Starting an intermodal trucking company is a process. There are many things to consider when making the decision to start a business, but with careful planning and execution, you can make your dream of owning a trucking company a reality.
Here are the 10 steps you can take to get started on building your very own intermodal trucking business.
10 Steps to Launching a New Intermodal Trucking Business
1. Choose Your Type of Intermodal Trucking Business
The first step in launching an intermodal trucking business is to identify the type of intermodal trucking business you want to launch. You might choose from the following types among others:
Full Truckload (FTL): A full truckload carrier provides intermodal transportation for shippers with large loads that require an entire trailer.
Less than Truckload (LTL): A less than truckload carrier provides intermodal transportation for shippers with smaller loads that do not require a full trailer.
Expedited: An expedited trucking company provides intermodal transportation for shippers with time-sensitive shipments.
2. Name Your Intermodal Trucking Business
Give your intermodal trucking business an identity so people will think of it as a well-known and respected brand. You can take the name of your intermodal trucking business from your industry, focus on a geographical location, or use your own name among other options.
The main goal for naming your intermodal trucking business is to make it sound appealing and trustworthy so that people will want to do business with you.
3. Determine Your Intermodal Trucking Business Model
There are several possible types of business models for an intermodal trucking business including:
- Brokerage: You act as a middleman between the shipper and the carrier.
- Asset-based: You own your trucks and other equipment.
- Management: You find and manage drivers for other companies.
No matter which model you choose, make sure that it aligns with your business goals and the services you offer.
4. Choose a Legal Form for Your Business
By incorporating your intermodal trucking business, you will limit your liability. You can incorporate as a Limited Liability Company (LLC), a C Corporation (C-Corp), or an S Corporation (S-Corp). Or you can operate as a sole proprietorship.
The business structure you choose for your intermodal trucking business will determine the amount of taxes you pay and which state or federal tax forms you need to file.
Read our article comparing the most common intermodal trucking business structures.
5. Write an Intermodal Trucking Business Plan
All intermodal trucking business owners should develop a business plan.
A business plan is a document that outlines the goals, strategies, and operations of a business. It can be used to secure funding from investors or lenders, as well as to guide the day-to-day operations of the business. The business plan should include information on the company’s products or services, market analysis, financial projections, and management team among other things.
Read our article about how to write an intermodal trucking business plan.
6. Apply for the Necessary Permits and Licenses
There may be required licenses and permits you need to obtain before launching your intermodal trucking business.
For example, if you are operating as an interstate trucking company, you will need to apply for an Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) Operating Authority. You will also need to obtain a DOT Number from the U.S. Department of Transportation and register your trucks with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
You must also register your intermodal trucking business as a legal entity with the state where you plan to do business. You can simply file an online form through your Secretary of State website.
Registering with the federal government is also essential so you can properly pay taxes for your business. You will also need an Employer Identification Number (EIN), which you can apply for at the IRS website, if you plan to hire employees.
7. Determine Your Budget & Apply for Funding as Needed
In developing your intermodal trucking business plan, you will figure out how much funding you need to start and grow your business.
If you have your own funds to invest in your intermodal trucking business, you may consider taking advantage of that. In addition to your personal funds, other forms of potential funding for your intermodal trucking business include traditional bank loans, SBA loans, credit cards, angel investors and family and friends.
Read our article about the costs associated with starting an intermodal trucking business to help you determine if funding is needed.
Read our article about how to fund your intermodal trucking business.
8. Get the Technology & Software Needed to Run Your Business Efficiently
When you start your intermodal trucking business, it’s essential to have the right technology in place to maximize efficiency. You definitely need a computer with Internet access, and accounting software for tracking expenses and revenues.
You may also want to invest in software specifically designed for the trucking industry. There are many software programs available that can help with dispatch, fleet management, and even fuel tax reporting.
