Building an Owner-Operator Trucking Business Plan

Your business plan will have

  1. an executive summary
  2. a company overview
  3. a marketing plan
  4. a set of goals or milestones
  5. a list of the current staff
  6. a financial plan.

TruckingOffice can help you as we break down each step of writing your owner-operator trucking business plan for your success.

Today we’ll talk about the Company Overview.

Company Overview

In TruckingOffice, we have a  business report we call the Company Overview Report.  It covers a variety of information that is specific to a trucking business – the numbers that tell your business’ story.

  • Revenues per mile
  • Costs per mile
  • Revenue per load
  • Fuel purchase
  • Loaded miles
  • Deadhead miles
  • and many other important details.

All of these numbers tell you how your business runs. It analyzes your data and shows you critical facts that aren’t always obvious.  You may know how much you got paid for a load, but do you know how much money you actually profited?  Not until you factor in all the other expenses of the trip, including fuel, coffee, tolls and even the number of times you had to stop.  But this analysis is very important to you.  It helps you decide on what price you’ll take for a load and what you can’t afford to haul.  You’ll learn what loads are making you money and what isn’t.  You’ll find where the money is going and how much you’re spending on maintenance.

A business plan company overview does the same thing:  it starts with your data and shows the values of what your business is and where it can improve.

Part 1: Your Future Starts with Your History

A company overview starts with your company’s history.  When did you get your CDL?  When did you buy your first truck?  When did you pay off your first truck loan?  Did you pay it off on time?  Were there hard times when the truck payment was the only thing you could pay that month?

It doesn’t seem like your history is very important in the overall scale of your business plan, but you’ve got a lot to learn from what you’ve already done.

  • You could look at a Company Overview Report from TruckingOffice and discover a month with several long distance loads brought in less profit than a week with several short trips.
  • Maybe the maintenance bills were so high that one time that you were struggling, but it taught you how to start saving an emergency fund to reduce your dependence on factoring services or credit cars.
  • Buying that new truck saved you thousands over trying to keep that old hunk of junk going by reducing maintenance costs and time stuck on the side of the road.
  • By working to develop a positive relationship with a new client resulted in a year with a regular load schedule.

Looking backward isn’t always pretty.  You’ll have to face the failures as well as the successes.  But it’s true, we learn more from our mistakes.  Those are the lessons we never forget.

How to Write a Business Plan Company Overview

There are several options, but maybe a timeline is the best place to start.  Get a piece of notebook paper and a pencil.

Start with your CDL.  Put the date down next to the margin line and write it in.  Then what was the next significant event?  Your first job.  The first long distance trip?  The first oversize load?  Pick the things that had an impact on your business.  Maybe that first (and only) trip with a tanker made you decide you were not going to do that again.

End the timeline with a current statement about your business:  who is the owner?  Who are the employees and stakeholders in the business?  Where is it located?

We can’t tell you what events changed your future.  Our founder Allen had a growing family, which changed his plans.  Do you have something outside of trucking that influences which loads you’ll take and what you won’t?

This version of the Company Overview can be as in-depth as you want.  If you’re looking for financing, it’s probably going to be in a format other than a timeline, but it’s a good place to start to put your ideas on paper.  Then, if you need to make a more formal report, you’ll have the information on hand.

Creating a Narrative

If you are planning to use your business plan for financing, then it would be better to write your company overview as your story.  You can choose to say “I started my business in 1999 as Joe’s Trucking Services with my first job hauling loads for Smith Trucking Company” and go on from there.  Or you can choose to be more formal and talk about your company from someone else’s point of view:  “Joe’s Trucking Services started in business in 1999 when Joe Schmoe leased on with Smith Trucking Company.  Whichever you choose, be consistent.  Stick with the most important events as you write out your business plan company overview.

Your timeline will serve as a good outline, but keep this part of the document relatively short, because there is a

Part 2:  List Your Services and Customers

Most of the people on the road don’t know one truck from another except by color.  So if you provide a specific type of service based on the equipment you own or have access to (lease or borrow) then this is where you put that information.  If you haul cattle, your potential customers are going to be very different from the truckers who deliver for Amazon.  (I don’t think Amazon delivers cows, but I could be wrong.)

This statement:  I haul freight for XYZ Company is a bit short, unless that’s your only customer.  Do you have regular customers? Or do you get loads from a load board or a particular broker?  Do you handle LTL?  Are you regional, local, national, or international?   By thinking bigger than listing your customers by name in your company overview, you might come up with some ideas about how to reach new customers.  “I haul heavy machinery for a local manufacturer” might make you think of other companies who may be interested in your services.

Try to define your business in specific terms but don’t get carried away.  Your owner-operator trucking business plan isn’t a government document.  It shouldn’t be too long.  Your business plan will change over time as you reach your goals or your focus changes.  Keep it short and concise so reading again won’t be such a chore than you never do it again.

Next, we’ll talk about your potential – the market you serve and the market you need to reach with your Marketing Plan.