AUTO TRANSPORT BUSINESS STARTUP
Part 2 of 2
How To Start New Car Hauling Business by Jay W. of Auto Transport Intel
NOTE: Due to the size of this blog, this post is only STEPS 11-20.
Click here for steps 1-10.
11) CREATE A COMPLIANCE & SAFETY MANAGEMENT PLAN
The FMCSA mandates safety and compliance laws, rules and regulations and the nationwide Department of Transportation (DOT) officers enforce them. The FMCSA Safety and Fitness Electronic Records (SAFER) System supplies company safety data online as part of your Company Safety Record https://safer.fmcsa.dot.gov/
As the owner, you are responsible for maintaining your own Company Safety Records https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/resources-for-drivers Think of these records as a portable expanding file containing an individual folder for every driver, each truck and any trailer you own and operate. In addition, every document, folder, and file must be available and ready for any DOT officer to inspect upon request, including:
a) Driver Qualification File – This is a folder containing copies of any licensing, IDs, medical card, past driving record, drug and alcohol testing results, and personal job application (per driver). You will also want to maintain copies of all driver log sheets for compliance and billing records.
b) Truck Maintenance Plan File – To ensure public and road safety, each and every truck and trailer requires a thorough and documented pre-inspection called a Driver’s Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR) https://www.flhsmv.gov/fhp/CVE/DVIReport.pdf – as well as preventative maintenance logs with details of completed repairs. Proper documentation will include vehicle information such as Year, Make, Model, VIN, and Unit #, as well as updates, improvements, and parts, changed or replaced noted with day, month, and year.
12) PROPER MARKING OF CMVs & EQUIPMENT
Per the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations (e-CFR), Title 49 Subtitle B Chapter III Subchapter B Part 390, subsection 390.21 – every Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) must display the following information: Business Name (DBA), USDOT#, MC Authority, and GVWR – as well as all appropriate plating, IFTA sticker, and Unit #. You may want to bookmark https://www.ecfr.gov
13) SIGN UP WITH CENTRAL DISPATCH
Central Dispatch is by far the most important Load Board in the auto transport industry. Before you are ready to haul vehicles, you must learn how Central Dispatch can help you stay loaded https://www.centraldispatch.com/hiw-carriers/ In addition, Central Dispatch offers a 30-day free trial https://www.centraldispatch.com/signup/ Be aware that signing up can take approximately one week for processing, so you may want to sign up 10 days before you are ready to pick up cars. Before contacting them, have your three (3) set up documents ready to submit: 1) a copy of your MC Authority Certificate 2) a current dated and signed W-9 form https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw9.pdf 3) a copy of your Insurance Certificate with Central Dispatch listed as the Certificate Holder (ask your insurance agent if they can provide this in ACORD format). Then, Learn Best Practices and How To Search For Vehicles by watching new Car Hauling Dispatcher YouTube videos at: https://www.youtube.com/c/AutoTransportIntel
14) EMBRACE NEW CAR HAULING TECHNOLOGY (& BOL)
Paper bills of lading were the trucking standard up until about yesterday – and fax machines might have been relevant last year, but times have changed and everything is going electronic. Plus, you should ALWAYS be taking pictures (and/or recording video) during your initial inspection prior to picking up and loading. With the right car hauling software, you’ll have an effective and efficient method to organize and manage all of those photos and digital documents within each individual order. That’s how you work smarter.
Most of all, now that the ELD rule is a legal mandate, you really need to be conducting your business on a computer, tablet, or cell phone. That includes being visible by GPS, using email as your primary method of sending and receiving dispatches and business documents, using digital signature software such as DocuSign https://www.docusign.com/ and leveraging your business around a new Car Hauling TMS and eBOL Mobile App (such as CarShipIO http://www.carshipio.com/Home/Landing Schedule your personal free demo today). And if you don’t know how to properly complete a bill of lading, contact me and I’ll walk you through it.
15) GAIN EXPERIENCE & POSITIVE RATINGS
When you first start booking loads on Central Dispatch, some brokers will reject you because you’re a New Car Hauling Business. The reason given could be that you don’t have over twenty (20) Positive Ratings – or that you haven’t been in business for more than six (6) Months.
The truth is, you will always meet certain auto brokers that insist you are not ready to sign up with them. To overcome these obstacles, network with other drivers, talk to more brokers, obtain positive Central Dispatch ratings, and get your foot in the door with that shipper. You can do it.
20 positive ratings are your first goal. 0 negative ratings are your second goal. Anytime you see a negative rating pending in your account, address it right away! Central Dispatch has a fair and responsive dispute resolution process. Respond immediately, state your case, and make them understand. They will help you. Don’t Burn Bridges.
