The best strategy I recommend for new drivers in this industry is to concentrate on driving safely, always try to be on time and unload early if possible. No Owner Operator likes to be stuck on a load longer than they have to be. Also, learn how to work with your clock and your hours. Know how to use them so that they can benefit you.
Also, manage your home and work time. Do you want to be home on the weekend? You can do that and have a load in the trailer to deliver Monday morning. Always have a plan for coming back out and even more so – try to plan in advance. It is not easy nailing the work/life balance down, but it can certainly be done.
The best areas to run change. You want to optimize your income and your effort. Sometimes the Southeast region is a substantial area to run – it has good rates and then sometimes it’s the Midwest. I always prefer when the Midwest is doing well, which is going to happen more so in the Fall because it’s flat, you’re burning up less fuel that way. So it’s just knowing where to send an Owner Operator to optimize their trip.
The Owner Operator and dispatcher relationship is very important. Each driver is an individual and everyone has things they’re comfortable with or not comfortable with. Some Owner Operators can run more miles in a day than other drivers can.
It’s just understanding them and getting to know them on a personal level. I’ve gotten to know my drivers pretty well and we work well together. It’s just understanding that all Owner Operators think differently and that we need to build our work relationship on trust.
Most of the Owner Operators that I’ve had the opportunity to work with have been here about a year now and we’ve just learned to trust each other. It takes time. When they say they can’t do something, they don’t want to do something, or they have to be somewhere, we figure it out. It’s just knowing that like in all things in life, things can come up and we need to trust each other.
Sometimes Owner Operators have to go home unexpectedly and it’s up to the dispatcher to make it happen. If you can make it work and get them to know that they can trust you, then they’re more willing to do more as a team in the long run. It’s just listening to them, understanding their wants. Every driver should know that their dispatcher has their back.
As you’re starting your trucking career it’s important to know that we’re on the same team, we work together. It shouldn’t be a fight or a struggle. If you’re not getting along, try to resolve it. But we work as a team, it won’t work well without one or without the other.
Trusting each other, knowing what one person can do to help the other one out, and then also respecting the person’s home time. So when that Owner Operator wants to go home, you make sure they get home on time. And it works the same way with the dispatcher. Know when a dispatcher can’t be reached and respect when they’re busy or out of the office. When it’s the end of the day, understand that they may not get back to you right away because we all have a personal life outside of our work.
I think a good dispatcher listens. An Owner Operator is an individual. They’re a person and getting to know them, what they like, and what they prefer is key. Once you know each other, you can work together and you have that respect for each other, things work smoothly.
Trucking is a fast-paced industry where things are constantly changing. I try to do research when I’m not working or when I have some downtime; I try to follow the markets, see how others are making money in trucking, what’s going on with the industry itself, and work on building a relationship with the different firms. Getting to know a representative that I can talk to that knows that they’re there for me and I can be there for them while we can help each other out.
So to sum up what is key to making money in trucking – it’s following the ever-evolving industry and building strong relationships.