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Cash flow tips for owner-operators

Cash flow tips for owner-operators

Three ways to make sure your money is budgeted properly from Jeremy Robison, president of Tetra Capital.

Expenses for owner-operators can at times seem never to stop adding up when you consider insurance, fuel, meals, expected and unexpected maintenance and repairs, just to name a few. With all of these expenses, one of the biggest challenges facing owner-operators is cash flow. Being proactive about cash flow is always the best option when you are running your own trucking business.  Here are three cash flow tips to help keep you ahead of a cash flow crisis.

1. Ensure your customers are paying you for the loads you haul.

Without predictable money coming in, there is no way you can manage your cash flow. With this, there are two things to consider, if and when your clients are going to pay.

Unfortunately, I did write IF your clients pay.  Without conducting credit checks on your potential clients and brokers, you don’t know what their past payment history is and if they pay their bills on time or at all. The easiest way to ensure you are only hauling loads for clients and brokers who will pay you promptly is to conduct credit checks. The good news for owner-operators is that there are financial partners, such as some trucking factoring companies that offer free credit checks to their factoring clients, helping them to save money and ensure they get paid.

When your clients pay directly impacts your cash flow. It is not unusual for it to take 30 to 60 days, or more, for freight bills to be paid, meanwhile your bills are piling up. One option to eliminate the uncertainty of payment terms is to partner with a freight bill factoring company. Freight bill factoring gets you immediate funds for your freight bills, allowing you to have the funds you need to pay your bills when you need it. 

2. Accurately track expenses and get the help you need when you need it.

Accurately tracking your income and expenses is the only way to know what your cash flow situation truly is, and this can be difficult when you spend most of your time on the road. Depending on your level of comfort and the amount of time you have to devote to financial matters, there are a few options you can take advantage of.

  • Certain fuel programs can track your fuel spending and include fuel management tools and purchase controls to help you manage fuel and other expenses.
  • For owner-operators who need someone to handle it all, there are professional bookkeeping and accounting services that will do just that.

3. Look for ways to save money 

The more money that stays in your pocket, the less you must worry about your cash flow. There are many places owner-operators can look to save money.

In addition to the above-mentioned financial tools that fuel cards provide they are also a great source of savings.  With fuel cards, you can save up to 10 cents per gallon with no minimum fueling requirements, and you get the cash price while being able to pay with a card. A freight bill factoring company can load your funds right onto your fuel card, saving you time and helping you ensure you will have the funds you need to cover your fuel expenses.

Equipment leasing is often an overlooked option for many trucking owner-operators when looking for ways to save money and increase cash flow. There are several different options an experienced equipment leasing company can offer to tailor a solution that will best fit your needs. These options including ways to lower your payments, help you get upgraded equipment that will save you money on maintenance and fuel and repayment plans that take into consideration any seasonality changes in your business.

These are just a few cash flow tips to help you cover the many expenses that trucking owner-operators face regularly. There is no one solution that will eliminate all your cash flow concerns, but by staying ahead of any potential issues, you will be in for a smoother ride.

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