Top 6 Things That Owner-Operators Are Looking For In A Career

by Jake Tully - Published: 10/19/2017
4.3 1 votes

Whether you are currently an independent driver or an individual hoping to make the transition to becoming independent, the process of being your own boss is not necessarily the most simplistic one.

In many ways, one may consider an owner-operator to be the kings of the road in the truest sense of the term, making their own paths and deciding which opportunities will be the most beneficial to them within their specific trucking job.

However, this does not mean that every Owner-Operator is automatically a success story – many drivers who work with a company in order to find loads or to make connections in the industry don’t simply want a company in which they hang their hat – they want to be involved with a career that they feel cared for within.

The following are ideals held by many owner-operators across the scope of the industry, and what is important to them while still maintaining their independent nature in the trucking industry.

1. A Network of Company Support

While it may be true that a company driver will rely more on the support than an owner-operator will in their truck driving job, what a company can offer owner-operators still holds a great deal of importance for these individuals.

Owner-Operators don’t necessarily want to be cast aside or put lower on the totem pole due to the nature of their employment – they want to experience some of the same perks that company drivers do on a regular basis. This is not to suggest that owner-operators are not already experienced and qualified drivers, but support may be found in many forms. Simply having the resource of a driver manager or a fleet leader to speak to can provide some very meaningful assistance to a non-company driver.

2. A Modern Company Experience

This may be especially true for owner-operators, but the need to work for a company that demonstrates a modernistic position in the industry is not just appreciated – in many cases, it is imperative. As the industry becomes more comfortable with the emergence of technology and prevalence of technology in the world of trucking, other modern aspects of commercial driving will also become more widely accepted across the board.

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The companies that do not integrate themselves into the modern industry will likely be facing down some difficulties in recruiting drivers as the years go on. A more traditional sense of operation may suit some truckers just fine, but overall those who own a rig know how to follow the money. More often than not, the money is found with a company that is on the forefront of operations, offering the driver greater pay and a way in which to be immersed in a progressive trucking community.

3. The Ability to Network

Whether its to find a new position, a partner for a team, or simply a kindred spirit on the road, affording truckers the ability to meet others in the industry is an enormously important skill.

Some companies may be under the impression that giving drivers a wide network in which to reach others will open up the door for them to flee their current position and hop in the cab for a different fleet. This is not necessarily the case with networking, nor is it a conclusion that every driver will jump to when presented with the ability to network.

A happy driver will stay with their company regardless of networking options. Drivers (owner-operators in particular) feel like true professionals when given the ability to network, and may find connections that help create long-lasting and meaningful relationships that impact their personal lives as well as their professional endeavors.

4. Financial Prosperity

It’s no surprise that owner-operators look for the company in their area that is ultimately going to allow them to take home the most money. After a driver figures in the fees and personal costs they will incur by way of using their own equipment, many truckers are looking for the company that can offer the largest pay per mile or annual figure that will make their time

In many cases companies do not succeed by simply offering a standalone figure, either. A company who wants to succeed in bringing on owner-operators will often find that bolstering the job with discounts on fuel, parts, maintenance and the like will help court drivers who are deeply attuned to the status of their wallets.

On a similar note, companies hiring these drivers need to make truckers feel secure in how much money they may make when aligning themselves with a fleet on the road. It can’t just be the promise of a trucking job, there has to be a great deal of confidence paired with incentives to bring a driver on board.

5. A Valuable Company Culture

The term “company culture” may seem as though it is a buzzword of importance for startup companies or for younger employees these days, but the truth is that every company has a culture whether they promote the fact or not. The lack of a company culture is a culture within itself- so it’s important for employers to take this into consideration.

Trucking is a unique case when it comes to defining a company culture as drives are not generally spending a great deal of time in an office or a terminal. In spending a great deal of time in solitude or keeping busy on the road, much of the company culture is ultimately defined by an individual rather than an employer or group of executives.

Nonetheless, drivers must answer to some authority and often must interact with others on their team in some capacity. If the process of checking in, speaking to a boss, or stopping in at a terminal is a stressful and unpleasant one, drivers will avoid doing so and thereby may create a communication breakdown of sorts. Create an atmosphere where drivers see value and worth in what they do and where channels of communication are open.

6. A Place To Be an Industry Expert

Owner-Operators don’t take up their line of work just to get a unique title, they do so because they are professionals who have proven skills and who have demonstrated a level of accomplished driving ability that they may govern themselves on the road.

Owner-Operators are a unique class of drivers who ought to be treated as such, and who expect their level of professionalism to be met by a company they are working with. When molding a trucker job for this particular type of driver, there needs to be a level of autonomy that is provided for as well as room for a driver to be able to flex their ability to know what they are speaking about.

It’s not about indulging drivers because of their egos, it’s about having a two-way monologue that gives both professional parties (a hiring company and an independent driver) room to voice their concerns and opinions. However, as an employer, it’s equally as important to make your employees feel empowered. One doesn’t have to let their employee call the shots, but they can have a system in which both parties provide valuable input.

Final Thoughts:

Owner-Operators are like other classes of drivers in many ways, though they can present a much more astute level of operation and knowledge of the job and the industry due to their background.

Owner-Operators may be difficult to find and to keep satisfied – not because they are fickle or poor workers but because they are in a position that makes them eligible for so many different types of driving occupations.

Companies need to take into consideration the factors that historically have kept drivers satisfied and where the culture of trucking companies is moving into as we head into 2018. While traditionalist values can be leveraged to some extent, many drivers expect and look for jobs that mirror a modern way of operating.

In short: imagine yourself as an owner-operator and think about the types of things you might come to expect from a company you work with. Many sources would argue that finding an eligible owner-operator is like finding the holy grail of the transportation industry. This may be true for some, but it does not have to be the case if a trucking company puts their mind to what would entice drivers to come on board.

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