5 Things You Should Know Before Starting an Auto Transport Business

a truck driving down a road

Starting an auto transport business is a challenging but rewarding journey. Between working for yourself and driving new cars, the auto transport business is ideal for any car fanatic with an entrepreneurial spirit. But the path to growing a successful auto transport business can be long and hard, especially if you’re a first-time business owner. Here’s what you need to know to start your auto transport business off on the right foot.

Get Your CDL

If you’re thinking about starting your own auto transport business, you’ll need a Class A commercial driver's license. A CDL A is required to operate any combination of vehicles with a gross combination weight rating (GVWR) of over 26,001 pounds.

Without a CDL A, auto transport business owners will find it significantly harder and more expensive to get insured. To save on insurance costs, consider gaining experience through general trucking before starting your auto transport business. If you already hold a valid CDL A, you’re ready to move onto the next step.

Invest in the Right Equipment

Next, you’ll need to research different kinds of trucks and trailers and shop around to find the best prices. Many auto transport business owners choose equipment based on the route they plan to drive. If you’re interested in longer distances, a larger carrier is a better choice. Meanwhile, if you’re sticking to regional, a three to four car setup might be optimal. Ultimately, your choice of equipment should depend on your financial situation.

Some car shippers, like Easy Car Shipping, utilize multiple forms of equipment to offer more shipping options for clients. Between open carrier shipping (which involves hauling three to 10 cars at a time), enclosed transport, and express shipping, Easy Car Shipping’s price points vary based on distance/miles, city/rural location, and whether the vehicle runs or not. Easy Car Shipping also considers whether the client prefers an open or enclosed trailer, the vehicle’s size and weight, and how fast the client wants their vehicle to arrive.

Get Insurance Quotes

After deciding what kind of equipment will work best for your business, you’ll need to shop around for insurance quotes. The length of your CDL and your driving experience can influence the cost of your insurance.

When shopping around for insurance, make sure that you can afford monthly insurance payments. Keep in mind that depending on your driving experience, you may need to change your equipment set-up to get insured.

Fulfill Legal Requirements

To legally start your auto transport business, you’ll need to incorporate your business, get your authority (MC and DOT numbers), and get your International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA). You’ll also need to file your Unified Carrier Registration (UCR), designate BOS 3 Process agents, and fulfill relevant local and state requirements.

Additionally, consider opening a business account to keep track of business expenses. Make sure to complete necessary legal documents for your auto transport business, including your Bill of Lading. The terms and conditions of your inspection sheet dictate how you inspect vehicles, which can make or break your business.

Create A Website

Even though you’re a trucker, you can still set up a professional, user-friendly website. Incorporating an engaging user interface and experience will help you generate more leads, drive traffic to your website, and raise awareness of your business.

If you’re not familiar with HTML or CSS, try using an online website creation service, like Wix.com or Squarespace, to create your website. To boost your search engine rankings, opt for a mobile-friendly template.

After the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) approves your authority, it’s time to start doing business. Although starting your own auto transport business can be intimidating, the right research and preparation can greatly contribute to your success.

Doyle Fowler is one of OI's talented and experienced consultants, responsible for getting to the heart of our readers' needs and creating solutions that are meaningful to help you and your business. Doyle is also a regular contributing writer.

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