On this episode of The Road Forward we got a chance to talk to Kyle from Nevada Trucking and Trails. He is a leased on owner operator who has been in the industry since 2016. We talked about everything from meeting his wife in trucking school to what it takes to book loads in a declining freight market as an independent driver.
The Reality of Being an Owner-Operator
It’s no secret in the trucking industry that the market has peaks and valleys. Tires, fuel, and shop prices are all going way up. Kyle says he doesn’t expect this trend to change as long as people are willing to keep paying these high prices.
The main difference in being a company driver vs. a leased-on driver is that as an owner-operator, you’re the one responsible for repairs and maintenance.
“If something breaks down, you’ve got to fix it.”
Another big difference is that you might be dispatching yourself. Many companies aren’t a fan of letting their owner-operators do this, but it can be a huge advantage if you are able to. One key thing to remember if you are dispatching your own loads is to represent your company well when talking to brokers.
“You’ve got to take the emotion out of it.”
It’s also important to remember that after you book a load, you shouldn’t cancel it just because you find one with better pay, no matter how tempting it might be. All this will do is give your company a bad reputation.
Advice For New Drivers
If you're looking to start a career in trucking, it's important to know that your experience will unlock more insurance opportunities as time goes by.
As a new driver, you can start out as a company driver. You'll be driving for the company that hired you, and they'll provide the truck and all its equipment. This is the best way to get started if you don't have any experience yet—you'll learn the ropes under their supervision while also making some money to help get yourself established.
After a couple years of being a company driver, you can transition into becoming an owner-operator. At that point, there will be many more insurance options open to you.
Will Tech Solve Trucking Problems?
Kyle mentioned that in his experience, the existence of so many freight brokers makes it more difficult to talk to and book loads with companies directly.
We asked Kyle for his thoughts on whether growing technology (such as driverless trucks and automated load boards) will solve some of the industry's current issues.
While he’s definitely a fan of technology as a whole, he feels that some of these things might actually have a negative effect, potentially putting hard-working people out of jobs.
When it comes to using a click-and-go app for dispatching loads, he still prefers to talk directly to a broker any day.
A Final Word of Advice
Traveling the country as an owner-operator is bound to have its ups and downs. Kyle shared how he is able to keep going and make the best of every situation:
“Close your doors, get out of the truck and go do something… Turn a negative into a positive and take your time off on the road.”
Be sure to check out the full episode where we share trucking memes from Reddit and talk about some of the most recent headlines, including the rail strike and dropping diesel fuel prices.
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