Important Metrics for Freightliner Owner Operators to Track
Even when you’re an owner operator with a single Freightliner rig, you have to run your trucking business like the Big Boys if you expect to make money. Or more money. You have to think like a fleet manager, and a CEO, because in fact you are both.
Achieving profitability is simple and yet complex
You work to earn more revenue and control costs wherever you can. But that requires knowing a lot more about your day-to-day operation costs than simply tracking payments and fuel expenses for each load. To succeed in business, owner operators need specific goals – where you want your business to be at a given point in the future. Maybe you’re working toward purchase or a newer model Freightliner truck. Or a second truck, on your way to becoming a fleet operator.
You also have to clearly understand where you are right now. Businesses measure progress toward their goals with Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs — stops along the way between where you are now and where you want to go. It’s just like planning and following your truck’s road trip on a map. If you pass Town X or overnight at Truck Stop Y, you know if you’re on schedule to reach your destination. Or not.
By measuring and monitoring KPIs, you can see how you’re doing – especially the areas where you need to improve.
There’s no doubt that fuel costs are a major challenge for owner operators trying to get ahead. These 9 metrics are KPIs you can use to get an in-depth understanding of fuel-related expenses. Track them continuously and review the numbers every month. You’ll see how much profit you’re really making, and see where you can improve.
Creating a simple spreadsheet will make it easy to track and review these metrics:
- Total miles (door to door, from home until you return)
- Revenue in dollars
- Revenue per mile (door to door, from home until you return)
- Average fuel cost per gallon
- Fuel mileage
- Fuel costs per mile (cost per gallon divided by fuel mileage)
- Cost to operate (add the fuel cost per mile to your other expenses for the month)
- Profit (revenue per mile above per-mile cost to operate)
- National fuel price average (eia.gov)
Add a column to your spreadsheet for notes, too. This is where you can record anything that adds context to the numbers you’re recording. Things like no deadheads, you were off sick for 3 days, your truck was down for service for a day or two, etc. You won’t remember these details if you don’t write them down, but over time they’ll help you identify realistic operations patterns versus aberrations.
There’s another benefit to tracking these metrics
The better you know your business, the better-equipped you are to make smart business decisions. But you’ll also be able to bid jobs more accurately. You can bid profitably instead of discovering after the fact that your low-ball bid actually cost you money. And you can bid more competitively. You’ll get more jobs and you’ll make more money. That’s how you will grow your business.