How Transport Startups Succeed

Trucks on a road
A road. A.Brazaitis photo

When most people hear the term transport company, they envision large fleets of trucks crisscrossing vast swaths of territory as they deliver huge shipments of goods to hundreds of retail and wholesale customers. In reality, most transportation businesses are small, city-wide entities that employ fewer than 50 office workers, drivers, and supervisors. For startups in the industry, those numbers are even smaller. 

The typical new entrant into the segment owns fewer than five vehicles and boasts a client list that features fewer than 20 names. Plus, new transport concerns spend most of their capital on marketing trends, advertising, and fuel in the hopes of slowly growing their customer base over time. What are the keys to success for fresh entrants into the transport field? Here are some of the ways first-time owners in this competitive niche get the job done.

Acquire Vehicles the Right Way

One of the toughest decisions for new owners in the transport field is figuring out how many vehicles to purchase. When time is not on your side, there are ways to make hard decisions fast that are still well thought out. Initially, this single act often accounts for the largest single cash or credit outlay of a startup. The good news is that there’s a way around this tricky decision. That’s why so many new entrants into the transportation sector lease their vehicles for the first few years of operation. After getting a feel for demand, it’s much easier to pinpoint the right number of trucks to buy after lease contracts expire. In most cases, owners eventually choose to buy their trucks rather than continue with long-term leases, primarily for reasons of cost and legal liability.

Fleet Management

Fleet management systems and programs are an essential part of any transportation entity. There’s no excuse for not using these vital, efficient, inexpensive applications to keep track of and safeguard assets in transit. Not only do fleet systems offer managers reams of data about vehicle location, cargo condition, route progress, weather conditions, vehicle condition, and driver hours, but tachograph management does even more. It routinely records rest period length, speed, driving time, and distance for every trip. On-site supervisors have access to all the data from fleet systems, including live, real-time tacho status, instant analysis, and the ability to download everything instantaneously and remotely.

Offer Comprehensive Driver Training

Smart owners of startup businesses invest in excellent driver-training programs. Most such schools are offered by a third-party organization, and tuition is not cheap. However, in order to attract the best drivers, companies typically agree to cover the cost of training in exchange for a one-year work contract. If the driver leaves before the year is up, he or she must repay most or all of the training expenses to the company. Wisely, new owners understand the long-term value of hiring the top training schools to educate drivers.

Use Strategic Promotion Techniques

Using strategic advertising and marketing might not be your specialty. If it isn’t, seek a competent provider and outsource the function to them. Be sure to shop around as there are lots of independent firms that sell marketing services. Focus on finding one that specializes in the transport industry and has excellent references.

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