Running a business of your own is basically part of the American dream. There’s nothing more exciting than the thought of being your own boss and being able to make a lot of money. You’d like to run your own business, but you aren’t sure what kind you’d like own. You don’t want to sell things to other people, and you don’t want to go into the food or service industry. You’ve considered turn-key operations where the money makes itself, but you think you’d want something that’s more hands on.
If you want to try something different, running a trucking business could be the new venture you’re looking for.
A profitable industry
It’s been known that the ability to drive a fleet vehicle is a coveted job skill. Being able to drive a big rig can make you money, but owning a company that sends out the rigs is even more profitable.
If you’re looking for something that’s profitable, the trucking industry could be what you need.
It’s estimated that the industry itself generates around $650 billion in revenue every year, and that number is only expected to grow.
There are over 11 million registered large trucks in the country, so you won’t have an issue finding the equipment you need to get started.
There’s money to be made in the industry, but only if you’re a good fit for the job.
What to consider before running a trucking business
Trucking is a growing and popular industry, but that doesn’t mean that just anyone can succeed in it.
Almost any budding entrepreneur thinks that they would be perfect for it, but a lot goes into being able to manage a fleet.
Aside from having a good business sense you need to have management skills, the ability to problem solve, and the ability to analyze data.
You’re going to be wearing a lot of hats when you’re running your business, and you need to be prepared to handle the workload.
If you want your business to be successful, there are a few things you need to do.
Estimate your costs accurately
Starting a trucking business isn’t as simple as buying a few fleet vehicles and getting some drivers.
Running a trucking business costs a lot of money that goes beyond the price of the trucks and the employee’s salaries.
Maintenance can cost a significant amount of money. Trucks need to be examined frequently to make sure that they’re running well.
Some companies take maintenance so seriously that they’ll have a mechanic look at each truck when it comes back from a delivery.
There’s also the cost of employee benefits and insurance. Both vehicles and employees need to be insured for a variety of things.
On top of this, there’s rental costs for your lot and business, and other costs are bound to pop up along the way.
Talk to a financial adviser so you can determine what you’ll need money wise to start your business.
This is important because you’ll need to…
Get a good loan
When you’re discussing your budget with your financial adviser, make sure to talk about the loan amount they think is best for you.
Since you’re getting a loan, it’s also important to make sure that you look like a great potential investment to your lender.
Take some time to bring up your credit score before you apply. Also, consider asking someone with stellar credit to co-sign your loan if you’re worried about your score.
Consider subcontracting truck drivers
Now that you’ve spent some time considering finances, you may be wondering how you can afford to pay your employees.
If you want to save money on operating costs and still have good drivers, you may want to consider using subcontracted truck drivers.
These truck drivers are hired per contract for specific jobs, they’ll only work when you need them to.
This can be the ideal set up for people that are interested in running a trucking business but want to start their company with less capital.
Data and software are your best friends
When people think about running a trucking business they usually don’t think about software. But the right kind of software and data collection methods can ensure that you’re running your business in the best way possible.
The right kind of software can make managing finances a breeze. You’ll have one place where you can keep all of your paid and outstanding invoices, employee payment information, account balances, and more.
Collecting data from trips is equally important.
Find out how often drivers are stopping to fill up, and how much fuel costs them in each state. See which routes are the most efficient and which ones seem to take more time.
Having all of this data on hand could help you find more efficient routes for your drivers or could help save you money on fuel.
Perform maintenance frequently
Remember how we mentioned that some companies will perform routine maintenance on every truck after it gets back from a delivery?
That may seem like too much, but it helps ensure that all fleet vehicles are in top running shape.
When you’re running a trucking business, it’s important to keep in mind how much wear and tear can occur on a running big rig.
Some of these truck drivers are running their vehicles non-stop for hours at a time while they travel across the country. Even trucking businesses that stay local can put some serious miles on their rigs.
If certain issues go unnoticed for too long, your rigs can get seriously damaged.
A loose belt or low oil may go unnoticed in a regular car for a few weeks or even months depending on how much it’s driven. All it takes is one long trip for damage to become apparent in a big rig.
Aside from having professionals routinely handle truck upkeep, it can be helpful to train your truck drivers in simple maintenance. Their dashboard can only tell them so much about the state of their vehicle.
Always put safety first
Overall, it’s important to make sure that your trucking company and your drivers are compliant with all safety standards set by the American Trucking Association and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association.
There are rules about hauling certain kinds of materials, equipment usage, and nearly every aspect of trucking you can think of.
The trucking industry on average produces 5,360 fatalities and 142,000 injuries each year. When you’re running a trucking business safety should be your number one priority above all else.
Highway and driver safety clearly is a priority. Your truck drivers need to observe safe driving practices when they’re on the road. Drivers that constantly take shortcuts, speed, or drive aggressively shouldn’t be a part of your company.
Driver safety is only a small part of the issue. There are other hazards associated with trucking people can forget about.
Unsafe loading and unloading practices have the potential to harm employees or damage products. Drivers should also be thoroughly trained on hauling hazardous materials if you choose to go into that industry niche.
Find good clients
The key to running a trucking business is to have a lot of clients you can rely on.
Some owners lull themselves into a state of false security once they land their first big contract. But it’s important to remember that the 6 or 7 figure contract you have today may not be there tomorrow.
Even if you have an excellent client you think will be with you for decades, you still need a solid business development plan to ensure that you’re bringing in new work.
If you can’t devote yourself to finding new clients you need to hire someone that can handle sales. Look for someone that specializes in the trucking industry and may already have some connections.
Bring on good talent
Running a trucking business will be hard if your drivers have a reputation for being late or rude to clients.
Your truckers are going to represent your business on each trip, and you want to make sure you hire people that are up for the task.
There’s nothing wrong with hiring people that are new to the industry, but you may want a seasoned vet or two on your team in the beginning.
They’ll know the ins and outs of the industry, and they could even serve as a mentor for newer drivers.
Don’t risk bringing on someone with a bad driving history. They may have their CDL, but you should look into their personal background.
If they have speeding tickets, road rage incidents, or any charges involving drugs or alcohol, they probably won’t be good for your business.
As you can see, running a trucking business requires a lot of work. You’ll need a good mix of reliable employees, the right equipment, and a mind for business if you want to succeed.
Do any seasoned trucking business owners have advice for people new to the industry? Tell us about it in our comments section!
If you have questions about trucking services, contact us so we can answer them.