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A Cheat Sheet for Starting a Trucking Business

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There’s never been a better time to start your own trucking business. Two-thirds of America’s goods are shipped by truck, and truck fleets get 80 percent of the nation’s overall freight transport revenue. The ongoing shortage of drivers combined with a steady increase in freight demand means higher rates, so this is a great time to get started building your fleet.

Create your business plan

Your business plan will be essential to getting a license and finding financing to start your fleet. There’s a certain minimum amount of information your business plan has to include, but the US Small Business Administration offers a number of templates that can help you put together a good business plan.

Just remember that the more details you include, the more you limit yourself. At the same time, with too few details, you’re less likely to get funding. At the least, you need to include a list of your key activities, resources, and partnerships along with the customer segment you hope to reach and the cost structure you intend to follow.

Fulfill all legal requirements

In order to get your license and get started, you’ll need to meet the requirements set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. This means getting a DOT number and ensuring that all your drivers meet the medical and licensure requirements.

You’ll also need to stay in compliance with the Motor Carrier Safety Planner. Since 2017, most trucking companies are required to install a device that electronically logs truck activity to prove this compliance. You must use an FMCSA-registered device, but this is an excellent fleet management tool that also allows you to also keep track of what your drivers are doing in real-time.

Acquire your assets

You have to keep within your budget, of course, but always remember that the better quality trucks you buy, the less you’ll have to spend on repairs and maintenance. Making an initial investment here may be well worth it over the next couple of years as you work to turn a profit.

Your other important asset is your drivers, and this is one of the toughest positions to fill. The turnover rate is still very high in this industry, despite some improvements in 2019. Be sure to carefully screen your drivers, and then focus on finding ways to keep them happy and fulfilled rather than just making it all about money.

Build your client base

In the beginning, you may not have a lot of choices about who to take on as a client, but don’t be afraid to let a client go as you expand and have more opportunities. A single client should never be accounted for more than about 20 percent of your total revenue, and you should always be free to make a change when it is financially feasible to do so.

A strong social media presence and excellent customer service will help you win and retain paying customers. Your customer service call center solution should always include WFO software so you have fast access to important insights into quality performance and can find ways to increase productivity and enhance customer satisfaction.

Ensure everything

Your assets are your life, and without insurance, you put yourself at risk of a sudden and unexpected financial catastrophe. A catastrophe of this sort can easily bankrupt you and destroy your new business.

Of course, the vehicles themselves need insurance as do your drivers, but you also want insurance against third-party damage or injury and lawsuit. Don’t forget insurance for your office and key equipment you might keep stored there. You can learn more about staying in compliance at the FMCSA’s insurance requirements page.