It should come as no surprise, then, that improving revenue and cutting costs are top priorities for small fleets and owner-operators in 2013. According to the 3rd Annual DAT Carrier Benchmark Survey, a study of 514 truck fleet executives and owner-operators, many key performance indicators worsened compared to 2011.
Did Anyone Make Money?
The short answer is yes. For-hire carriers made an average of $3,892 per month per truck, before taxes. Across an average of 7.8 trucks per fleet, their total pre-tax profit was $26,559 per month, for an 18% margin. Owner-operators had an average of 1.2 power units and pre-tax profit of $3,046 monthly per truck, for a 21% margin. They achieved higher margins than the for-hire carriers on a per-truck basis, due to their lower overhead.
Other survey findings:
- Percentage of empty miles increased to an average of 12.5% for the for-hire carriers and 15.8% for owner-operators in 2012. They were 9.6% and 10.2%, respectively, in 2011.
- Average length of haul declined to 754 miles one-way for for-hire carriers (an 11% decrease) and 878 miles for owner-operators (a 4.6% decline). A shorter haul usually correlates to higher rates, but that was not the case in 2012.
- Total miles per truck per month declined slightly, from 10,440 miles in 2011 to 9,734 miles for for-hire carriers in 2012 (a 6.7% decrease), and from 9,321 miles in 2011 to 8,586 miles in 2012 for owner-operators (a 7.9% decrease). For-hire carriers with multiple trucks and drivers have more flexibility to re-position assets and logged 8.3% more miles than owner-operators.
- Rates per loaded mile dipped to $2 per mile for for-hire carriers and $1.95 per mile for owner-operators, down from $2.05 and $2.10 in 2011, respectively. According to DAT RateView, average contract rates rose just 3.8% in 2012, while spot market rates increased 0.9% nationwide.
- Average monthly revenue per truck fell to $16,168 for for-hire carriers and $14,431 for owner-operators, a 12.3% decline and 18.4% drop, respectively, compared to 2011. This is due to a combination of the decline in total miles and the increase in miles driven empty.
Download a free copy of the 2013 DAT Carrier Benchmark Survey .