At this point, it is no secret to anyone that the United States is currently experiencing an economic boom. Employment figures continue to be exceptional, consumer confidence is higher than it’s been in years, and as a result freight volumes are on pace to be the highest they have been in a decade. Persistent driver shortages, long a concern of the transportation industry, persist even now, and when taken with all the other market conditions have created a sort of perfect storm. Trucking businesses that have the knowledge and discipline to take advantage of the current market are in a position to reap substantial growth and profits for the foreseeable future. Here are some tips to help your company be one of those.
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
Trucking, at its core, is about driving goods from point A to point B. However, as most truckers quickly find out, how you get from point A to point B can make all the difference. Trip planning is essential to efficient driving, but since it can take a lot of work some truckers don’t do it. Things like weather conditions, road construction, gas prices, geography, and parking availability can make a big difference in your costs and how many miles you can cover in a day. Carefully planning in order to maximize your efficiency will pay dividends in the long run.
Even before you set out to get a load, taking the time to understand the market can save you money and time. If all you do is look at the rate, you can be missing out on a lot of important information that can help your business. Backhauls, for example, can really affect your profitability. Loads into some parts of the country pay a lot, only to have few backhauls or poor rates back out. Studying the market landscape to figure out potential pitfalls will help you make the most of your hours of service.
IT’S WHO YOU KNOW
Having a great working relationship with a roster of reliable brokers and shippers can translate directly into a bigger bottom line for your company. The trucking business is a business very dependent on relationships. Working to purposely build great relationships with your customers means that you will be at the top of their list whenever they have freight they need hauled.
Relationships are not just important to the success of your business, this applies to your customer’s business as well. Over half of all new carriers are out of business in less than a year. What that means for many brokers and shippers is that they will only see a carrier once and then never again. If you can build relationships with a group of your best brokers and shippers, you can go a long way to building a solid foundation to grow with.
The easiest way to build relationships with the people who will enable your business’ success is to consistently overdeliver on their expectations. The best way to develop repeat business with your best customers is to go above and beyond every time you haul for them. Some truckers only compete on price, thinking that the best way to stay loaded is to be the cheapest option. But veteran brokers and shippers will tell you that being dependable and keeping your word is much more important than being the cheapest option. Consistently successful owner operators are the ones who give their customers as many reasons as possible to hire them again. Having an extraordinary customer service focus will put your company in the position to be able to pick and choose the business you want.
NEVER FORGET THE BASICS
Some truckers mistakenly believe that in a hot freight market they will be making good money regardless of the actions they take. Unfortunately, a booming economy can ruin your business almost as quickly as a stagnant one. For example, a booming economy usually translates into higher fuel prices, which can quickly eat up your profits. Even if you don’t go broke during a hot freight market, running your business in an undisciplined manner can come back to bite you when the market inevitably cools. That is why it is important to keep strong on the fundamentals of your business. Things like trip planning, gas, and parking are just as important to your success when you are tripping over good paying loads as when you aren’t.