Trucking is huge business. In fact, the United States trucking collects over $726 billion in annual revenue – 5 percent of the gross domestic product. Trucking is predicted to grow 21 percent from 2013 to 2023. It’s not hard to get started making money shipping cargo with a straight truck or cargo van if you know the ins and outs of the business model and follow a solid plan. You can buy a new cargo van for about $25,000 to $40,000, while a straight truck runs from $30,000 on the low-end, to up to $60,000 or more based on the size and features.
Start in the transportation business by renting, leasing, or buying a straight truck or cargo van. Straight trucks, also called box trucks, have cargo areas that range in size from 13 to 23 feet in length, and sit on an attached frame. Cargo vans carry goods and products work well for smaller loads and nearby, time-sensitive deliveries. You can find both trucks and vans at truck rental companies like U-Haul, Ryder or Enterprise. You can also buy or lease them – new or used – from truck dealers.
Rent for the Short-Term
Use rental trucks. Set up the shipping contract in advance, go rent the truck on the day of the scheduled pickup and delivery, and transport the goods from one location to another. Some rental places will also set up extended rentals for weeks or months at a time. A good way to get started is by helping people move across town, the state or even the country. Find local small manufacturers who need to ship their goods within a fairly close proximity. Or small businesses that need to make same day and next day deliveries in your area. Trucking businesses charge by mileage and weight.
Lease for the Long-Term
Leasing a vehicle costs more and, in most cases, you commit to leasing over an extended period of time – up to 60 months. But this option can still be better than buying a truck or renting one short-term. Primarily, your cash outlay upfront is less than buying. You can lease almost 100 percent of the vehicle, while buying it may require a down payment of 25 percent or more. You do not want to tie up too much of your cash as you launch your business. Also, if you transport goods on a consistent basis, a long-term lease probably will save you money over a short-term rental. Also, leasing offers tax advantages over buying a truck or van.
The crucial element of any successful small business is to target your market and advertise aggressively at a manageable cost. Targeted marketing costs less because you don’t waste advertising dollars on those who don’t need your services. My Virtual Fleet can get you noticed by small businesses that seek shipping and delivery services. Also, go to smaller manufacturers in your area that don’t have their own truck fleets. Find customers by attending trade shows. Some of these businesses might be new and might need help transporting their products. Get in on the ground floor and grow right alongside a few small manufacturers looking to grow locally, regionally and nationally.
Network , Network, Network
You need a comprehensive and targeted marketing program to make potential customers aware of your services. Use online marketing, through local print advertising in targeted publications, or with a direct-mail program. Know who needs your services and focus your ads to this group of prospects. In the beginning, you might need to lower your rates to get your foot in the door. Once you prove yourself and build a solid client base you can gradually increase your charges.