Fuel for Thought

How Much Does A Solo Expediter Earn?

By Greg Huggins
Posted Nov 8th 2017 7:27AM

Is expediting as a solo driver profitable? How much do solo expediters make? How can you make money as a solo in expediting? Doesn’t expediting require a team operation? How many miles can a solo run per day or week? What can a solo expediter expect to earn?

When you are a solo in the expediting arena, you get asked all these questions and many more. I will try to answer these from MY experience.

 

Is expediting as a solo driver profitable?

Short answer is yes. Long answer is it depends on many, many factors, including your attitude and abilities, your equipment, your carrier and how well you fit with them, your ability to manage your time well, your motivation, your money management skills and your goals. One of the biggest factors to profitability can be your carrier, choose wisely, it costs more than you might think to switch carriers.

 

How much do solo expediters make?

Again, it depends on several factors. It is not uncommon for a solo to GROSS well above 100K per year.

 

How can you make money as a solo in expediting?

Do what you agree to do. Don’t make excuses, make results.

 

Doesn’t expediting require a team operation?

No. While team expediters are sought after, a solo expediter can be a great asset to the right carrier.

 

How many miles can a solo run per day or week?

Unless you are leasing on with a carrier that pays a flat rate per mile, you may not want to be as concerned with the number of miles you run per week but instead be focused on the amount per mile. Would you rather drive 2500 miles a week for $1.30 per mile or would you prefer to drive 1500 miles per week for $2.50 or more per mile? Also, don’t focus on just one week, look at the bigger picture. Monthly, quarterly and yearly averages are a much better indication of how your business is going than just one week.

 

What can a solo expediter expect to earn? This one is probably the toughest ones to answer. While anyone who is researching the expedite industry will want to know what to expect regarding pay, it is not a simple answer. If you apply for a job somewhere, most likely you will be told of the pay package. Whether it is hourly, salary, bonuses, overtime, etc.,you will have a somewhat clear picture of exactly what you should expect to be paid. Trucking or expediting can be a whole new way of looking at income and other questions must be answered before you can get to the income potential.

Questions to answer include:

Will you be a driver for a fleet owner?
If yes:

  1. Will you be a contractor (1099) or employee (W2)?
     a. Contractors are paid pre tax, meaning you have to plan to pay taxes at year end, employee will have taxes deducted for each pay period.
  2. Who will pay for fuel?
     a. If you buy the fuel, you should get the Fuel Surcharge.
  3. What deductions are you expected to pay?
     a. Pay close attention to the deductions you are expected to pay, each one will require you to earn more in order to cover these costs before you pocket anything.
  4. Are you paid for deadhead (empty) mileage? At what rate?
     a. If you are buying the fuel, the cost of deadheading can be substantial. Know the pay scale for deadhead mileage.
  5. What are your insurance requirements?
     a, Knowing which insurances are required by you and the costs will affect your bottom line.
  6. Who will pay for communications? i.e. tracking, ELD (Electronic Logging Device), document scanning, etc.
     a. Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) can have a weekly or monthly cost. Scanning documents on the road can have fees as well.
  7. Are there any fees associated with money transfers? (Comdata, settlements, etc.)
     a. Transaction fees, ATM fees, etc., small charges that can add up by the end of the year.
  8. What are the accessorial charges and how much goes to the driver? (Detention, Layover, Load and Unload, etc.)
     a. The extras that are paid to drivers are accessorials. These can include:
       1. Detention - time spent waiting for customer to load or unload
       2. Layover - when a customer holds your truck for a period of time, usually a day or more.
       3. Loading and Unloading - when the driver physically does the loading or unloading of their truck.
       4. Liftgate - using your liftgate to load or unload, usually this will be paired with loading or unloading charges as well.

Will you be an owner operator?
If yes:

  1. Do you have a truck or plan to buy one?
     a. How much are the payments?
     b. For how long? 
  2. Do you have a maintenance fund?
     a. Plan for maintenance, you will need it.
  3. Do you have an emergency fund?
     a. Life happens, be prepared for unforeseen expenses.
  4. Will you receive fuel discounts? How much? Where?
     a. This will greatly affect your earning potential.
  5. Will you receive discounts for tires, maintenance, etc.?
     a. Tires and fuel are your 2 biggest expenses behind equipment.
  6. What are the weekly settlement deductions?
     a. These can be minute or they can really chip away at you settlements.
  7. Are there any fees associated with money transfers?
     a. Transaction fees, ATM fees, etc. , small charges that can add up by the end of the year.
  8. Where will you get insurance for your truck? How much is it?
     a. Shopping for the best coverage at the best price is crucial, but always consider the service. A cheap non paying insurance policy is worthless.
  9. What is your truck’s MPG?
     a. As stated above, fuel is a big expense, better MPGs means more money in your pocket
  10. Do you have all the equipment in/on your truck that you will need? (Straps, Load bars, Pallet Jack, Liftgate, etc.)
     a. Equipment costs can be feathered in. If you don’t already have all you need, consider adding a little at a time. Each carrier will have different customers with different needs. Some equipment, like a liftgate, may be extremely profitable at one carrier, but a hinderance at another. Don’t buy equipment you do not need, but do get what works for your customers.

 

While this may not answer the question of how much YOU can earn a solo expediter, I hope you can see that there is no simple answer. Hopefully, these questions will help you with your research and possibly help to make sense of some of the terminology associated with expediting. It may also help you to at least get an expected range of income should you decide to jump into the expediting pool.

 

See you down the road,

Greg

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