Ways to make money owning a semi-truck: 7 tips to consider

August 31, 2021

Looking for ways to take your trucking business to the next level? Check out these 12 tips on how to be a successful owner-operator.

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Regardless of how long you’ve owned and operated a semi-truck, your goal is to earn revenue and to be a successful owner-operator.

The amount of money you must earn in order to be considered “successful” is relative because every owner-operator measures success differently. Additionally, how much an owner-operator can make is dependent on a variety of factors, including how hard they run and what type of freight they haul.

Regardless of what your version of success looks like, there are a handful of steps you can take and practices you can add to your routine that may help you make more money while owning a semi-truck.

7 pieces of advice on ways to make money owning a semi-truck

1. Have a complete understanding of your business.

As the owner of your business, you are responsible for understanding how much revenue is coming in and how much of it is going toward expenses. If you don’t already know what your cost per mile is, now’s the time to figure it out.

Being familiar with your cost per mile helps you know exactly how much you need to bring in to earn a profit. Additionally, it shows you exactly how much you are spending on each individual expense (truck payment, insurance, fuel, etc.) and makes it easier to determine ways to cut back and save more money.

2. Create a business plan.

Once you understand what your costs are, it’s time to devise a business plan.

If doing books, filing taxes and handling all the other business-related items are cutting into the time you spend driving, it may not be a bad idea to have someone else do them for you.

While hiring a certified public accountant (CPA) will most-likely come at an expense, it may actually mean more money in your pocket in the long-run. Having a professional handle your books means you get to spend more time hauling freight. It could also mean less risk of making an error when filing your taxes, which can lead to a hefty fine.

3. Be prepared for the unexpected.

Whether it is unforeseen out of service, a truck breakdown or something else, the unexpected can hurt a little less if you are prepared for it.

We recommend setting aside enough money to cover three to six months of your expenses. If you don’t have cash set aside and something goes wrong, it could result in the loss of your truck or your business.

4. Don't forget about your monthly bills.

As an owner-operator who is out on the road most of the time, it can be easy to forget about those bills sitting on the counter back at home. We suggest taking proactive steps, whether it is setting up direct payments or logging into your bank account on your phone, to make sure your bills are paid on time. Missing a credit card payment can drop your credit score and cost you interest.

Also, if possible, work on creating a plan to pay off any debt you may have.

5. Pay off your truck early.

Speaking of debt, unless you bought your truck with cash, you most-likely have a weekly or monthly truck payment for the loan you took out. While making at least the minimum payments is a must, try to make every effort to throw additional money at the loan. Even if it’s just an extra $20 per week, every little bit adds up.

Once your loan is paid off, you will own the truck outright. Imagine how much additional revenue you will have each week when you no longer have a truck payment. Those additional funds could go into savings, help pay off other debts, go toward buying a new truck, etc.

6. Find the loads that help you earn the most revenue.

Your revenue is dependent on what loads you haul, so how you choose to get your loads is one of the most important business decisions.

What works best for someone else’s business may not work for yours, so it’s imperative to trial and error how you get your loads. If your current method requires you to work harder than you want to be, then it’s time to experiment with another options.

Additionally, not only does the method in which you pick your loads matter, but the loads themselves matter. For example, while a cross-country load may seem like a huge money maker because it’s a ton of miles, it’s important to remember your expenses for that type of load will also be much higher.

In summary, don’t be afraid to find best load solution for your business, even if it means having to try many different things.

7. Find ways to save money.

One of the most simple ways to make more money while owning a semi-truck is to spend less of your revenue. Saving money could be leasing-on with a company that offers fuel discounts or spending less on meals while you’re out on the road.