fbpx
Apply for a Loan Today!

What Would Our World Be Like Without Truck Drivers?

Just about every facet of consumers’ lives is made possible because truck drivers deliver goods on a daily basis. According to the American Trucking Associations, the trucking industry carried 72.5% of all freight transported in the U.S. in 2019, equating to 11.84 billion tons. If truck drivers were to stop operating, we’d be in big trouble.

Navigating COVID-19

During the current COVID-19 crisis, truck drivers have proven to fit the government’s “essential worker” title. National Truck Driver Appreciation Week took place on September 13-19, 2020 to emphasize the vital role truck drivers have played during the coronavirus pandemic. While many places of business such as restaurants, clothing stores, and bars, have shut their doors to contain the spread of the virus, local and federal authorities have requested the trucking industry continue to keep the supply chain in motion.

In the words of a trucker quoted in USA Today, “If the freight’s there, it’s got to move. If people are going to eat, the trucks are gonna move. If they need medical supplies, the trucks are gonna move. If we stop, the world stops.” Thankfully, the estimated 3.5 million United States-based professional truckers are continuing to keep the shelves of grocery stores stocked with food and household necessities for consumers, along with ensuring medical staff receives supplies needed to give proper healthcare.

What Would Happen if We Didn’t Have Truckers?

Many people outside of the trucking industry do not think about where all of their goods originate from, nor give a thought to the dire scenario that could be presented if truckers stopped operating completely. Consider the example of the week-long strike carried out by truck drivers across Brazil in 2018. CNN reported the results heavily impacted the country as the strike “prevented the delivery of goods to supermarkets and gas to petrol stations.” It even affected public transportation since gas stations ran out of fuel.

So, if truck drivers stopped operating here in the States or other countries around the globe, would chaotic disorder ensue? In short, the answer is yes, especially while we’re in a pandemic.

The first 24 hours would hurt the medical field the most. Due to the lack of delivery, medical supplies would become depleted. Hospitals would run out of basic supplies such as syringes and catheters. Therefore, if the trucking delivery network stopped, hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies would quickly run out of necessities. Looking for a check from your employer or a gift from a relative? There’s a good chance you wouldn’t receive it since the USPS, FedEx, UPS, and other package delivery operations would cease. Also taking place within a day would be the onslaught of food shortages and service stations would begin running out of fuel. Further, without manufacturing components and trucks for product delivery, assembly lines would shut down, resulting in the unemployment of thousands of people.

And that’s just the beginning.

In a matter of two to three days, ATMs across the country would run out of cash. Thus, banks wouldn’t be able to process transactions. Garbage would begin piling up in both great metropolitans and suburban areas. Essential supplies such as bottled water and canned goods would disappear resulting in even more food shortages, especially when consumers panic and hoard foodstuffs (we’ve seen it during natural disasters). Service stations would completely run out of fuel for all vehicles, including the essential working trucks. Imported goods shipped from other countries from the sea would remain in ports.

Within a week, due to the lack of fuel, automobile travel would come to a standstill. Hospitals would begin to run out of oxygen supplies. By the fourth week, the clean water supply would be completely exhausted, and water would only be safe for drinking after boiling. You might be wondering, “What’s a truck driver have to do with the water supply?” Everything. Every 7-14 days, truck drivers deliver purification chemicals to water supply plants. Without such chemicals, water cannot be purified and made safe for us to drink. Inevitably, the water supply plants would run out of drinkable water in two to four weeks.

Thank a Trucker Today

The future’s indeed bleak when you think of a world without our all-important, heroic truck drivers. The magnitude of a ceased trucker operation would produce a trickle-down effect that would ultimately impact everything—right down to our physical health. This information isn’t meant to frighten you. Instead, we hope it bolsters your appreciation for truck drivers internationally. They’re carrying out a job that’s difficult even when we’re not enduring a global crisis. Next time you meet a local truck driver, be sure to thank him or her for their service—because, without them, we’d lack the necessities and comforts we’ve come to take for granted.

5 Biggest Owner Operator Expenses

5 Biggest Owner Operator Expenses

As of 2019, the average gross salary of an owner/operator is $220,591. However, this figure does not take into account the expenses incurred each week. On top of standard expenses, the installation costs of a new tractor can run a hefty price tag (over $100,000). For owner/operators, this presents a unique challenge of navigating their budgets.

