If you’re the owner of a small trucking business, you know it’s tough to compete with larger fleets. The obvious advantage of more trucks often means that they can offer more aggressive pricing, hire drivers more quickly, get better discounts from their suppliers and generally leverage their size to deliver faster.
So, what can you do in the trucking and transportation industry today to grow your trucking company to compete with the big guys?
Here are eight things you can do right now to put you on the path to smart growth:
1. Anticipate Trucking Industry Regulations
Nothing in the trucking industry stays the same — changes, alterations and new regulations are being proposed and incorporated all the time. 2020 started with five new regulations that affected the industry. What changes will take effect in 2021 is still a big question as a new White House administration will certainly make its mark on transportation. Generally, Democrats tend to be more supportive of regulations, especially environmental and safety rules.
Brush up on the INVEST Act, it passed the House in 2020 but stalled out in the Senate. The bill is loaded with Democratic transportation priorities that will likely end up on a new DOT policy agenda.
2. Keep Up with Transportation Technology
As an owner operator of a transportation business, you’re responsible for a lot on a daily basis. Sometimes, it can be tough running your small business from the road. The good news is that technology can help you get organized, manage finances, reduce stress, navigate the road and so much more. For example, use GPS to determine the best routes and find ways to combine loads for cost efficiency. You really need to tap into apps to save time and increase efficiency.
For instant impact, check out these trucking apps you can use right now:
KeepTruckin – Pair the #1 rated electronic logbook with the top-rated ELD built for drivers. Get violation alerts, recap hours worked and send logs via email. Features include HOS alerts of upcoming required breaks, creating electronic DVIRs and automated IFTA reporting. Keep compliant with KeepTruckin.
Trucker Tools – This app gives you real-time traffic info, turn-by-turn directions, weigh-scale status, accurate truck stops along your route, weather conditions, nearest diesel prices, and more. Use Trucker Tools to save money on the road, plus find and book premium loads.
Fuelbook– Search diesel prices at over 7,000 truck stops nationwide. The app boasts that it has helped the trucking community save on fuel over 21 million times. Download Fuelbook for free and combine it with a convenient to use fleet fuel card for greater savings with discount pricing.
3. Master Your Business Finances
As a trucker, you know where you’ve been, where you are and where you’re going. Yet, as a trucking business owner, you need to know all those things in relation to your money. Think of it like this:
Where you’ve been – spending
Where you are – current balances
Where you’re going – income, expenses and financial goals
How you’ll get there – your plan
Learn how to create a business plan quickly and efficiently by using a business plan template like this one, created by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
4. Commit to Providing the Best Service Available and Then Use It to Your Advantage
Sounds simple, but the truth is this may be the one area that the big guys can’t compete with you on. Because you’re smaller, you’re more nimble, you’re hungrier, and you’ve got fewer clients. So, treat each one like they are the most important client you have and your phone will keep ringing.
People today will still pay a little more to get the bells and whistles that come with being a big fish in a smaller pond. Grow your trucking business by creating relationships…not clients.
5. Pace Your Plans for Business Growth
This article at FleetOwner does a great job laying out a growth calculation formula that helps fleet owners determine their break-even point along with the Capitalization Fund Objective, or what you’ll need to reach growth plateaus. It’s not a new article, but it nicely shows you how to calculate how much capital you’ll need to reach your growth objectives, along with how much time it will take to expand your transportation business and get there.
It will help you understand the realities of growing a small fleet so you can put a transportation business plan in place.
6. How to Find Clients for Trucking Business with Load Boards and Freight Brokers
Truck load boards – or freight boards – are a great way for trucking companies to find loads. Truckers and fleet owners can use the boards to search for criteria to match them with the types of loads they may be looking to move. It’s a great way for truck drivers to build relationships with shippers.
7. Work Smarter, Not Harder
As an owner operator, you need to get out of the company driver mindset. You need to start working smarter so you can earn even more.
To do that you need to stay away from loads that require you to drive more deadhead miles. As an independent trucking business owner, you need to find loads that allow you to drive less, yet pay the same amount of money. The benefit is fewer miles are driven so less money is spent on fuel, less stress on your truck, less time working, and more profit in your pocket.
8. Stabilize Your Cash Flow and Accelerate Your Access to Capital
Freight bills are often not paid until well after delivery, and there can be a good deal of expense in getting them delivered. That’s okay if you’re a large transportation company, but if you’re a small to midsize fleet, immediate cash is often needed to fuel your trucks and pay your drivers.
With freight invoicing factoring for small fleets and owner-operators, a third-party factor like eCapital purchases your invoices for a small fee. We assume the collections or accounts receivable duties and you get your cash quickly – rather than wait until the job is completed. There are a number of other money-saving benefits, from the best fuel cards for your trucking company, lower insurance rates, truck leasing assistance and more.
Freeing up your cash flow and getting faster access to your working capital with freight factoring gives you options to grow your business faster.
There are many ways that you can grow your fleet and trucking company. The eight above are only a handful of options but they are important considerations when charting growth. Put them to good use today and stay safe on the road!