Owners of truck fleets play an important role in the industry. 97% of trucking companies are small business that own 20 or fewer trucks. Chances are, your trucking company has had its fair share of fluctuations in business.
Here’s a guide for business owners to make the most of the natural ups and downs in the industry.
Find Your Market Niche
One of the keys to business success in any field is to find a reliable, steady source of customers.
Being a niche trucker will give you more control over the terms of engagement. It also gives you the chance to develop expertise on whatever part of the trucking industry you choose. With a little time, focus, and luck, your fleets could become known as the go-to for a particular kind of freight.
Having a specialized fleet of trucks can also save you money: instead of spreading yourself thin with all kinds of different trucks, you can focus on one or two types of vehicles and power units.
Keep Your Rates Profitable
As the economy fluctuates, so will your profits. Keeping prices the same for too long can have a negative effect on your company.
A successful trucking company will need to adjust pricing and rates over time, according to the pressure from fuel, costs of equipment, and other factors.
Different parts of the country have different fuel prices, so cross-country travel can affect these prices, too. The American Trucking Associations has useful information on the factors that could affect your rates.
Your business plan should allow for price increases over time to ensure that make enough to keep the business running.
Build Relationships with Customers
Your customers usually have more than one option for trucking services. If you build strong partnerships with customers, you can make sure you continue to be their first choice for truck drivers.
Long-standing relationships can be a serious asset, because they mean you can depend on certain regulars who rely on your service. If you have a steady customer base, you can more confidently make adjustments to your prices when necessary.
Establishing trust between you and the people who depend upon your services is an important step in building up your company.
Hire Long-Term Employees
Hiring can be a hassle, but it’s worth the effort to seek out those who are career truck drivers. Over time, you can build trust with your truck driver employees so you’ll know that your trucks will be in good hands.
Someone interested in a long-term trucking career can be a great asset as an employee, and is more likely to go above and beyond. A dedicated trucker who has a passion for good service will help you establish a reputation as being reliable, too.
If you’re an owner-operator, you can even form a mentorship with dedicated truckers who want to take the first steps toward learning the trade. This advice doesn’t apply if you own a leasing company, of course!
Track Operational Costs Carefully
Keeping track of your operating costs is a given for any business, but it’s especially important in the trucking business.
Fluctuating expenses like gas prices, fuel taxes, and the cost of truck maintenance can mean your expenses differ greatly from month to month. The costs of new equipment can add up, too.
These back office duties may be tedious, but they keep things running smoothly for the rest of the company. If you find this to be outside of your realm of expertise, you can always look for professional advice on finances.
Keep Up a Steady Cash Flow
The transportation industry is tied up with many other industries, from shippers to brokers. When you don’t have money readily available, that makes it difficult to pay yourself and your drivers, and can spell trouble for your company.
Your cash flow depends partly on when your clients pay you. Some owners have the unfortunate experience of dealing with unreliable shippers or brokers who delay payment.
The best way to ensure a steady flow of cash is to build up large savings. This isn’t always possible, of course.
Another option is to take advantage of programs designed for truck drivers, like fuel cards. These cards give you discounts, and allow you to restrict their use to only include fuel for the truck.
An affordable truck insurance company is another helpful resource for saving money. Insurance is necessary, so make sure you’re getting the best deal possible.
Listen to Driver Feedback
Part of working as the owner of trucking fleets means managing and communicating with drivers.
Chances are, your drivers have some valuable insights on the paths they travel for work. The actual experience of driving a work route could end up very different from the original plan.
Smart trucking means adapting to whatever the road throws at you, so make sure your drivers know that you’re players on the same team.
If you’re an owner-operator, you understand why input from a truck driver can help you as a business owner. There might be a more efficient route you’re not aware of, or a path that passes by better truck stops.
Keep Up With Technology
Modern trucking business changes frequently, and the industry is starting to include a lot more technology. You might not immediately make the switch to using AI to plan your routes or using Blockchain, but you can start with a simple website.
Load boards are websites designed to connect carriers with loads in need of movement. These boards can give you useful information on how to find new clients.
A website with your company name, email address and phone number is a great way to put yourself on the map. People can find your company online, or you can easily send them to your website to get the information themselves.
You can also try out accounting software designed for businesses like yours. Tools like this will make your life easier in many ways. You’ll also avoid some of the issues that come up with human error; software can smooth the accounting process along.
Protect Your Carriers and Your Drivers
Things don’t always go as planned. All companies deal with ups and downs, so it’s important to keep things in perspective. As the market changes, keep an eye out for sources of opportunity, like new potential clients, or methods to improve your service.
For a free truck insurance quote, contact our team by phone or with your email address. We can give you more information on our affordable insurance plans catered to truck drivers, so visit us at SoCal Truck Insurance today.