Just like anything worthwhile you’ve done in life, you have to put some work into growing your trucking company. Most of us are pretty good at hard work, but to be successful in your trucking business, it also requires a plan for yourself and your business. Here are a few ideas to help your trucking company operate and grow to its full potential.
GET CREATIVE TO FIND NEW CLIENTS
First things first: your company can’t grow without customers. The best way to ensure you always have a load to haul is to build a network of trusted industry sources instead of relying on one client or one broker for most of your business. Unfortunately, the only way to build your customer network is through trial and error. You need to take lots of work with a variety of customers, and then keep only the really productive and profitable customers from your original list. This method will result in a lot of mediocre loads, but through your trial and error you will have developed a core of excellent shippers and brokers that offer quality runs and good profits.
In addition, having your own shipping clients can help you command better rates. One way to do this is by looking up local manufacturers and presenting your company as the solution to their transportation needs. The trucking business revolves around relationships, so the sooner you can build quality relationships with the businesses in your area, the sooner you can build a pipeline of steady work for your company.
Of course, none of this matters if you don’t deliver what you say you will. Success can largely be attributed to a company’s commitment to providing superior customer service. These steps that are outlined can help you get customers, but only consistent excellence on your part can keep them.
A WELL RUN OFFICE MEANS WELL RUN TRUCKS
An often neglected area of the trucking business is the back-office, but a well-run back office can boost the profitability and efficiency of your fleet (even a fleet of 1). Things like routing, fuel, IFTA, as well as dispatch and planning tools can increase your bottom line without needing to increase your loads.
However, because of costs, a lot of smaller, single-truck startups aren’t able to hire dedicated back-office staff. In these cases, all of the planning and regulatory paperwork is left to the driver or their spouse. This often slows down a business’s growth because the driver is spending valuable time filling out paperwork instead of getting the next load. Mistakes on that paperwork can be devastating as well, leading to fines, delays, and even shutdowns.
Luckily, there are alternatives for trucking companies that are not able to hire dedicated staff to take care of the required regulatory paperwork. There are companies that specialize in trucking paperwork and can help. Authority Express LLC is one such company, and in addition to one-time filings and permits, they also offer an Annual Services Program that takes care of all of your annual filing requirements for a relatively inexpensive $75 a month.
LOAD BOARDS: STAYING AHEAD WITH ENOUGH WORK
Truck load boards are a must if you are finding your own loads. Even if you have a dedicated run with a good customer, you are occasionally going to need backhauls. Using more than one load board increases your ability to find the best loads at the best prices. We recommend three: internettruckstop.com, realtimefreight.com, and getloaded.com. Internettruckstop.com is the largest load board with the most loads posted daily, and has the most features; it is a must for any trucker getting their own loads. Realtimefreight.com is unique because the loads are posted by shippers and manufactures (not brokers), thus saving both them and you the broker fee.
Due to the service provided by posteverywhere.com, all other load boards are basically created equal. Posteverywhere.com allows a broker or shipper to post a load one time and get it added to hundreds of load boards. As an example, getloaded.com uses this service while internettruckstop.com does not. We recommend using getloaded.com in addition to the other two so that you have access to the most possible loads while minimizing the duplication, confusion, and expense of using multiple load boards.
Aside from this, you can also find work with the Federal Government. Federal Government Load possibilities include:
ELIMINATE CASH FLOW PROBLEMS
Most customers in the trucking business pay 30 or even up to 60 days after your services have been rendered. Carrying the costs of delivering a load for that time frame can be crippling to a company’s growth. The inability to front the costs of delivering a load can cause a trucking company to lose out on work and damage hard-won relationships with brokers or shippers. A useful and often-used solution to this problem is factoring.
A factoring company makes sure that you get paid the day you deliver your load, ensuring that you always have the cash to pick up the next load. A good freight factor will also offer a fuel card and fuel advances to allow you to keep running even before you have delivered the load.
A company that specializes in freight factoring is important for truckers just getting started. Their experience in the industry is something that can help you while getting on your feet. A typical factoring rate is 3%; do not settle for rates higher than this.
Integrity Factoring specializes in freight factoring and has a good program for truckers getting started. They have no minimum requirements that have to be met each month, and it is just a month to month contract- meaning you are not locked into any long-term commitments.
Thankfully for owner-operators, there is no secret knowledge required to grow your trucking business, just a willingness to work hard and foster business relationships that will eventually translate into steady growth. Like anything, growth takes time; but for an owner-operator willing to put in the time and effort, the possibilities are limitless.