How To Optimize Your Schedule as an Independent TruckerOn September 25, 2020 by Brent Bates
The key to making your fortune as an independent owner-operator is simple in theory, but complex in execution. All you have to do is find loads near you that are ready to go shortly after you drop off the one you’re carrying now, right? It sounds simple until you’re navigating job boards and looking. That’s when you start to realize that you need a few steady and robust leads if you’re going to consistently plot your way back home while carrying a full truck. If you just take what’s randomly available, there’s no telling where you will end up next. For most drivers, that works for a few weeks but not for the long term. You need to know when you’ll be back to base for maintenance, not to mention your personal life.
Step One: Develop a Niche
It seems like a wide-open approach to finding work is best, but that approach can leave you with too many resources to navigate. In some cases, it can even lead to extra expenses like specialty trailer rentals. You’ll make money faster and more consistently if you buy a couple trailers that work for an industry broadly and then focus on researching in-depth resources that provide you with a variety of places to go when you want to browse truck loads available to your equipment loadout.
Step Two: Browse Ahead
You’ll need to pick up jobs on short notice fairly often if you’re working to keep a tight schedule, but that doesn’t mean you have to live by the seat of your pants. Browsing ahead as soon as you pick up a load to see what is available around your destination is a good idea, and you might find posted jobs that let you pick up on the day you’re scheduled to deliver the current load. The longer your window for finding the next lead, the less likely it is you will wind up sitting for a day or two while you hunt.
Step Three: Build Relationships
Robust job boards focused on your niche industry are great, and you can never have too many of them serving you leads because that just lets you choose your jobs to suit your schedule. The only way to make sure you are consistently busy is to develop relationships with a few clients who regularly need drivers, especially if they are close to home. If you can get jobs directly or by request through a board, those are loads you don’t need leads for, which means you have less work to do when you fill the rest of your monthly schedule.