Newbies - Company Driver to Owner Operator
Independent Operator or Leased Driver
As a company driver, you worked for one carrier hauling the same type of freight and trailer for them. As a single truck owner you do have other options. You can sign a lease with one company or you can venture out on your own as an independent operator.
When you lease your truck to a carrier, you are under contract to them. This means that you will only accept their loads, but they will take care of setting up the shipments and arranging for pick up and delivery. They will negotiate the rates and collect the shipping charges for you. You will have their name on your cab because you will be running under their authority. While there are many types of lease arrangements, this basically means that you are operating your rig for them. This is a way to be a little more independent than you were as a company driver, but not completely on your own.
Own Your Own
If you feel confident that you can find enough freight to keep your truck moving, you can cut your ties to any one carrier and become an independent operator. However, keep in mind that you are truly on your own and will have no one to lean on when you need assistance. You will need to apply for your own authority, and all of the required permits and license requirements. In addition, you will be responsible for setting up your own loads, scheduling pickup and delivery appointments, and most importantly you will negotiate and collect the shipping charges.
As a sole truck owner, you will probably have to hire someone to assist you in making phone calls, setting up loads and appointments, collecting fees and complying with all of the regulatory requirements. You will need to be aware of legislative changes affecting your business, not only on the federal level, but for all the states you will be operating within.
Becoming an owner-operator is challenging and eliminating the safety net of a carrier lease presents more risk. The benefit of this arrangement is that you bypass the carrier, which is more concerned about their finances than yours. You will keep all of the shipping fees for yourself and can negotiate rates based on your situation. As an independent operator, you are truly on your own and your success or failure is yours alone.