If you are new to the trucking business and don’t know where to start, then you are at the right place. From funds to fun, read on to find out how you can build a successful trucking business with these fail-safe tips.
Arrange Your Funds
Starting a business is no small feat and requires a large amount of capital to get started. The same applies to the trucking business. Trucks are expensive vehicles to buy as well as to maintain. Therefore, you need to start with adequate funds which may require you to take bank loans. Alternatively, you can also check out other options like owner-operative financing.
Make sure to acquire all the necessary documents to convince the bank that you can repay your loan. You will also have to fund equipment costs, or you may choose to lease them to save expenses. If in doubt, consult a professional for advice to find out which options are best suited for your business.
Find the Right Trucking Market
Supporting the right market niche is an essential step for a successful business. Depending on the trucking segment, the equipment, charging rates, and services will differ. Beginners with small funds should aim for one sector to service. As your business thrives and expands, you may then choose to offer multiple trucking services.
Consider transporting specialized goods as opposed to multiple items for a loyal customer base. Furthermore, avoid dry-vans if you are owner-operator because of the competition from large carriers.
Currier trucking, food trucking, and refrigerated trucking are some of the viable options to try out. Hauling fresh meat and produce is a profitable and safer approach as the market is year-round and more resistant to inflation.
Form Your Company and Get Your Business License
Starting a company requires you to get government approval from your respective country’s department of transportation. You will need to show insurances, equipment purchase or leases, registrations, and documents that vary from region to region. This can be a tedious and confusing process so seek help from an expert in the field or look for apps online to help you get started.
Haul Loads by Searching up Online
There are many free and subscription load boards online that can help you search for freight to haul loads if you are a beginner in the truck loading scene. You can use this opportunity to contact shippers and brokers, which can help you build a loyal customer base.
Get a Unique Logo
Most owners pay little attention to the company’s logo, and that is a rookie mistake. Although it may seem trivial, a logo actually has a significant impact on your potential customers. Your logo is the first thing that a customer will notice in your ad campaigns so you have to make it impressionable.
Spend a considerable amount of time to design a logo that hooks your customers and is unique to you. This way, your customers will instantly know your company from the logo. The same strategy is applied by large companies like Apple and Nike. There are many graphic design companies to help you in this matter at an affordable price so ensure that the logo design is a priority in your startup essentials list.
Know Your Customers
After moving on from load boards, work to build your customer base through sales calls. Try securing contracts with your local grocers and other small businesses while providing good services. No marketing strategy is as efficient as good word-of-mouth from local business owners.
Make it a habit to run credit checks on your customers so that you can identify those who will pay you regularly. Moreover, haul loads that pay more per mile instead of faster or more profitable hauls.
Work Directly With Shippers
The customer is king, no matter the business. Therefore, you have to make your utmost effort for building a good relationship with your shippers and receivers. And for that to happen, you have to ensure that you provide the highest quality of service and respect to your customers. Excellent customer service is easily achieved by treating your drivers properly as they directly communicate with customers.
Brokers and load boards are expensive to maintain and require a sizable portion of your profits. To minimize this loss, try to build a good relationship with your shippers. Entice them with attractive offers to compete with brokers and keep all the earnings to yourself.
Have a Plan
Your plan should include the route and the time to pick and deliver loads as well as equipment maintenance. Don’t forget to keep time allotted for staying in shape in road, personal, and home time.
Put up a website for Your Business Details
In this age of the Internet, there are hardly any businesses that do not have a website. In fact, most customers look up websites of the company to look up which services are provided by them.
Include information for your clients to get all that they need such as contacts, services, reviews, testimonials, and price ranges. Remember to keep the website user-friendly and increase customer confidence by putting business and employees’ images.
Develop a Marketing Strategy
The importance of proper marketing for a thriving business cannot be stressed enough. A unique marketing campaign will help you stand out from your competitors and attract customers. This starts with your business cards.
A business card is not just to relay your contact information so don’t take it lightly. An attractive business card will get your customers’ attention such that they remember your contact details first when they need trucking services. So be sure to take your time developing one.
Another common tactic is the use of flyers. If used properly, it can be very effective, especially if you are on a budget. Create a flyer with a large image of your business or logo with a brief outlook of the services and prices, which is easy to read.
Make sure to distribute them at crowded places, preferably where you expect potential clients to be such as petrol pumps, wholesale markets, or farmer’s markets depending on the truck segment you deal with.
Be sure to have a facebook or other social media page for your business as this gives more exposure.
Work Out Your Expenses
Business is done to make a profit. To ensure that, calculate your fixed costs which include truck payments, insurance, permits, and variable cost like fuel, then subtract that from your rates to determine your savings.
How to Save on Fuel Expenses
The trucking business is largely dependent on fuel, and fuel is expensive. You will also need to buy a fuel tank specialized for heavy-duty vehicles. A fuel tank has to have a large capacity for your long-distance transport as well as carry different types of fuels in addition to being leak-proof. Reduce your expenses by buying a fuel tank for sale.
For further reduction in expenses, you have to aim to buy the cheapest base rather than the pump. Otherwise, you will lose a large amount of money. This is because truckers have to pay a tax based on the fuel used as they drive interstates not where they bought the fuel.
Manage a Good Cash Flow
From fuel expenses to driver wages, you need to have a regular cash flow to pay all dues in the trucking business. This can be a huge problem in the initial days of business because shippers often give money up to 45 days later.
Thus, ensure that you have cash in hand to avoid this situation or take advantage of a freight bill factoring, which pays a percentage of the load on the day of delivery so you can pay your bills and not wait until the customer pays.
An Efficient Back Office is Important
You will need to do a lot of paperwork, billing, and payment collections once your business starts. This requires you to have an efficient back office. You or a partner can handle it alone with a laptop, internet, and printer.
Alternative options include outsourcing or taking factoring company services. However, be sure to entrust a reliable and capable person with this important work; a wrong move could make your business spiral downhill.
All businesses require hard work, patience, and dogged determination. Failure is inevitable, especially in the early days of work. Proper planning, communication with your drivers, and maintaining proper teamwork is key to running a successful business. Make sure your drivers get adequate wages, rest, and respect so that they can provide the best quality services.
Remember that you need downtime as well. And most importantly, strive to improve by using your customer feedback. Suggestions and expert advice are all useful for improving your businesses. Stay strong, good luck!