If you try to ask any question or start a conversation with a driver who is starting out as an owner-operator, they’ll be happy to tell you that the largest stumbling blocks to watch out for are not the ones on the road to delivery, but the ones advancing to the success of your business.
Whether you’re planning to get into the domestic courier industry or have a job as a long-haul truck driver, you must be aware of some things pertaining to it, especially the mistakes you might make along the way.
What is an Owner Driver?
Before we get into the real discussion, let’s understand first what an owner-driver is. An owner-driver is a contractor or sole trader who has their own vehicle and uses them to deliver goods, people, or freight, as a going business. Normally, they only have one or two vehicles that they use.
The responsibilities of an owner-driver include maintenance, accreditation, liabilities, registration and insurance for their vehicle.
5 Mistakes You Must be Aware of as an Owner Driver
- You don’t take safety seriously
All of us are aware that any vehicle on the road is a wild beast, and those hustling roads impose plenty of hazards for a driver. From unstable loads to unforeseen road-users to bad weather to unpredictable passengers to tyre failure to long hours, these things can all result in potentially life-threatening scenarios.
Fortunately, these personal risks are not too common in Australia unlike many other countries, however, the risks are always there, of course. According to data from Safe Work Australia, the postal, transport, and warehousing sector is one of the most perilous industries.
Although the statistics don’t exactly separate on-road hazards from on-site hazards, the open environment of the nation’s roads, with millions of people utilizing them every day, indicates that it’s a possibly dangerous workplace to operate in, even if you’re following the rules and doing the proper thing. So, just make sure that you are always aware of the risks.
- Not getting enough and proper insurance coverage
A lot of people who work as operator drivers go the extra mile to make sure that their vehicle, cargo, passengers, premises, and business are completely covered by insurance. However, some of them overlook the importance of their protecting their income-earning capacity.
Being an owner-operator means that you are your own boss, and that also means that for whatever reason you’re unable to work, you won’t receive a safety net of sick pay that you would most likely need. This is why you need to check what personal insurance coverage suits you best that will cover you from death, illness, disablement, and income protection.
Of course, no one wants to be in this position and claim these sorts of insurance. However, accidents and other unfortunate events could happen anytime and it’s always assuring to be protected in case you’re unable to work.
- Not doing enough research about the industry
Try to chat with your colleagues or friends in the industry about their own experiences. This is not hard to do as everybody likes to share a piece of advice, and usually, it’s a piece of great advice that you must take on board. Identify if there are any particular sectors that are demanding more drivers, and you want to make sure that it’s for a longer-term, not just in the short term.
Find out if there are specific regions that are growing fast, but have a short supply of alternative transport options including freight rail or public transport. See if there are niche but expanding industries that have particular delivery needs including online nurseries shipping live plants with climate control conditions and short timescales.
Also, try to find unique routes that aren’t serviced enough but are showing increasing demand. These are just some important considerations that can guide your business planning and stick to long-term demand.
- You are not quickly adapting
Every type of business should be flexible. Just like what happened through the COVID-19 pandemic, the businesses that faced the obstacles successfully were the ones that know how to immediately adapt to fill a need.
This is why it’s that when you become an owner-driver, you must consider effective ways that would quickly adjust your operations, or offer an alternative service to meet the needs of changing business environments and customer demands.
- No plans or preparations for retirement
This is the same goal everyone looks forward to, right? However, it is also one of the massive mistakes any self-employed person can do by ignoring the income they’ll need in order to have a proper retirement. Since it’s not obligatory for self-employed business owners to make huge payments for themselves, a lot of owner-drivers tend to forget their contributions, unlike regular employees where their employers automatically pay it on their behalf.
You would want to have a comfortable life in retirement after a lifetime of hard work. So, think about your retirement too!