Dollars & Sense
How to Find a Good Fleet Owner
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