Trucking is a vital industry that is also very competitive. Many truckers trying to get started with a fleet of their own don’t understand what it takes to manage a business. If you want to make fleet management a career, here are some things you need to consider.
Financing Your Fleet
Buying takes a good down payment and excellent credit. There are various options for owner-operator financing that can help you buy at least one or two vehicles to start with. As long as you can make the payments, you’re in business. Leasing is more complicated. You may pay a flat fee for use of the equipment or sign up for a lease-to-own option, but the payments, and any deposits, are usually cheaper than buying.
Which you choose to do depends on your credit and your business plan. Before making the decision, consult an accountant with experience in the trucking industry. At the same time, you’ve got to cover your investment. Do the same diligence in coming up with the right insurance provider, and absolutely find a good truck accident attorney you can turn to in emergencies.
There’s been a shortage of drivers for a few years now, so it’s important that you have strategies for retaining drivers and finding new ones. Find ways to recognize and reward good drivers. Offer referral bonuses to those who can recommend qualified new drivers. Above all, communicate well and make sure your drivers have the information they need. If you can establish a reputation as a good company to work for, drivers will be seeking you out.
Start Lining Up Customers
You may want to start by checking the load boards. However, most of these jobs go to the low bidder. Some trucking companies are able to run profitably this way, but you’ll want to actively seek out more lucrative repeat clients for the long term. Think about marketing strategies and budgets. Don’t forget about cultivating your company brand and word-of-mouth. Advertising. Much of this today is online, so get your own professional website and social media profiles to generate conversation.
Running any company successfully requires smooth operations in the back office. The processes taking place will depend on the size of your company and number of employees. Make sure you have adequate office equipment, software, and supplies to get tasks done efficiently. Arrange the floorplan so that there’s smooth workflows with minimal movement involved. Always be thinking of ways to reduce errors. Develop smooth communications and procedures, and document everything. Be prepared to offer employee training if it will help staff to do their jobs better.
If you want to make the transition from driver to owner-operator, you’ve got to start thinking like a business manager. Focus on maximizing productivity and lowering waste in every aspect of the business, both in the back office and on the road. If you can do this and keep employees and clients satisfied at the same time, you’re on your way to success.
Dixie Somers is a freelance writer and blogger for business, home, and family niches. Dixie lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and is the proud mother of three beautiful girls and wife to a wonderful husband.