Sign up for The Wire Newsletter!

Dollars & Sense

How to Find a Good Fleet Owner

How to Find a Good Fleet Owner

By Staff Writer
Posted Aug 18th 2014 4:10AM



 

Expediter truck fleet owners are people who own a number of trucks and contract with drivers. In general, the owner purchases and maintains the truck, the drivers run the truck and the revenue earned by transporting expedited freight is split according to the contract they have. Some fleet owners own just a few trucks, others own dozens.

An additional contractual relationship exists between the truck owner and his or her carrier(s) of choice. Some fleet owners lease their trucks to one carrier, some lease to multiple carriers. In the latter case, drivers can sometimes choose a carrier to associate with. If a carrier change is later found to be best, the change can be made without changing fleet owners.

New people coming into the business are often advised to begin in a fleet owner’s truck instead of buying a truck of their own. It is good advice. These trucks don’t come cheap and until you try, you don’t know how good or bad you will be as an expediter. Trying your hand at expediting, failing, and moving on to something else is much better than failing and finding yourself stuck with a truck you don’t need and payments you don’t want.

Even if you have done good research, have prepared yourself and your family for life on the road, and have strong financial reserves, starting in a fleet owner’s truck gives you the chance to learn much about what you want and don’t want in a truck of your own. Buying a truck of your own when you are new to expediting will provide the same learning opportunity but at a much higher cost.

If you agree that starting with a fleet owner’s truck is the way to go, the next question is, how do you find a good fleet owner? Since there are bad fleet owners too, this is one of the most important questions you will ask before entering the business, and one that deserves some deep and sober thought.
 
Start into this question not by thinking about fleet owners but by thinking about yourself. The question is, “How do I find a good fleet owner?” In other words, what is your technique? Will you ask the next expediter you see, “How is your fleet owner?” Will you call a fleet owner and demand to be treated like family? Will you post a driver-available or team-available ad in the ExpeditersOnline.com Free Classifieds and say yes to the first fleet owner that calls?

The flip side to this question is, “How will a good fleet owner find you?” Keep in mind that the instant you contact and evaluate a fleet owner, the fleet owner is evaluating you. Fleet owners receive dozens if not hundreds of calls a year from people who are thinking about getting into expediting. There is more to this than simply picking a good fleet owner. The fleet owner has to pick you too.

To find a good fleet owner, begin not by asking a prospective fleet owner a prepared list of questions. Begin by learning how to find a good fleet owner. Don’t start by looking for a fleet owner. Start by learning how to look for a good fleet owner.

You do that by talking to a number of expediters and fleet owners and asking them, “How do I find a good fleet owner?” If you are new to the business, understand that you probably don’t even know what the good questions are to ask a prospective fleet owner and what the good things are to say about yourself. Every loser slug out there knows to tell a fleet owner he or she wants to run hard and will treat the truck like his or her own. Every successful fleet owner knows to take such claims with a grain of salt.

By talking to people not about getting into a truck, but about how to find a good fleet owner, you will learn just that. By approaching expediters and fleet owners not as an applicant, but as a student, you don’t have to worry about being rejected as an applicant and you will win every time you learn something new. If you don’t know a number of expediters and fleet owners, that problem is easy to solve. Talk to one and ask him or her for the names of others.

In these conversations, you of course want to respect other people’s time. Most people in the expediting industry are delighted to share information and advice — especially if they know ahead of time that they are not going to get dragged into a long conversation at a bad time. Asking someone for ten minutes of their time before you ask, “How do I find a good fleet owner?” makes it easier for the person to give you that time. Keeping your promise to limit the conversation to ten minutes makes it easier for the person to refer you to others.

The question is a good way to begin the conversation. Actually listening to the answers you receive is a good way to learn what you want to know. Remember, you are not starting these conversations to sell yourself. You are starting them to learn. Keeping your mouth shut and ears open then someone responds has an additional benefit. Like most human beings, fleet owners like to be listened to. In that ten-minute conversation, if you make it a goal to say less than the other person, you will do more to sell yourself to him or her than most anything else you can do.