16) OTHER LOAD BOARDS & MORE AUTO BROKERS
Regardless of your original step one new car hauling strategic plan, there will always be more opportunities and additional ways to find more loads. These are the other Load Boards you will want to join:
- Ready Logistics http://www.1dispatch.com/
- CarsArrive Network http://www.carsarrive.com/
- United Road http://www.urautoloads.com/
- Metrogistics http://www.metroloads.com/
- Reindeer Logistics LLC http://carrier.reindeerauto.com/
- Uship http://www.uship.com/
In addition to joining these free Load Boards, there are many Auto Brokers you can contact and get set up with. Many of them will require that you complete a New Carrier Set-Up Packet before they can include your new Car Hauling Business within their preferred carrier list.
- Accelerated Services 1 http://www.loadrequest.com/
- Auto & Boat Relocations Services http://www.autoandboat.com/
- DIY Transport, Inc. http://www.diytransport.com/
- JMN Logistics LLC http://www.jmnhaul.com/
- Posey Logistics Inc http://www.poseytrans.com/
- ReloTrans, LP http://relotrans.com/
- RPM Frieght Systems LLC http://www.rpmcarriers.com/
- Sancrest http://sancrest.com/
- ShipYourCarNow LLC http://shipyourcarnow.com/
- Southern Base Transport Services http://www.southernbasetransport.com/
- TTS, LLC-TX http://www.tts-us.com/company/company.aspx
- Wholesale Express LLC https://www.wholesaleinc.com/
17) CONSIDER HIRING A DISPATCHER
Brokers make phone calls to check on cars they have dispatched to carriers. Dealers, residents, and third-party customers expect to be notified of what’s going on. Vehicles need to be booked and loads need to be verified. Insurance certificates may need to be updated, invoices followed up on, and last-minute changes handled. Consider hiring a dispatcher to book loads on your behalf and make these phone calls. Maybe you can’t enlist a family member? Also, Central Dispatch has a classified ads section where you can find and contact a dispatcher service.
Yes, dispatching is an added service, another mouth to feed, and therefore an additional expense. Most dispatchers charge a percentage of every load they book but some work on a flat fee. Some are more expensive than others (and a few might over-promise what they take care of). But make no mistake. A good dispatcher can help you grow your business – and a great dispatcher is worth every penny. If done right, you’ll wonder how you ever did it without them.
18) SPECIALIZE YOUR transport BUSINESS CAPABILITIES
At some point, you’ve probably tried to move a few cars that were much more complicated than you had originally thought. Either you were unable to complete the job without incurring additional expense, enlisting other help, or you had to overcome an unforeseen major obstacle. That’s when we make mental notes to do things differently next time. (And of course, don’t say ‘No’; find the answer!)
Now it’s time to turn those mental notes into action. Acquire the tools and knowledge that will expand your business capability. For example, adding a 10,000-pound winch to your truck is a great way to start moving better paying residential Inoperable Vehicles. And make sure you have a battery charging jump box for cars that have been sitting too long at the auction. Or consider obtaining a TWIC card to pick up and deliver at ports instead of hiring a vehicle escort https://www.tsa.gov/for-industry/twic Unite new tools and knowledge to position your transportation operation as a specialty carrier!
19) BUILD YOUR NEW CAR HAULING business BRAND
You don’t have to be a celebrity to set yourself apart. But you should at least have a website, business cards, and some form of a logo on your clothing and truck. Even if you start with a black t-shirt and a hat with your company name, find ways to brand and promote your Auto Transport Business and running lane. Brokers will remember you if you take care of them. Dealers will appreciate your professionalism. Make your business shine through excellent communication, reliable timing, professional equipment, and a positive attitude. (And reflect back on step one).
20) RETAIN NEW AUTO TRANSPORT business CUSTOMERS
Whether it’s an auto broker that regularly calls you first or a customer that loves your commitment to excellence – over time you’ll need to establish a Preferential Business Relationship with somebody. Get creative and try to convert a business contact into a regular customer. Revisit past jobs, comb through old leads and try to get their future work by calling you direct. If you have not done this by the beginning of your third year in business, re-evaluate your original strategy. You can’t live off load boards forever – they are too unpredictable.
Nearly every owner-operator’s dream is to expand into more trucks and more drivers. But beware: Do not try to grow too quickly and do not expand too fast. Do not let your debt get ahead of you or you will find yourself back at square one. Be patient and persistent. Be realistic and cautious. And always strive to be the best Auto Transport Business owner you can be.
NOTE: Due to the size of this blog, this post is only STEPS 11-20.
Click here for steps 1-10.
BEST OF LUCK AND THANK YOU
I truly hope this article helps you. And if it has, or if you have further questions, please visit my YouTube channel at: https://www.youtube.com/c/AutoTransportIntel or send me an email. And again, I urge you to verify this information and double-check with the FMCSA, DOT, or any state law or agency for specifics and details of any licensing or regulatory process.
Disclaimer: Everything in this article is public information and its purpose is to help you get organized. Hence, I have not asked anyone to pay me for this advice. I cannot (and will not) be held liable for any errors or omissions contained herein by any individual or company.
In addition, I also want to give a very special thanks to my Owner-Operator friends for providing incredible feedback. And to all the Auto Transport Industry and Community members who strive to improve our Ecosystem, I tip my hat and thank you as well. For the Greatest Success in Life comes to those who have built Great Relationships.