Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The Next Five

Yesterday in my post titled 10 Things To Know Before Starting A Trucking Company - A Primer I listed the first five things you needed to know before starting a trucking company.  Here are the next five:

10 Things To Know Before Starting A Trucking Company - A Primer (continued)
By Salena Lettera

6.   Do you need special clearances or endorsements added to your license?
Many drivers will need a Hazardous Materials (HazMat) endorsement and possibly a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) to transport certain freight or access shipping ports or military installations.  Those are both available through the Department of Homeland Security.

In addition to those two credentials,
other endorsements may be needed to pull certain trailer types - tankers, doubles and triples, etc. – you can inquire at your local motor vehicle department regarding those.  These all cost money that usually comes out of your own pocket but these special additions are typically good for two to five years depending on your state and the type of endorsement you get, and often provide advantages to you over other drivers when being considered to haul certain kinds of freight.

Although it’s wise to get the manual from your state to study and review,
these practice tests are helpful because the operation of the vehicle and the information needed for the endorsements are generally similar.  I’ve used them many times finding the repetition helps to solidify the information in my mind.

7.   What kind of business license, permits, regulatory documentation, insurance, etc. do you need? And what about complying with electronic logging device (ELD) regulations?
Registering your business with your state is one of the first steps you can take in making your company official.  Trucking is a federally regulated industry and whether you’re intra-state or inter-state, there are some requirements you’ll have to meet for both.  The links below will allow you to access the information you need to get started in these areas.

Get your U.S. DOT Number and your Motor Carrier (MC) Operating Authority Number through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

Go to the IRS website to find out about filing your Form 2290, Heavy Highway Vehicle Use Tax (HVUT) Return.

Check the FMCSA website for Electronic Logging Devices information.

In addition to all of this, you’ll need insurance for your business – liability, bobtail, cargo, etc. – making sure to check minimums and get enough to cover cargo damage.  There are several companies that deal primarily with the trucking industry and they can help you get started with determining what fits your operation.

8.   Do you want to be an independent contractor leased on to a large carrier or do you want to do everything yourself?
Many owner-operators lease on with a large carrier who will handle everything from finding customers, to doing most of what’s listed above in #7.  This leaves you to drive, maintain your vehicle, and prepare and pay your taxes.  Leasing your equipment on to a company means they’ll take a small percentage of what the load pays, which is often worth it, especially when you’re first starting out and learning the ropes of being independent.  Other drivers handle everything themselves, using load boards such as GetLoaded or DAT to find loads, which they book themselves and then deal with payment on their own or through a factoring company.  You will need to do your research on this to determine what will be the best path for you.

9.   Do you have money or credit to fund the equipment you’ll need, in addition to a small stas to get you through the first 6 months.
Start-up expenses include equipment purchases, licensing and regulatory fees, insurance, maintenance costs, employee pay, etc.  Start-up and operating expenses are a big concern when creating any business, but in trucking, some of the equipment can cost as much as an average person makes in a year.  Sometimes, even as much as one would pay for a house, so you have to be realistic about what you can afford from the outset and what you can keep going.  If you don’t have this kind of money lying around, you’re going to want to look into financing for what you need.  Do this homework early in the process.

10.  Are you a member of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA)?
If not, join today!  The OOIDA is a North American international trade organization dedicated to the interests of truck drivers.  As a member of OOIDA, you will be supporting the only organization that represents the nation’s small business truckers.  OOIDA fights for your rights.  They are your voice.  They are your advocates.  They represent us to the lawmakers in Washington, D.C. and let them know how truckers feel about what’s happening in our industry.  Since 1973, the year OOIDA was founded, they’ve been fighting for the rights of professional truckers and continue their mission to this day.  In addition to being on top of policies and regulations that affect our industry, they offer truck insurance, health and life benefits, retirement plans, rebate and discount programs, education and business tools, classes, and more.  It’s a vital part of our industry, and well worth the $45 per year for the membership.  They’ll even send you a free monthly magazine!  

These ten steps are just a guide to get you started, but they should push you in the right direction.  As with any endeavor, it’s best to gather as much information as you can and move forward with some kind of plan.  If you’re already driving a truck, you have some of that information already, which will make the transition to owning your own business that much easier.

Surf the net, stop at truck stops to pick up industry magazines, and don’t be afraid to send emails to people like me who work in and write about the industry.  What I’ve found being in this business, is that drivers are willing to share information, whether they help you themselves or point you in the direction you need to go to find the answer to your questions.
This is very much within your reach.  I wish you the best of luck!

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Vintage Ed

2016: Elixir
2015: March Woods
2014: What A Guy Will Do To Get Out Of Watching Girl TV
2013: Up And Over The Green Mountains Of Vermont
2012: Perhaps She’s A Closet Road Warrior
2011: Fifty-Five Years And Counting
2010: Humor That Needs A Humidifier
2009: Eddie Is He Wearing Trousers?? Friday
2008: Soon To Be Yummy Snack Food
2007: This Is What I’ve Been Doing Lately
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

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