9. Market Your Intermodal Trucking Business to Potential Clients
Before you start selling your services, you have to let the world know you exist. The first step is to create a website so people can learn more about your services and how they benefit them.
After you launch your website, start promoting it through social media channels like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Also consider networking with other people in the intermodal trucking industry through social media and blogs so they can help share your business.
You also need to start gathering the materials needed to execute on your promotions strategy, which is your strategy for attracting new customers. Intermodal trucking businesses should consider the following promotional strategies for which you should start getting prepared:
- Creating a strong branding strategy
- Creating compelling marketing materials
- Launching an advertising campaign
- Developing relationships with potential clients
- Participating in trade shows and events
Read our article about how to market your intermodal trucking business for more tips.
10. Get New Clients & Grow Your Business
When you promote your services, you’ll start to get interest from potential clients.
Make sure you’re ready to serve these clients. Also, be sure to establish systems to ensure consistency and reduce costs. And be sure to find and train the right people to help you grow your intermodal trucking business.
Read our article about how to effectively grow your intermodal trucking business to learn more.
Starting an Intermodal Trucking Business FAQs
There are many reasons to start an intermodal trucking business. These businesses provide an essential service for companies that need to transport goods over long distances. In addition, there is a growing demand for intermodal trucking services as more companies look for ways to reduce their carbon footprint.
The trucking industry is expected to continue growing. In fact, the intermodal freight transportation industry is projected to grow by an annual compound rate of 8.27% from 2020 to 2026.
To start a successful intermodal trucking business, you need to have a strong understanding of the industry and the specific needs of your target market. You also need to have a business plan that outlines your goals and how you intend to achieve them. Additionally, you need to have the right technology and software in place to maximize efficiency. Finally, you need to market your business to potential clients and get new clients to grow your business.
Some tips for starting an intermodal trucking business include:
- Develop a strong understanding of the industry and the specific needs of your target market.
- Create a business plan that outlines your goals and how you intend to achieve them.
- Invest in the right technology and software to maximize efficiency.
- Promote your business to potential clients and get new clients to grow your business.
- Use online tools to manage your fleet and dispatch drivers.
- Participate in trade shows and events to network with potential clients.
- Join an industry association to stay up to date on industry trends.
A simple checklist to use when starting an intermodal trucking business is as follows:
- Choose Your Type of Intermodal Trucking Company: This should be based on what you are best at and how much experience you have. Remember to keep your interests, skills, and experience in mind at all times.
- Name Your Intermodal Trucking Business: This should be done with care, as your brand is important for attracting the right customers. A simple, memorable name will go a long way.
- Choose a Legal Form for Your Business: Whether you choose to become a sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, corporation or another option will depend on your business. Ensure that you are aware of all the implications of each type.
- Determine Your Intermodal Trucking Business Model: Determine how your business will make money. Will you sell products, services, or a combination of both?
- Write an Intermodal Trucking Business Plan: Your business plan will also help you determine what your start-up costs will be and will provide a roadmap with which you can launch and grow.
- Apply for the Necessary Permits and Licenses: In most locations you will be required to apply for a business license and/or permits before you can begin operations.
- Determine Your Budget & Apply for Funding as Needed: You will need to know how much money you have to spend on all of your business-related expenses before opening any doors. If needed, apply for a small business loan or other funding options.
- Get the Technology & Software Needed to Run Your Business Efficiently: You need to have the right tools in place to succeed. Implement software that will help you manage your time, contacts, and business operations in general.
- Market Your Intermodal Trucking Business to Potential Clients: A solid marketing plan will be crucial to your success. It should focus on attracting the right customers so that you can provide them with the services they truly need.
- Get Clients & Grow Your Business: Once you have a solid marketing plan, it's time to actively pursue and secure those who could benefit the most from your services.
Starting an intermodal trucking business online is a great way to get started in the industry. You can use your website as your base of operations and promote your business through social media and other online channels. Additionally, you can use online tools to manage your fleet and dispatch drivers.