10 Steps to Starting a Trucking Company Successfully
Today, trucking affects upwards of 6 percent of all businesses which is why starting a trucking company could be a successful idea.
It is one of the most consistent and reliable forms of logistics, so if you’d like to start a new business, trucking is an excellent idea. It’s an entrepreneur’s dream to start such a company, but you need to learn the ins and outs of the trucking industry.
Follow the steps below to make sure you’re starting a trucking company the right way.
What You Should Know About Starting a Trucking Company
So what goes into starting a trucking company? There are a few core steps that you should keep in mind.
Start with the following:
1. Determine What Kind of Trucking Business You Want to Operate
First things first, you need to get an idea about what sort of trucking business best suits you. There are several different business models, including private fleets, owner-operators, intermodal, and less than truckload carriers.
Each has its circumstances and considerations that you should bear in mind, and it all depends on what kind of work life you want to live.
2. Start Drawing Up a Business Plan
A business plan is an essential part of any company that you are trying to set up. You should work to put your ideas in motion, starting with things like value propositions, key resources and what kind of customer base you are going after.
Map out a plan for how you will operate and what kind of timetable you are working with to open your doors. Creating a business plan requires plenty of research and putting your head together with accountants, so take your time and be thorough.
As part of the business plan, you will also need to figure out what kind of startup costs come with the territory you want to cover. Take inventory of your credit score and financial life so that you know what resources you are working with. This may include debt financing and other issues that come into play.
3. Establish a Title and Entity When You’re Starting a Trucking Company
You need to create a title and entity so that your trucking company becomes official.
If you are going to operate as a company, you should file for a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or another type of business entity that suits you. This way, you won’t be personally on the hook for any sorts of litigation that might come about through the course of doing business.
It creates a barrier of separation between your personal income and assets and those held by your business. You need to file the paperwork with the state you incorporated in and keep yourself abreast of the current laws and tax implications that come with the state.
Do your best to come up with a name for your entity that best describes you, and look it up in advance to see if it is taken. You might need to file a “Doing Business As” (DBA) if you are going to use a separate name.
Consulting the help of a business attorney can be one of the best steps you take upfront to make sure that all of these details are ironed out in advance.
4. Get Whatever Permits and Licenses You Need
It’s also important that you take the time to arrange for some permits and licenses that will help you with starting a trucking company.
For starters, make sure that you get your commercial driver’s license (CDL) in your state, and make sure that any other truckers that you staff have a valid and legal license as well.
Your trucks need to be legally registered, and your business needs to file paperwork to receive a unique code and number from the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) and International Fuel Tax Agreement stickers.
Check with your county and your state to be sure that you are also filing for permits and zoning changes that satisfy those laws as well. The turnaround time for some of these permits and registrations might take a while, so it is crucial that you start as early as possible.
5. Seek Financing to Get Your Trucking Business Off the Ground
Perhaps most importantly, you need to figure out how you are going to fund your new trucking business.
Take the time to get small business loan financing that can help you get your trucking company off the ground. When you apply for one of these loans you can get the financing that lets you open your doors and purchase vehicles and equipment.
Investing in a small business trucking loan will allow you to buy whatever trucking garage you need as well, and will put you in a position to open your company, so you can become profitable sooner than later.
6. Start Shopping For Trucks, Equipment, and Supplies
Do your due diligence to start shopping for the best truck as well.
A big haul truck can cost you more than $100,000, so you should take the time to get it inspected and test drive it a few times before making decisions. Look into the right model and be sure that you find the vehicle that will help you to achieve whatever kinds of goals you’re setting.
Choose a truck that is either brand new or fairly new so that you can get the most mileage out of it. If you are purchasing a used truck you should also look into the prior maintenance records so you know you are buying one that is still viable.
Consider the total cost of ownership of any truck and make sure that you also invest in the best insurance plan you can find for it.
Look into equipment that will also help you to store and clean these trucks on a regular basis, in addition to an office space to conduct business.
7. Figure Out Your Staffing Needs Prior to Starting a Trucking Company
It’s important that you set up a staffing strategy for your trucking company. If you are making hires, set up criteria for anyone that you’re going to bring on board, and go through several rounds of interviews.
Consult your business plan and do your best to start as small as possible. Keeping your overhead costs low will allow you to become profitable and expand your business little by little, rather than finding yourself in over your head.
8. Address Your Truck Maintenance and Fuel Costs
No matter what kind of truck company you run, ongoing maintenance will be a critical piece of the puzzle. These trucks burn a lot of gas, especially when driven across several hundred miles, and quality maintenance will help you to keep your trucks on the road.
You can look into a fleet management system that lets you keep track of fuel costs, vehicle maintenance and so much more. Make certain that you have a go-to company to address whatever kinds of repair needs you have.
This means everything from getting your oil changed and fixing your transmission to making certain that you are keeping your tires changed and axles aligned. The better you care for your semi-trucks, the better and more sustainable your trucking business will be.
9. Set Up the Marketing Plans For Your Trucking Company
Do everything that you can to address your marketing plans for your trucking company.
When you start putting the word out about your business it will be easier for you to pick up loads. You will have the chance to grow some solid clients that will turn into repeat business that keeps you up and running.
10. Keep Continuing Your Education and Growing Your Client Base
Finally, it is crucial that you stay ahead of the game when it comes to knowing your business. Continuing education should always be on the table, in addition to picking up new and different certifications.
You and your truck drivers should strive to keep as clean a record as possible, and you should go to some networking events that will allow you to continuously improve the way you do business.
Get Your Trucking Business Off the Ground
As you can see, starting a trucking company is serious business and you have a lot to gain. The steps above will help you get your trucking business off the ground and you’ll be better able to turn a profit sooner than later.
Starting a trucking company is big business, so these 10 steps will make sure that you are living your entrepreneurial dreams by getting your trucking company up and running.
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