When it comes to truck driving, miles = money. But owner-operators carry additional weight when it comes to finding the right miles and contracts. They are their own business and have to manage their overhead costs, regulate what they haul and what contracts they take, and more!

The current state of the transportation industry saddles owner-operators with a unique situation as the driver shortage leaves many openings and hauls to choose from with no shortage of options. This gives owner-ops more freedom when choosing what jobs they take on.

That said, being an owner-operator is not an easy task, as they are burdened with finding and negotiating contracts, something company drivers do not have to worry about. Negotiating these contracts can be tough, especially on a competitive bid. Here are some tips beginning drivers can follow as they start their new life of independent hauling.

Find a loyal carrier

A common misconception among newer drivers is that owner-operators work for themselves. While they are technically their own boss, they are not freewheeling load boards and accepting random jobs. Instead, owner-operators usually work for one company but have the freedom to choose their own haul, operations, and time off. It’s a great relationship for both parties: companies do not have the responsibility of the truck and the associated costs, while owner-operators usually receive better pay and additional freedoms.

Since they hold a lot of freedom on who they work for and where their time is spent, it’s common for owner-operators to bounce from company to company or take contracts outside of their current carrier. Those who successfully use this strategy build meaningful relationships. When a solid relationship is established between an owner-operator and a transportation business, the business knows the job will get done efficiently and the driver knows they will be treated well. This working relationship will lead to more hauls for the owner-operator and more established trust between everyone involved.

Network

An overwhelming majority of independent drivers start out as company drivers. This allows them to gain experience, build wealth to buy their own truck, and meet people in the industry. Driving for a company allows drivers to network and prepare for success if they choose to drive independently later on.

You will meet too many people to count while on the road. From other companies and drivers to businesses looking to ship their products. Take this time to build relationships that you can later lean on as an owner-operator. Maybe that fellow driver finds you a new carrier, or that business needs a trusted driver to haul their product. Regardless, building relationships will always benefit a driver down the road.

Look for perks and incentives

When shopping for jobs and carriers, drivers should look for additional perks and incentives provided by the transportations companies. For instance, Fremont Contract Carriers pays for toll road fees covered by the Pre-Pass Plus Network and offers an excellent fuel discount program to owner-operators. Perks like these will lead to less overhead expenses and more money in the driver’s pocket.

This point also applies to our first one in this blog post. Since drivers are building relationships rather than looking for jobs, they’ll want to contract with companies that offer these additional incentives. Transportation companies hiring independent contractors should provide these incentives as well if they wish to bring on the best talent.

Don’t lean entirely on job boards

While job boards are a great way for starting owner-operators, it’s not something to lean on. To start, load boards are hyper-competitive. More competition means less pay, as independent contractors will simply underbid each other until no one is left standing. Working with companies offers a mixed bag of outcomes—you never know how each company treats their independent drivers until you work with them. In the middle of a contract is not exactly the best time to realize you don’t like working for a company.

Which well is better for your situation? Your own personal water source, or the well everyone else is drinking from? You don’t have to wait in line when you’re contracted with a good carrier. If you’re looking to drive independently with an award-winning company, visit the “Work With Us” page to find open driving positions with FCC.