The costs of being an owner/operator on the road can add up pretty quickly if you don’t know what you’re doing. I’ve been there; done that. Lucky for you, I’m going to share my 5 best ways to take that bottom line and stretch it as far as it will go — kinda like giving Jarrett a wedgie.
1. Preparation Is Key
Be prepared. Don’t accept a load if you aren’t able to carry it properly or keep up its integrity. Make sure to prepare your vehicle as needed for the load you’re contracted to haul, and secure everything you will need to properly load or unload your cargo. The most important part of being prepared is keeping your truck and trailer maintained, and ultimately learning how to do it yourself so you can save on costs.
2. Go With What You Know
Be aware of your limitations. You have to be geographically, mechanically and physically prepared for each run. You also need to be self-reliant and have some experience with engineering solutions for large, unusual loads. Back when I was asked to haul a 4,000 pound steel horse for Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, my friend Logan and I had to figure out a way to get the steel stallion onto the truck in the middle of Times Square. It took some rigging, but we figured it out because we knew we had to get it to Florida in one piece. Stabilizing the sculpture for thousands of miles while keeping it under clearance height required some serious engineering. Be prepared to think on your feet.
3. Avoid Pricing Your Services Per Mile
Be reasonable with pricing but protect your bottom line. Here’s step one to making money as a hot-shotter in 2013: When you’re negotiating pricing, just know that your VERY FIRST shipment along a multi-shipment route should pay for your gas. For hot-shotters, I call this an “anchor shipment.” Additional shipments should then make your run a profitable one. After the first haul pays for your fuel and basic expenses, find loads on uShip that fit in your trailer and build on them from there. Be strategic with your bids. The success of a pro hot-shotter is hinged on fixed costs to begin with. But by stringing your shipments together and booking multiple loads along a route, you’ll be able to make a profit.
4. Stay Compliant
Stay honest with your operating authority. There’s no need for games. If you get caught with even one piece of paper missing on the road, the authorities will shut your business down. They’ll kill your operation. I always recommend hiring a third-party like GetMyAuthority.com to handle your compliance issues if you want less hassle. If you run without the right authority, USDOT and FMCSA fines are high enough to hurt your bottom line.
5. Know Your Customer
Be an adult. Know when to avoid a load. If your customer is too overbearing or wishy-washy about the load, just say no. If you’re booking loads along your route to boost your profit on a run, pressure the customer to provide the EXACT measurements and weight of the load. On uShip you can review dimensions and weights in the listing, or use Q&A to get more accurate answers out of customers. This is especially important for Household Goods customers, who often don’t realize exactly how much s@&% they have. Household goods customers almost always underestimate. You’d also be smart to remind your customers to pack their things WELL ahead of arrival and pickup; you don’t want to be packing their things if you’re a one or two-man operation.