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The Truth About Running Under Your Own Authority

Mar 15, 2021 | Owner Operator

Running under your own authority might mean you have a higher income, but it also means you have more liability, more expenses, and more paperwork.

Just because you run under a trucking company’s authority doesn’t mean you lose all ability to choose when and where you run. It also doesn’t mean you give up the opportunity to make good money.

Here’s the honest truth about running under your own authority as an owner operator truck driver.

What Is Running Under Your Own Authority?

There are basically three ways to look at authorities:

  1. You are entirely on your own – you truly run under your own authority. You’re responsible for everything, including billing, booking your own freight, paperwork, insurance, etc.
  2. You run under your own authority beneath another trucking company. They take a smaller percentage of your load to cover billing and minimal support, but everything else is on you. You book your own loads.
  3. You run under a trucking company’s authority, and they handle all the back-office tasks, including booking your loads.

If you’re considering being entirely on your own, we’re going to outline in this article what that actually means for you – is it really a good idea?

Running under your own authority

And if you’re considering running under your own authority beneath another trucking company, we’ll hit on that as well.

Freight X does not allow owner operators to run under their own authority beneath our company. All of our drivers run under our authority, which means they benefit from all of our back-office support, and we also book their loads.

Here’s why: if you got in a bad accident, we’d get pulled into the lawsuits anyway. They’d hit your line of coverage first, but they’d also come after us. That’s an incredible liability to us, so we avoid that by ensuring all of our drivers run under our authority.

Before you click off this article, it’s important to understand all of our drivers still choose when and where they run. That’s critical to understand! We’ll explain more later in this article, but we wanted to hit on the basics first.

Do You Really Make More Money?

If you want to run under your own authority, you basically want to be a trucking company. Sure, you’ll make 100% of your loads (minus a factoring fee or QuickPay fee, discussed later), but that doesn’t actually mean you’ll be making more money.

You’ll be a one-person show, which means you’re responsible for your own billing – you have to make sure you get paid for your loads.

You’ll need a factoring agreement, and the factoring company will most likely have you put down a bond. They’ll also want to hold cash reserves for you. In addition, factoring companies take up to 5%, and they won’t release funds to you until you have reached your reserve requirements.

Without a factoring agreement, you’d wait an average of 45 days to get paid.

Factoring agreements when working as an owner operator

So again, you will technically make more money, but a lot of drivers don’t realize what goes into the accounting side of things. When you run under a trucking company’s authority (such as Freight X), you’re paid every week ­­– even when Freight X isn’t paid yet by the customer!

You don’t pay any percentage of your load to the factoring company, and you have great cash flow because you get settled every week.

Hidden Driver Expenses

The billing piece of running under your own authority is huge, but there are a lot of other hidden expenses drivers may not think about.

These include:

  • Insurance
  • Fuel discount
  • Safety department
  • Subscriptions to DAT and Truckstop
  • Factoring agreement
  • Transportation Management Software ($$$!)
  • Dispatch and load planning services
  • Fueling location optimization based on routes
  • IFTA filing
  • ELD

There are other perks you can get when you run under a trucking company’s authority, including:

  • Trailer pools
  • Big customers
  • More drop and hook opportunities
  • National recognition and reputation
  • Financial strength and excellent credit rating
  • Technical support
  • Access to maintenance mechanics at a much lower rate
  • ELD monitoring

The economy of scale is what’s at play here – we have accounting staff, a safety department, and load planners with decades of experience. We can only do all of this financially because of how many trucks we run. We couldn’t do all of that if we only ran one truck.

Freight X Christmas Party 2019

Time Is Money

If you’re a solo driver running under your own authority, you have to consider that time is money. Are you going to set time aside to do all of your own paperwork and support your business? That time is going to take away from being on the road.

When you’re booking your own freight, accessing load boards costs you money, let alone sitting there and figuring out which loads you want to take.

Time is money, and you want to spend all of your working time on the road, spinning those wheels.

Insurance and Fuel

Insurance costs and fuel are your two largest expenses, whether you’re a trucking company like us or an owner operator.

Bulk Insurance Rates

Because of how many trucks we run, we can essentially buy insurance in “bulk.” Without a shadow of a doubt, our insurance rates are a lot better than you can get as an individual.

We also have a deductible buydown program for owner operators, so if you’re involved in an accident, your maximum out-of-pocket across all lines of coverage is $1,000. That buydown program costs $17 per week, and instead of exposing you to around $25,000 worth of deductibles, you’re only exposed to $1,000.

When you run under your own authority, an accident could put you out of business. You have personal liability, damage to the trailer, potential damage to the cargo – you basically hit three or four lines of coverage, and your deductibles will be $5,000 here, $10,000 there… you could be out $20,000-$30,000 from a single accident.

Insurance as a truck driver

Most owner operators couldn’t withstand writing a check for $30,000. They’d be out of business.

When you run under a trucking company’s authority – especially one like us with a deductible buydown program – you don’t have to worry about losing your business because of an accident.

Fuel Discounts

Our company saves tens of thousands of dollars every month because of our fuel discount. We don’t pay the fuel price you see on the sign – we have a negotiated fuel discount with Pilot/Flying J.

If you’re an owner operator and run approximately 100,000 miles per year, you’d enjoy roughly $12,000 in fuel savings per year with Freight X.

You can’t negotiate discounts like that if you’re running under your own authority.

Picking Your Own Loads

Picking your own loads seems to be a huge selling point for owner operators. They want to run under their own authority for the simple fact that they can decide where to run.

To put things simply, if you work for a company that allows you to book your own loads, I can almost guarantee you they have been freight guarded in the past, and you won’t have the opportunity to book with all the brokers out there. You’ll lose the chance to work with a lot of organizations because of that.

That’s precisely why we don’t allow drivers to choose their own loads. If you change your mind and decide you don’t want to pick up a load, it ruins our reputation. If we book the load and something unforeseen happens, we probably have the ability to get the load with another truck.

If you get several freight guards, brokers won’t book freight with you anymore.

However, all of our drivers get a say in the loads they want. You can explain to our dispatch and load planning team what states you like and what runs you prefer, and we’ll accommodate that. We aren’t like other companies that tell you the freight you run, and that’s it.

We are very accommodating to our drivers and will do everything we can to make sure you’re making money by taking the loads you want to take.

Salary running under your own authority

$4/Mile Isn’t Actually a Good Load!

Many drivers who don’t run freight day-in and day-out get excited when they see a $4 per mile load. They book it and realize after the fact why the load paid so much – there are no backhauls! You may have to accept a load for 85 cents just to get out of that area. Even worse, you may have to deadhead 400 miles to get a decent paying load back home.

Our experienced load planning team takes all of that into consideration. We know what areas are hot, and we don’t get suckered into booking high-paying loads that are really dead ends.

Customer Freight Is Stable

Finally, we have tons of customer fright. If you pick your own loads, you’re choosing from broker freight. Sure, right this moment, broker freight is hot. When it turns down, though, customer freight won’t.

Our customer freight is stable. It takes out the market swings and gives our drivers a sense of reliability.

Conclusion

When you run under your own authority, you forfeit protection, fuel discounts, fantastic insurance rates, and a weekly paycheck.

It’s tough to make money with only one truck. If it breaks down, it could be down for 2-3 weeks. How will you pay your mortgage? A blown tire could cause your profit to flip for the entire week.

Freight X can withstand that because we have 80-100 trucks. Before you get excited about big money associated with running under your own authority, it’s essential to understand the truth: it’s not all people make it out to be.

If you’re interested in being an owner operator at Freight X, be sure to get in touch. We’d also be happy to answer any questions you might have about running under your own authority.

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