Going solo

Is it worth it.
It’s been asked a thousand times I’m sure. I’ve looked at franchise with a quarry and I’ve looked at going it alone. It’s such a shame that you have to jump through all the rings to work your own truck. I completely understand in respect to be safe and road worthy but I’ve never known an industry be so scrutinised to carry out a job. Is it worth it or is it left to the well established operator?

If Joe Bloggs Window Cleaners gets into financial troubles they might work longer hours, and buy cheapo cleaners instead of Fairy Liquid.

If Joe Bloggs Trucking gets in financial trouble they too might work longer hours (illegally) and save a bit on maintenance (illegally)

If you have “an angle” or a good contact then you can make a living, even a good living, as an owner operator.
But very few do have that start.

And don’t worry, even if you as an employee aren’t doing what your boss wants, you as a contractor will be doing what your customer wants!
And customers can ask for things that bosses can’t.

It isn’t impossible, but it is far from easy.

The contract will have to factor in enough money to buy a replacement truck, either a new or an old one.

Your cab will be your office so could you handle all the administrative calls and communication to run the business when driving, it may be advisable if a partner could handle all this and let you concentrate on the driving.

Multi-Tasking: doing two things badly at the same time.

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Women do say men are terrible at multi tasking.

It’s been a while since we had one of these posts: Assuming the old posts are included in those that have been transferred over, you should find plenty of info via the search facility. Yes, you’ll find different opinions than mine I’ve given below, but my assumption is that you want to know how to do it legally, not cowboy-style. If you’re looking for dodges to do it as cheaply as possible, you can ignore most of the stuff below.

You’ll need time, patience, and deep pockets, also to appreciate it’s a business-venture; it’s not just about the truck(s).

Start by creating a written/spreadsheeted fully-costed business plan; your “shopping list” needs to include:

  1. Obviously the work and anticipated income - if the work isn’t guaranteed to a certain extent, you’ll need financial contingency plans; costs don’t stop just because work dries up.
  2. Access to £8k for your financial standing (assuming Standard National O-licence which sounds appropriate for your opportunity)
  3. Disposable income of about £1k for several fees involved in the application process
  4. Someone who knows what they’re doing to help you through that process, and most likely this someone will require payment (expect £350 plus VAT for a professionally competent person)
  5. An external TM (need them to even begin the application)
  6. A maintenance provider agreement for your initial and regular PMIs, plus RBTs
  7. An environmentally-suitable Operating Centre (ie not your own driveway on a residential estate)
  8. And of course the vehicle, plus VED, & Insurance, and any other bits and pieces that might be needed to make it road legal.

I’d suggest you don’t start out on this unless you’re 100% happy to go through the whole process properly and legally. The investment of time, effort and money is not insignificant.

A recent (short-lived) client of mine was guided right through the process of getting the licence. The week his licence was granted he decided his business model wouldn’t really work to the extent he wanted it to, unless he ran bent. :persevere:
The grapevine has suggested that is exactly what he’s now doing since we parted company :roll_eyes:

He’ll be crying into his beer the day his trucks are seized, never to be returned.

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I dont know how things are these days, but I found when I did it, unless you had your OWN work direct,.and not through somebody else, it was a waste of time.

Even then the risk is high, I had succesful and lucrative direct work for a number of years, that co went bust, so me as a non ltd co (big mistake) they took me with them, but I managed to salvage 1 truck in my wife’s name, …but even that turned to sh for a couple of reasons I cba to go into.
I was only in my mid to late 20s so managed to make best of it all in long run

I personally (through a lot of bad experiences) would not advise anybody to take up even truck driving, let alone be an owner operator…but thats just me.

As a new owner driver with all the expense, competition (from more lucrative firms) restrictions, and general b/s, you will definitely find there are far more snakes than ladders in the job…and for little money.
So why bother?
My advice…Find a good co that values it’s drivers as an asset rather than a necessary evil (good luck with that one btw) work for them,.and leave the upheaval, worry, and cost of running a truck to them.
Good advice…take it or leave it, not fussed

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only way youll know if youv got what it takes is to go do it -then theres the element of luck .One thing i do know is if you overthink it you will never do it .

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If the quarry are offering a franchise ask yourself a couple of questions.

Will you be running in their colours and if the work goes quiet will they let you work elsewhere or do they expect you to sit at the weighbridge all day until something turns up. (and not get paid for sitting at said weighbridge)

What are the payment terms. Going back to the eighties, the construction trade worked on a minimum 60 / 90 days credit. Some expected more some did not pay at all, disappear for a couple of months and then resurface under a different trading name having walked away from their debts. Reading the general business press I don’t think things have changed.

If the the job is that good why don’t the quarry own / operate their own trucks?

Firstly you need your own CPC forget about paying a dedicated transport manager.
Tippers were totally off by radar.I’m more than sure that I would have had a far better career as an owner driver in the international freight sector than as an employed UK driver.I had work lined up with names like Davies Turner and Solstor all good reliable good paying forwarders to work for.They do/did exist.
It was the O Licence financial standing that stopped me.
It’s a cold cash reserve that you have to have available sitting there doing absolutely nothing and earning nothing for the operation after all the other costs like maintenance and depreciation and fuel etc etc.
Effectively it’s just an enforced debt that has stopped many a viable owner driver new start and in my case at least a career wrecker.
Other than that for me the choice between owner driver or employed driver was a no brainer.Unfortunately we live in a road transport hating regime.
But for me owner driver on tippers would have totally defeated the object.
All the downsides with none of the upsides if as in my case driving trucks far and wide is the reason for entering the industry and there were far more opportunities in the owner driver sector for that.
If local tipper work is where you want to be that choice becomes the total opposite why would you want all the aggro of running a truck just to do that.

