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Driving for a Fleet Owner

Driving for a Fleet Owner

By Brandon Baxter - Staff Writer
Posted May 1st 2023 8:00AM


Over the years, I’ve engaged with many truck drivers attempting to make the jump from company driver to independent contractor. The world of expedite trucking is vastly different from your typical truckload driving career. Instead of a driver’s income being determined by the number of miles run, such as in truckload, expedite is based more on a pay-per-load structure and mentality. Also, in such cases with expedite, most drivers are considered as independent contractors as opposed to company drivers.

For a trucker who’s making the move from traditional company driver to becoming an independent contractor, there are  a lot of things to consider when taking that leap. Besides the obvious switch from being a direct employee of a company, to transforming into a 1099 independent contractor who must furnish one’s own benefits, here are some items to jot down on a pros/cons list when taking the plunge.

Consider What Matters Most to YOU

For some folks it’s all about the Benjamins, the cheddar, the scratch, the green (you know, money). How much can one make driving for a fleet owner? Like a lot of people in the workforce, folks feel they can deal with the negative stuff at a company so long as they’re being compensated well for their job.

For others, maybe money isn’t the driving factor. Perhaps it’s how the driver is treated that plays a hand in the decision making. There’s something to be said about having support from the company’s staff, for getting the home time that you were promised, for receiving the respect that’s due ALL drivers for simply performing your job and doing it well.

Do Your Research

An expedite fleet owner comes in many shapes and sizes. It may be someone who owns a handful of straight trucks or Sprinter vans and is leased on with an expedite carrier that provides the freight for you, perhaps being a little more willing to allow you to decide what loads you accept or turn down. Or it may be a significantly bigger conglomerate that owns a large number of tractors, straight trucks, and vans. But they may end up being a little more dictatorial as to what loads they prefer you take or turndown. The possibilities are endless and there are a lot of little things to consider and think about.

You should be aware that every fleet owner, large or small, is going to have something different to offer an independent contracting driver. Go with what makes you feel most comfortable. Find out how the smaller fleet owner treats their drivers, perhaps it’s more of a “family” atmosphere you’re looking for. Or maybe driving for the larger fleet owner provides you some reassurance that a stronger engine is driving the business, therefore easing your mind.

Ultimately, it’s going to depend on what you feel makes the most sense.

It Comes Down to Due Diligence

Ultimately, what matters most is what you, the driver, think about each situation that’s presented to you. What can you live with if your priorities are money over treatment? What are you financially sacrificing if your preference is to be dutifully recognized and placed in higher regard? Sometimes, you may just get lucky and find a bit of both with a fleet owner. Here’s hoping your achievements end up directly in-line with your expectations.