The key is this: Like any business owner, you need to have a thorough understanding of your cash flow as a trucker, especially if you’re an owner/operator. By asking the necessary questions—“What are the costs of my expenses?” and “What is my net profit after taxes?”—can save you from encountering many financial troubles. By identifying your specific losses due to expenses, you’ll unlock the key to success as an owner/operator.

Here, we present five of the biggest owner/operator expenses and how to account for each in your total budget.

1.Fuel

Fuel is by far the greatest expense to those owning and operating a truck; the average fuel cost for owner/operators ranges from $50,000 to $70,000. You don’t have to estimate your fuel costs each week, month, or year, though. Plan in advance by sorting out your truck’s average cost per mile. This is done by dividing your fuel cost per gallon by average MPG, then multiplying that number by the expected number of miles you’ll drive. Once you have that number, the next thing to do is figure out your fuel efficiency.

The most effective way to get the ideal fuel mileage is by finding the best RPM to run your engine. When you pull your load with torque and not horsepower, you’ll burn less fuel because your truck will use less energy.

2.Your Truck

The truck itself is another large expense, and the primary truck-related expenses pertain to maintenance and tires. Though the price for maintenance may vary depending on other factors, such as the age of the truck, make, and model, alongside the quality of maintenance, you can still expect it to run you approximately 10% of overall costs. It’s helpful to budget for more than you think your maintenance will cost to avoid any financial surprises. Make sure to set aside a maintenance fund.

Furthermore, the average annual tire expense for retreading can exceed $4,000. This number is contingent on variables like miles driven, load weight, number of tires you have, types of tires you purchase, and wear patterns of the truck. When it comes to making the most cost-effective decision in purchasing tires, it’s important to consider the cost and expected lifespan of the tires.

3.Food & Drink

Even for the everyday person, dining out can quickly add up. Owner/operators are constantly on the go, and the prices of food and snacks are often significantly higher on the highway. This means it’s especially important to budget for eating at restaurants, snacks, and drinks. Once the budget is set, do your best to stick to it.

There are a couple of ways you can cut costs when it comes to food and beverage. Invest in keeping a mini-fridge and microwave in your sleeper. Owner/operators are also given a per diem tax break for travel expenses, including meals. As of last year, the per diem rate is 80% of $66 per day. Just be sure to save all receipts for qualifying tax deductions.

4.Taxes

As a hired truck driver, you hardly have to worry about taxes because the company handles such matters. However, owner/operators are responsible for paying a variety of taxes, including but not limited to the fuel tax, federal heavy vehicle use taxes, self-employment tax, and so forth. To avoid any unnecessary stress or confusion, use of a professional tax preparer to ensure you receive every possible deduction and your returns are handled properly.

5.Insurance

Trucking insurance also packs a hefty price tag, costing owner/operators anywhere from $8,000 to $14,000. Some coverage is required, while other insurances are optional. Common insurances needed are Truckers General Liability, Primary Liability, Physical Damage, and Non-Trucking Liability. Be sure to examine your coverages carefully as all insurance isn’t created equal. An insurer might offer cheaper coverage, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the protection you’ll need on the road. Just as essential as having an insured truck is having health medical coverage for yourself. Be sure to factor this must-have into your budget as well.

For more information on how to achieve success as an owner/operator, be sure to follow our blog to stay in-the-know with the latest industry news.

The Top Ways to Prepare for Roadside Inspections

Picture this: You’re on the road and the inevitable happens… You get stopped for a roadside inspection. Such blitzes can happen at any time but are particularly enforced during certain times of the year. For example, Operation Safe Driver Week took place in July 2020. During that time period, law enforcement observed over 66,000 drivers engaging in unsafe driving on roadways and issued 71,343 warnings and citations.

There’s also the annual International Roadcheck. In this three-day period, the emphasis is placed on compliance with federal regulations, and inspectors use the North American Standard Out-of-Service Criteria to spot any violations. Last year’s International Roadcheck revealed staggering results. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, of the 3.36 million inspections conducted, 952,938 driver violations were noticed, of which 199,722 were out-of-service (OOS) conditions.

At some point in your trucking career, you will be flagged down for a roadside inspection. Passing or failing inspection, however, is ultimately contingent on your preparedness. Listed below are the top four ways you can plan ahead to pass a roadside inspection.

1) Make Sure You Have Proper Documentation

There are a total of eight inspection levels. Level III inspection is specifically centered on the driver’s credentials, which includes but isn’t limited to a CDL review, medical examiner’s certificate, plus the record of duty status, and more. Among the top 25 truck driver violations last year, driving without a valid medical certificate ranked at #2. This is merely a one-point violation, but it’s easily avoidable when owners/operators keep themselves organized.

