While working for a haulage company is a great way for drivers to get some miles, contacts and training, a large number of logistics service drivers hope to one day be independent hauliers, owning and operating their own business from their own vehicle. Why is this such a common goal, and just how hard is it to achieve and maintain? |
What Makes Being a Self-Employed Haulier Attractive?
Self-employment is a common career goal, and those working in logistics services are no exception. The appeal of being one’s own boss and working entirely on one’s own terms is consistent across businesses, and possibly even stronger among hauliers: many are drawn to work in a logistics service by the possibility of being on the move whenever they want to be, and wanting to operate one’s own business is a natural extension of this wanderlust.
One final reason that hauliers often want to be owner-operators is an attachment to their vehicles: most of those who work in haulage love driving and have more than a passing interest in vehicles and engines, and there’s a special sort of satisfaction to buying, tweaking and maintaining one’s own vehicle to exacting standards.
How Is It Achieved?
One of the major obstacles to being an owner-operator is the sheer investment required. The owner-operator requires a vehicle, of course, and it’s their responsibility to maintain the vehicle, buy fuel, organise appropriate insurance and make sure that the vehicle is regularly MOT tested - not to mention the HGV-specific qualifications required.
On top of this is the necessity to find and maintain a steady stream of work. This is part of why most owner-operators are experienced drivers: even when a driver is on the books of a few agencies and potential clients, without enough miles under their belt a lot of the jobs are likely to go to more experienced hauliers.
However, with the impending skills gap crisis faced by the UK’s logistics services, demand is likely to outstrip supply within the next few years, making for fertile ground for new drivers. In addition to this, haulage companies are likely to start offering to pay for the necessary certificates and qualifications in order to recruit new drivers, so this may make it easier to break into the business.
What’s the First Step?
If you’re a man or woman considering a career in haulage with a view to being an owner-operator, your first step will be to get the appropriate qualifications and certificates (HGV licence, Driver CFC, etc.) and start getting some miles under your belt. It’s a good idea to start working with some busy companies to gain some experience, and once you’ve got the necessary miles and capital, start thinking about making the jump into owning and operating your own logistics service.
It’s not an easy job: the hours are long and there’s plenty of red tape to keep track of, but it’s rewarding and the freedom of self-employment makes it well worth the effort. What’s more, demand for work is increasing faster than supply, meaning that drivers are in a very favourable position now.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides a logistics service for matching delivery work with available vehicles. Over 4,000 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.
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