How to Build a Successful Trucking Business
âDon’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you live and do it. Because what the world needs are people who have come to life. – Howard Thurman
More than 3,140 trucking companies closed their doors last year.
Typically, about 85-90% of start-up trucking companies fail.
It is not always easy to run a business, but it is especially difficult in the competitive transportation industry. As my business nears 10 years, I am excited to share some of the key factors that have made DVL Express one of the fastest growing 5000 Inc. companies in the United States.
Whether you are a driver or a customer, the first question everyone asks is always: “What is this company about?” The first answer to this question for me is growth. It is so fascinating to be surrounded by people who are zealous for more in life. A “cringe for growth” attitude is contagious and will spread to others.
One of the unique things we instituted to help our drivers grow was a driver development program. We train drivers to become better professionally on the path that works best for them. If a driver wants to become the best OTR or local driver, we have steps to make it happen with our Progressive Incentive compensation structure. If a driver wishes to tow another type of trailer, we offer an in-house training program. If a driver wants to become a tenant-operator or owner-operator, we have a program for that as well. I want it to mean something to put DVL Express on a CV because it shows the driver was well equipped.
The second answer to this question is the house.
With drivers from over 20 countries it is especially important for me to make my employees feel at home. I want to show my drivers that they are more than just a number. I want to know their dreams and desires. I want to know what is going on in their daily life. I find that when you treat people the way they want to be treated, they work harder for you. Think about how you would like to be treated as a driver and give them that.
Finally is the goal. If people are a part of something bigger than themselves, they’ll love the job they do. Every kilometer traveled helps to make the world a better place. Currently we are working on a children’s school / orphanage in Ukraine. In the past, we have done projects such as building churches, cleaning plastic from the ocean and others.
The greatest philosophies in the world won’t matter if you’re not good at your craft. Fast food restaurant Chick-fil-A consistently ranks first in restaurant surveys, and the CEO says that’s because they invest more than other companies in training and career advancement.
When it comes to compensation, most companies in this industry are very open to gross payouts and the RPMs they offer. Strive to be a leader in this category, even if it doesn’t make sense on paper at first. If someone thinks you have their best interests at heart, they’ll come through a wall for you. What you offer in terms of money is the first indicator of your interest in yourself or your drivers.
Keeping up with the times is another important task. Technologies are evolving faster than ever. Develop an app for drivers, order electric trucks, use a Samsara system or some other type of dashcam. All of these things will help improve customer service for both drivers and customers.
Setting realistic short-term goals is the foundation of growth and competence. How do I instill a growth mindset in my drivers? The first goal for me was to create a comprehensive program where drivers or customers can decide what they want, and we provide the steps to make it happen. This involved fleet service, security, accounting and dispatch operations as I needed specialists who could train in these areas.
The second goal was to make a few additions that would make our original base more valuable to our drivers and customers. That’s why we launched Markham Truck Center, our in-house truck repair center. We also launched Unibox Warehouse, our on-site warehouse. I am always looking for ways to add value for my drivers and clients.
The strategy will depend on the philosophy. I want my drivers to grow up, to feel like we are a home from home, and to drive with purpose. So my goals are set according to this philosophy.
Answer the question “what is your why?” May be the last here – but it’s the first that a future business owner should consider. We decided from the start that our WHY statement is: âwe exist to change the way the world views the trucking industryâ.
I have heard that people often say that DVL Express is like Google in trucking. This tells me that we are heading in the right direction. For every person and business, there will come a time when a choice must be made between several good options. The only way to know how to choose what’s best for you is to look at the options based on why.
It won’t be easy, and there will be times when giving up seems like the best option. Let the struggle make you stronger. Trucking is not for everyone, but the lessons learned in this industry will correlate with all avenues in life and make you a better person for your spouse, friends and children. Overall, if you strive to be the best that you can be, things will be fine for everyone involved.
Alexander Dovgal is the founder of DVL Express along with 11 other companies. He has dedicated himself to improving the transportation industry with technological solutions, as well as helping people achieve mental and physical health.