1. Defining Ideal Shipping and Trucking Clients
2. Exploring Load Boards
3. Finding Regular Clients
4. Shipping for the U.S. Government
5. Determining Costs

Truck contracts are used both by those who need to hire truckers and those hiring out their services. These contracts define the scope, cost, timeframe, and other terms of the project.

Defining Ideal Shipping and Trucking Clients

When starting a trucking company, it's important to define your ideal client. Being selective and strategic about the clients you work with is key to building a successful long-term business. Taking the time to define your ideal client can help guide decisions about whether to work with a particular individual or business. Start with the following considerations: 

  • Is the client a large freight brokerage or shipper?
  • Does the client pay well?
  • Do they pay quickly?
  • Will they hire you on a regular basis?
  • Do they ship freight to locations that are convenient?
  • Do they value good service above the lowest rate?
  • Do they have reasonable guidelines and regulations?

While few clients will meet all your criteria, it pays to make sure that those you choose to work with check most of these boxes.

Exploring Load Boards

When you first start your business, load boards can be a good resource to gain experience while earning money. With load boards, you'll find fierce competition for the best routes and loads, which means you may need to lower the price of your services. You'll also only get one load for the shipper, which means you need to return to the load board to find the next job. This is not the place to find regular work from reliable clients. However, when you do get a load, make sure you leave the shipper a pen, business card, or something else with your contact information on it.

Finding Regular Clients

The first step in building a client base is to contact shippers directly via phone or email. This is typically more effective and less expensive than print ads and other marketing methods. Get to know the types of shipments that travel from your area. Check out the load densities section and target brokers in a region where more loads than trucks are available. Post your trucks in these areas to receive steady work at more competitive prices. You should also post your trucks on boards in any area where you happen to be.

To broker your own loads, you can establish a broker LLC and target shippers who work with load brokers. With this strategy, you'll receive both the trucking fee and the brokerage fee. An advantage of having broker authority is that you can see the quotes of other carriers, which can help you competitively price your services.

Check online bidding sites for available accounts and contracts. You can easily browse these sites and bid on loads, with the load awarded to the lowest priced bidder. To get your first few jobs, price your services 5 percent lower than those of competitors. You can also search classified ads to find trucking contracts for hire. 

You can also market your trucking business on social media. Ask clients to post positive reviews and photos of your work that will convince additional clients to use your services. You can also expand your reach by advertising on these sites.

Shipping for the U.S. Government

The U.S. government is one of the largest shippers in the nation. Many of their loads are outsourced to small fleets and sole proprietors. You can find government shipping opportunities through the Postal Service on FedBizOpps and through the General Services Administration.

Determining Costs

To profit from your trucking services, it's important to determine and price your work higher than your costs. First, determine your vehicle's mileage per gallon by filling your tank, driving 100 miles, then filling it again and recording how many gallons of gas it takes to do so. Subtract the number of gallons it takes to fill the take from the total gallon capacity of your gas tank, then divide that number by 100 to reach your truck's mileage per gallon.

For each contract, determine the required mileage by multiplying the mileage for each trip by the number of trips. Then multiple this number by the cost per gallon of gas to determine the cost of your trip. 

If you need help with trucking contracts, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.