The Annual Load Book was designed by a 3rd generation owner operator with serveral years as both a fleet owner and an owner operator. It has been my experience that you have to know what you are doing first to be able to stay on top of your program and not wake up one morning out of business. The Annual load Book is a tool that helps me stay on track.

Take control of your business

I was talking to a Lease Purchase driver that was new to the company that he leased his truck through. This driver is no different than many of us that desire to have the freedom of the open road and the ability to manage our own business in partnership with a truck company that we rely on to help us find loads and manage all of those truck company responsibilities while we drive the truck and try to live this dream that we have.

Problem with most lease purchase drivers and owner-operators that lease to a truck company to run their trucks is that we tend not to take as prominent of a role in managing our program as we should. Truly it is your responsibility to ensure that you make the revenue that you need to, with that said though it is different when you need to rely on others, not in your control to help you make this happen.

So leasing to a truck company is more of a legal partnership, so it needs to be treated as such by both you the driver or lease operator and the people within the company you lease to that are responsible in making this partnership work. The first thing that I always did when talking to my load coordinators was to make a deal with them that always started our relationship off right. (I will not dispatch from my truck, so do not drive my truck from your desk)

You will need to challenge your load coordinator to be the best that they can be. You will also have to instill the trust that you can and will do what is necessary in order to get the job done right without costing you, the shipper or the company you are leased to any extra expense. Your dispatcher will need to be able to rely on you before they will ever start to pre-load you.

So do a good job. Be on time, look respectable and behave courteously when you are at a shipper or receiver. Because what you say here will be repeated to make sure it is always positive. When you talk to your dispatcher know what you are talking about, have the facts right. Know your running mile revenue and more important than that is to know your cost per mile. Then you can work with your load coordinator, tell them what you need for a running mile revenue and ask them to look at freight lanes that may offer a better chance to achieve this.

 Whether you lease purchase a truck or are an independent owner-operator you still enter into a legal agreement with the transportation company that you signed the lease with. The phrase "Riding for the Brand" has never been more right than now.

As an independent, you are the face of the brand that you are riding for. It is you that the shipper and receiver talk to and associates with. So you are the representative of the brand you are riding for.

What this means is that what you say and do while there will be what they remember so as a rep of the company always have the focus to grow the company you are with. Make a positive impression while you are working because for every shipper that you help to keep is one you can return to. Many times you will load at shippers that are customers of the company, so while there try to grow their presence there. Ask the shipper how we have been doing and report what you find out to your load coordinator.

From time to time, you will load for a shipper that we are not a customer for. This is your opportunity to ask them if we could load directly with them in the future. Find out who your company needs to talk to and it is helpful if you have some business cards from your coordinator to give them. But don't stop there, because you are the face they know. So let them know that they can request you back and eventually you will have another good place to load.

Remember that whenever you can haul directly with a shipper the line haul revenue will always be higher. By being the face of your company wherever you go will benefit you and help your program be more profitable.

Taking control of your business requires more from you than just getting from "A to B". In today's world where most drivers are finding out that they are spending 300 to 320 day a year out in order to make their program work out to pay for all of the payments.

Without some idea as to what you need to make this task becomes perilous at best. All of the years that I have been driving, the one question that most owner-operators and particularly lease purchase drivers can not answer is how much do I need.

Most loads pay by the mile and weight loads can be easily converted to a mileage rate. So by using this method an owner-operator can find out what the cost per mile is. With that number in mind, you will now know the running mile revenue that you require will be.

The first thing that you must do to find the cost per mile is to stop and think about what you want your truck or trucks to pay for. Examples would be all of the truck operating expenses, wages for the drivers including you, and a reasonable profit and a maintenance fund. It is whatever you want this truck to pay for. Then divide the miles that you average and come up with the cost per mile. Now use this number when you are talking to the people you get your loads from. Now not every load needs to be over that cost per mile, however, the average of the running mile revenue does need to be as high or higher than the cost per mile you came up with.

You need to come up with a way to track these expenses and load revenue in order to stay on top of these numbers as best as you can. You use whatever method works for you because it's not how you track the numbers but that you do it consistently. The AnnualLoadBook App is what I used to track my load and expense information. I made the app after 30 years of tracking my expenses and keeping a load book from pocket notepads to using an excel spreadsheet.

Happy Trails

Jack Bates

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