With the trucking business being an industry that can withstand a lot of ups and downs in the economy because people will always need goods to be hauled, it is a great business to try out as an entrepreneur.
While the first thought that goes through most people’s minds as a trucking business owner would be that you drive your truck, there are some ways around that which puts you behind the wheel of the company but not behind the wheel of the actual truck.
If you do not have your CDL but are wanting to start a trucking company it is important that you still understand what it's like to be a driver. This will take some research and being open with those who do have experience as commercial drivers. Learning about the trade will set you up for more success down the line.
Being knowledgeable will also help you to hire quality drivers. Not all drivers that have a CDL are good candidates to operate your equipment. With the investment that has been made into the business with just a tractor and trailer, you will want to hire someone who will not only deliver goods but will properly take care of the equipment so that you can be successful.
You will also need to set up a business plan that is detailed enough to keep everyone on the right track while also allowing for flexibility that comes with the industry.
Some of the basics you will need to figure out are what you are going to have hauled, what region(s) you will have your driver hauling in and what type of equipment you will need to haul the potential client’s products.
The first thing you will need to do is apply for your DOT number and authority with the FMCSA.
You will then need to decide what kind of equipment you will need. Starting out you probably don’t want to buy the fanciest equipment and get yourself in a big hole quickly. Make sure that you choose dependable equipment but maybe save the chrome details for after your business gets off the ground.
Depending on what you’re hauling will decide what kind of trailer you will need. There are some companies you can haul for that you can use their trailers and carry non-owned or trailer-interchange coverage with your insurance company. This might be a good option until you see what kind of freight will be best for your company to haul.
Once you have that information you can then look into insurance. When you don’t have your CDL it will limit the insurance markets available to you. There are some companies that will not write a policy for someone who owns the company but isn’t a driver. The thought process behind this is that they want owners who are in their trucks because those are the ones who typically take better care of what they have because they have a direct investment in it. Not having your CDL could make you susceptible to higher insurance rates since there are fewer companies that are open to writing the policies.
Having available capital is imperative in starting your own business. (without a CDL or with one) You will be responsible for fuel, driver’s wages, maintenance for the vehicle, and any other costs that come up while you wait for your shippers to pay their invoices. Many can take 30, 60, and even 90 days to process after delivery.
Starting a trucking company, especially in today’s market, can be very expensive. Equipment, fuel, and insurance will add up very quickly. With that said, the market is also in very high demand which gives you room to still make a profit even with rising costs.
Some of your basic costs for starting a trucking company are the fees that go along with applying for your authority, registering with the FMCSA, and any filing fees.
Purchasing your equipment will be a big part of your start-up costs. Used tractors and trailers are in high demand right now and the prices reflect that. Make sure that you do your research before purchasing and know what it’s worth so that you can insure it for the correct value in case you were to have a large claim that totals it.
Insurance will be another big factor in your trucking company costs. Many new ventures can range anywhere from $10,000-$25,000 a year for one tractor and trailer.
Hiring a quality driver with a CDL. The good ones don’t come cheap and the cheap ones will end up costing you more than what they save you. Make sure you do thorough MVR checks and know your drivers before putting them behind the wheel of your tractor.
Fuel can vary greatly on how it affects your trucking company's costs. While you can’t control the fluctuation in prices you can educate your driver on tips and tricks to using it as efficiently as possible.
Starting a truck company without your CDL is definitely not impossible but it does come with a few more hoops to jump through than if you had your commercial driver’s license in your pocket. With an open mind, some accurate research, and a solid business plan you can still run a very successful trucking business.
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