As a truck driver, getting out on the open road is liberating, but more so if you're doing it on your own accord. Being an independent trucker lets you take the wheel of your own operation instead of answering to someone who assigns your cargo and destination. You get to cruise through endless stretches of road and highway in your own truck to deliver cargo for your own clients. To make sure that you start on the right path, here are some tips to follow.
Be a smart truck buyer
It's pretty obvious, but purchasing your own truck may need a lot more planning and research than you initially thought. Ask yourself what kind of clients you will be transacting with, and the kinds of cargo they are going to load the truck with.
Price-wise, a brand-new truck might be out of the ballpark as a new operator; you can turn to used equipment. When setting your budget for a used truck, it's best to prepare for an engine rebuild, since there's no predicting when the engine would need an overhaul.
Check out local auto auctions for good deals on some of the more pricey models. Investigate the truck's history, look at the list of its scheduled maintenance, and assess its current condition. If you can't obtain the truck's history from the seller or speak to a trucker who drove it, you should walk away from the deal.
Invest in accessories that improve your truck's safety. Whether you choose a paddle handle, T-handle, or combination cam lock toolbox, make sure that your tools are secure from theft and the elements. Light up your truck well and get LED lights, headlights or light bars to improve your vehicle's visibility. Equip your truck with GPS, and get an HD dashboard camera to record your travels.
Befriend the big shots
Seek out local big trucking companies and establish a good relationship with them. They can be the trucking company you used to drive for, its competitors, or ones that came up in a Google search. Big trucking companies often have freight overflow which they contract out to independent truckers or smaller carriers. They usually take a small cut of the profits and during slow freight times, independents can keep busy.
Beware of load brokers
You may get in a situation where you need to use a load broker from time to time. While not all of them are bad, be selective with the brokers you do business with. Some are dishonest about the percentage they are taking for the cut. For example, they could be taking 15% of the load rate when they're claiming 5%.
There are many ways to ensure a broker's credibility. For one, make sure that the load broker has a license issued by the FederalMotor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Investigate how they choose carriers and their trucking selection process. Find out how long they have been in business and align your services with a successful, experienced broker.
Starting out as an independent trucker may feel like driving into uncharted territory, but these tips should help you navigate your way around. Stay focused and driven and keep an eye out for every opportunity parked in front of you.