Given the current surge in freight demand and rising rates, now could be the perfect time to venture into the trucking industry. This favorable market condition is particularly beneficial for smaller businesses that can quickly get up and running with minimal initial investment.
The Profitability of the Trucking Business
The trucking industry has a direct impact on the country’s economic growth. According to the American Trucking Associations, nearly 3.5 million truck drivers moved approximately 72% of freight tonnage in the United States in 2021. This highlights the constant demand for trucks and trucking companies. Truckers play a crucial role in regulating supply chain functions and driving the economy forward.
Starting with just one truck can significantly lower your initial investment. As your business grows over time, you can expand from providing a single trucking service to a comprehensive range of solutions for your clients. With the right tools and strategies, a trucking business can be highly lucrative if you have a solid understanding of the industry.
Can You Operate a Trucking Company Without a CDL?
Absolutely! If you’re an owner-operator who hires truck drivers, they will need a valid commercial driver’s license (CDL) as required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). However, as the owner running the business, you only need a CDL if you plan to drive.
Other owner-operators are self-employed truck drivers who also manage their businesses. These individuals need to excel both as drivers and as skilled business owners. By choosing not to drive, you can focus on owning the business and fulfilling the responsibilities that come with it.
Where Do You Begin?
Consider yourself an entrepreneur and follow the same steps that other small company owners employ when starting their businesses.
Create a Business Plan
Gain a thorough understanding of running a profitable trucking company. While owning and operating a trucking company brings several advantages, such as selecting which companies to partner with and what loads to transport, it also presents unique challenges. Setting realistic goals, maintaining the right attitude, and having flexibility and passion are crucial for success.
Understand License and Permit Requirements
The trucking industry is highly regulated, with numerous rules and regulations. Familiarize yourself with the necessary steps to acquire the authority to operate legally as an interstate trucking company.
Get a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)
Ensure that all drivers for your trucking company possess a valid commercial driver’s license. Each state has its own testing requirements, so visit your local Department of Motor Vehicles to find out what your state requires.
Apply for Federal DOT and Motor Authority Numbers
These numbers are essential for your trucking company to transport cargo across the United States. The Federal DOT number tracks your trucking company’s safety records and compliance with rules and regulations. The Motor Carrier (MC) number, also known as the “operating authority,” helps determine the type of trucking business you run and the goods you’re permitted to transport. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reviews your application and grants you the MC and USDOT numbers.
Complete Your Unified Carrier Registration (UCR)
The UCR system is used in every state where a motor carrier operates to verify active insurance coverage.
Get an International Registration Plan (IRP) Tag
An IRP license plate allows your truck to operate in all states and most Canadian provinces. Your company’s home state will issue it.
Understand Heavy Use Tax Regulations
If your truck weighs 55,000 pounds or more, it’ll be subject to the federal heavy highway use tax. This tax is reviewed annually by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Obtain an IFTA Decal
The International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) enables reporting of fuel consumed by trucks operating across the USA and some Canadian provinces.
File a BOC-3 Form
To acquire authority to operate on the interstate, you need to register a current BOC-3 form with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
Engaging a lawyer experienced in working with trucking companies is advisable to ensure legal compliance. You’ll need various types of insurance, including Public Liability insurance, Bobtail insurance, Cargo insurance, and physical damage coverage.
Purchasing Your First Truck
When starting a trucking company, your first commercial truck will be one of your most significant investments. Consider whether buying or leasing is the best option for you. When you purchase a truck, you’re responsible for the full payment. Leasing a truck means you don’t own it, but you must make regular payments and adhere to specific regulations.
Tracking Fleet and Finances
As an operator, you’ll need to manage various aspects, from regulatory compliance and customer service to chasing payments and staffing, and finding new clients. Ensure customer satisfaction to secure future business and consider hiring someone for bookkeeping and timely payment to employees.
Driven by Technology
In the trucking business, you’ll encounter paperwork such as driver logs, invoices, Interstate Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) reports, payments, truck maintenance records, and mileage reports. Thanks to technological advancements, these management processes can be automated and streamlined, reducing complexity and minimizing errors. Adhering to recent FMCSA changes, such as the Electronic Logging Devices mandate, will ensure accurate recordkeeping of driving hours and other essential information.
If you’re seeking the best Electronic Logging Device (ELD) for small fleets to enhance your team’s performance, check out the recommended ELD devices for small fleets.
Matrack Solutions for New Trucking Businesses
Many businesses have streamlined their operations, created fuel-efficient routes, and reduced fines and taxes by switching from paper logs to Matrack’s Electronic Logging Device (ELD) and fleet management system.
Here’s how Matrack’s ELD and software have helped them:
FMCSA & DoT Compliant
All Matrack ELD hardware is FMCSA-approved and strictly adheres to Department of Transportation regulations concerning Hours of Service (HoS). Matrack devices collect accurate data, preventing any violation of HoS rules.
GPS Tracking and Mapping
A reliable GPS tracking and mapping function helps track each employee’s location and status. Real-time data, such as current traffic conditions, allows your employees to identify the best routes for timely deliveries.
Fuel and Vehicle Maintenance Management
Fleet management provides absolute control over every transportation aspect as your fleet grows. It enables tracking of your drivers’ location and status in the field using GPS, optimizing routes and ensuring consistency in vehicle maintenance, routing, mapping, fuel costs, and warehousing.
ELD devices automatically record all data, and the tamper-proof device ensures the authenticity and accuracy of information. This facilitates easy transfer of Department of Transportation logs during inspections, eliminating the complications associated with paper logs.
IFTA Taxes and Reports
Matrack’s ELD solution involves a two-step procedure. The hardware device records data, which is then collected and analyzed by Matrack’s intelligent fleet management software. Based on client requirements, the system generates essential reports, including IFTA tax calculations.
Installation and Usage
Matrack solutions are easy to install and durable ELD, fleet management, and tracking devices.
Access data via desktop, mobile phone, or tablet. Matrack provides a seamless, intuitive, user-friendly app and a reliable ELD device.
Real-Time Safety Management and Risk Alerts
Monitor driver behavior day and night, analyze extreme braking activity and speeding at or above 80mph, and access historical records, accident reporting, and data retrieval.
Incorporating Matrack’s ELD, fleet, and asset management software into your operations allows you to focus on other strategic aspects of the trucking business, such as providing more efficient services. It assists with data management, avoiding violations, maintaining accurate driver logs, and managing fuel and maintenance schedules and expenses. With its affordability, customer service, and extensive features, Matrack offers the best ELD solution, whether you’re an owner-operator or have a large fleet.
As a start-up, it’s crucial to strike the right balance between software efficiency and affordability. Consider the needs of your trucking company and choose a solution that suits your current requirements while being adaptable for future growth. Many trucking operators prefer GPS Fleet and Asset Tracking solutions like those offered by Matrack Inc., as they help them efficiently navigate the trucking business’s demands.
These digitally enabled, cloud-based solutions are reshaping the trucking industry, rendering old business models obsolete while enabling new ones. In the long run, they will pave the way for a fully digitalized and autonomous trucking industry.