Starting a Van Transportation Business

by Pat Fontana; Updated September 26, 2017

Clients

When starting a van transportation business, you will first need to determine who your clients will be, whether children, the elderly or disabled, or another type of client. There is a demand for transportation services for children, the elderly and the disabled, either as a subcontractor to a larger company or as an independent business. Consider which group you’d prefer and where the greater need is in your community. If the population of your local area is primarily older adults and there are a considerable number of senior housing facilities or senior resource centers in your area, you should focus on providing services for the elderly and the disabled. Before you begin planning your van transportation business, you will need to determine which licenses are required by your local and state governments. You will also need liability insurance for your vehicles and passengers. Check with your insurance agent to determine the state and local requirements for insurance minimums.

Vans and Drivers

You will need to purchase vans and hire drivers for your van transportation business. Work with a reputable dealer to secure vans that are in good condition, even if they are used, and that meet state and local safety requirements. You will probably also need at least one van that is wheelchair-accessible, depending on the type of clients you will be transporting. Screen your new hires by conducting background checks into their criminal histories as well as their driving records. Most transportation providers require a clean driving record with no felony convictions and no more than two or three misdemeanors in the previous three to five years. Develop a training program for your new drivers, and prepare a safety manual for them that addresses situations they may encounter while transporting clients. In your safety manual, stress the importance of securing all passengers with seat belts or wheelchair tie-downs before moving the vehicle. Also cover procedures for emergency situations, such as falls or heart attacks, in your safety manual.

Business Planning

For the business planning aspect of your van transportation business, work with a small-business counselor to write your business plan and marketing plan, and to determine if you are eligible to be certified as an MWBE (Minority/Woman Owned Business Enterprise) or a DBE (Disadvantaged Business Enterprise). You may be able to secure contracts as a subcontractor to larger firms, especially if you are a certified MWBE or DBE, as many larger firms have requirements to meet in regard to using disadvantaged or minority/women-owned businesses. Promote your van transportation business through day cares or senior centers, depending on the type of clients you will be transporting. Add your name to the list of firms requesting requests for proposals (RFPs) issued by local or state government entities. You can find the information regarding government entity RFPs on the governments' websites, generally through the purchasing departments.

About the Author

Pat Fontana began her career in 1981. Her extensive experience includes work in small business, entrepreneurship, marketing communications, adult education and training. She has written for Entrepreneur, Atlantic Publishing and other clients. Fontana earned a Master's degree in English with a concentration in Technical and Professional Communications from East Carolina University.