The trucking business is indeed a big industry. However, this doesn’t mean that venturing into the trade and starting a trucking company will guarantee you instant success. Making your dream of an unlimited cash flow and a booming business come true is not without fierce competition and challenging situations.
Bidding for new work and entering a trade with tons of big players can seem like a race to the bottom, not to the top. Although getting to the top is highly possible, it takes a lot of determination, courage, and smart strategies to enjoy a piece of that pie. If you’re planning to start a trucking company, there are several things you need to keep in mind to ensure a sustainable and profitable business. Here are some tips to get you started:
1. Choose a niche and make a business plan
The trucking industry is broad and there are various sectors under this business. There’s carrier trucking, food trucking, refrigerated, goods-only, and much more. For startup companies, it is strongly advised that you pick a niche depending on your resources and strengths. Avoid being a jack of all trades but instead become the expert of a certain sector to allow faster growth and expansion.
Once you’ve settled on a specific part of trucking, write a business plan to have everything on paper. This is the most efficient and effective way to present the goals of your company. Aside from making a strong statement, a business plan allows you to oversee day-to-day operations and see the bigger picture. Business plans differ from each other, but there are certain key elements that you need to include when writing one:
- Company description that details the background, history, and mission of your company.
- Services that you offer including pricing details, materials you’re hauling, and industries.
- Market analysis comprising of outlook, target market, shares, gross margin targets, competitive analysis, law-mandated restrictions, and size of the consumer.
2. Invest in your employees
Starting a trucking company requires a good amount of investment – in both subjective and objective ways. While it’s certainly wise to invest in the latest equipment, high-tech tools, and marketing projects, don’t forget to capitalize on your employees. Regardless of position, they are the face of your business. Treating them right, boosting their morale, and giving them what they’re owed will help to boost the overall brand value of your small business.
Increasing the morale of your employees will result in improved work downtime, better compliance, fewer accidents, and job satisfaction. Identifying early signs of souring mood and developing ways to address them properly will lead to valuable employees that care about their job, your business, and the company’s reputation.
- Use online surveys such as Survey Monkey to elicit feedback and garner measurable results.
- Try face-to-face discussions to address certain issues that affect workplace competency.
- Structured discussions during events are effective to gauge employee morale.
- Give everyone a voice and find effective solutions to mediate and resolve pressing concerns.
3. Differentiate your business
The trucking industry is so competitive that clients have a lot of choices when it comes to getting a service provider. More often than not, business owners are caught trying to copy strategies from each other just to attract and lure in customers. But if you want to stand out from the crowd, differentiating your company is the key to success.
Sure, offering cheap services will gain lots of followers, but it’s just not sustainable. Providing high quality but exuberantly priced services, on the other hand, will lead to a select group of clients. A balance between price and quality of work is ideal, but executing this in a unique way is yet another story. To distinguish your business amongst trucking companies, check out these tips below:
- Develop a short but powerful statement on how your company differs from others.
- Use your creativity to develop unique and compelling trucking ideas.
- Keep an eye on your customers because a good service still has value to clients.
4. Delegate or outsource office tasks
Starting a trucking company requires patience, resources, and, above all, manpower. You can’t do everything at once, and it makes good business sense to delegate or outsource tasks that are way beyond your control. Office responsibilities are notorious for being time-consuming. Instead of sacrificing an important aspect of your business operations, it would be helpful to delegate office tasks to others.
Nothing beats hiring a full-time employee to manage office responsibilities. But if you’re running on a limited budget and this wouldn’t fit the bill, look for alternative options such as outsourcing work or signing up for online services. These modern ways of doing work remotely mean that you’ll have fewer expenses to think about while the job gets done accordingly. Some online services applicable to owner-operators are:
- Trucking Back Office – focuses on paperwork at affordable prices. They specialize in web services, marketing materials, server maintenance, data entry, BPO, hosting, and much more.
- Trucking Office – offers business tracking software that automatically handles invoices, fees, expenses, logistics, driving logs, and other statistical data relevant to your trade.
5. Insure your trucking business
Just like other businesses, starting a trucking company is not without financial risks and unexpected liabilities. One mishap is all it takes for your business to start reeling instead of rolling its way to success. Make sure that you purchase the right insurance for what you need to protect your trucking business from unwanted events and various liabilities.
Every business is unique, and so are insurance needs and requirements. Having a conversation with your trusted agent will help you identify your needs and potential gaps in a policy that might leave your company vulnerable to liabilities. Policies you should consider getting include but are not limited to:
- Workers Compensation – usually required depending on the state and number of employees.
- Commercial General Liability – provides various coverage from bodily injury to property damage.
- Cargo Insurance – protection from loss or damage to freight during sea, land or air shipment.
- Bobtail Insurance – this policy applies when no trailer is attached while driving your truck.
- Non-trucking Liability – fills in the gap when using your vehicle for non-business related purposes.
- Primary Liability – provides coverage for damages you’re at fault for to people or others’ property.