A lot of truck drivers dream of becoming an owner/operator. Whether you’re a rookie driver or a grizzled veteran with millions of miles under your belt, taking a serious look into buying your own truck is something you have to put serious thought into. In order to put yourself on the road to success as an owner-operator, you’ll need to make a number of critical decisions and self-assessments. If you take into full consideration all of the variables, and give yourself an honest assessment, and come out saying yes, then buying your own truck may be the best thing that ever happened for your career.
A Personal Assessment
It all starts with being honest with yourself. Take a good, hard look at your work ethic, habits, and commitment to personal and professional growth. Ask others in your life that your trust to give you an honest assessment about these characteristics. Owning a truck is much more than just driving a truck. Consider the following:
- Driving Preferences – Do you prefer maximizing your available hours so you can run as many hours as possible, or is getting a lockdown on the best parking spot so you can catch the game more important?
- Home Time – If spending weekends at home regardless of what time off means to your pay, you’re probably better remaining a company driver.
- Family – Do you have special family considerations like a spouse with a difficult work schedule or shared child custody that restricts your driving availability? While you may be able to manage these issues, they can take a toll on your profitability as an owner/operator.
- Health – Are you in generally good health? Being in good health and maintaining your health is critical to running a business, as sick days take a direct toll on your pocket.
- Career Goals – What are your short and long-term career goals? Do you want to drive for life or eventually move into a non-driving position? If you build your owner/operator business, you can hire drivers and eventually take a role off the road and just focus on running your business and drivers.
If you end up deciding to own a truck is what you want, the next step is looking at your current financial situation. Take an honest and thorough look at your finances. If things don’t look great, that doesn’t mean the dream is over. You can quickly get yourself into a position to buy or lease to purchase a truck with a focused and disciplined strategy.
- Personal Budget – Get a handle on all of your income and expense items and track them using a spreadsheet or software. If you can’t control your own finances, you’ll have a hard time dealing with the finances involved with being an owner.
- Eliminate Debt and Build Credit – Setting yourself up for success as an owner/operator is difficult if you’re carrying a heavy debt burden. Start by eliminating your credit card debt or getting your balances below 30%. You’ll save money on interest payments and improve your credit score when applying for a truck loan.
- Emergency Fund – What is your plan if you get sick, have a financial emergency, or need to access cash fast? Setting aside 3 to 6 months of your living expenses can get you through a lot of unexpected life surprises. Your emergency fund can save you when you’re out on the road over a holiday weekend, and your dispatcher is nowhere to be found.
Go Independent or try a Lease Purchase Program?
Because no two truckers are alike, you have to weigh the pros and cons and make the best decision for you and your goals. Some truckers value full independence above all else and are willing to do whatever it takes to maintain it. Others prefer the security of knowing they will have a more consistent base of freight to get loads.
Should You Buy Your Own Truck?
That’s only a question you can answer. Just make sure to weigh all of your options and see how they align with your goals and lifestyle. If you’re not in a position to buy a truck with cash and don’t want to deal with a loan, then a lease-purchase program can be a great option. The combination of comfortable payments, support, and consistent runs makes a lease-purchase program the perfect transition to becoming an owner/operator.
Discover how the Hill Bros. Lease Purchase Program works, and see if it’s right for you.