Unfortunately, when you’re in a rush to hit the road, staying up to date with important documents can easily fall by the wayside. It’s helpful to already have a binder or folder consisting of the documents the inspector will need. Such documents include a driver’s license, registration, vehicle insurance, medical examiner’s certificate, record of duty status, annual inspection records, hazardous materials paperwork, IFTA card, and permit credentials.

2) Have a Pre-trip Checklist Ready

During a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) Level I Roadside Inspection, there are some equipment problems that can lead to trip delays, citations, or worse yet, an OOS order. In order to avoid the three aforementioned issues, make it a habit to address the following items daily: replace/mend deflated or worn tires, adjust brakes or other brake-related problems, secure your load, take care of oil leaks, and repair any damaged lights or windshield.

Another facet of the checklist needs to include understanding how your electronic logging device (ELD) works. In the event you’re flagged for an inspection, you’ll need to know how to email your e-logs to the inspector. This will help expedite the entire process quickly, so you can get you back on the road.

What if you covered your checklist, but encounter an issue and an unexpected inspection on the road? Be transparent with the inspector about anything that may cause further inspection. This can mean the difference between a waiver of citation(s) or incurring a violation. If you recently discovered the issue, tell the inspector and take steps to handle it promptly.

3) Keep up with the Maintenance of Your Truck

This tip goes hand-in-hand with having a pre-trip checklist. Staying safe on the road for you and others is the top priority—besides passing the roadside inspection. And the key to safety comes down to the upkeep of your truck.

When you start your semi-truck, take time to do the following:

  • Check the tires for punctures, pressure, and air leaks.
  • Ensure all your lights are working properly. This is not to be taken lightly. A broken light is a six-point violation, and in some instances, can result in an OOS.
  • Make sure your truck’s windshield is clean. Not only is this highly important to your safety and that of others, but it also can make or break your chances of getting pulled over by law enforcement for an inspection.
  • Perform a Driver’s Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR) to ensure you’re meeting the law’s standards for your truck. This includes checking things such as your battery, clutch, exhaust, and more. Covering all your bases by paying attention to detail can help you not only pass a potential inspection but will also help you stay safe.

4) Don’t forget to conduct a post-trip (and en route) inspection

Let’s face it: Roadside inspections are part of being a trucker in the U.S. Whether you’re a rookie or an expert truck driver, you need to get into the practice of conducting routine inspections en route and post-trip. A solid post-trip inspection gives you time to address an identified problem before the truck makes its next trip. Much like the pre-trip checklist, the post-trip inspection list is equally important. Though it’s time-consuming, such a task will help in keeping you safe for your next trip and possible inspection. So, take time to check major details such as the functionality of your brakes, windshield wipers, steering efficiency, and tire condition.

For more information on how to succeed as an owner-operator, visit our blog!

 

 

5 Ways to Manage an Over-the-Road Trucking Company

When you manage your own trucking company, you’re expected to handle all hauls with complete efficiency; and that’s on top of taking care of a long list of other crucial responsibilities necessary for your company’s survival. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, owners/operators have had their hands full as many companies rely on them to fulfill orders and accomplish essential hauls. But even as the workload increases, everything must continue to run smoothly. Experienced truckers know that requires superior management skills.

In this article, we’ll go over the top five responsibilities an owner/operator must handle on a day-to-day basis and how to manage them properly.

1. Clients

A recent survey found 78% of clients have canceled business transactions due to poor customer service quality; no clients equals no revenue. When managing your own trucking company, it’s essential to prioritize your clients in order to develop and maintain consistent, positive relationships. Once you arrange and schedule your hauls, you should communicate the details with clients and keep them in the know in the event of any changes. This demonstrates excellent communication skills and work ethic—two things absolutely necessary in order to create a steady workflow and a stable, profitable company.

2. Health

Nearly 1 in 15 people work in what is considered one of the nation’s unhealthiest industries: the trucking industry. In 2019, a study from Business Insider found 7 out of 10 truck drivers were categorized as obese and about 17% were considered morbidly obese. When you’re sick and not on the road, your company loses revenue and crucial business opportunities. Try incorporating these lifestyle changes to combat any health problems and keep on trucking:

  • When you’re done for the day, take some time to exercise.
  • Develop and maintain a healthy sleep schedule.
  • Cook our pickup healthy meals for yourself; skip the drive-thru.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Give up smoking for good.

