Top 5 trucking mistakes for owner-operators to avoid – DAT Freight & Analytics


Writer: Chad Boblett

With present market challenges affecting the trucking trade, owner-operators can discover success by avoiding these frequent errors.

Since I began my trucking enterprise in 2011, I’ve discovered rather a lot about being within the trucking trade and what it takes to make your operation profitable. I’ve gone by means of up markets, down markets, and all the things in between. However 2022 has been significantly tough for owner-operators and small carriers, with over 9,000 individuals now not utilizing their trucking authority in Might, as a substitute changing into leased on to bigger service fleets or leaving the trade altogether.

In these instances, owner-operators can’t afford to make errors or overlook essential enterprise particulars. Listed below are the highest 5 errors to keep away from within the trucking trade and how one can overcome them to strengthen your trucking enterprise and develop your charges:

Not maintaining monitor of all of your working prices

Managing working prices is the primary concern for owner-operators within the present market. However not each trucker takes the time to get the total image of their bills. There’s a lot to maintain monitor of. Your common price per mile is a vital piece of knowledge that may allow you to gauge how a lot you’re spending in your truck and your online business over time whereas monitoring mounted prices like insurance coverage and variable prices like gasoline or miles per gallon can provide you a very good sense of what your earnings shall be earlier than you even decide up a load.

No owner-operator desires to work all day or all week lengthy solely to seek out out that they didn’t make any cash or are barely breaking even as a result of they should cope with their working prices. And since your working prices will all the time fluctuate relying in the marketplace, you need to regularly monitor these prices and take measures to handle them. For instance, calculating your miles per gallon to assist enhance gasoline effectivity is without doubt one of the finest strategies for saving on gasoline prices.

Not being ready earlier than departing in your route

When you had been a pilot, earlier than you’d even take off, you’d should know the place your vacation spot is and the way precisely you’re going to get there. The identical factor applies when driving a truck

You should take the time to plan your journeys earlier than beginning your logs. The place are you going to cease for gasoline alongside the way in which? The place is the most effective place to spend the evening? Are these locations alongside your route or will you need to exit of your strategy to discover them? What is going to your deadhead miles appear to be? Answering these questions will provide help to be rather more environment friendly along with your time.

It could seem to be a variety of upfront work, however I’ve discovered that utilizing a instrument just like the DAT One cell app could make planning your route rather more manageable, taking a look at relaxation stops, fuel costs and parking – all from one place. It takes the guesswork out of journey planning in an effort to concentrate on getting on the market and delivering hundreds as a substitute of spending an excessive amount of time twiddling with the GPS to determine all of it out by yourself.

Not having a load scheduled for the return journey

Planning your route doesn’t simply imply selecting a lane that pays the most effective and making ready for a single load. It means planning forward on your complete journey and all the hundreds that may make it up on each ends. 

As an example, it’d be inside purpose to ship a load to Miami, FL, and decide up backhaul to ship to Atlanta, GA in your manner dwelling. However you need to bear in mind – the Miami to Atlanta return route usually pays a lot lower than Atlanta to Miami. When planning your journey and serious about your charges, it is advisable to take into account each legs of the journey, not only one. On this case, meaning making an attempt to make as a lot revenue as doable on the Atlanta to Miami route for the reason that market could make it a lot more durable to cowl prices on the return journey. 

The principle takeaway is that for each load you take into account hauling, you need to base your charge on the following couple of hundreds you intend to take. Whenever you take a look at a load and suppose that the speed appears good, it’s essential to comprehend that the speed for that single load isn’t the total image, as demonstrated within the above instance. By scheduling hundreds forward of time, you’ll have a fuller image of your full prices and revenue alternatives, which suggests you might be extra empowered to maximise your earnings. Plus, with out planning forward, you might danger spending a very long time parked ready to discover a load, otherwise you may need to deadhead a good distance on your subsequent one. This highlights the significance of the primary level about monitoring working prices, as deadhead miles have a serious influence on an owner-operator’s prices per mile.

Not factoring in deadhead miles

All truckers wish to maintain their deadhead miles to a minimal, nevertheless it’s usually simpler stated than performed. And with out correct planning, owner-operators can find yourself with a ton of deadhead miles after delivering a load. Even when that load appeared like a beneficial one, it’s important to do not forget that your earnings are tied to 2 hundreds: the load moving into, and the load going out.

The most effective case state of affairs can be to choose up a load that’s instantly in your manner again, however that always isn’t doable. Let’s say I’m taking a load from Lexington, KY to Billings, MT, that pays rather well. Nonetheless, many truckers won’t take into account one extraordinarily essential issue: There’s no freight popping out of Billings. Which means I’ll doubtless should deadhead for no less than some, if not all, of my return journey. That’s going to make the actually good pay from the primary leg a lot much less interesting total and will make me rethink whether or not it’s value selecting up that freight within the first place. 

When you do select to choose up a load just like the one described above, realizing the variety of deadhead miles you’ll drive to choose up a load is efficacious data when negotiating charges with brokers. For example, I would see a load on a lane that the DAT Load Board tells me is paying $2.59 per mile, however with a pickup location that’s 90 miles from the place my truck at the moment is. With this data, I can name the dealer and use this data to moderately clarify what charge can be applicable for that load.


Not correctly sustaining your truck

Upkeep and maintenance on your truck are two of crucial routines for an owner-operator to ascertain. With out doing so, truckers danger breaking down and coping with even larger prices down the road. For instance, an engine rebuild may price you no less than $40K and maintain you off the highway for weeks.

In lots of instances, truck repairs might be prevented with a easy repairs routine to identify any points earlier than they harm your automobile. For instance, make a behavior of checking your tire strain, oil and fluids, and so forth. As well as, it can save you cash on restore and upkeep prices by making adjustments like utilizing low-rolling resistance tires, which supply extra longevity and smoother driving.

On the finish of the day, even probably the most well-maintained vehicles will want repairs sooner or later. That’s why among the best issues an owner-operator can do to maintain their truck in ship form is to save lots of a nest egg particularly for routine upkeep. Whenever you issue upkeep and maintenance into your online business bills, it turns into a lot simpler to be constant along with your repairs.

Discover success with DAT within the passenger seat

There are many instruments and assets on the market to assist owner-operators keep away from frequent errors and benefit from being an owner-operator or small service. In my time operating a trucking enterprise, utilizing the DAT load board and the DAT One cell app has given me a large leg up in ensuring issues run easily and that my charges are as excessive as doable. When geared up with the correct data, truckers can simply haul their strategy to long-term success.



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