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 your marketing plan.

What’s the Market Look Like?

I could be wrong, but I don’t think there’s a lot of call for truckers to haul cattle in Ohio.  There’s probably a lot more steel and ball bearings in Ohio to be moved.

What do you want to haul?  What trailer do you have right now?  Those two questions will help you start your marketing plan.

The marketing plan section of the owner-operator trucking business plan helps you understand the current need for your services and whether it’s growing.

For example, did anyone predict the rise of consumers buying cars online and needing them to be transported across the country?  Vehicle transportation was once only part of the automotive industry but now there are a lot of people breaking into the trucking industry with a heavy-duty pick-up truck and a small car trailer.

Research can be complicated to do online.

Unless the government has statistics on the exact topic you’re looking for, getting a good idea about the trucking industry and its statistics can be a challenge.  However, you may be able to get statistical reports about the trucking industry from the trucking associations.  The American Trucking Association offers a number of reports for its members which would show the patterns of growth of various types of trucking.

The marketing plan needs to include these statistics:  you need to discover if there’s a future in the transportation field. (There is.)  Your plan is to lay out how you’re going to get into this market and make money.  There’s two parts to consider.

Your Current Customers

Creating a customer list and keeping in touch with them for future loads pays off.  They know you and your work ethic.  They have seen your commitment to excellence and meeting their needs.  That’s the best marketing you have.  Don’t ignore them!

Reaching out to recent shippers keeps your name in mind when the next shipment comes up.  What’s the best way to do this?

Social Media – Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram allow you to contact people fairly easily if you know their name.  It’s also likely that you’ll find companies on these platforms too.  If you follow them, then you can make some connections.  It seems like a stretch to follow a big company, but you never know what you might find out about their business or their priorities.  If they mention they want to support veterans if you’re a veteran of the armed forces, that might be a way for you to get more attention.

Email – You need to know an email address if you want to write to them, but those sometimes can be found through company websites.  If you’ve hauled freight for a company in the past, you may already have an email to send your invoice and BOL, but that’s probably the accounting department, not shipping.  You can get an email address from the shipping department and add it to your customer list in TruckingOffice trucking management software.

Handouts/flyers – If you’re creative and have the time to prepare a flyer, you might leave one the next time you haul a load.  You could mail companies near your home or the companies where you’ve made deliveries.  Mail is becoming rarer and might get more attention than an email, or it might end up in the trash.

Keeping track of contacts is important.

It’s relationships that produce the most profitable loads.

Keeping track of contacts is important. Relationships produce the most profitable loads.  Using TruckingOffice’s customer list builder will allow you to store contact information.  This will be valuable for the slow times when you need to find loads – you can count of having all the data about your customers on hand if you’re in a community and need a load to get home.

Brokers

Consider this:  the last choice of a shipper is to hire some random trucker off a board that they don’t know.  Shippers work with brokers because they trust the broker to come up with a good trucker.  And brokers who know good drivers aren’t going to post a good load on a load board.  It’s the relationship built on trust.  Part of your marketing strategy is going to be based on a good broker relationship.

Get to know your market after you’ve decided who you want to serve.  Are you able to use your equipment to haul a variety of loads?  Or is it limited to specific types, such as a car carrier or refrigerated foods?

As brokers get to know what you are able to haul, they will offer you more specific loads.  The more reliable you prove to be as a trucker, the more offers of loads you’ll receive.  That’s how this business works:  it’s as much who you know as it is being in the right place at the right time.  While building relationships takes time – and you probably will interact with many brokers – you’ll learn who you want to work with too.  Keeping in contact with them will help them remember you.

The Marketing Plan

Put all these markets into a short document.  Graphs convey a lot of information – use them for the market share reports.  A list of your customers and brokers will give a good perspective of how you’re already serving your customers.  You can also include how you intend to bring in more customers and more loads, or if you want to diversify, how you’ll reach this new target market.

This is the first step in your owner-operator trucking business plan that starts to look forward.  How are you going to apply this collected information toward your future? Do you see something you did the past that helped you?  Can you do it again?

As you write your marketing plan, keep all these things in mind as we move to the next step:  Creating your future on paper with goals and milestones.