3. Expenses

On average, the trucking industry rakes in $255.5 billion in revenue each year—but everything comes at a cost, and running your carrier authority is no exception. As a manager, it’s your job to track and manage your company’s expenses using organized and detailed records. In doing so, your company will have a greater chance of surviving, as you’ll be able to track whether your company is gaining or losing money. If you find you’re entering a potential deficit, you need to readjust how you operate and fund the major expenses (e.g. fuel, food/drink, insurance, and rigs) by developing a budget. Of course, there will be unforeseen expenses, so plan ahead by creating an emergency fund. Over time, you’ll learn how much you spend per month and how to lower costs and operate more efficiently.

4. Fuel

It’s crucial to properly manage fuel usage and its expense. On average, truck drivers will log between 2,000 and 3,000 miles per week and more than 100,000 miles per year; this translates to around 53.9 billion gallons of fuel annually. Pair those numbers with the fluctuating diesel prices, and you’ve got a serious expense on your hands. However, there are ways to manage your fuel usage and minimize the cost, such as monitoring your rig’s tire pressure, minimizing idling, moderating your braking, and managing cruise RPM. Not sure if these things are helping you reduce fuel consumption? Try tracking your fleet’s fuel expenses before and after applying these changes, and see how much you save.

5. Taxes

When you own and manage a trucking company, you are responsible for calculating and paying your taxes correctly each quarter, plus filing several tax forms and schedules, such as W-9, 11099-NEC, and Form 1040. If your taxes are not tracked or paid correctly, your business could be in jeopardy. To avoid any missteps, keep a profit and loss statement each quarter, set aside 25 to 30% of your weekly net income, and pay your quarterly taxes on time to avoid penalty charges.

Ready to start your career as an American truck driver? Want to learn more about what it takes to succeed as an owner/operator? Check out our latest post, 5 Things Owner/Operators Should Do to Achieve Success.

Read Now

5 Things Owner/Operators Should Do to Achieve Success

Trucking is an expansive and flourishing occupation—and it’s one of the industries that hasn’t slowed down during the current COVID-19 crisis. Companies and essential businesses turned to trucking, heavily relying on owners/operators to deliver their much-needed products across the nation. With this level of productivity and increased activity comes the question of success. What is now deemed “successful” in the trucking industry?

For some people, success is defined by what they have. For truck drivers, success is determined by their quality of work and the professional milestones they meet. But if you’re new to owning and operating your own business, figuring out how to measure success outside of just numbers can seem overwhelming. There’s so much more to success than sheer quantity or numerical values. In this article, we’ll break down the top five things you should do if you’re aiming for success in the trucking industry.

1. Be Positive

Trucking can be a strenuous job, but if you approach your career with set goals and a positive attitude, you’re more likely to beat out the competition and thrive as a business owner. It’s essential to consider your needs and desires to establish your short-term and long-term goals. Write out your goals and treat them as stepping stones to your future. Another tip for success: Try starting your day with “I get to” instead of “I have to.” When you work as an optimist, you can be 20 to 40% more successful than pessimists.

2. Health Matters

Successful business owners know a healthy body leads to a healthy mind, which leads to a healthy business. Researchers at the University of Georgia asked a group of people who make upward of $100,000 per year what helps them find success in their work. At least 75% credited their focus and drive to physical fitness. If your health is compromised by an unhealthy diet or lack of exercise, you’re almost guaranteed to spend more time in a doctor’s office and less time running and growing your business. An unhealthy lifestyle also leads to poor leadership skills and personal qualities, like tiredness and irritability. By staying on top of your health, you’ll be more energized, focused, and capable of taking your trucking business to the next level.

3. Focus Is Key

Business owners become successful by staying focused, committed, and driven. It’s easy to lose focus in the hustle of day-to-day operations; to grow your business, however, try incorporating healthy and productive habits. Each morning, write out your goals for the day then focus on them one at a time. When you focus on too many things at once, you lose up to 40% of your productivity. Working one goal at a time will help you hone in on the day ahead. While on the clock, eliminate distractions and stay committed to your goals. Combine your focus and commitment, and those around you will see you as a driven leader and someone they want to work with.

4. Work Harder and Smarter

Having a business means setting goals, achieving them, then working hard to outdo yourself on your next set of plans. A study from Harvard showed 3% of graduate students had written goals and plans. Ten years later, the 3% were making 10 times more than the 97% who didn’t have written goals. Make your goals achievable, then strive to achieve them. To work smarter, try placing your simple tasks and goals at the start of your day. It’ll give you a sense of accomplishment and help you conquer the more challenging tasks later.

