The trucking industry is responsible for moving most of America’s overland freight, and with a market size worth $732.3 billion in 2020, trucking is vital to the success of the U.S. economy. With almost every good in the country having been transported by truck at some part of its journey, the trucking industry is the engine and lifeblood of the country. Without this continual network of transportation, the economy would come to a grinding halt. Entering this industry may seem like an attractive and lucrative proposition.
Embarking on a successful trucking business can open the road to a whole host of opportunities and rewards. From financial stability and independence to the chance to be part of a valued and in-demand industry, entering this sector of the transportation industry can meet the requirements of any aspiring entrepreneur. In this article, we will explore some practical strategies to help you start your own successful trucking business.
Select Your Target Market
One of the key steps to running a successful trucking company is in selecting your target market. Due to the competitive nature of the industry, it pays to focus on areas that other larger haulage companies are not covering. By studying the market to find a niche area where you will not need to compete with larger operators, you can begin establishing a name for yourself, thereby becoming a profitable business.
Some of the most-hauled commodities in the U.S. are food and beverages, chemicals, furniture, building materials, and consumer products such as electronic devices. To select your target market, consider hauling goods or products that will offer you year-round business, are plentiful in supply, and are relatively recession-proof.
It is helpful to ask yourself what industries, products, or businesses you are most interested in and whether they are in your chosen locations. As their trucking company, how can you meet their needs better than other operators in a way that benefits their business?
Legal and Safety Considerations
To start and sustain a successful trucking business, it is essential to understand and adhere to the various legal and safety considerations involved. Listed below are some of the legal requirements to consider to help you get your business up and running:
- Insurance cover: This includes such matters as cargo insurance, workers’ compensation insurance, and commercial auto insurance, which will cover your trucks from physical damage, accidents, and theft. It also includes general liability insurance, which will protect your business in the event of claims relating to truck accidents and bodily injury caused by your operations. It can cover legal fees and settlements if you are sued by a victim who is represented by a truck accident attorney.
- Licenses and Permits: To operate legally, all drivers will be required to obtain a commercial driver’s license. To haul cargo in the U.S., your business will also be required to apply for USDOT and Motor Carrier Authority Numbers from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). You must then register with the Unified Carrier Registration (UCR). If your trucking company operates across multiple states, you will need an International Registration Plan (IRP) license plate as well as obtain an International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) license and file quarterly fuel tax returns.
- OSHA compliance: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations ensure the safety of truck drivers throughout the country by overseeing the responsibilities of employers and the health and safety of workers. As a business owner, you will be required to comply with the standards set out by this governing body.
- DOT compliance: The Department of Transport (DOT) specifies certain regulations designed to ensure the safety and compliance of commercial motor vehicles. As well as correct driver qualification and maximum driving times, DOT compliance requires the regular inspection, maintenance, and repair of commercial vehicles to ensure they are safe for operation and requires trucking companies to implement driver drug and alcohol testing.
Non-compliance with legal requirements can result in hefty fines and penalties and may even result in the suspension or loss of your business operations. It is essential to familiarize yourself with the legal and safety framework involved in setting up a trucking business before making any major investment into your business.
Create a Business Plan
It is important to create a business plan for your trucking business before getting on the road. A well-crafted strategy can help you to identify your business values and goals, stay focused and prepare for any setbacks or challenges. The following questions can act as a guide to help you craft a solid business plan:
- Who is your target customer, and what service can you offer them?
- Who are your main competitors?
- Compared to your competitors, what are your strengths and weaknesses?
- Are you based in one or multiple locations across the country?
- What is your rate per mile?
- What vehicles and equipment do you need? Will you purchase or hire this?
Your business plan should also include an executive summary, a marketing and sales strategy as well as financial projections. Not only will this document help you keep your business on course, but it can also serve as a valuable document for investors when seeking funding.
Get the Right Tools
The successful running of your business will depend on it having the right tools. This is particularly relevant in terms of logistics and keeping your organization running smoothly. Technology is essential and can assist your business by eliminating many labor-intensive activities, thereby saving costs and helping you operate with greater efficiency and reliability.
The right software and devices can help your business with matters such as optimizing routes, trucking dispatch, fleet management, digital documentation, and delivery times. Automating the shipping and tracking of your goods with transport management software will also keep your business compliant with any necessary documentation of goods in transit and keep you updated on any delays.
Getting started within the trucking business requires a great deal of planning and forethought. However, with the right roadmap and desire, you can turn your trucking dreams into a reality. Follow the guidance in this article to help you define your trucking business’ objectives, adhere to mandated regulations and safety rules, and ultimately establish your credibility and presence within the trucking industry.
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