How do I find drivers to hire? What’s the best way to manage my driving team? How do I grow my fleet business? If you’re looking to make the transition from owner-operator to small fleet owner, these may be some of the questions you are asking yourself.
Trouble is, finding answers can be tough.
To help you, we asked current and past fleet owners to share their best advice on what you should be doing when building a new trucking company. Here’s what they shared.
1. Make sacrifices
“One of the sacrifices I make is to pay myself last. I also pay myself as low as I can. I get the crumbs, that’s the best way to do it. You want to reinvest as much as you can into your company. When you have a bad week, you still have to pay your drivers.”
David "King Drodge" Rogers
Owner, Davids Transport
2. Listen to your team
“Always listen to the driver’s concerns and the things they have to say about the route. Be proactive and help them deal with whatever problems they have. If they have a good suggestion, you want to act on those. Many times, a company discounts what a driver has to say and that will create a lot of friction with the relationship.”
Owner, MJB Transport
3. Be a mentor
“The most important piece of advice I have for new fleet owners is to always be a leader that your drivers can look up to. It’s easy to sit back and be the boss, but you have to be there for your team. Most of us have been with a larger carrier, and we know the feeling of getting lost in the mix and not having that personal connection. That’s something that as fleet owners we can change.”
Owner, ID Transportation, Inc.
4. Look for potential
“I want somebody who wants to graduate out of being a company guy, that wants to do something more on their own. I try to make it so the guys that want to go that next step into being an owner-operator can.”
Owner, DeKnight Enterprises, Inc.
“Always look to network with other trucking companies. This is not the kind of business you want to try to go at alone. Most drivers are lone wolves, and that’s okay. Being a lone wolf as a business owner is a detriment to growing your business.”
6. Remain positive
“I was a football coach in my early years. When things go wrong, I just coach the drivers up. Let me show you how we can solve that problem in a positive way. I also try to make sure we’re all on the same page. We’re all on the same team, working for the same goal.”
David "King Drodge" Rogers
7. Share your expectations
“When I’m looking to hire drivers, I like to talk to them and really give them realistic expectations. I want them to be prepared and know exactly what they are getting in to. I also want to make sure that they will work hard for me, just like I will work hard for them.”
8. Keep smiling
“You definitely need a good sense of humor, there’s no question about that. If you don’t, you’ll go nuts. I try to make my guys laugh, and they’re always breaking my chops.”