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9 Things to Consider When Building a Trucking Fleet

9 Things to Consider When Building a Trucking Fleet

Establishing a new business will require patience, perseverance, and the proper resources to get things started. It also helps to do prior research and feasibility studies to have a general idea of what’s out there in the industry and pinpoint where you could participate as a competitive newcomer. All these aspects and characteristics apply when it comes to starting a trucking fleet. The initial cost will be significant, but the long-term profits can make this expense worthwhile.

To give you a few ideas on where to start, here’s a list of vital things to consider when planning to establish a fleet of trucks.

Fuel Consumption

The first thing is to consider the fuel consumption of the trucks, or at least have estimates. The more fuel consumed in each vehicle, the more costly it will be to run and operate. The trucks’ size also determines fuel consumption, wherein the larger the size, the more fuel would be needed for its operation. You should be ready for this large expenditure before you get started.

Area to Cover

Once you have figured out how many trucks you want to run for the fleet, you should think about the areas your business would cover. Some fleets operate all over the country, while others tend to run vehicles around a particular state, city, or region only. Remember that the cost of running this trucking fleet will vary according to where you choose to operate the business.

Trucking Maintenance

Trucking maintenance is a critical consideration in any truck fleet business. The more expensive your equipment, the more you need to make sure you maintain it properly. Even a small repair can cost thousands of dollars later if you ignore early signs and symptoms of equipment failure.

Indeed, the importance of truck maintenance should not be underestimated in a business such as this one. Keep in mind that your fleet could be carrying precious cargo that would need to be delivered to an area at a specific time. If vehicle breakdowns occur along the way, the deliveries will be late or won’t happen at all. Such mishaps could also affect the reliability and professionalism of your business overall.

Business Plan

Starting a trucking business is a challenging task, but if you have done your homework, you will know that it’s well worth it. Trucking is a very profitable business and has a very lucrative future ahead of it. In fact, trucking companies are part of one of the largest industries in the world, which means you will never run out of work and it will always be a popular career.

Be that as it may, it’s vital for you to make a solid business plan before getting things off the ground. Here are a few points to ponder on when drafting one for your upcoming business venture.

  • Goals: You could commission experts to conduct feasibility studies prior to rolling out your business. It’s imperative to know what the industry is like during the era you’re establishing your enterprise, what needs or services your fleet could focus on, and drawing up tentative KPIs or key performance indicators of your business’ road to success.
  • Timeline: If you have identified a specific time to launch your business, you could count your way backward and plan each step of the way. This style would help you see what needs to be done chronologically, as setting up a business needs to be as organized as possible to attain your goals.
  • Budget details: Cost estimates would be helpful to create financial projections of what you need to shell out, how much specific components would cost, and the possible return of investment.
  • Workforce needs: Human resources will be important factors to make your business a success. Drawing up plans on the type of labor you need for specific duties and tasks would be helpful in your long-term execution.

Permits and Licenses

If you’re thinking of starting a trucking company, know that the business would entail obtaining necessary permits. Aside from getting the required business permits and licenses to be cited as a legal enterprise in a state or city, there are other major permits that you need to be aware of as you establish your trucking fleet.

Here are some basic ones.

  • Federal DOT number and Motor Carrier Authority number: To be recognized as a licensed and legitimate trucking business, you need to get the Federal Department of Transportation number in tandem with the Motor Carrier Authority number that both act as your license to carry and transport goods across the US.
  • Driver’s License: Since there are various types of driver’s licenses in the US, know which one your truckers need to possess. They should have a commercial driver’s license type to operate a truck for any cargo-hauling business. Each state may have varying age requirements and testing procedures to obtain one, so check your home state for such details.
  • IRP license plate: If you’re planning on operating your business from state to state, know that there’s a special license plate to do that. The International Registration Plan or IRP Tag is what you need to apply for in order for your trucks to cross state lines safely and legally.
  • SCAC: It’s not enough to simply have the proper permits and licenses to haul cargo across states. It’s also imperative to get specialized ones if you’re planning to transport certain types of loads. The Standard Carrier Alpha Code is a requirement for fleets transporting international cargo, items from the military, or things from government entities.

Storage and Warehouse Facility

When establishing a transportation business, two things need to be analyzed when it comes to taking care of the goods and the trucks—storage and warehouse facilities. There are fleets that need to be parked, and this is where a warehouse could come in handy. A spacious one could function as the main fleet facility where trucks could be kept while not in use, and it could also serve as the maintenance center where fleet inspections should be done.

Storage also has something to do with the goods you need to ship. There’s an option of not having a storage facility if your business is into picking up goods from point to point. This means you just need to bring your truck to the storage facility of your client and pick up their goods from there. This option could be the best starting point if you’re just establishing your business.

Trucking Fleet Management Software

Truck fleet management software or a fleet management system is a computer program which can be used to manage the trucks in the fleet. It’s a modern way of monitoring the location of each truck, tracking each vehicle’s fuel consumption, checking the mileage covered, and more. In addition, you can get the most out of a trucking software by using a package that allows the drivers to access their own data through a company website.

Truck Driver Hiring and Training

Just because a person can drive doesn’t mean they can get behind the wheel and start their trucking life. Driving such vehicles require proper training first, as there are various factors to consider when handling a vehicle that’s part of a fleet.

Nowadays, there are truck driving programs that could train your hired drivers adequately. Such programs will teach them all the information needed to drive a commercial truck safely, covering all aspects of the trucking business as well.

As for the hiring process, try to look for extra factors that would make a driver stand out in the job. In addition to the training, assess the attitude and level of ambition of a driver. Sometimes, human error could cause problems in this industry, so make sure you avoid hiring drivers who have a record of accidents, traffic violations, or even bad work habits. A thorough background check would be necessary in these cases.

Market Your Truck Fleet Business

If you’re starting small with your trucking fleet business, learning how to market your company would be vital in the early stages. While there are many other ways to get your business seen, you can’t afford to overlook the importance of using the internet as a form of advertising if you want to succeed in the trucking industry.

One way is to consider purchasing advertising space online. There are many sites specifically set up to promote small business owners in certain cities or states, and supporting local businesses would be strongly encouraged by such sites. This type of advertising is usually not free, but the targeted audience of these sites could provide a good amount of traffic you initially need.

You could eventually spread your advertising wings and consider other strategies such as email marketing, social media marketing, and having ads placed in local traditional media.

Conclusion

There are many things to consider when building your trucking fleet, but before focusing and fussing about the nitty-gritty details of each aspect of the operation, you should first have a solid business plan to outline your company’s needs, goals, expenditure, and projected profits. Increase your business revenue by doing things the proper, safe, and legal way.


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by Harvey Carr // Harvey Carr is a contributor to Businessing Magazine.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.