Providing water truck services in California covers a lot of ground. Firefighters need water truck deliveries especially when fighting fires without access to water. Homes with new pools often need a water truck company to fill the pool on the first go-round. Construction sites and road builders need water trucks to keep the dirt down while building. Whatever market you choose to serve with your water truck business, there are important steps to starting a water truck company in California that cannot be overlooked.
Obtain the necessary commercial license for operating a water truck, if needed. Depending upon the size of the truck, there may be an additional classification required on the California driver's license. Verify this information through the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
Secure financing for your business. This may require nothing more than a down payment for a purchase or lease of a water truck. If you have the funds available already, skip this step.
Develop a marketing and business plan that summarizes your business position, outlines goals and objectives, profiles the competition, and develops tactics and strategy for implementation. Define the areas you will specialize in -- firefighting, construction, the motion picture industry, for example -- or the activities you will concentrate on, such as servicing campgrounds or supplying residents with pool water.
Purchase or rent a commercial water truck.
Obtain appropriate commercial automotive insurance. Ensure liability coverages meet the state's minimum. Let the insurance agent know the type of business you plan to operate for full protection and coverage.
Register your business with the local government. Obtain a business license at the local city or county offices, establish a doing business as or DBA listing, pay the appropriate fees and list the DBA notice with a newspaper of general circulation as per the local government's requirements.
Obtain state and federal tax identification numbers. Use your Social Security number if you don't plan on hiring any employees.
Contact the California Department of Transportation office of truck services to ascertain what other documentation, if any, is required for the water truck. This only applies to oversized and overweight trucks.
Establish your marketing program by advertising with appropriate local publications. Cold-call potential customers.
Get on the approved list for water tender services to firefighters for the firefighting season. California's firefighting season begins with summer and usually ends with the first rains of the fall season. To supply water services, you must be pre-approved and qualified as a vendor and your truck must meet inspection requirements. A variety of firefighting organizations exist in California at the federal, state and local levels. Go online to the Cal-Fire and U.S. Forest Services websites to learn how to qualify for the contractor emergency equipment hire programs.
Contact private area campgrounds to supply water for out-of-the-way locations. If supplying drinking water, ensure the truck used is rated for potable water under California Safety and Health rules.
Establish a year's worth of funding for your business to give it a chance to get off the ground. Most businesses take approximately a year of full-time operation before they begin to show a profit. Include this in your budgeting and business plan.
Ensure all licenses and insurance are in place to protect your business operations.