Most drivers will face challenges when they make the transition from company driver to running on their own authority. DAT customer Chad Boblett faced many challenges, too, in his journey to becoming a successful owner-operator.
While working as a company driver, Boblett underwent a series of surgeries that left him unable to drive. He lost his job and, unable to make ends meet, was forced to rent out his house, sell off assets and move his family in with his in-laws, who live in Japan.
When he was finally able to drive again, he decided it was time to make his own way—under his own authority.
“I had to get my life back,” says Boblett, “I always wanted to be an owner-operator but every time I would talk to someone about it, it was always negative and no one ever makes it. At this point it couldn’t get any worse though, so I put my plan together and got it going.”
He took a chance, buying his own rig and trailer on credit cards. Now, three years later, he and his family are back in their home and his truck, trailer and credit cards are paid off. “I’m loving life as an owner-operator,” he says.
Now Boblett has found a way to share his success and encourage others to take the leap themselves. He recently started a private Facebook group called “Rate Per Mile Masters,” and the group has grown to nearly 1,400 members in just a few months.
“I have always talked to other owners and tried to provide advice to them to get them where I am, and I found that starting a group would be a better way to connect with those people that I would try to help,” he said.
Boblett believes communication and education are critical for owner-operators to succeed. “Lack of communication between owner-operators is the biggest struggle in the business,” he says. “For years, owner-operators had little negotiating power regarding rates. We hope that by having open dialogue on the topic, we can better educate one another and become more successful in our operations.”
Unlike many other online trucking forums, the group makes a point to keep members laser-focused on the business of trucking. Boblett has gotten help from other successful owner-operators to moderate the discussions, including Rico Muhammad, who hosts a podcast that many group members participate in. His weekly AudioRoad Rates & Lanes podcast is affiliated with Kevin Rutherford’s Let’s Truck.
The group focuses on understanding market supply and demand and how to research information on spot market rates, using services including DAT RateView, free weekly DAT Trendlines reports, and other available resources, like the USDA’s Fruit and Vegetable Truck Rate report.
They also talk about how to establish more effective relationships with brokers. “We focus on building solid business relationships within the trucking community, and with brokers specifically, and how we can be more successful owner-operators in terms of better financial management and providing excellent service through better communication,” says Boblett.
That includes discussions about how to leverage the best load boards, such as DAT's, and tools and features like freight rates, broker credit scores, and Company Reviews, where drivers can read about others' experiences with brokers and shippers .
By tapping into the knowledge of the group’s experienced membership, new and veteran owner-operators alike are learning from each other. “Having truck drivers work collectively towards any goal until now has been an impossible task, yet here we are helping ourselves by helping each other,” says Boblett.
You can find the group by searching Facebook groups for “Rate Per Mile Masters” and owner-operators can request to join. Group moderator Rico Muhammad’s weekly podcast is every Wednesday at 7 p.m. Eastern on Blog Talk Radio. You can call in at (347) 884-8327.
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