You've put in the hours and work to get your trucking business off the ground, but now your fleet feels like it's hit a roadblock. You have good clients, and your drivers are all reliable. So, what next? A lot of trucking professionals get struck after overcoming the major hurdle of starting their business. To grow your fleet, you have to think small instead of big picture. This can be a pretty major shift, especially when you've worked for so long with your eyes on the prize, not your to-do list. The transition from driver to operator and, eventually, manager takes time. With these strategies, owner operators can begin to grow their fleet and start expanding their business with a strategic plan.
Identify Opportunities and Setbacks
Is your trucking insurance enough for your ambitions? Do you need to save money on operations or expand your office staff? Are you interested in owning your trucks outright, or could you grow more through leasing? You have to consider the strongest assets of your trucking business, then consider how they're weighing up against your challenges. You don't have to become a millionaire overnight, or even in 10 years. But you should always be continually evaluating your business model to modify it and help it thrive. Growth is a flexible process, and the more room you allow for change, the more likely you are to find greater opportunity to do so.
Improve Your Drivers' Safety
Hiring too many drivers too quickly can cause you to run into major liability issues. Frequent accidents do more than harm your cash flow. They negatively impact your reputation, which can be the hardest thing to fix. One way to improve safety is through the installation of dash cams. They have features designed to increase visibility and reduce collisions, which give drivers more peace of mind and fleet managers greater control over what happens when their trucks are on the road. Some other safety changes to consider are boosting maintenance protocol, mandating defensive driving courses for drivers and having ongoing evaluations that provide valuable feedback.
Build Customer Loyalty
Your clients are the center of your business, and everything you do should consider how actions will impact their relationship with you. Many owner-operators are so focused on getting money that they overlook the importance of building strong relationships with their customers. While it is essential to digitally engage with your customers to generate new business, a good reputation gets you more than just ongoing contracts. You’ll find that a loyal consumer base can help you grow through word-of-mouth advertising.
You should aim to secure business directly from shippers as these tend to pay the highest and offer the greatest job security. Be open to various types of clients, but practice discretion. It takes time to establish the type of reputation that secures such high-profile clients, but it can be done. This is why planning ahead and working systematically is so crucial. Ultimately, you have to recognize that you are now operating as a business owner, not just a driver picking up convenient jobs for one-off gigs.