The trucking industry is an excellent option for anyone seeking independence and the potential to make good money. However, it can be hard to get started without some guidance.
What do you need to do to join the industry? Consider these steps:
Step 1: Choose a Trucking Business Model
You have three choices for starting a trucking business. You can be a single-truck owner/operator, a multi-truck owner/operator, or a broker.
A single-truck owner operates his own one or two trucks and hauls freight for himself or other companies under contract. The company may take the form of a corporation or limited liability company (LLC).
Multi-truck owners run their own business with three trucks or more, hauling freight for themselves or other companies under contract. A broker runs his own trucking business but does not own any vehicles. Instead, the brokers match loads to available carriers and earn finder’s fees for doing so.
Depending on the type of license you need, you can start a trucking business in your state with just one truck or more. Read about licensing requirements to learn if your desired business model requires special permits or registrations.
Step 2: Research the Industry and Competitors
Visit the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) website to learn more about regulations and safety guidelines. The Department of Transportation (DOT) also provides an online directory of all state trucking agencies. This can help you prepare for any licensing or certification your state government requires.
Once you’ve gathered information on regulations, study industry trends to learn about companies in your area that are likely to hire truck drivers. Use this information to create a business plan and marketing strategy.
You should also research your competitors to understand what makes your company different from them. Find out how other operators are marketing themselves to customers, where they’re advertising, and how much it costs to run their business.
Step 3: Secure Financing
Trucking is a capital-intensive industry. In addition to the cost of your truck, you’ll need money for insurance, fuel, maintenance, and other costs. You may even need to hire a driver or two from the start.
Though you can finance equipment and other expenses with credit cards, truck loans tend to offer better interest rates and repayment terms. Here are a few resources for finding financing for your business:
- Your bank or other financial institution
- Small Business Administration (SBA) loan
- Factoring company
A factoring company is one alternative financing option for truckers. A factor helps transport companies manage cash flow by providing accounts receivable funding.
Step 4: Purchase or Lease a Truck(s)
The type of truck you buy will depend on your expected workload. A single-truck owner may start with a small fleet under 10,000 pounds. If you’re a multi-truck owner or broker purchasing several trucks, choose models that can haul loads from 44,000 pounds to as heavy as 80,000 pounds, depending on local regulations.
When choosing a truck, consider the resale value of vehicles in your price range. This can help you when it’s time to find financing for equipment purchases or sell your business.
If you cannot afford to buy a truck, consider leasing. This allows you to avoid the big up-front payment and pay only for your use.
Regardless of how you acquire these machines, you might want to make sure you can customize them as your business needs change. Dealers like Hillsboro Industries have plenty of premium steel and aluminum truck beds and trailers you can attach to either a leased or purchased vehicle.
Step 5: Find and Hire the Right People
As president of your company, you may do most driving at first and hire a driver as demand for services increases. Before hiring anyone, look at resumes and conduct phone interviews to determine if applicants meet your criteria. You can also post classified ads online or local newspapers to attract qualified individuals.
Remember that your employees are part of your company’s team. Choose people you trust to positively represent the company, help customers, and work effectively with other staff members.
Step 6: Market Your Business
Your marketing strategy will help customers find, recognize, and remember your business. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Display your company’s logo on the truck(s) and stationery.
- Use social media such as Facebook or Twitter to reach customers in your niche market and industry.
- Advertise in local newspapers and on radio stations.
- Promote your business at trade shows, exhibitions, and conferences organized by industry associations.
Step 7: Manage Day-to-Day Operations
Your company’s success depends on many factors. This includes the skills and dedication of your staff and, most of all, your leadership. Because you’re the president, you’ll need to be organized, detail-oriented, and able to multitask. You should also set goals for yourself and the business so everyone knows what they are working toward.
To better understand how trucking businesses run, visit one in your area. In addition, you can become an active member of industry associations and attend their annual conferences and trade shows.
Running a trucking business can be rewarding, but only when you do it right. Follow these steps to get started and avoid costly mistakes.