The Basics of Freelance Trucking: What Owner/Operators Need to Know
Freelance trucking has become a lucrative way for entrepreneurially minded haulers to build a business. Freelancing means a greater share of the profits, but it involves a great deal of work. It’s very different from simply fulfilling a job.
Freelancing comes down to staying dedicated and learning the fundamentals of running a trucking business quickly.
There are some apps that will make life a little easier, and plenty of opportunities to find employment online. Boards and agents are happy to connect truckers to companies looking for competitive hauling rates.
Collecting on Jobs
The process of invoicing can take several weeks, or longer, to go from invoice to cash in hand. Many beginners will resort to factoring in order to develop some cash flow. The right company can set you up as a trucking authority, complete with MC/DOT number and BOC 3. Both of these are essential for managing interstate commerce and are your key to getting paid on the most lucrative jobs.
Although factoring does mean a small cut of payment is lost, the benefits are cutting the red tape and providing service faster. Factoring can be used as a permanent means for freelancers to invoice for payment or as a stopgap if cash flow becomes an issue.
One of the biggest risks an owner/operator faces is the inability to locate enough work to make a year profitable. You have to choose your work carefully, both for your long-term relationship building and your own survival.
Truckers have two options: going it alone or leasing with a carrier. Carriers have brand recognition and offer a decent payout. They can be a good place to start. Going it alone requires having capital upfront. If you own your truck, remaining independent is extremely lucrative. Also, focus on delivering above and beyond expectations. Think of every job as the opportunity to make a customer for life.
Route Info and Logistics
Route info changes in real time thanks to traffic apps, and specialized software designed to aid in logistics. Suppliers may also have demands in place that require check-ins at certain points along the route. Managing all of this has been made easier thanks to software applications that track mileage.
Consolidating all of this functionality to a trucker’s mobile device has been a huge benefit for independent operators. Simply bring your smartphone along, engage GPS and the application largely does the tracking for you.
Last mile navigation is also important when trying to remain efficient. Your drop off point may be along some private road not covered in an application like Waze. Sometimes, having true turn-by-turn directions exactly to your drop off point is essential for cutting costs.
Try and remain flexible in what you can fulfill, and do your best to offer competitive fulfillment time frames. This way you’re not always competing on cost. You can provide the better service if you know the more efficient route.
Think about additional tasks, such as assistance loading or unloading, in order to squeeze a bit more profit from your clientele while providing a valuable service. Bonus points if that extra service doesn’t require much more effort on your part.
Freelance trucking is an outstanding opportunity for the right owner, but it requires dedication and focus. You have to want it if your business is to succeed. Using the above advice, you have the foundations you need to get started. Just don’t forget the permits, licenses and insurance you need to operate safely. Where you go from here is all about your own logistics.