5 Things I Would Tell A Wannabe About This Business.
1. Drive For Someone First
This is a business that requires a sizeable investment in equipment, so many veterans recommend that a prospective expediter gets his/her "feet wet" by driving for an owner already leased to an expedited carrier.
If the wannabe has no prior trucking experience, the expedited freight business can require serious adjustment in mindset to achieve success, so it's best accomplished without the accompanying major outlay of capital required to buy a truck.
This entry-level method also permits the wannabe to evaluate the company his owner is leased with; possibly, the prospective expediter will want to keep looking for another company to sign with if he decides to make the commitment and remain in expediting as an owner/operator.
It also helps the wannabe gain some knowledge of different makes and models of trucks and help in the buying process if he makes the jump from driver to owner.
When you begin talking to the recruiters, keep in mind they're basically salesmen, with the company their product. To promote their product, sometimes they'll exaggerate income projections, load availability, and possibly gloss over certain negatives in their company's policies.
To be fair, the majority of recruiters are honest, and they're looking for the best O/O's for their company. If you ask them the tough questions, you can get a pretty good read on whether he's truthful or not.
Also, certain companies place a higher value on the larger units, so if you're only interested in putting a van on with an expediter, and the recruiter wants you to move up to a larger size, keep looking. Which brings us to the next point:
3. Unit Size:
If we had to rank these 5 things to tell a wannabe about expediting, unit size would be right at the top along with choice of company. Most potential O/O's already have an idea of the unit they want to put on the road, but some may be unsure of which route to take in deciding unit size.
Many of the veteran expediters have their favorite stories about the retired couple, with no trucking experience, being sold on purchasing the shiny new D unit with the big sleeper, and being told it's "a way to see the country, and get paid for it." They didn't do their homework, and were unaware of the commitment they made to this business.
The O/O's we talked to in compiling this survey told us there are so many factors involved in choice of unit size, it could fill a book in itself. They suggest presenting your figures to your accountant, and making an impartial decision on the facts alone; can you do this business?
Besides the involved financial aspect of your decision, an important question for the wannabe is experience, or lack of it. If a newbie to expediting has been running a big truck in conventional trucking for years, stepping down a size to a D unit should present no problems, but if you've never driven anything larger that a van, straight trucks might take a larger commitment than you're ready for. Once again, talk to people in the business.
A point brought up by many of the expediters we talked to was regarding the lifestyle commitment required of this business. Days and weeks away from home, especially in the larger unit sizes, can be tough, both on the driver, and the folks back at the house.
Many relationships have been strained past the breaking point because of the away time required by expediting, and it takes a special strength from the spouse and family to deal with the sometimes lengthy separations.
Also, the nomadic nature of the work means living out of a suitcase, reduced creature comforts, and many hours of dead time waiting for the next load.
Something to consider; If you're planning on running as a team with your spouse or significant other, keep in mind that you'll be spending probably more time with that person than ever before, and that alone can come as a shock to some couples. You never really know a person until you've spent a couple of weeks in a cab or sleeper with them!
5. Being Your Own Boss
Being an independent businessperson is not for everyone. It requires a special kind of self-motivated individual who is willing to accept the trade-off of a guaranteed weekly check for the independence of running your own show.
It's your truck(s), it's your business decisions, and your motivation that largely determines your level of success in expediting.(And the company you've contracted with) The downside includes ever rising equipment and fuel costs, breakdowns, bad loads, bad weather, bad roads, bad attitude shippers and receivers, to name a few.
The upside however, includes the freedom of the road, being paid to go places you might never have seen in a 9-5 job, not having the boss breathing down your neck, and the pleasure (hopefully), of operating your own business.