Strategies for Success in Trucking The Path Less Traveled: Getting Your Own Direct Shipping Customers
By Karen Albert
Whether you’re an independent owner-operator in the trucking industry or operate a fleet of trucks, finding and securing your own customers will be more profitable than utilizing brokerage services for the majority of your business.
Using a broker is often unavoidable; however, if you really want to increase your profits, the key is finding a customer base and marketing your services to potential shippers. By relying solely on brokers and load boards to move freight, many trucking companies – especially smaller carriers are missing out on a large portion of revenue that could have been theirs to keep.
Going the Extra Mile
Going the extra mile and spending the time it takes to develop direct business relationships can offer many financial rewards. The question is; how do you go about finding customers – especially when you are a small-business?
When my husband and I began our business in 1996, we visited our local library to research companies which shipped the type of freight that could be transported on a flatbed trailer. Our goal was to concentrate on two major cities – establishing a “freight lane” in which we were going to work.
We only had one truck at the time and our thoughts were to develop strong relationships with a few customers on both ends. We found obtaining 3 to 5 customers in each of those two cities kept our truck moving freight daily.
Our library visits often included many hours of research in magazines, business and trade publications as well as gathering information within the “Standard Industry Codes.” Today, the SIC code information on companies can be found on the Internet. This can be a valuable tool as specific information can be found in regards to a shippers product or material, address, phone number, years in business, credit rating, size and number of employees etc… Also, the CEO or other contacts of reference to staff members may be listed. The SIC codes offer access to many types of businesses and allow for detailed searches to be catered to those companies in which you plan to market your services.
All Business is Local
Other valuable sources of research could include your local retailers or distributors. These stores carry all types of products from garden items to various home essentials which are transported to their establishments every day. The materials at these locations all provide a label which shows where the product originated. We would simply look for cities that we wanted to serve. Often times the phone number was located on the label as well. Seasonal items can also be a big money maker – for example: pumpkins and Christmas trees. If you live near farms or your traffic lane runs nearby where these items are grown, you can call or make a visit to the growers and market your services to these potential customers.
For many small-business truckers, finding your own customers is often the path less traveled, however it’s the road that can lead to higher profitability.
About the Author: Karen Albert has been the co-owner of Albert Transport, Incorporated for the past 17 years. She graduated from Harcum College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania in 1986 with a degree in Travel/Hotel Management. She worked as a sales manager in hotels and resorts for 13 years. From her background in hospitality, Karen brings a unique perspective into the trucking industry with a focus on customer service. Karen can be contacted at: