Despite suffering a massive, nationwide shortage through the pandemic, trucking is still a booming industry. The 2022 American Trucking Association’s U.S. Freight Transportation Forecast estimates trucking revenue to increase by 66% through 2024.
Freight tonnage throughout the country will rise by 24%, so there is no question of whether or not there is enough work for a new trucking business opening its doors in 2022 and beyond.
Rail hauling is decreasing, and U.S. truck drivers are taking on greater responsibility for supplying the nation’s industries with its most critical loads.
From household goods and food to medical equipment and construction gear, there is no corner of the economy that doesn’t rely on trucking to operate smoothly.
Because there is so much financial opportunity, many entrepreneurs are turning their eyes to the trucking business. However, starting your own company and being a truck driver is not one and the same.
If you are interested in owning a trucking company and earning money without ever getting behind the wheel, it is possible.
Do You Need a CDL to Own a Trucking Company?
While you do need a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to be an owner-operator, you do not need to have any trucking qualifications to own and manage a fleet of drivers.
To run a business, you will need an in-depth knowledge of the trucking industry, including all of its legal requirements and current demands. You have to know both your drivers and clients, recognizing there are different struggles and needs that must be met on both ends for your company to be a success.
Taking care of your drivers is the most important thing you’ll ever do as a trucking company owner. Even if you never drive a mile, you have to ensure that the experience drivers face on the road is safe, rewarding, and worthwhile for everyone involved.
Pros and Cons of Starting a Trucking Company Without Driving
The trucking company owner can serve as a CEO and fleet manager to their team of drivers. From invoicing to dispatching, they can handle all the administrative duties without ever needing to get behind the wheel.
Most trucking companies with fleets have office staff that manages things back home while drivers haul loads. Owner-operators may be the sole proprietors of their company, so business headquarters is wherever they take their rig.
Though you can definitely apply business smarts to a trucking company without driving, it comes with its own downsides.
Pros of Starting a Trucking Company Without a CDL:
- No training or trucking experience is required.
- Structure a business model according to your preferences.
- Hire reputable, experienced drivers to haul your loads.
- Earn a profit while working entirely from home.
Cons of Starting a Trucking Company Without a CDL:
- Limited knowledge of the trucking industry to work with.
- Potential of missing crucial factors to business.
- Lack of experience negatively affects your ability to understand drivers.
- Possibility of unrealistic expectations because you lack insider knowledge.
Anyone can learn about trucking and trucking industry statistics online. But nothing quite compares to operating a vehicle, working as a driver, and seeing first-hand what struggles and perils a driver faces on the road.
The truck driving lifestyle in and of itself is something many owners need to personally understand. It allows them to provide better benefits and work perks to their drivers that they may never consider otherwise.
That said, you can still develop a deep knowledge of the industry without having a CDL yourself.
What matters most is that you compensate for a lack of driving experience with thorough research. Reaching out to drivers, asking about their experiences, and learning from experts is important to building a successful business.
Steps to Setting Up a Trucking Company Without Driving
If you decide to enter the trucking industry without becoming a driver, your process of getting started will be similar to that of an owner-operator. The biggest difference is that you’ll be hiring and assigning jobs rather than picking them up yourself.
These five steps will help you start your trucking business without a truck or CDL.
1. Brand Your Company and Register Your Business
You’ll need to be a registered business if you want to hire employees or contractors. Taxes are always better off filed as a business than individual in trucking. Choose a name, and make sure that it isn’t already taken.
Usually, family names or industry-relevant words are best followed by “trucking,” “hauling,” or “freighting” services. This can also help optimize your business name for search engines.
After getting a logo and website, you’ll be ready on the brand-front to start finding clients. From the technical side, you’ll have to register as an official business. This protects your financial assets, so your personal wealth is unaffected by anything that happens to your company.
To register as an LLC., you’ll have to pay between $250 to $400 for a license in your state.
2. Get a USDOT Number
You will have to submit extensive paperwork to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to obtain a USDOT number. This is your trucking authority, and it allows you to operate legally in your state. Transporting any freights across state lines will require you to file for an MC number as well.
Check your state’s trucking requirements for additional licenses and permits you may need for interstate and intrastate transportation. You will also have to acquire a BOC 3 process agent, who accepts legal documents on behalf of your company. You will need a process agent to get your FMCSA authority, and appointing one typically costs $20 to $100.
3. Lease or Purchase Vehicles & Equipment
You can lease trucks and equipment to get your business started. Leasing is ideal for new companies as it requires far less money upfront. You can also acquire high-end equipment that you would likely be unable to purchase outright.
However, leasing does not give you any equity, so for long-term success, it’s best to work toward owning your own fleet.
Without a CDL, you personally can’t drive any trucks off of a lot. You can lease a truck you own to a trucking company, or you can hire drivers directly to operate your vehicle for you. You’ll also have to secure proper parking permits in your area. Most states have designated truck parking locations.
Leasing a truck you own is often the easiest way for a new trucking company to get drivers through a reputable carrier. They come with an established reputation and brokers to help you find clients.
Benefits of Leasing an Owned Truck
There are a number of reasons why leasing to a carrier is a good idea. By leasing an owned vehicle to a carrier, you can:
- Work on business operations as they handle the trucking assignments.
- Learn about the industry before you quit your full-time job.
- Let the carrier hire compliant drivers and operate under their authority.
4. Set Up Insurance and Tags
Insurance requirements for truck owners differ depending on whether you operate the vehicle or use it for business purposes. If you plan on owning a fleet one day, every vehicle must meet the insurance requirements laid out by the FMCSA.
Trucking insurance is one of the highest expenses a trucking business faces. Expect to pay at least $7,000 to $10,000 per year for each vehicle under your name. Companies that own multiple commercial trucks may be able to qualify for a multi-vehicle discount through their insurance provider.
5. Understand Maintenance and Budgeting
In addition to maintaining your truck’s vehicle, you also need to install an electronic logging device (ELD) and budget for operating costs. Fuel, insurance, driver compensation, and your own living expenses all fall on your shoulders.
If a truck is generating $10,000 a month in revenue, you may only take home $1,000 to $1,200 after you deduct operating costs and driver’s pay. You may consider working with a freight broker to help you determine the best way to structure your business model and become profitable early on.
Without operating your own truck, generating a profit will be more difficult initially. CDL owner-operators can pay solely for their own expenses, so they retain more revenue than someone who employs or contracts drivers.
Is Starting a Trucking Company Without a Truck a Good Idea?
You can certainly start a profitable trucking business without holding a CDL. You can be a successful business owner who works closely with a broker to find clients, manage your vehicles, and hire the best drivers for your trucks.
However, it does take time to start becoming profitable. For this reason, you should plan to keep working as you build your fleet and learn how to effectively manage a trucking company and satisfy your drivers. Eliminate needlessly wasted time in the office with the assistance of our TMS that can eliminate hours of headaches and allow you to focus on what matters most. Book a demo today with Truckbase and see how we can help.