Driving as an Independent Contractor

Driving as an Independent Contractor

By: Brandon Baxter - Staff Writer
Posted: Jun 3rd 2024

The best thing about being an independent contractor is that there are an endless number of opportunities in the world that allow you to be your own boss. Some of those opportunities are certainly difficult to attain, while others are more easily accessible but sometimes far less enticing.

Whether you're an experienced owner-operator or an independent contractor looking to get into the expedite industry, choosing the right carrier to run for makes all the difference in the world. And seeing as expedite is but a niche to the overall trucking industry, you'll want to make sure you've got all the information you need before making such an important decision.

Below are some suggestions to consider when looking into that expedite opportunity.

Do Your Own Research

Drivers are often led to a potential job opportunity through word of mouth, typical truck stop conversations, but that shouldn't be your only source of information. Out there in the world is something called the internet; you should use it.

Any number of online resources, such as company websites, Google, LinkedIn, Indeed, Glassdoor, Facebook, and Instagram, can provide vital information about the companies you're interested in. Something you definitely want to be sure of is that the companies you are applying to possess the type of values that line up with your own.

It's also not a bad idea to engage in some of those riveting truck stop conversations with drivers who are currently working with the carriers that hold your interest. Testimonials can go a long way!

Ask a Lot of Questions

They say that money talks, which couldn't be truer when searching for the right fit in an expedite carrier. Perhaps the best thing an independent contractor can do is to address all aspects of the opportunity from top to bottom.

Don't be afraid to discuss pay rates and pay structure, bonuses, deductions, and potential benefits. Most expedite carriers are going to offer up the independent contractor model anyway, so make sure you're getting all that's being offered before you decide if it's the right carrier for you.

Also, temper your expectations. If one of your personal requirements is that you get regularly schedule home time, then be prepared to run over-the-road a little less. Something like this can put a cap on how much revenue you and the truck will generate, but if it's a work-life balance you're looking for, be up front about it before taking the job. Nothing will hit you harder than when you're expecting to be home on the weekend, but you're down in Laredo after taking a run on Monday. Expedite is a different animal.

Believe What Your Eyes Tell You

A carrier's image can be deceiving. The way a company is portrayed to the general public isn't always a great indicator as to how that company actually operates on a day-in and day-out basis. Not to mention, it's not always wise to believe what you hear through the grapevine.

Here are a few questions to ponder when you're looking for a carrier. What's the condition of the carrier's trucks when you see them on the road? Does it appear that the carrier is using new equipment, or are they only leasing on a certain make and model of truck? Do the company logos appear to be vibrant and new or old and uninspiring?

These seemingly minor visual aids are being singled out because they happen to be actual proof that you can see right in front of you, so believe what you're being shown.

Execute Now, but Plan for the Future

Keeping in mind that driver turnover in the trucking industry remains high, the same can be said of the expedite world as well, not every driver leaving one company for another is a job hopper. More often than not, drivers move from one carrier to the next because there is something that just doesn't sit right with the situation and the driver didn't notice until they were already in the truck.

There are plenty of red flags drivers should be aware of when choosing a carrier, but those red flags are mostly evident to the individual as opposed to the overall trucking population.

The best thing a driver can do is to have a plan in mind when starting with a new carrier. If it's working out from the start, then expand that plan from one year to a five-year plan. If it's not serving its intended purpose from the get-go, then there's no shame in moving on down the road again. Find what works best for YOU!

These are just some simple suggestions that drivers can consider and use each time they enter or re-enter the driving workforce. If you're going in with a plan from the start, then you're already better off than the driver who's just winging it.

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