Steps To Becoming A Successful Small Fleet Owner

You’ve worked as a company driver. You moved up to an owner operator job. You believe you have good overall knowledge of the trucking industry and would like to own and operate your own trucking business. This is a decision which should not be taken likely. You will need to access your skills to determine if this would be a good move for you to make. To start you will need to have good money management skills and the ability to get freight.

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Decide where you want to haul freight and the type of freight you intend to haul. This will determine the type of trailers and equipment your company will need. You could choose to haul dry van trailers, flat bed trailers, refrigerated trailers or car haulers for hauling vehicles.  You must obtain operating authority to transport regulated property owned by others for compensation. If you want to haul freight strictly within your own state you will need to obtain Intrastate Authority. If you want to haul freight nationwide you will need Interstate Authority.

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Once you’ve determined this you will need to select a name for your business. You will need to obtain a business license. If you are starting a corporation you must register your company with the Secretary of State office in your state. You will need to register your truck or trucks with the licensing department of your state and get permits for any vehicles you intend to use. Permits include:

International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) decals

International Registration Plan (IRP) tags or paperwork for fuel tax reporting.

United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) numbers, Federal Motor Carrier Authority (MC number)

Heavy Use Tax Form (2290)

BOC-3 Filing (Designation of Process Agents) is a form filed to the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) that designates a process agent in every state in the United States. The agents are in place to accept any service of notice by that state’s Secretary of State or services of process issued by any court in that state.

All FMCSA motor carriers are required to have a BOC-3 on file with the FMCSA in order to get operating authority granted. A BOC-3 is also required in order to reinstate a motor carrier’s authority that has been revoked.

Each state has a portal dedicated to commercial transportation. Before you start your business you should visit your state’s portal to help you understand the required regulations.

Make a business plan. This will map out your plan as to where you are now and where you intend to be in the future. You should make a realistic estimate of projected income and expenses. It should also include your marketing plan. Do you own your truck or will you have to purchase or lease a truck. Do you plan to be the sole driver for the company or will you hire other drivers. All of these things need to be taken into consideration in order for you to make a realistic budget.

If you intend to hire other drivers try to hire experienced drivers. You will need to do a criminal background check on any driver before hiring them. These drivers will be hauling freight worth thousands of dollars so you don’t want criminals working for you. You might want to consider hiring owner/operators if you are operating with limited funds. This would save you money while you are trying to build your business. These drivers will have their own trucks. Some may even have their own trailers. Otherwise, you will need to provide trailers for those drivers that don’t have their own.

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Get estimates for insurance. You will at the very lease need liability and cargo insurance. Cargo insurance is to cover the value of the freight you will be hauling. You might consider providing health insurance for yourself and your employees if you hire others to work for you. You might also need workers compensation insurance. Owner/Operators must carry their own insurance.

You must be able to get freight. You should have a marketing plan. You can begin by getting freight from freight brokers. However, you should network for clients to get your own accounts. This should include cold calling and other marketing strategies. Set out to build relationships with shippers. The trucking industry is very competitive. You must know how to price your services. A new business might not get large accounts because you won’t have a tract record. Start small and build a client base slowly. Make an extra effort to provide excellent service. Get a good reputation in the industry. In time you will be able to contract larger jobs. If you get more business than you can handle, you can always use owner/operators to haul the excess freight.

Good record keeping is a must. You should consider hiring an accountant to set up an accounting system for your trucking business. You might also consider investing in computer software which can keep records for the business. Good records will let you know how well your business is succeeding.

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