Running a successful trucking company can be quite challenging. But taking the steps in the right direction, you will get where you need to go. Although you might be familiar with the main things that will help you get off on the right foot, such as your location and how you buy your trucks, there are other essential elements you have to consider in order to become an effective and successful trucking service provider you’ve always wanted to be.
Learn the industry
First of all, you have to understand the business and what you are getting yourself into.
Most people who want to get into the trucking industry don’t make the effort to find out as much as they can about it. When they finally do get to know what they want to do, they have no idea what type of trucking company they’re going to have. So one of the most important strategies is studying the business. Consult with people in the industry, experts, or even your friends who served the trucking industry. People like accountants, safety specialists, dispatchers, or brokers. There are also seminars that offer information on how to market your company so that you can easily attract customers. You can obtain effective tips on how to build a successful trucking company through these types of seminars.
Of course, without any experience, it won’t be a high-paying job. But look at it as an investment in your future success. The more you learn, the easier it will be.
Choose your business model
The first important decision you have to make is deciding the model of your trucking business. Whether you want it to be owner-operator based or you will have your own trucks? Or you are considering a combination of both? What type of trucks do you want- dry vans , reefers, cargo vans, flatbed, hazmat certified etc. ? Each model has its own pluses and minuses. So, depending on your situation, you have to find what fits you best.
It’s easier to find and hire company drivers than owner-operators. In order to hire owner-operators, you have to have some kind of reputation in the business in order to attract them. But it requires significant capital for investment on trucks and trailers for company drivers.
Another thing you should consider is what type of cargo should you haul? Make a research and choose which one will meet your expectations. For example, Dry vans require the least skilled drivers, however it also pays the lowest. While flatbed freight pays the most, it also requires the most experienced drivers. And for a new company it might be really challenging for you to find qualified drivers. From our experience reefer and hazmat freights are somewhat in the golden middle.
Have a Retention Strategy
The retention strategy for truck drivers is a process that needs to be taken seriously. If you’re a trucking company owner or carrier then you know that the retention of owner-operators is one of the most difficult situations to deal with. It takes a lot more than just giving them a competitive wage and making sure they have access to their load information in real-time. You need to meet and even exceed your fleet’s needs. You will find more details, tips, and steps in our blog post dedicated to Retention strategy for truck drivers: How to keep your fleet safe longer.
Safety is first!
What’s interesting is that many business owners overlook the importance of safety. Sometimes until it’s just too late. Trucking companies need to be efficient and frugal, but they never cut corners on safety. Depending on their size and needs, a company’s safety program may include regular training, in-house safety audits, a safety director, or an entire safety department. A safety-minded company is far more likely to last in the trucking industry. Every trucking company has its own DOT score that reflects every single violation. All drivers randomly get inspected on the road. Once inspected, each inspection is given a score which reflects the company’s overall DOT rating. Thus, it’s very easy to ruin your safety score. The best advice is from the first day of your operations to pay intense attention to your safety compliance. As a business owner, it’s not your job to deal with routine operational tasks, leave it to professionals to handle it for you. As a company with an excellent safety score, Matrix guarantees you that Safety Compliance Solutions are the professionals you need! Contact them at 773-820-9200 or email@example.com. Your role is to lead, direct, and set up and achieve strategic goals, let them do the rest!
Teamwork is multi-tiered when it comes to trucking. There’s the obvious team of driver, dispatch, maintenance department and safety, wherein teamwork can make everyone’s life more financially rewarding and less stressful, working to provide the best logistics service to the company’s customers. But don’t forget the other team members, the major reason you’re out there doing what you do: your family. Work with your spouse to develop your ‘Must Be At Home’ list and set family goals, which should be compatible with your trucking goals.
Hire Competent Employees
You can’t operate a trucking company completely by yourself … at least not for very long. To properly maintain and grow your business, you’re going to eventually need someone to answer the phones, book jobs and maintain your business records. You can certainly outsource some of these tasks, perhaps via a legal, financial or tax advisor, but you’ll ultimately need good employees to help your business grow. The people you choose to work with can be as critical to the success of your business as you are. For example, if you’re hiring a law firm, you’ll want to make sure that company understands how your business operates.
A good advice is to take your time and hire slowly. Hold plenty of interviews, conduct thorough background checks, and hire only the right people to run your company. Employee turnover can kill a company, while employee retention can have your business running smoothly for years.
Another thing you’ll need to concentrate on is your finance and accounting department. Your trucks will have to be paid for and you have to ensure that all your expenses and bills are paid on time as well. This particular department is the most critical, and it can make or break your trucking business. It’s also the most difficult to run efficiently and effectively, especially without the right people with valuable accounting experience. Hire the best tax accountants to help you look for ways to control expenses (to maximize your profits!).
In order to make a profit in your trucking business, you’ll need to have customers. You have many choices as to how you can market your firm, but to ensure success, you certainly have to gain as many customers as possible. Your marketing department will be tasked to execute some online and offline marketing strategies to reach a wide range of customers. Some of these strategies can include using billboards, radio ads, and television commercials, as well as running a website and taking advantage of social media sites.
Every carrier needs insurance to protect his/her trucking business from unexpected financial burdens. This should cover risks such as damages to your vehicles and injuries caused by road accidents. Read more about how to choose the best trucking insurance.
Choose the right tools
For running a successful trucking business, you must have a customized software that quickly displays all critical business information on the screen, anytime you need it.
You should be able to choose what specific information you want automatically displayed whenever this software is accessed: outstanding orders/ credit lines, accounts receivable/payable, owner/operator liability, net profits and so on.
Different software may be needed for processing department specific entries. The contractors will need a software that allows them to enter the load specifics while the drivers will need a different software to log in their timings, cargo and miles. KeepTruckin is one great tool for this option! Not only do their ELD’s help you avoid costly violations, but modern ELDs are also packed with fleet management features like vehicle diagnostics, automated IFTA calculation, idle time tracking, and advanced reporting that simplify operations. Remember the quote – “You can’t expect to overcome today’s challenges with yesterday’s tools and expect to be in business tomorrow!”
Get an Authority
Having your own carrier authority means you have the government’s permission to get paid for hauling freight as your own trucking company. Operating Authority is issued through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in the form of a Motor Carrier (MC) number.
There are different types of authority depending on what kind of cargo is being carried, and some carriers will need multiple authorities to cover multiple types of cargo. Some states require Intrastate Authority if you’re moving loads within a given state. Make sure you apply for the authority or authorities relevant to your business.
You might need a USDOT number in case you decide your company will carry Hazardous Materials by truck. Learn more about USDOT and if you will need it.