If trucking is your passion, you might be considering becoming your own boss. There are many pros and cons to weigh between being an owner operator vs. being a company driver. Here are just a handful of factors to consider.

Owner Operator Pro—Freedom

Your business is yours, your truck is yours, you can create your own schedule, determine your own routes, and make all the executive decisions. You can even be particular about your clientele and vendors. One hundred percent of the profits are yours, to be spent as you see fit between your salary, operating costs, business expenses, and investments. You can even pick the exact truck you want to drive, with all your preferred features and functions.

Owner Operator Con—Responsibility

While there is much freedom in being your own boss, being an owner operator comes with at least a few new responsibilities you may have yet to consider. Your startup costs will be quite high, you will have to find and book your own loads, and you will have to learn the business side of the business. No more just driving; now you’re responding to emails, answering phone calls, and pounding the pavement trying to land new clients. You must learn to manage your financial responsibilities and taxes. When you need time off or are sick, who will cover for you? You will also be responsible for things you were minimally involved in as an employee, such as the repair and maintenance schedule, as well as cleaning your truck to maintain sanitation compliance. Also, if you are new to refrigerated transportation, you’ll be learning overall compliance on transporting refrigerated goods; and, in case of transportation claims, the burden of following the claim process falls on you, whereas for a company driver, it is not. In both situations, drivers are still required to follow due diligence and loading procedures to avoid these claims.

Company Driver Pro—Compliance Isn’t All On You

As a company driver, you will have clearly outlined job duties assigned to you by your company, but the compliance won’t fall only on you. For example, you must perform pulp tests for your temperature-sensitive items. However, there is far more than temperature compliance to maintain, which is not your full responsibility. Also, there are driver shortages around the nation, so finding a quality job with great benefits is easy.

Company Driver Con—Less Flexibility

You will need to start at the bottom and work your way up, meaning that you may not have the best schedule or routes until you gain a bit of tenure and seniority. Since you are limited to someone else’s clients, and are an employee, your earning potential is not as high. You may even be limited to the type of route, schedule, and communication technology available to you, or you may have to pay out of pocket for some of your upgrades. You may also find yourself frustrated with the irresponsible third-parties that your company works with, for example, lumpers who don’t understand the most efficient ways of loading your refrigerated goods.

If you know a trucker who has already made the transition, ask them about their thoughts on being an owner operator vs. being a company driver. At the very least, talk with an owner operator about their business model.

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