5. Don’t Be Afraid to Fail

Finally, don’t be afraid to fail. It works exactly how it sounds. Things don’t always go according to plan. Some things are past our control, and that’s OK. Successful owners aren’t afraid to leap, even in the face of potential failure. It’s important to lose any fear of judgment and view your losses as learning opportunities. To get to your future, weigh the pros and cons of new options, accept any outcome, then strive for the next best thing.

Now that you have the tools for success, it’s time to get to work.

Interested in learning what it takes to become a successful owner/operator? Check out our post, How to Succeed as an Owner/Operator. For more industry news and content, stay up to date with our blog. Ready to begin your career as a trucker, but need some financial guidance? Visit our website to view our list of services, and contact us with any questions.

How Working from Home is Affecting the Transportation Industry

COVID-19 changed just about every aspect of American society, including our work lives. Earlier this year, many offices and places of business transitioned to a remote work structure with a majority of employees working out of their homes. One of the results of this change is some people no longer have a daily commute. The initial lack of commuters on the road drastically impacted traffic patterns and the transportation industry as a whole. While traffic patterns are increasing again, the transition continues to impact truckers—who are now in higher demand. Keep reading to find out exactly how remote work impacts traffic patterns, demand, and the day-to-day lives of owners/operators.

Truckers Have the Roads to Themselves

While some U.S. cities are seeing lower traffic levels—a decrease by up to 63%—trucking continues to be steady. The pandemic increased trucking activity and boosted cargo volumes since the shift in March. For truckers, large chunks of time can be spent battling gruesome traffic, drastically lowering the productivity of the entire supply chain. In 2016, the American Transportation Research Institute determined an estimated $74.5 billion in excess operating costs could be blamed on heavy traffic. This impressive figure speaks to the extent to which traffic determines the effectiveness of the entire supply chain.

Peak traffic hours in the mornings and evenings can almost entirely be contributed to commuters. Without them, those hours don’t bring the same congestion. Trucking companies used to have to completely change their routes in order to avoid high traffic areas. Many companies even planned the locations of their facilities in order to avoid trucks having to cross through metropolitan hubs. With lighter traffic than usual in some areas, many truckers can now take more direct routes and get to their destinations much faster.

Less Traffic Equals Less Liability

Having fewer drivers on the road makes traveling safer for owners/operators. By having fewer cars on the road, there is a smaller margin of error when it comes to accidents and collisions. Busy roads and traffic have been linked to increased rates of reported low-speed accidents. A study conducted by the Department of Transportation in the state of Maryland confirmed a positive correlation in the frequency and severity of collisions in high congestion lanes. When there are more cars on the road, it adds an elevated level of unpredictability. When accidents do occur in heavy traffic, that collision is much more likely to reverberate and cause pile-ups.

Streamlining the Supply Chain

The work-from-home structure also necessitates additional supplies. Since people are in their homes all day, they’re using delivery services more frequently, thus boosting business for truckers. Because of this increase in demand, trucking companies are rapidly adapting to make it all work. As mentioned earlier, many owners/operators are trying to plan routes for more direct travel. Additionally, warehouse reconfiguration allows truckers to spend less time at inventory facilities, and more time getting everyone the supplies they need to thrive from home.

Getting Back to “Normal”

Studies by StreetLight Data note that traffic is returning to its previous levels, particularly in rural areas, at a quicker pace than originally expected. As more motorists return to their daily commute, truckers might see a return to pre-COVID conditions. Fortunately, the transportation industry as a whole has evolved during this period. Even after traffic picks back up, the industry has found new and creative solutions—such as redesigned routes, streamlined loading procedures, and overall supply chain optimization—to make the entire supply chain more efficient and profitable. Additionally, as the disruption continues, more and more people will remain in their homes, amplifying the demand.

While traffic may be starting to increase again, getting up to 90% of the pre-pandemic levels, most metropolitan areas are still reporting lower congestion rates. The advancements made during this new period will have ripple effects that remain far past this period of uncertainty.

Going forward, many companies are discovering that remote work is productive, and as everyone settles into working from home, it might remain that way. If working from home becomes the new standard, the benefits it’s had for the transportation industry can be further capitalized upon in the months, and possibly years, to come.

Mission Financial is your all-in-one resource for trucking financing and industry news. Check out our comprehensive blog for updates on the transportation industry.

Contact Us
close slider