Notice that we are not talking about having one conversation with one person, but several conversations with several expediters and fleet owners. These conversations will likely drift from topic to topic, depending on what the other person thinks is important. This drifting will help you not only learn more about the business, it will give you practice in talking about the business itself. When the time comes to approach prospective fleet owners as a prospective contractor, you will be better informed and more at ease in that conversation and process.

How do you find a good fleet owner?

1. Focus first on yourself and the technique you will use to find a good fleet owner.

2. Respect people’s time.

3. Ask expediters and fleet owners, “How do I find a good fleet owner?”

4. When they answer, listen more than you speak.

5. Get referrals to other expediters and fleet owners.

6. Do this several times to gain industry knowledge, fleet owner selection skills and practice for future interviews.

Read The Free Classifieds

26 Comments

  • - March 5, 2015
    wolfie62-=|=-Yes, I can help. It helps to be "in the driver's seat" when negotiating with a truck/fleet owner. By that, I mean what qualifications do you have? Will you be driving solo or team? Fleet owners with the best trucks/equipment and the best pay split for drivers want drivers that are 1: Teams 2: Experienced in expediting 3: Self-sufficient (accepting good strings of runs;are responsible with/for truck issues)

    Good fleet owners EXPECT that drivers have good MVRs, HAZMAT endorsements, know how to look after their equipment, are responsible for their actions/decisions, pass all background checks, have good personal appearance.

    A quick FINAL NOTE: Many truck fleet owners LOVE NEWBIES! They are easy to take advantage of, newbies easily accept "lemon trucks", newbies don't ask probing questions, newbies don't demand fair pay splits, newbies accept micromanagement from fleet owners, newbies don't make fair demands of dispatchers.
  • - March 5, 2015
    wolfie62-=|=-Yes, I can help. It helps to be "in the driver's seat" when negotiating with a truck/fleet owner. By that, I mean what qualifications do you have? Will you be driving solo or team? Fleet owners with the best trucks/equipment and the best pay split for drivers want drivers that are 1: Teams 2: Experienced in expediting 3: Self-sufficient (accepting good strings of runs;are responsible with/for truck issues)

    Good fleet owners EXPECT that drivers have good MVRs, HAZMAT endorsements, know how to look after their equipment, are responsible for their actions/decisions, pass all background checks, have good personal appearance.

    A quick FINAL NOTE: Many truck fleet owners LOVE NEWBIES! They are easy to take advantage of, newbies easily accept "lemon trucks", newbies don't ask probing questions, newbies don't demand fair pay splits, newbies accept micromanagement from fleet owners, newbies don't make fair demands of dispatchers.
  • - March 6, 2015
    Becky-=|=-Well I got offered a position with a company. I would be driving a cargo van. It has a bed in it. Other than that I don't know anything else it might have in it. I do not have any expediting experience. I drove a tractor/trailer for 1 year.

    Here is the offer: They pay .25 per mile. They take care of all maintence,fuel, toll costs. No deadhead pay. If I sit at one place for 2 days, they will move me. They pay for fuel. I have to stay out 6 to 8 weeks. Home for 2 to 3 days. If I am close to home and I pay for fuel, I can go home until they call me.

    It's a good thing I'm a widow, kids grown. This offer seems one-sided. Like I am a working dog for them. What questions should I ask and what is a fair split?
  • - March 6, 2015
    Becky-=|=-Well I got offered a position with a company. I would be driving a cargo van. It has a bed in it. Other than that I don't know anything else it might have in it. I do not have any expediting experience. I drove a tractor/trailer for 1 year.

    Here is the offer: They pay .25 per mile. They take care of all maintence,fuel, toll costs. No deadhead pay. If I sit at one place for 2 days, they will move me. They pay for fuel. I have to stay out 6 to 8 weeks. Home for 2 to 3 days. If I am close to home and I pay for fuel, I can go home until they call me.

