Owner driver jobs have some benefits that are obvious up-front: being your own boss, getting to choose which areas you work in and, being able to work on a more personal level with dispatchers, the amount of control you get over your work is certainly appealing. There’s also the opportunity to really expand your delivery business, but this takes hard work, careful thought and, perhaps most importantly, experience. Good business sense is valuable but knowing the industry is priceless – the ‘owner’ and ‘driver’ aspects of owner driver jobs each need be given due importance.
Watching the Road Ahead
For the owner driver, jobs are more than just the work and pay you get from a particular customer – they are the building blocks of your career. Building rapport and reputation, expanding your client base, and learning from your successes and mistakes are all reasons to see each individual job as part of a bigger picture.
Listen carefully to any compliments or complaints that you get – in fact, if you’re serious about providing a good service, consider setting up an email address for feedback or a website with a comments section (which you can of course moderate as a safeguard against abuse – it’s your website – but do try to take criticism on board with a level head). With everything you hear, think how you can apply it to future jobs. Business goals will feel much more achievable if you think of each piece of work as a stepping-stone towards them.
Steering Clear of Pitfalls
Unexpected problems can really upset the balance when you’re running your own business, so in between your owner driver jobs you need to set aside dedicated hours to make sure your operation is watertight. When managing your budget, make sure that you’ve taken all of the following into consideration: income, fixed vehicle expenses such as insurance and general maintenance, variable vehicle expenses such as fuel and repairs, business expenses such as publicity and phone bills, and money for emergencies.
The last one is incredibly important; it may never be needed, but being stuck without it could sink your business. Many owner drivers seek out accountants and tax specialists to help with this side of their jobs (remember to keep all your receipts for this!), but it is important to pay close attention to it yourself as well – you know your own industry from first-hand experience better than anyone, after all.
Norman Dulwich is a correspondent for Courier Exchange, the world’s largest neutral trading hub for same day courier jobs in the express freight exchange industry. Over 2,500 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe ‘wholesale’ environment.
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