become a tanker driver, you possess a set of skills that few other truck drivers have. This gives you a competitive edge for becoming an owner operator.

Jim Raines, a Highway Transport owner operator, adds the following words about his experience:
I pulled a van and didn’t like it. Stayed out of trucking for about 2 years and didn’t like it. During my 2 years away from tanker, all I did was mess myself up. I believed what a company told me and thought I had an opportunity to spend more time with my family, but that wasn’t true.

Pulling a tanker is so much easier to me. You can see while you’re driving. There’s not a big box in your way. When a 30-mph wind hits a box truck, they turn over. With a tanker, the wind has much less of an effect. A tanker is more aerodynamic and much less likely to turn over in a strong wind. I find tankers to be easier to park. Tankers are a little bit more dangerous because they are easier to turn over at low speeds, but overall, to me, pulling a tanker is just easier.

In my experience with Highway Transport, here’s what I have to say. ..Driver managers get you home when they say they’re going to. The money’s always there. Highway Transport pay is fair. The payrolls staff tries to do right by you. They’ve helped me out a couple of times. There’s only been one time when I was stuck out there in 22 years of driving. They get you home. Jerry Scearce, the Highway Transport driver manager, was an owner operator. Plus, as an owner operator, I take 3 months off per year to spend with family. I tell Highway Transport how I’m going to divide my time.

Highway Transport Owner Operator Jim Raines
Highway Transport Owner Operator Jim Raines achieved the two million mile award in February, 2017. Driving two million miles without an accident demonstrates Jim’s dedication to this profession.

Fuel Efficiency

One of the most important things an owner operator can learn is fuel efficiency. Knowing how to operate in the most fuel-efficient range can amount to thousands of dollars per year. Serving as a company driver for 3 to five years is the perfect time to learn how to pay attention to fuel consumption.
The number one reason owner operators fail is because they do not understand the cost of operating a truck. Many owner operators fail to consider the following important factors:
• tractor payments
• maintenance
• health care costs
• taxes
• permits
• insurance


Here is the most important math formula for a truck driver deciding to become an owner operator:

Revenue per mile – Cost per Mile = Gross Revenue – taxes = Net Profit

The Pitfalls of Purchasing a New Truck
Many truck drivers obsessed with owning a beautiful custom truck end up making less money. It all goes back to fuel efficiency. Trucks equipped with huge engines drink a lot more fuel. Buying a brand-new truck is more expensive. It is best to purchase a lightly used truck. Every truck is different. Most truckers shopping for a tractor look for a used one with around 200,000 miles on it. By the time it has 200,000 miles, most models have depreciated to an affordable price. This puts more money in the owner-operator’s bank account.

ECM Report
The ECM is the Electronic Control Module. You can pull a report on the ECM. This will tell you most things about the truck…including the fuel efficiency. This is good indication of whether or not it has been a good truck.

Highway Transport owner operator Jim Raines advises the following:
I always check the ECM report. That report tells me a lot. The odometer may read 314,000 but the ECM tells you the exact miles. Also, when I’m purchasing a truck I want to know the average fuel per mile. A tanker is harder on a truck than any other because of the surge back and forth. It can beat the truck up. You really have to drive carefully. You’ve got to learn that a tanker is harder on tires. Brakes and tires are more expensive because of the tanker. You are “hauling heavier.” Someone who drives a tanker really has to want to be a tanker driver. They have to specialize. I bought a Highway Transport truck used and drove it 6 years. I want a low maintenance truck, and I’ve got to average at least 6 miles per gallon.

Successful owner operators advise the following:
• Take the time to get 3 to 5 years of trucking experience as a company driver
• Find a unique specialty, such as tanker or flatbed
• Your truck is your tool…not a toy

What Type of Tank Do You Pull?
Many truck drivers who pull a tanker trailer can tell a big difference between a “spring tank” and one of the new “air tanks.” Older tank trailers equipped with spring based suspensions are far more difficult to pull. Most Highway Transport tanks are the newer, modern hydraulic air ride suspension tanks.

Highway Transport Owner Operator Jim Raines adds:
Highway Transport has mostly phased out the old spring tanks, though you still pull one occasionally. The majority of tanks you pull today have good hydraulic suspension systems which is much easier on the truck and tires and fuel mileage.

The following quote says so much

It appears on Highway Transport’s Instagram.

If it was easy, everyone would do it

Highway Transport Owner Operator Jim Raines in his own words:
Highway’s always been good to me. The way I cut up, if a company didn’t know how to take me, they’d probably have me fired. I wear Recruiting out by joking with them all the time.

You’ll hear a lot of people say, “Highway Transport is like a family,” but I think about it differently, and I’m just going to be honest. There are times for many truck drivers when Highway Transport is something better. Sometimes a truck driver’s family situation is not the best, and spending time in the Highway Transport atmosphere is better than being with your own family.

Driver manager Jerry Scearce…when he retires, it’s going to be a shocker. He’s the best driver manager and dispatcher I’ve ever had. Don’t get me wrong, Highway Transport has a lot of good dispatchers, but Jerry is the best. Every company driver, every owner operator wants to be on Jerry’s board. Jerry was once an owner operator himself. He has been on both sides of the fence. He understands. At one time, he only managed Owner Operators. Now he manages a few company drivers too. Some of Jerry’s owner operators returned to being company drivers.

Jerry is probably the reason I’ve stayed with Highway Transport for so long. Sure, there are things that happen and changes he can’t control. The best thing to do is not get mad. All the other driver managers agree…Jerry’s drivers work harder for him. Jerry’s drivers run the most miles every month. He tries to get every one of his drivers a good check every week. Highway Transport calculates everything weekly. Me? Personally? I calculate my income by the month. So, based on my monthly figures…last year I averaged out to approximately 2,350 per week for the whole year.

An owner operator is out there to make money, and I couldn’t have done it without Jerry. He is a good communicator. He is honest. If a driver manager doesn’t communicate the way I communicate, I don’t want to be there. I don’t know that I’ve ever been late on a load. I think owner operators care more because it is their livelihood. A company driver may not care as much. I know Highway Transport has some company drivers who have never been late on a load, but overall, from my perspective as an owner operator, I think owner operators care more.

Are you interested in becoming an owner operator for Highway Transport?

We are excited to announce that our Highway Transport Owner Operators are receiving a 7% base loaded and empty mileage pay. Highway Transport values our partnership with owner operators. As a company, we want to do everything we can to contribute to your success.  Thank you, owner operators, for your service!  Discover more in-depth details when you speak with Highway Transport Recruiting.

Call toll free 1-800-800-5856

Highway Transport is hoping to add 10 Owner Operators to our Current Fleet

apply to be an owner operator

Here is a list of Highway Transport service centers nationwide:

Highway Transport Service Centers

Check out this cool Custom Camo Cap

The camo is customized to be in official Highway Transport blue and green.

Highway Transport Custom Camo Hat

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