How to run a successful Road Freight Transport Business
If you are starting out with your own transportation business, then it’s undoubtedly an exciting time for you. However, as with any new enterprise, there are going to be several challenges for you to overcome before you settle into a comfortable rhythm. The first 1-3 years of your new transportation business are going to be the most difficult as you try to establish a customer base and carve out a place in the wider market. It can be very discouraging when you are only scraping by each month, but there are plenty of steps you can take to ensure that you are on an upwards trajectory. This article has been created to help teach you how to set-up and manage a profitable transportation business so that you can navigate past the uncertain early stages.
Road Freight Transport Business Fundamentals
Whenever you’re building something, it’s crucial to start with the fundamentals. This is no less true when it comes to establishing a new transportation business. To be successful, you need to differentiate yourself from the rest of your competition so that people know who you are and why your service should appeal to them. The following will list some basics you should cover when establishing your new business:
Define your USP
Your unique selling proposition (USP) is one of the cornerstones of your business model. It’s usually the first thing people think of when planning a new business since it’s the main driving force behind attracting customers. Your USP does not need to be revolutionary, it just needs to be effective for the market you’re targeting.
What value will your business offer that your competitors can’t? What size trucks will you use? What kind of goods will you transport? (This will influence the kind of equipment you use and the licenses/permits you apply for).
How will you ensure delivery deadlines are met? How will you maintain transparency with your customers? Figure out how you are going to give peace of mind to your customers that their goods will arrive on time safely, as their supply chains depend on it.
Identify the ideal customer
If you don’t have a clear idea of who your customers are, your outreach strategies are going to be less focused, and therefore, less effective. Establish a profile of who your ideal customer is and use that as a starting point to structure your messaging so that it reaches and converts them. As a transportation business, your ideal customers will be B2B (business to business) as they deal in large quantities of goods when trading with one another.
Obtain business licences and permits
There are specific licences and permits you will need to run a transportation business. You (or any drivers you hire) will need heavy vehicle licenses and permits. You will also need to apply for relevant access permits that enable you to operate vehicles of certain mass on different road networks.
Choose a location
The location of your facilities is also a key consideration when it comes to establishing your transportation business. You need to think about where idle trucks will stay, access to maintenance, proximity to your client base, and more. Figure out how much space you need to make sure your business can run efficiently.
Be willing to change
While establishing your transportation business, you need to ensure that you are adaptable so that you can pivot your business to follow market trends. For example, focusing on serving one kind of industry to the exclusion of others can leave your business in a pinch if something major effects that industry.
Implement a Marketing Strategy
Marketing is how you ensure your ideal customers hear about you and gravitate towards soliciting your services. Even if you have the best vehicles and the most skilled drivers, your transportation business won’t succeed without adequate marketing to let people know about these things. Your competitors are investing in marketing, so you need to as well.
Word of Mouth
Word of mouth marketing is when people voluntarily discuss your business with others, giving you a form of free promotion. This usually occurs when one of your customers refers your services to someone else that they know because they had a good experience with you. The best way to fuel word of mouth is to deliver an excellent service.
Developing online marketing strategies to promote your business
One of the most commonly used and effective types of marketing for B2B companies is online marketing. Online marketing methods like SEO (search engine optimisation) and PPC (pay-per-click advertising) reach customers who are searching for the services you offer in a search engine (like Google). Email marketing is another outreach method that is worth pursuing with your transportation business. Because these marketing methods are digital, their performance is easily measurable via analytics, and this data can be used to make your strategy more effective.
Recruit High Quality Staff
The quality of the staff you hire influences every aspect of your operation, so you can’t afford to employ the wrong people. Specifically, making sure that you hire effective drivers and admin staff will help you in making sure that your transport services are executed professionally and efficiently. The better quality your staff, the easier they will be to manage in the long-term.
Your transportation business needs high-quality employees to run, and this means hiring people who have the necessary skills, qualifications, and experience to do the job well. As a minimum, you need to ensure that any staff/contractors you hire are experienced with and have the necessary permits/licenses/qualifications to handle the tools they will be using, whether that be a truck, an inventory management system, or anything else. Hiring employees who are experienced with the tools you want them to use will minimise human error and promote the efficiency of your business.
You also need to develop onboarding and training protocols for your employees. Even if your staff are all experienced when you hire them, you should still implement onboarding and training sessions so that they are all on the same page as to what you expect from them. You should also lay the groundwork for future training that they may need (such as if a new tool or system is introduced).
Numbers are going to be a big part of managing and growing your transportation business, so you need to make sure that you are keeping on top of them. Ensuring that you have adequate cash flow will be key to making sure that your company survives its early stages and goes on to become a profitable enterprise.
When it comes to freight and logistics companies, the importance of effective inventory management cannot be overstated. You need to have an inventory management system in place that tracks everything that comes through your business so that the chances of stock being lost or damaged is minimised as much as possible. It also allows you to be more transparent with your customers about how their goods are being managed.
You must identify your business expenses and develop a budget that allows you to satisfy all of them. Most budgets operate on a quarterly or monthly basis, and there’s a variety of different tools you can use to manage yours, ensuring that you spread out your costs effectively. If you are struggling to finance your business expenses, you might consider taking out a transport loan so that you can get the capital you need to establish your business.
OnDeck provides flexible loans that allow businesses to get the extra capital they need. Whether you need a transport loan for truck finance, new equipment for your facility, or just covering a dip in cash flow, OnDeck is able to help.
With OnDeck, you can easily apply for a transport loan between $5k and $250k, with terms ranging from 6 to 24 months. Getting the funding you need is an easy process with OnDeck.
Head to www.ondeck.com.au or call 1800 676 652 to start the application process today.
Road Freight Transport & Truck Frequently Asked Questions
Building a successful transport business requires you to develop a customer base and ensure that you have the means to provide them with consistent, affordable service. This means having trucks and drivers who can get the job done, as well as advanced facilities and inventory management systems to organise the workload and maximise efficiency.
One of the most frequently cited reasons for the failure of trucking companies is low cash flow. Operational costs are higher than many other businesses and taking on freight that does not pay high enough combined with slow payment of invoices can leave a transportation business without the money required to stay afloat.
Like most other businesses, transport companies get clients by leveraging the power of marketing. Marketing via online channels (such as email or search engines) has become the chief way that trucking companies attract new clients. Apart from marketing, transport companies also rely on referrals from their customers.