Starting a new trucking company or running a new trucking company? If you haven’t yet put together your trucking company business plan it’s time to get on it. Why is the creation of a business plan an important item? If you think of the business plan compared to the engine of a truck, you can see the parallels: the business plan houses the energy and forward motion of the company just as the truck engine houses the energy and forward motion of the vehicle. With this in mind, the following are the action items in a business plan and the ways in which you can initialize them.
Mission and Objectives: Define
This section of your business plan is yours alone, as you consider your mission in starting your trucking company and the objectives you have in building it. This action item is a personal statement and doesn’t need to be more than 3-4 sentences; however, it will inform potential investors or lenders of the reasons your company exists and where you want it to go.
Target Audience: Research
To perform research, you’ll want to first think about who your customers are or who they might be in the coming months. Are you working with dispatchers or company owners? What issues are especially important to them: scheduling, routing, etc.? Make a list of what your customers will want and need from your trucking company. Also, make a list of what they find to be “ideal” about a trucking company. This is your target and you’ll want to offer unique services to overcome your competition.
Direct Competitors: Research
Both direct and indirect competitors will be on your radar to research. Direct competitors are those companies who provide the same services as your company. Indirect competitors may offer partial trucking services. For example, a direct competitor will bid on the same routes as yours while an indirect competitor may bid on different routes near yours or part of the same route.
Check out the pricing, if possible, of all competitors and determine if any other direct competitors offer unique or value-added offers for their customers. Find out the schedules and routes of your competitors and if they carry shipments from more than one company at the same time. These questions form a framework for your marketing campaigns.
All business plans include financial reports and projections; this is a critical action item in your business plan. Why? A completed financial section within your business plan can be presented to potential investors or lenders. It cements the impression that you are on the top of your business game. If funding is needed for startup capital, you’ll have the plan right in your hand.
Whether you are applying for trucking company loans or a line of credit from a bank, talking to potential investors or negotiating a lease, having your financials in order is crucial. Your financials should include a balance sheet, income statement, and cash flow statement. These documents are the key metrics that will let potential lenders, investors, and other stakeholders know the financial health of your business. If you need help preparing your financials, it’s wise to consult with an accountant.
Marketing Strategies: Plan
You may have already considered how you will market your trucking company services; however, it is worthwhile to sketch out the marketing plans you will use. Here are questions to answer as you line up your marketing strategies:
- Is your trucking company different from your competitors? Is it unique in any way?
- What benefits of your trucking company can you offer to customers?
- Does your trucking company offer services that cannot be easily replicated by your competitors?
- Does your trucking company “add value” to the basic services provided?
After answering these questions, you’ll be in a strong position to create your marketing strategies. Use one or more of the following in your business plan:
- Create a Compelling Website – Most potential customers today will want to find your company through an online search. Your website speaks volumes about your trucking company; create a clear marketing message coupled with a dynamic visual impression on your home page. Ensure your contact information is easy to find and use search engine optimization (SEO) to make it easier for potential customers to find your company.
- Try a Little Outreach – Maybe you’ll volunteer to write about or discuss trucking industry issues for a local news station or newspaper. You might want to be involved in trucker associations as a speaker, or find other community outlets for speaking. Even a small effort can result in new business opportunities.
- Advertise – Reach out in trucking industry periodicals and in regional newspapers to let everyone know your business is running. You can use PPC (pay-per-click) advertising and other options online, as well. These methods have been successful over the long haul, so use them to propel your company forward.
In each of these action items found within your business plan, potential investors or lenders will discover you and your trucking company in positive ways. Your business plan will be a dynamic record of your past, present and future; keep it up-to-date and enjoy your success in watching your company grow.