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How To Become A Succesful Owner-Operator In The Car Hauling Industry (2019 Guide)

How to become a succesful Owner-Operator in the car hauling industry (2019 Guide)

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To thrive in the car hauling business as an owner-operator you have to stay ahead of your competition and be recognized as a reliable auto shipping service provider. 2019 will bring a new set of practices and trends that will significantly impact the trucking industry. Are you ready to supercharge your business with the best industry practices and the latest trends?

Work smarter not harder to drive profitability
#1. Embrace technology
The digital landscape doesn’ t change only the way we buy, sell or communicate, it is also transforming the trucking industry. Big companies are already using advanced fleet management technologies, so if you want to grow your business and to thrive as an owner-operator in the car hauling business you should consider adopting some smart trucking tools and apps that will optimize your work and will drive great customer loyalty.
Here are some examples:
  • Trucker Path Pro – highlights nearby weigh stations, parking availability, and truck stops
  • NOAA Radar – the ultimate weather app for truckers (the weather data is culled from the U.S. government’s weather monitoring systems).
  • GasBuddy – your back office accountant’s best friend by always finding the cheapest gas on the road.
  • Waze – real-time updates concerning road conditions including inclement weather, accidents and traffic jams.
  • KeepTruckin – helps you stay on top of governmental regulations for scheduling work and driving time.
  • Software solutions that give you the analytics behind your operation and can assist with common tasks such as scheduling, fleet maintenance, IFTA compliance, route planning, load optimization.
  • ELD devices – aside from achieving full compliance with the ELD Mandate, providing real-time visibility for your clients and partners would make you a trustworthy company and will enhance customer satisfaction.
According to the report, authored by Bart DeMuynck and Christian Titze, VP Analysts at Gartner:
Commercial customers and consumers continue to have increased demands about real-time visibility of their orders and shipments.
Some of the high tech solutions may be expensive and hard to use, especially for new owner-operators. Yet, another benefit a professional dispatch service can offer you is access and training to the latest technologies and trends in the trucking industry.
#2. Use a professional dispatch service to cover more vehicle loads in less time, and grow your business faster.
This way you will reduce time finding loads and filling mountains of paperwork, you will be more focused on improving your service, on driving safe and stress-free, and you will have more time to rest.
A great dispatch service makes sure your car hauler gets fully loaded on both directions (whether your capacity is of 5 or 11 cars) and comes along with a dedicated, full-service assistance: Route optimizing (so that you can save on fuel and save time) | 24/7 availability | Maintaining law compliance | Managing weather delays and handling issues | Providing customer care | Handling billing paperwork and collections.
Choosing wisely a business partner for your loading and back office operations will eventually drive profitability and you will be able to grow your business.
#3. Optimize costs
39% of the total operating cost is diesel fuel. A commercial truck can easily consume more than $70.000 of diesel fuel per year. Obviously, the best way to cut expenses is to save on fuel.
Here are some tips from industry veterans which will help with fuel optimization:
  • Reduce speed
If your current MPG is 6 MPG at an average cost of $3.25 a gallon, your cost is 0.54 cents a mile. However, if you can reduce your speed to 55 and improve your MPG to 8, your average cost per mile is now 0.40 cents per mile. If your yearly average is 130,000 miles, that is an average savings of $18,200.
  • Reduce unnecessary idling
It is estimated that idling your truck can burn 1 gallon of fuel per hour. In other words, idling your truck during your ten-hour break can cost you at least 10 gallons of fuel a day, or at the cost of $3.25 a gallon, $32.50 a day.
One way you can reduce your idle time is buying an APU (Auxiliary Power Unit) when you buy your truck. It is expected that by doing so, you will reduce your fuel consumption to 1 gallon a day at a savings of $29.25 a day. It means that if you are on the road 140 days a year, you save $4,095 annually.
  • Improve vehicle maintenance
Fuel filters, oil filters, and regular oil change intervals safeguard proper lubrication for your engine. This causes less friction and in turn, saves fuel.
Aerodynamics will also help you get better fuel mileage. Repairing any body damage that takes away how the air flows around your truck can improve mileage. Devices like Flow Below, Air Tabs, wheel covers, and trailer skirts can increase your MPG from .2-1 MPG.
  • Proper trip planning
Route optimizing can help you avoid wrong turns, congestion, and excessive miles, saving you extra fuel, time, and possible repairs. According to ATRI (American Transportation Research Institute), the average cost for congestion per truck averaging 150,000 miles per year is about $34,000 a year. Proper time management and trip planning can help avoid congested areas during peak travel time and lower this additional cost. If you work with a dispatcher you should be aware that a professional service must include route planning. So choose wisely your partners and make sure you will benefit the best service for the money.
#4. Choose the smart way to do your taxes
Understand how you and your business is taxed. Minimize your state and federal tax liability with the help of a tax professional or a business services provider that specializes in owner-operator businesses.
#5. Deliver a professional service
To stand out of the competition, you need to be recognized as a reliable auto carrier and offer quality service to your customers.
  • Be transparent: put an effective tracking system in place
It will put your customer’s mind at ease.
  • Don’t offer cheap quotes.
Going through the cheapest route might end up costing you more money, more stress, and more time than required. It might even cost you your vehicle. The customer knows the old saying that goes, “If you pay peanuts, you’ll get monkeys.” and they are aware that they get what they pay for.
  •  Deliver on time, with no scratches or any other damages.

#6. Deliver awesome customer service

Customer service is about engaging with your customers and partners and creating trust and loyalty. Once they trust you they will keep doing business with you and recommend your services to others. Invest your time and effort to earn and build customer loyalty, it will ultimately translate into higher profits.
For most vehicle shipping companies, ironically, the highest investment of time, effort and expenses are channeled into getting first-time customers instead of getting the essential facilities to satisfy and retain these customers. Then after the first patronage, the disappointed customers would never come back.
And do you know that a whopping 95% of your dissatisfied customers wouldn’t only walk away from your company, they would share the bad news with at least one person, while 54% of them would tell it to at least 5 other people. Poor customer service is one of the greatest fatalistic features affecting auto transport companies. Great customer service can overcome poor marketing system, while poor customer service can bring down the company’s production level.
Here are some tips on how to improve and build customer loyalty:
#1. Ask for feedback.
Customer feedback is information provided by clients about whether they are satisfied or dissatisfied with the service and about the general experience they had with a company. Customer feedback helps improve your service, shows you value their opinions, builds trust and increase customer retention. After the vehicle shipment is complete, reach out to ask about your customer’s experience.
#2. Be the best at what you do.
Nobody is perfect, so a great alternative to being the best is showing your customers that you are constantly striving to improve. Everyone appreciates the effort.
#3. Admit when you make a mistake.
Mistakes happen and unhappy customers have many platforms to share their experiences with your company. Don’t get defensive or sensitive if you get called out on something that was your fault. Instead, use these platforms to take responsibility and resolve the issue
#4. Be reliable.
Earn a reputation for being consistent and dependable. This means if you promise a car to be delivered within 48 hours, then make sure delivery occurs within that time frame.
#5. Surprise them.
Remember, it’s the small and unexpected things that keep customers coming back. You may try some of these ideas:
  • Be there before the client asks.
  • Write a note to thank your customer.
  • Give a treat (such as cookies, snacks, candy) or usable items (such as a keychain, hand sanitizer, sports bottle, smartphone cases, pens, sticky notes). Pick a product type that makes sense for your customer and that is budget-friendly.
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