Being an Owner Operator can be a highly rewarding and very successful career, that is if you do it right. We’ve worked with a lot of very successful Owner Operators over the years, and they all have a few things in common.
#1 They Manage Their Money Well
This is without a doubt the single most important habit of successful Owner Operators. It is so important that almost all of the information we are going to share with you today will somehow lead back to this one point.
Successful Owner Operators will track and budget their money. They will keep separate accounts, and they ensure that they always have enough money for when and if it is needed. You are not going to hit the road as a new Owner Op and be in this position, but you can be, with good money management.
Successful Owner Operators tend to divide their money into categories such as:
- a tax account – used to pay your yearly taxes;
- a repair and maintenance account – to have the funds available when the truck needs work;
- a fuel account – to pay the fuel bills when they are due;
- a retirement account – so that you can live comfortably when you’re done with life on the road;
- a general savings account – to act as the just in case account.
#2 They are Conservative with Equipment Purchases
Successful Owner Operators tend to be more conservative when purchasing their equipment. They are not distracted by flashy add-ons that increase purchase price but not profitability. They know that the little things add up and that while they may want a showy truck covered in chrome and extra lights, with an extended hood, the plainer, cheaper, aerodynamic truck will help them be more profitable. Not that we have anything against Chrome and lights, cause damn it, those trucks look good, if you are only thinking about your financial success, you probably won’t spend the money on those extras.
#3 They Know Their True Operations Cost
Successful Owner Operators know and completely understand their true operational costs, the bulk of this being fuel. Fuel is also the biggest expense where drivers have the most control. Successful Owner Operators do not waste fuel by over idling their truck, they know the trucks “sweet spot” for best fuel consumption, they don’t let the fuel board prices dictate what they will pay for fuel. Instead, they plan their fuel stops to get the best possible price.
#4 They Stay On-top of Truck Maintenance
Successful Owner Operators know that downtime will kill their bottom line. They will set up and follow a strict preventative maintenance plan and often take care of problems before they even happen. Doing this reduces their downtime and their over-the-road breakdowns where repairs are generally more expensive. They know that spending the money on regular preventative maintenance will keep them rolling down the road making money.
#5 They Know How to Trip Plan
Successful Owner Operators plan every trip. Before they even leave the yard, they know where they will stop for fuel, find parking, find food and rest areas, etc. They also tend to leave on runs a little early so that they are better prepared if, and when, something does go wrong on the road, like a breakdown or blown tire or bad weather. Successful Owner Operators rarely miss their delivery times giving them the advantage of getting the best return loads.
#6 They are Logical with Personal Spending
The most common mistake many new Owner Operators make is adjusting their personal spending level. When you are making more money as an Owner Operator, it can be so very tempting to run out and buy the “toys” you’ve always dreamed of having. This can be and is a very slippery slope, especially if you are not setting aside money for the very basics of your Owner Operator expenses (as listed in point 1 above).
Successful Owner Operators tend to live below their means. That isn’t to say they aren’t living quite comfortably; it just means that they are not overspending on items just because they can. This goes beyond the big purchases like vehicles, boats, houses and stretches to watching how much they spend on over-the-road meals and coffee purchases. Successful Owner Operators know that every dollar adds up.
#7 They Take Care of Themselves
As an Owner Operator, your own personal health and wellness is a big factor in determining how successful you will be. Successful Owner Operators take care of themselves. This is more than just exercising and eating well. They take vacations and days off to unwind and reset, they develop hobbies and participate in activities over the road that help them reduce the stresses of everyday life over the road.