You’re here because you want to know how to start a car hauling business and that’s precisely what I am going to help you do in this post.
Starting a car hauling business will take you on an unpredictable yet rewarding journey. Somewhere in the space between being your own boss and driving cars you’ve never driven before is exciting within itself. But the path to success will be a long and hard one, especially if you have no clue what you’re doing or how you’re getting there.
It’s so important that when you decide to start a car hauling business, or any business for that matter, you start it off on the right foot. This means making sure you follow the right steps so you don’t run into any legal issues and to ensure your experience goes as smoothly as possible, minimizing any potential hiccups.
When I started both my car hauling business and my auto transport broker business, I made so many mistakes. I wasn’t fortunate to have someone to turn to and ask questions or have someone to guide me. You see, it’s not always about the path someone took to success, usually it’s the mistakes they made that can prove the most valuable. Making sure you do not make those same mistakes.
Deciding to become a car hauler will bring you so much joy and happiness but with that comes stress, mistakes and confusion. Although I set out to guide you on the right path by sharing my advice on how to start a car hauling business with you, it doesn’t mean you won’t slip up a time or two. Because after all, even if Bill Gates or Warren Buffet told you exactly what they did to achieve success, I would bet my last dollar that you will still find many bumps in the road. Heck, you might be the one who simply doesn’t even make it.
With that said, the important thing here is making sure you start your business off right. Doing the right tasks in the beginning so you can be on your way to car hauling success.
So in this post, I am sharing the steps I suggest you take if you’re really serious about learning how to start a car hauling business on the right foot.
With that out the way, let’s get started.
Step 1: Getting your CDL
Before you jump into starting your own car hauling business, you need to make sure you have your CDL A license. If you don’t yet have one, it’s worth noting that you will have a harder and more expensive experience getting insured. You might want to consider getting some experience with general trucking first and then revisit starting your own company. If you don’t mind the higher fees and are inspired by a challenge, then by all means let’s get you started. Obviously, if you already hold a valid CDL A and you have experience in trucking, you’re ready to move on to the next step.
Step 2: Deciding on the right equipment
Your next step is all about equipment. You’ll need to figure out what type of truck/trailer you want and then price shop. Many people choose their equipment based on the route they plan to run. Want to go long distance? A larger carrier is the better choice whereas if you’re regional, a 3/4 car setup might be more practical. Some people want to start off with a dually and 3/4 car trailer setup and sometimes this works out for them. Financially, it’s a smaller upfront commitment. On the contrary, a 7-10 car setup might be what you’ve got your eyes set on. With a higher price tag comes higher earning possibility. Which one is right for you? Well only you can decide but definitely consider both your route plans and your finances. Either way you do need to decide and then move on to the next step.
Step 3: Getting insurance quotes
Once you’ve made a decision on the type of equipment you want, you’ll need to price shop insurance for said truck/trailer combination. As we talked about in step one, how long you’ve held your CDL alongside driving history, can make all the difference between getting insured and not.
You want to make sure that:
1) You can actually get insurance for the car hauling setup of your dreams.
2) You can afford the payment that comes along with getting insured.
Step 4: Getting your authority and fulfilling other legal requirements
Once you know you can afford/get approved for the truck/trailer setup and you can get approved and afford the insurance payments, you’ll need to get your legal ducks in a row. These include:
1) Incorporating your business
2) Getting your authority (MC + DOT numbers)
3) Getting your IFTA
4) File your UCR registration
5) Fulfill any other local/state requirements.
Aside from that you’ll also need a business account and legal documents for your business like your inspection sheet aka Bill of Lading. The terms and conditions found on this document and how you inspect the vehicle can make or break your new business so do not skimp here.
Step 5: Purchasing your equipment
Now that you’ve officially started the process, you have to do the biggest and scariest thing: make the big purchase. Within 30 days of filing your application for your operating authority, you’ll need to buy the truck and insure it. If you don’t and the DOT decides to audit you, you’ll be shut down. Let’s not let that happen, so here’s when you finally take the leap. Smile, you’re about to become a car hauler!
Step 6: Setting up a website
You need to have a website and a professional email address. Yes, you’ve read that right! I get it, you like your email@example.com email address but customers don’t. Even though you’re a trucker, you can still have some swag and that is achieved through an awesome email address. Plus it makes you trustworthy. You need something like firstname.lastname@example.org or whatever your company’s name is. There’s no excuse, fancy email addresses like that are free when you buy your domain. As far as a website is concerned, it’s very important that you start trying to generate your own leads from the get go. I’m sure by now you’ve heard the saying, “brokers make us broke.” Well if you depend on brokers and you take whatever they give you without a fight so to speak, you will be broke and out of business. I’m sure you don’t want to rely on brokers forever… so yeah, about that website and fancy email address?
Step 7: Signing up for the load board
Once the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) has approved your authority, you can get ready to jump for joy because it’s getting down to the wire. Your next step is to head to CentralDispatch.com and sign up for access. There is a monthly fee commitment, but we are going to say it’s the cost of doing business. Or in your case the only way to be in business. Central dispatch is a load board used by brokers, carriers and dealers. You will need to use it to find and book your loads. So get on there and start looking for loads. As a small wildcard, I want to mention software. I know it’s not something most drivers talk about but let me tell you, you won’t regret the small invest. I highly recommend that you invest in a carrier software to make managing your business easier especially with things like tracking your fuel and planning your route. I recommend carshipio.com. Totally worth the monthly investment.
Step 8: Start making your money
The final step is a no brainer. Once you’ve started finding your loads and getting a feel for the load board, it’s time to start making your money. In the beginning it’s going to go one of two ways:
1) You’re going to get a huge amount of money and be tempted to spend it all. (Which i advise against that)
2) You’re going to look at your first run like, what the heck did I get myself into?
Whichever way it goes, just remember that nothing great happens overnight. Keep at it. Run legal and put your all into it! I can’t promise that it’ll get easier with time, but I can promise that you’ll never get bored.
So there you have it. Follow these 8 simple steps if you want to start a car hauling business. It’s not rocket science really, but it’s critical in my opinion, that you do them in the right order and within the right time frames. The last thing you want is to make a mistake that can cost you money or worst, your car hauling business before you even start.
The only thing standing in your way of your dreams is the decision to start and I think you’ve taken that step already. But if you haven’t, make that decision, follow these steps and you will be on your way to success. If you want a more detailed step by step process for starting, running and growing your business, check out the car hauling business course here.
I hope this was helpful.
ADDED 12/2017: As of Dec 2017, all commercial vehicles are required to have an ELD system installed. An ELD is electronic logging device. According to my contact at the FMCSA, even if you have a dually setup, you have to have an ELD installed. Congress thinks it’ll make the road and drivers safer.