7 Tips for Owner-Operators to Remain Organized

No one gets into the trucking business because they want to deal with numbers and bookkeeping, yet these tasks are just as crucial as meeting delivery deadlines. Being an owner-operator necessitates a steadfast commitment to orderliness.

It becomes your responsibility to follow the law and file the appropriate documentation on time. If you aren’t organized and don’t stay on top of the paperwork, you are likely to lose important documents as things get buried in a hurry.

Therefore, your business receipts, bills of lading, toll receipts, as well as any other documents required to run the business should be organized and ready to be submitted. Here are some tips for owner-operators on how to structure their operations and stay organized despite the demanding job.

1.      Evaluate Your Current Approach

The first step to getting more organized is to evaluate your current practices. Do you try to keep track of various documents manually, placing them all in a single envelope and storing your receipts in a locked closet? Perhaps, you attempt to do everything in Google Docs and Spreadsheets. These simple strategies may seem to work in the beginning, but it’s far too easy to go out of control.

You can get into a lot of trouble if you continue using such manual techniques when the Department of Transportation requests a compliance evaluation of your operations. So, take the time to evaluate your current practices to see where you can improve.

Do you use a transport management system to keep track of everything? Do you use factoring? Are you prompting invoices on time? Are you using the right technologies? All these questions can help you find gaps in your current practices.

2.      Know What Is Worth Tracking

Toll and gas slips seem like no-brainers. However, there are also less obvious aspects that truckers need to keep tabs on, such as how long they’ve been on the road or how recently they’ve replaced their tires. Using a gasoline card provides access to some, but not all, of the data, you’ll need for accounting purposes.

You should file away all documents related to each load, including current bills of lading, receipts, and any other information about the shipment that you manually recorded, in separate folders for each trip. Again, this can be done online, but if you feel the need to preserve a physical copy, do it by trip for ease of billing, tax reporting, and return visits.

It may help to talk to a trucking-savvy accountant. Even if you can’t afford a monthly bookkeeping service right now, paying for a one-time consultation could save you hours of stress and anxiety if the IRS comes knocking. By the end of the session, you should be clear on what documentation you must track and what papers are okay to discard.

3.      Digital Administration Is Always Preferred

Digital technologies simplify nearly every aspect of running a transportation company. There’s no need to cram your office with stacks of paper. Look into the most suitable technological options. Cost, usability, and functionality are all factors to think about when settling on a technological solution for your company.

Mobile versions of popular tools optimize paper-based processes and free up valuable office space. Everything you need, from locating suitable freight to negotiating appropriate pricing, is within easy reach with the right tools.

4.      Invest In a Transport Management System

A TMS, or transportation management system, can help you manage your trucking company more efficiently. While each TMS has its own quirks, they can all be relied upon to streamline your operations, keep you better organized, handle your billing, and compute your IFTA for you.

Managing it all from a computer saves time by eliminating the need to physically carry around physical copies of documents. Here are some transport management systems you should consider.

  • E2open: With e2open’s TMS, owner-operators and logistics service providers can easily procure, plan, execute, and even track deliveries across all modes and geographies. This system is excellent for both domestic and international deliveries.
  • Cloud Logistics: Another rising star in the world of transport, Cloud Logistics is mostly concerned with shipping throughout the country on trucks. Despite ongoing development, international and air deliveries are currently unavailable. This works for owner-operators as they focus solely on by-road deliveries.
  • Descartes: Descartes is a TM service that provides both standalone and managed services. Strong capabilities that accommodate shippers and 3PLs with the assistance of all freight modes, both domestically and internationally. TCO is cheaper than most alternatives.
  • Blue Yonder: Best known as the industry’s largest standalone provider of SCM software, Blue Yonder has a strong infrastructure for multi-faceted shippers and logistics providers. It manages the needs of suppliers all across the world. However, it is one of the most pricey solutions available.
  • 3Gtms: This platform offers full truckload and parcel services via the cloud for e-commerce businesses, freight brokers, and shippers. In order to simplify the management of complex shipments, the 3Gtms solution performs freight planning, delivery management, settlement, and more from a single screen. The solution provides excellent value for money. Thus it is utilized all over the world, not just in North America.

5.      Consider Factoring

When you deliver a load, you should get the receiving party to sign a freight invoice. When they sign, it means they’ve decided to take the load and will be paying the trucking business or owner-operator. Unfortunately, when the paperwork is signed, it could take between a week to many months before you receive reimbursement for your freight.

But you need the money to keep your firm running, and you can’t afford to wait for ninety days. In addition, you need to pay your expenses and buy food and gas to transport your next cargo. Factoring companies help bridge the gap between delivering goods and receiving payment.

Faster payment for services rendered is made possible through factoring for truck drivers. Factoring firms focus on collecting and processing invoice payments. The truck driver will forego a tiny portion of each invoice to the factoring company. Factoring providers often demand additional fees for their service, cutting into your earnings from that load.

However, owner-operators are prepared to make sacrifices in order to keep their vehicles moving. The terms “recourse factoring” and “non-recourse factoring” are two that you’ll hear if you decide to use a factor. To understand the potential upsides and downsides of working with a factoring company, you must first understand the distinction between the two.

  • Recourse Factoring: You can keep more of what you earn thanks to recourse factoring, where the factoring firm takes a smaller portion of your invoice total. However, you must purchase the invoice from them if they are unable to collect payment from your consumer. When money flow is important, that’s not a good spot to be in.
  • Non-recourse Factoring: In this case, if the client does not pay, you will not be responsible for paying back the factored invoice. But there is a catch once again. When a corporation is non-recourse, it takes a far bigger percentage of the invoice’s total value.

6.      Do Not Delay Invoicing

If you decide against using a factor, get those invoices out as soon as possible after finishing a load. It’s not easy to stay on top of bills when you’re constantly on the move, and it’s even more of a hassle if you end up falling behind.

For healthy cash flow, however, prompt invoicing is essential. Doing so will guarantee that you never run out of cash and help you prevent any delays. Be sure to verify all information before sending invoices through an automated system. This is extremely important because if there are mistakes, payments may be held up.

7.      Be Prepared for Taxes

Trucking is an industry where your earnings matter, no matter how small they may seem. Your receipts will be useful for deductions and verification purposes when filing your taxes. We advise using a folder with multiple pockets to keep receipts since this will allow you to sort the receipts into relevant categories like “food,” “fuel,” “maintenance,” and so on. Having this information will greatly facilitate the search for them.

Join Hand with RSB to Take Your Trucking Business to the Next Level

Staying organized is one way of streamlining your operations and payments. Another option is to consider partnering with the leading American transportation and logistics company, RSB.

RSB could be useful to you if you are an owner-operator concerned with the growth of your business. It is our top priority to ensure the satisfaction of not only our customers but also our partners. Be a part of RSB’s efforts to enhance the trucking and transportation sector for all. We may also discuss your invoicing and operations choices. To learn more about RSB, please visit our website or call us at 866-616-7540.


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