When we discuss ‘niche’ hauling we are not advocating a “put all your eggs in one basket approach”. Spreading your risk is still the best idea. Just don’t spread yourself too thin by trying to haul for too many customers, in too large of an area. Alternatively, don’t haul for just one customer. The rule still applies: No more than 25 to 30% of your total revenue should come from a single source. This is very important in today’s economy, as even the largest companies can be affected by the sudden turns in the market they serve.
As you develop your niche, think:
Customer service: How can you and your team (even if that 'team' is you, the Owner/Operator), provide exceptional services to the shippers and receivers for which you haul? One of the biggest complaints shippers and receivers have concerning the large carriers is the lack of quality. This becomes more prevalent as the haul becomes more complicated.
Size does matter. In your search for customers, look for shippers with which you can grow. Hauling for several smaller customers who don’t require more trucks than you can provide will give you an edge over competitors who bite off more than they can chew. This means you work jointly with these smaller companies in developing combined growth plans, so as they grow, so do you.
Unique business model: The niche trucking business owner must know his break-even point, have a capital growth plan that includes how much money will be required to capitalize his company, and have enough cash to grow. His equipment costs are in line with his trucking company’s revenue potential. All of this is calculated into the hauling rates he charges for his services. He plans his loads to maximize the use of his equipment, does away with deadhead miles, and keeps his trailers fully loaded.
Having your own hauling niche means you shouldn’t have to try and compete with price. There will always be someone out there willing to haul a load for less than you can. So why even try to compete there? If you provide top quality, go-out-of-your-way service, that “Can do” approach will make it impossible for someone with a lower price to succeed in taking your customer. As you develop your unique trucking business plan, remember lean, nimble, and customer service are the keys to success in the new trucking environment.
Keep in mind the current state of the trucking industry: motor carriers going out of business weekly, costs increasing daily, the entire logistics landscape changing, creates opportunities for those willing to be creative. For every trucking company going out of business, there are shippers now needing new haulers to fill their transportation needs. Your objective should be finding a niche you believe in, one that provides the necessary revenue to sustain your company, with the potential for growth at a pace with which you can keep up. Thus you’ve found the market for which your trucking company is best suited.
Good loads and safe roads, everyone.