How to Thrive as an Independent Truck Company

how to manage independent truck company

Owning a business is tough. Owning an independent truck company is no exception. 

If you own a trucking company, you know the cards are stacked against you. The industry is filled with competitors that have bigger fleets with more drivers. They can get bigger discounts from trucking suppliers meaning they can undercut almost any bid. 

What can you do about it? Quite a bit actually. Keep reading for ideas on how you can grow your trucking company to be as strong, fast, and successful as any of your trucker competitors. 

Learn Everything About the Trucking Industry 

First things first, you have to know the trucking industry better than anyone else. And surround yourself with a business team that specializes in your industry. Your accountant, lawyer, even your bank should be familiar with the ins-and-outs of their aspect of the trucking world to give you the most advantage. 

And don’t avoid all of your trucking competition, some of them may be great allies. Talk to them about their experiences, good and bad. Team up with them to get supplier discounts or share big jobs. 

Sharing knowledge from your fellow business owners can be invaluable. Why make the same mistakes as someone else with your trucking company? Learn from their stories and see what you can do better. 

Work Smarter as a Driver and Owner 

Second, find ways to work smarter. If you came to the industry with driving experience, you know better than anyone how to manage the road. That will give you a huge advantage. 

But you may not have the same amount of business experience and that can be a disadvantage. So put a team around you that balances and complements your experience. Make sure that you’re approaching every situation from both a driver- and business-perspective. 

For instance, as a driver, you may think it’s worth taking every job that comes your way. But as a business owner, you know that taking a shorter job for the same amount of money as a long-haul drive puts more profit on the table and frees your truck up for another job! 

Get Tech Savvy 

It’s easier than ever to stay on top of your business, whether you’re in the office or on the road. Increase your efficiency and save time wherever you are. Technology and the internet can help you solicit orders, manage your finances, process invoices, and submit payroll from anywhere. 

On the road, there’s an app for everything. GPS apps will help you plan the best route. Locate gas stations and see the pricing ahead of time to help you budget your trip. Maintain a logbook of miles and hours driven. 

Understand the Numbers 

Make sure you know and understand everything about your company’s finances and how to grow a trucking business. What is the difference between cash flow and profit margin? What is your break-even point? 

Don’t let others set your rate. How much does driving a load actually cost you? Do you have a way to make money on the return? You need to understand the cost of running your business so you can decide where to set your prices – and whether a job will cost you or make you a profit. 

Know Your Customers and Where to Find Them 

Believe it or not, you may not want everyone to be your customer. Independent trucking companies are already taking risks simply by owning their business. Don’t take a bigger risk working with companies you don’t investigate. 

Who is your client? Do they pay their bills, on time? Do they understand and respect the legal requirements you must meet to keep your drivers safe? 

Diversify your client base. No matter how loyal they seem to be, customers come and go. Continue to develop new client relationships and don’t ever let any one customer be more than 30% of your business. 

The same goes for brokers and trucking agents. Stay open to networking prospects. You never know where your next trucking business opportunities are going to come from. 

Where can you find customers? Word of mouth referrals is one of the best places for new clientele. When you do good work, your customers will tell others. You can also join trade associations and attend industry events. 

Make sure you have an online presence. Keep a website or social media account so people can find you and easily get in touch with you. Respond to reviews – good and bad ones. 

Independent Truck Company Safety 

Don’t overlook the importance of safety in your company. US Department of Transportation (DOT) rules and regulations aren’t an inconvenience and burden. They’re there to keep you and your drivers safe and protected. 

Complying with the rules is essential. Every trucking company receives a DOT score. This score represents any violations a company has from random inspections on the road. 

In the latter part of the first year you start your trucking company you will have to pass a safety audit. This mandatory audit will review any and all of the safety violations you have received. If you don’t pass you may lose your business. 

Don’t put your business at risk for something you can manage. The rules can be complicated so make sure you know and understand them. You can prepare for the audit using this DOT audit checklist

Stay On Top of the Game 

As an independent truck company owner, you need to stay on top of the competition. By focusing on these tips and tricks you can keep your drivers on the road. Continue to focus on new and innovative ideas to keep your independent truck company efficient and growing. Keep on trucking!

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