10 trucking tips for owner-operators

For a new owner-operator setting out on their own in the trucking business, there can be unexpected pitfalls. One of the best ways to avoid them is getting advice from those who’ve already done it.

Driving millions of miles and running a successful business at the same time takes skill, patience and perseverance, and that’s exactly what veteran owner-operator Bob McMillan has done. His successful career has spanned 50 years and 9 million miles. During that time, he’s spent close to $14m on fuel, tires, finance and all of the other operating costs associated with running a trucking operation.

Bob has picked up plenty of pointers for aspiring O/Os and small fleet owners. Below are his top 10 tips.

Looking to go independent? DAT can help get your operating authority.

  1. Choose carefully when buying a truck – you don’t need the biggest, flashiest truck to make a good living.
  2. Set realistic goals. Know what ambitions you have – to be an independent owner-operator and make a good living, or grow your business and become a fleet owner. Either way, you need to build a solid base financially to start.
  3. Carefully choose your partners (shippers, other carriers, brokers) and lanes you want to run.
  4. Always be clean and tidy, and present yourself as a professional truck driver.
  5. Know your operating costs and live within your means.
  6. Know when to say “No.”
  7. If your fuel costs exceed 25% of load revenue, the load is probably not profitable.
  8. Always run good tires, check pressure regularly and rotate.
  9. Keep your truck and/or trailer maintenance up to date and shop for the best deals and suppliers (and then stick with them).
  10. Take good care of yourself on the road and make an effort to take healthy, with home-cooked meals whenever possible.

Ready to be your own boss? Get your MC number and operating authority through DAT. 

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