You dodged another spectacular failure. Owner drivers have to do far more than JUST drive. You would have been expected to involve yourself with loading and unloading, not your forté.
You would also need to wash and do, at least minor maintenance and various other physical tasks, activities thus far that have caused you permanent, life changing injuries.

Carryfast paints a rosy pictute of becoming an owner driver in the 80s on Euro eh?
It all sounds like an excellent proposition, AND through freight forewarders, …who apparentlly were all fair decent people, who all paid good and fair rates.
Ok, it all sounds like an excellent proposition to better yourself,.and to invest in …He certainly seems to know what he is talking about.

Wow !,.regrets eh?..If only, all those years ago, it sounds like I could have made a fortune if I had took the plunge and the risks way back then, and maybe at least 3 or 4 of my mates could have had a go also and prospered…
Oh hang on we did ! .:flushed:

It was a kin rat race,.akin to jumping into a deep pool.of sharks,.with one hand behind your back,.while being shot at, …all with very little sleep and time to yourself into the bargain,.with tacho cards used wholesale.
And all done (not whilst living at home with Mam and Dad) , but while at same time married, bringing up kids,.with a mortgage.

Hey !.. maybe I should have had Carryfast as my transport manager and mentor to show me (and my 3 or 4 like minded mates,) where we were all going wrong.
Especially me who actually lost my home…
Nobody but myself to blame btw,.I accept all that.

Seriously mate, stick to talking about stuff you actually KNOW and have EXPERIENCED,.not something you hsve read through your rose coloured specs.
On this occasion it is all verbal faeces.

He’s done that on here, for the past week.

BTW RR, it was a very similar situation here, except we weren’t being shot at. :grimacing:

Ok I I exaggerated. :joy:
Never been shot at in my life…(glad to say.)
Looked absolutely ‘shot at’ after heavy nights on the beer a few times though.:joy:

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On the off chance that OP comes back and reads CF’s input :crazy_face:

Getting your own TM-CPC means taking two exams, typically after spending a period of time in a classroom with a fat folder full of course notes (I could supply a picture, but I wouldn’t want to put anyone off). Pass rates nationally for these exams seem to vary depending on which exam body it is: SEGA average about 50-60% success rate, CILT more like 60-70%, but a lot depends on who trains you. The training provider I associate with has much better pass rates than the national average.

NB: OCR stepped out of the arena a couple of years back, it is SEGA who took over the OCR way of doing things.

Financial Standing does not need to be “a cold cash reserve that you have to have available sitting there doing absolutely nothing”. You need demonstrable access to the money; cash is one option; a second option is a company credit card - or for an owner driver a personal credit card - with sufficient clear balance to meet the requirements; or a guaranteed (in writing) bank overdraft, but those come with fees to maintain the option as open, even when they’re not being used

Meanwhile, back in the real world, the people who grant the O-licences (the Office of the Traffic Commissioner) only consider your fledgling operation to be “viable” if you have access to the funds, they don’t want on-a-shoestring operators running around in sub-standard vehicles with a bagful of excuses as to why they’re not properly maintained.

I took my CPC National around 84, then International a year later
I think I spoke to somebody who told me it is all rolled into one as a single course nowadays,… (or did I just dream it/make it up? :smile:)

No, not a dream: All TM-CPC courses and exams are delivered with the international component integrated. The first time I tried TMCPC in the early 2000’s it was two multi-choice papers, then the case studies paper. Then a separate component to get the international component. Now it is one multi-choice paper of about 2 hours in the morning (closed book), then in the afternoon a second case studies paper of a bit over two hours (can’t remember if it is 2h 15’ or 2h 30’) which is open book.

It’s really not “fit for purpose” at all: Newly qualified TMs don’t have a clue which jobs they’ll need to do on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual basis; nor how to do jobs as simple as downloading a tacho & VU and then analysing it.

So is there a refresher/periodic type course as with the (farcical ) doing the whole bloody thing over again every 5 years DCPC style?.
I mean I took mine as a young boy 40 years ago, I last had an O licence in …98 ish.
So in the unlikely…(nay impossible😃) event I fancied buying a truck again…(God somebody just walked over my grave as I said that😂) could I just crack on with re.instating my O licence, subject to covering all the other criteria.

Very much so: Anyone wanting to go on a licence needs to show the TC they have made the effort to keep their knowledge up to date. Right now the standard thing is to insist on a two-day TM refresher course if your qualification is more than five years old.

There are no exams with this, and no carved-in-stone syllabus, it’s very free-form and should be adapted to the particular needs of the candidates on that particular course, but any decent refresher should cover a wide range of what the TC considers “must know” info, relevant updates and future changes that are scheduled.

Last week I ran one with a very varied group of TMs, including:
One overseas guy whose foreign TMCPC wasn’t enough for the TC to let him have his first UK O-licence. His mentality was exactly the same as another overseas client I once had, didn’t see why he needed to do this , that, or the other. “Because it’s the law”

A guy from a tanker company due to be added to a licence and was considering work as an external TM in about a years time

And a proper old-hand, I-don’t-do-no-stinkin’-computers type operator of about 40 years experience, who said only that he’d “been strongly advised” he needed to do this. I think “someone” (ie in uniform) had found him well out of touch with what he needed to know and this was a condition of them not taking things further.

Yeah fully agree with a refresher then, I admit I would deffo need one.:smiley:

However, as for doing the same old sh for 45 or whatever hours every 5 years a la DCPC… nah not so much.
Even half that amount of time is ott.
If you have been found ‘wanting’ from a brush with the law…fair enough.

I aint one of those exp drivers saying …‘No need, I know everything about it all’ either, I dont, but I do know a full 5 day course just aint ‘necessary’ for ME to do in the true word definition.
Maybe they should adapt a similar approach as to the TM CPC…thoughts?