    It's a good thing I'm a widow, kids grown. This offer seems one-sided. Like I am a working dog for them. What questions should I ask and what is a fair split?
  • - March 9, 2015
    Wolfie62-=|=-You should look for a 60/40 pay split, you getting the 60%, and fuel surcharge; after all, you are doing the hazardous work. That home time is way too low. Typical is out 4 weeks, 1 week at home. Or, 1 day home for each week out, NOT INCLUDING WEEKENDS. The reason you want to pay for fuel is two-fold: you own your decisions, and you make more money--typically 5-10% more. Owners love to take advantage of newbies! They like to pay for fuel so they can control where you go, when you get home, and they pocket the extra money above and beyond your ACTUAL FUEL COSTS as well as pocketing the "kick back" money they get from YOU using their fuel card.
  • - March 9, 2015
    Wolfie62-=|=-You should look for a 60/40 pay split, you getting the 60%, and fuel surcharge; after all, you are doing the hazardous work. That home time is way too low. Typical is out 4 weeks, 1 week at home. Or, 1 day home for each week out, NOT INCLUDING WEEKENDS. The reason you want to pay for fuel is two-fold: you own your decisions, and you make more money--typically 5-10% more. Owners love to take advantage of newbies! They like to pay for fuel so they can control where you go, when you get home, and they pocket the extra money above and beyond your ACTUAL FUEL COSTS as well as pocketing the "kick back" money they get from YOU using their fuel card.
  • - March 19, 2015
    jeff-=|=-find an owner that will not " control you " in other words they will not bug you 24/7 or call you at all hours of the day or night. as long as you pick up and deliver the freight on time plus look after the owners investment you should be good and the owner really cant say too much !! Do not let any owner " force " you into anything !! You are an independent contractor and this is YOUR business .. not the owners !! run it the way you want to !!
  • - March 19, 2015
    Becky-=|=-As far as the fuel goes..she pays for it by figuring how much I need for each trip and then deposits into my personal account I set up for direct deposit. This is also how she will pay me weekly.
  • - March 19, 2015
    wolfie62-=|=-Having the owner pay for fuel is NEVER a good idea. They then have way too much say over how you run YOUR BUSINESS. Your carrier compensates you plenty for fuel, with money left over that you can put in YOUR pocket. You have to learn to negotiate effectively with your carrier on the loads you take, to make sure your expenses are covered, and that YOU MAKE A PROFIT. Just starting out, for a short while, you can have the owner pay for fuel. But after a while, you will regret allowing the truck/van owner pay for fuel. That is the problem with being a company driver first, then going into expediting: You have gotten too used to having someone else make your decisions for you, and doing your calculating for you. In the expediting business, you have to learn to do YOUR OWN calculating, make your own decisions, your own runs, your own plans. That is how you make REAL MONEY in this BUSINESS. ESPECIALLY in the van expediting--there just isn't as much "fat" in each run to mess around with. You are going to need each cent on each mile you drive. Even though your owner is paying for fuel now, figure your own costs along with all else; then, figure how much money you would have made if you were getting ALL THE FUEL MONEY, and see what the difference is. Also, see how many times your fleet owner has told you what you can and can't do over the weeks and months. THEN see if it pays to have the owner getting the fuel money on each load, and telling you when you can, and can't, go home, and how far you can drive on "their" dime. I have been there, I know. You are doing this for the money, aren't you?
  • - March 19, 2015
    wolfie62-=|=-The owner you are going to drive for is EXACTLY the owner I WOULD NOT DRIVE FOR. They are paying you a low percentage, have already dictated your home/away time, are stealing your fuel money, and overall, are micro-managing your business right off the contract. And since the subject here is how to tell a good fleet owner from a bad one.....you are about to find out that you have picked a bad one. Easy to do, when you are a newbie to expediting. Remember....the attractive side of expediting is the freedom to call your own shots, and determine your own income by your own good decisions. I have had some really bad fleet owners over the past 8 years. Fact is, just left one....and a story that would make your hair stand on end.

Please sign in or sign up to post a comment.  Or sign in with Facebook.