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Founding Your Fleet: How to Start a Trucking Company

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, there are currently more than 700,000 trucking companies scattered across the country. These companies are responsible for moving more than 70 percent of America’s freight and rake in more than $700 billion every year by doing it.

But the trucking industry is always looking for more help! There’s a serious lack of truck drivers in the U.S. right now, which is making it difficult for the industry to meet the demands of those companies that need things shipped.

By learning how to start a trucking company, you can help to meet those demands—and make a lot of money in the process. But it’s important for you to take the right steps when working to get your trucking company off the ground.

Here is how to start a trucking company and set it up for long-term success.

Gain the Necessary Trucking Experience

It’s not impossible for someone who has never worked as a truck driver to start a trucking company. But it can be very difficult for someone to run a successful trucking company without having experienced life as a truck driver themselves.

Therefore, you should spend at least a few years working as a trucker prior to starting up a trucking company. You can begin your life as a trucker by:

  • Enrolling in training courses at a truck driving school in your area
  • Obtaining a Commercial Driver’s License, better known as a CDL
  • Finding a job with a truck driving company
  • Performing a variety of short-distance and long-distance truck driving tasks for the company that hires you
  • Maintaining a clean driving record throughout your stint as a trucker

By working your way through these steps, you’ll learn a whole lot about the trucking industry and all that it entails. You’ll be able to use your experiences to your advantage when you start a trucking company of your own.

Come Up With a Business Plan

Once you have some experience in the trucking industry, you can start to seriously consider jumpstarting your own trucking company. And one of the first things you’ll want to do is create a business plan for the company you want to put together.

Your business plan will lay out exactly what you want your company to look like once you get it off the ground. It can take a long time to create a business plan from start to finish, but you’ll be glad you did when you’re able to use it as a roadmap for your adventures.

Some things to think about when you’re mapping out a business plan include:

  • What do you want your trucking company to be called?
  • What kind of trucking services do you want it to provide?
  • How many trucks do you want to have in your fleet?
  • How do you want to market your trucking services to potential clients?
  • Who is going to work for your trucking company?
  • What are you going to charge for your trucking services?
  • How much money do you think your company could make in the coming years?

To answer these questions, you’ll need to do in-depth research on your local market. This will allow you to crunch the numbers and see just how profitable your trucking company could be if all goes according to your business plan.

Obtain Funding

There are a lot of startup costs associated with starting a trucking company. You’ll have to worry about paying for:

  • A commercial property where you can house your trucks
  • The trucks themselves as well as other equipment
  • Various licenses and permits
  • Truck drivers and other employees
  • Marketing

The exact cost that comes along with starting a trucking company depends on a number of factors. But more often than not, you’ll need to invest tens of thousands of dollars into your trucking company before you take on a single shipment.

If you have money saved up in the bank that you can use on behalf of your new business, great. But if you don’t, you’ll need to reach out to lenders in your area to obtain the necessary funding to get things going.

Lenders will want to see a copy of your business plan before agreeing to fund your new operation. It’s one of the big reasons why you need to spend so much time finetuning it. 

Purchase the Right Equipment

After you have funding for your trucking company secured, the real fun begins. The funding will allow you to start to buy the trucking equipment you’ll need to take orders and move freight all across the country.

You’ll obviously need at least one truck to launch your trucking company. You can purchase a brand-new truck for anywhere from $80,000 all the way up to $150,000.

But you can also purchase a used truck for your trucking company at the start. It might make more sense to go the used route to trim your startup costs as much as you can.

There are other pieces of equipment that you will want to consider buying when you start a trucking company as well. For example, you might want to invest in a forklift to make loading your trucks easier. You might also want to invest in a diesel fuel transfer tank for storing and transporting fuel.

You don’t want to blow the bank on top-of-the-line equipment right at the beginning. But you do want to supply your company with everything it’ll need to handle orders from clients.

Fulfill Legal Requirements

There are a number of legal requirements you’ll need to fulfill when you launch your own trucking company. If you fail to fulfill them, you could subject yourself and your company to heavy fines and other penalties from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Here are some of the things you’ll need to obtain for your company and your fleet:

  • U.S. Department of Transportation Number
  • Motor Carrier Number
  • International Fuel Tax Agreement stickers

Outside of getting your hands on these things, you’ll also need to outfit your trucks with electronic logging devices. They’ll help you and your drivers stay in compliance with FMCSA regulations.

Buy an Insurance Policy

While every step on this list is important to those interested in starting a trucking company, you could argue that this step is the most important one of all.

You should not, under any circumstances, start taking and fulfilling orders from customers until your trucking company has the right insurance policies in place. You could leave yourself open to legal nightmares if you choose to operate a trucking company without insurance.

There are more than 500,000 accidents involving large trucks and buses that take place in the U.S. every year. A large percentage of them result in property damage, injuries, and even death.

A good insurance policy will protect your business in the event that one of your trucks is ever involved in an accident. You won’t have to worry about going out of business due to the fallout from a crash.

Bring Good Truck Drivers on Board

If you’re planning on starting your trucking company off small, you might handle most of the truck driving responsibilities yourself. But over time, you’re going to want to grow, and you’ll need to hire truck drivers to work for you to do this.

America’s massive truck driver shortage has made it hard for some trucking companies to find good truckers. But you shouldn’t let that stop you from looking for the best possible candidates for your job openings.

The truck drivers you hire should have most, if not all, of these qualities:

  • Experienced
  • Reliable
  • Independent
  • Trustworthy
  • Honest
  • Alert
  • Careful
  • Courteous
  • Patient
  • Knowledgeable

By hiring the best of the best when looking for truckers, you can show your clients that you’re serious about supplying them with a great experience every time they call on you to handle a shipment.

Establish a Strong Client Base

Speaking of clients, you’re not going to be able to run a successful trucking company without them. So it’s important for you to establish a strong client base right from the start.

You can do this by marketing your services effectively within your community. You can market your company by setting up a website for it, maintaining a presence on social media, and creating a sales department that specializes in finding clients.

But at the end of the day, the best way to market your business is by providing high-quality trucking services. This will help spread the word about your business and make it easier for you to connect with new clients.

Knowing How to Start a Trucking Company the Right Way

As you can see, there are quite a few steps you’ll need to take to start a successful trucking company. You’re not going to be able to do it overnight.

But you can do it without a matter of a few months when you know how to start a trucking company. You’ll be able to create a business plan for your company, obtain the necessary funding, purchase the right equipment, and do everything else that’ll be required of you.

Read our blog to learn more about what the future of the trucking industry might look like.