A freight trucking business can take a variety of forms. You can specialize in large fleet logistics, or transport vehicles and move single loads for consumers and businesses. Secure the proper permits and insurance certificates before you open, no matter what kind of trucking operations you offer. State and federal authorities regulate the trucking industry, but there is always a demand for licensed, qualified trucking services.
Form a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) to protect your personal finances and to set up the boundaries of your business. You will need to incorporate your business plans and operational guidelines in the paperwork, which can further help define your direction.
Increase your credibility and prepare for interstate work by applying for Interstate Operating Authority permission through the Office of Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Register for intrastate permission with your state Department of Transportation (DOT).
Make arrangements to obtain the required level of insurance for the various types of materials you will be hauling. High-risk loads, such as explosives and other hazardous materials require a higher level of coverage. FM Global offers insurance for any type of cargo as well as risk management and loss prevention consulting (see Resources below).
Get a USDOT number from the U.S. Department of Transportation for each of your vehicles. This number must be posted in the truck and available for inspection. All commercial motor vehicles must display this number.
Develop a plan for bidding on contracts. Take into consideration your time and the price of fuel. Newcomers to the industry may want to underbid the competition to build a stream of referrals. Build a reputation before raising prices.
Register with a website that acts as a third-party broker service. Individuals and businesses that need freight hauled post their requirements and transporters may bid on the job. Many sites sell their services on a commission basis while others are fee-based. Sites such as eFreight Lines utilizes experienced logistics professionals to match clients with the company best suited to serve their clients. They operate on negotiated fee rates with carriers (see Resources below).
Post your availability on sites such as Truck Buzz to allow customers to bid on your open truck space (see Resources below). This can be especially useful for return trips. Whenever possible, find a load to haul in both directions.
Build a business by starting out as an owner/operator with your own truck. As the business grows, purchase additional trucks and hire drivers or sub-contract to other independent truckers who are always looking to pick up additional loads.
Beware of hauling brokers that don't let you contact the customer until the deal is sealed. While many are reputable, you need to guard your business interests and make sure they don't make promises on your behalf that you can't honor.