A trucking business can serve a variety of industries, from auto transporting and freight delivery to truck leasing or construction subcontracting. You can specialize in large fleet logistics or move single loads for consumers and businesses. No matter what kind of trucking company you engage in, you must secure the proper permits and insurance certificates before you open. State and federal authorities heavily regulate the trucking industry, and there is always a demand for licensed, qualified trucking services.
Incorporate your business by forming a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) to protect your personal finances and increase your credibility. Use a website such as Incfile.com to get all the paperwork and guidelines without having to pay high attorney fees.
Apply for Interstate Operating Authority permission through the Office of Motor Carrier Safety Administration to be able to run your trucks in other states. Register for intrastate permission with your state Department of Transportation (DOT). Get a USDOT number from the U.S. Department of Transportation for each of your vehicles. All commercial motor vehicles must display this number.
Obtain insurance for your trucks and 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. Use an insurance carrier that serves the trucking industry to get the best advice on the levels of insurance you need to carry. Companies such as Northland Insurance, which operates the website truckinsurance.com, can put you in touch with local agents.
Invest in trucking software that can help keep your business organized, track mileage, overhead and costs, billing, routing and other logistics information. Look for an application that can be accessed on the web that allows your drivers to log in and send reports. Investigate providers such as Prophesy or Axon that exclusively develop trucking software.
Purchase or lease enough inventory to cover the contracts that you've got in hand. Weigh the pros and cons of purchasing trucks or leasing them. The entire lease costs can be taken off in your taxes, while you must depreciate purchased vehicles. Eventually, you will own your trucks if you buy them, but they may be obsolete by the time they are fully depreciated. You must provide maintenance on leased and purchased trucks.
Set up an agreement with a leasing company to cover contracts as they emerge. Even if you own a fleet of trucks, there may be times when you need more vehicles. By being pre-approved for leasing options, you can move on new contracts in quick order.
Hire experienced drivers with up-to-date commercial drivers licenses (CDL). Make arrangements with a local lab to send drivers for drug tests that you must file with the state DOT. In addition to a full-time staff that you can keep busy, line up a trustworthy trucking temp agency to handle additional work as it arises. Companies such as Minute Men screen drivers and keep a steady crew on hand for fast service.
Consider hiring independent truckers who own their own rigs when you get additional contracts.
Watch fuel prices closely and leave room in your contracts to make adjustments for changes in prices that can vary from week to week and from state to state.
- Consider hiring independent truckers who own their own rigs when you get additional contracts.
- Watch fuel prices closely and leave room in your contracts to make adjustments for changes in prices that can vary from week to week and from state to state.
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."