We’ve all seen big-rig trucks on the highway, delivering important goods to keep our economy moving, but it’s hard to tell which company a truck works for. You might not know that most commercial trucking operations run six trucks or less. You can get into the commercial trucking yourself, but like any business, the key to getting started is knowledge.
You’ll need the proper license and some capital, but all things considered, it’s pretty straightforward. Just be ready to lead a lifestyle very different from the average job. Here’s where to begin.
Get Your CDL License
To run a trucking operation, you ought to know how to drive a truck. Driving a semi isn’t the same as operating your half-ton pickup, and you’ll need a special commercial driver’s license or CDL. While it’s not a hard requirement to run the company, you’ll have a much easier time earning the respect of your drivers if you know what it takes to run a truck.
Get Your Business License and Be Government Compliant
There are several government organizations that monitor America’s roads, including the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association. Get on the wrong side of these or any other government organizations, and your days in business could be short-lived.
To avoid that outcome, know all the requirements for operating heavy trucks. You will need to register with DOT and receive an operating authority. Your company will need to have insurance and file a BOC-3. There are also regulations on how your company operates. For example, a drug consortium must be in place, and you need to pay a special heavy vehicle tax.
Get the Right Trucks
Drivers won’t come to work for you if you have run-down uncomfortable trucks, but you probably won’t have the capital to buy brand-new equipment right away, either. You can find used semi-trucks online or at large yards. Know what to look for so you can make your money go a long way. A truck that needs too much maintenance will cost you more than you save.
Understand Fleet Management
What used to be the realm of pen and paper is computerized today, and fleet managers are better off for it. You should plan to run a fleet management program that will track things like maintenance intervals and operating hours. This will keep the fleet running efficiently and allow you to track costs closely.
Win the Best Customers
Of course, you need to select the right staff, but they in turn need to work hard to earn good business. Customers always have the option to switch to a different carrier. Prompt, reliable service and proper care of their goods will keep customers happy, which will do more than anything else to help you maintain and expand your brand.
American semi-trucks move more than two-thirds of the goods people purchase every year. The commercial shipping industry is a vital backbone of our economy. Trucking isn’t for everyone, but if you’re smart about it, you can have success as a business owner in this segment.
Scott Huntington is a writer and car fanatic from Harrisburg, PA.