A customer base is integral to a successful hotshot business. A lot of truckers opt to sign with a trucking company that already has built those connections. That poses the question: should you sign with a trucking company or just be an independent driver?
Signing with a Company
A lot of trucking companies that need their goods delivered quickly to specific destinations choose to contract truckers to haul their freight. If you choose this route, you may find it easier to get cargo to haul, and you will also be free from the responsibility of dealing with billing and paperwork.
Before you sign with a trucking company, you will need to get in touch with the terminal manager. This will help you know what is required of you before you submit the application. This way, you can decide if that company is really for you. It is important that you pass a drug test but also a Department of Transportation (DOT) physical.
Pros of Signing with a Company:
You can leave work at work.
You are down with the job when you take the key out of the ignition, and there are no worries to take home with you.
The money is yours.
The paycheck you take home is yours. You do not have to worry about truck payments, servicing bills, oil changes, insurance, etc.
You have free time.
Your home time is your home time. You are not spending your time on fixing the truck or doing your accounting. You can enjoy spending time with your family.
You have job security.
Company truck driving jobs are abundant.
It is easier to change jobs.
If you do not like the trucking company you are working with or your job in general, you can walk away without any ties and start looking for another job.
There are no start-up costs.
No upfront costs are required. After training and getting the proper credentials, you can hop in the truck and go earn your pay.
Cons of Signing with a Company:
You make less money.
Many companies will not pay for waiting time. It is not unusual for a trucker to put in 20+ hours a week waiting at loading docks, mandatory breaks, and circle checks without being paid for it.
You do not get much home time.
Trucking companies want to keep the wheels moving on their tuckers. Trucking companies tend to keep their drivers on the road for longer periods of time.
There may be commuting costs.
If you live far away from the company’s terminal, you might encounter some costs getting to and from work.
You might have to share your truck.
In the trucking industry, they call this “slip seating.” This can be a nuisance, especially if the previous driver is a slob.
There might be a strict rider policy.
A lot of truckers like to bring passengers like friends or immediate family members to spend quality time and to keep them company on the road, but most companies do not allow passengers to ride with a company driver.
A company driver must drive the truck they have been assigned.
Company truckers are most commonly designed for functionality, not driver comfort. These are often bare bones trucks, and they do not have bells and whistles.
One of the most common reasons why people go into the trucking business is to work for themselves. Working for yourself poses many challenges and a lot of unknowns. Before you start your own business independently, you need to research to see if it is something you would want to invest your time and energy in.
Pros of Being an Independent Driver:
You can earn more money.
You have the potential to earn more money than a company driver if they are running the business efficiently. Usually, the owner-operator gets paid for many of the extras that drivers do not.
You can choose your own equipment.
When you are the independent driver, you can choose what you want to drive and haul with. The driver can choose their equipment to their personal liking and comfort level.
You can take time off when you want.
If you are an independent driver, you have greater flexibility.
You can make your own passenger policy.
If you want your family or a friend to join you on the road, tell them to hop on in!
It might be more safe.
If you comparing overall safety between independent drivers and company drivers, the independent driver might have the upper hand. For example, they can invest in quality tires that provide better traction on the road. Companies tend to go with the cheaper option on certain things like low-quality rubber in bulk for their fleet trucks.
You get to be your own boss.
As the boss, you get to make the decisions. You decide when you want to take off, what truck you drive, and all the logistics.
Cons of Being an Independent Driver:
There is a financial risk.
Purchasing a quality trailer and truck can demand a large cash down payment, and there are monthly equipment payments. Plus, insurance, licenses, and permits all cost money.
Time off can be a large factor into your business.
While the schedule is flexible and you can take off time when you need to; a portion of the home time can be spent doing maintenance and repairs to your truck. There is also a lot of record keeping you will need to keep up with. Also, if you are going to run a successful business, you are going to need to be on the road.
It can be stressful.
Due to the financial risks and pressure, truck payments, the unexpected equipment repairs, or unexpected illness, being the boss can make you stressed.
There are some unknowns.
You never know when you might get sick or when you have to do some repairs to your truck.
There are never-ending responsibilities.
It is important to be mindful of what is going on in your business and constantly check your profit margins. If you do not have the proper skill set or knowledge, hire someone who does.
Each situation for every trucker is different. Each trucker has a different set of expectations for their situation. It is critical you do your research to make the best decision for you.
Let us know of your experience or what you think of being an independent driver, or signing with a company, in the comments below.