Banks provide people with a safe place to stash their money and a potential source of financing, along with a slew of other services. Afterexpanding ...
How to Start a Box Truck Business
Goods need to move from one place to another for all kinds of reasons, which means having the right truck could open a world of possibilities. With a box truck — a chassis cab with an enclosed box-shaped cargo space — you can courier large products and packages, help people move, haul away junk, or even make deliveries for Amazon.
Trucks deliver more than 70% of all of US freight by weight, making the trucking industry worth nearly three-quarters of a trillion dollars. With a box truck you can grab a piece of that massive market and make an excellent living.
Starting up a box truck business will be a challenge, however, and you’ll need the right knowledge to succeed. Fortunately, this step-by-step guide is loaded with insights and information to get you on your way to building a thriving box truck business.
$6,550 - $14,100
Time to build
1 – 3 Months
$104,000 - $520,000 p.a.
$72,800 - $104,000 p.a.
Step 1: Decide if the Business Is Right for You
Pros and Cons
Every business has pros and cons that you need to carefully consider before deciding if a box truck business is the right path for you.
- Low Costs – Get started with a relatively small investment
- Steady Demand – People are always in need of a truck
- Good Money – Box truck services don’t come cheap!
- Pricey Maintenance – Keeping your truck running well can be costly
- Gas Guzzler – When gas prices rise, your profits will fall
The American Trucking Association valued the U.S. trucking industry at more than $730 billion in 2020.https://www.trucking.org/economics-and-industry-data Over the past decade-plus, the industry has seen a steady increase in the use of medium-duty trucks like box trucks, as opposed to 18-wheelers, due to greater demand for shorter-distance deliveries. This presents a huge opportunity for the box truck entrepreneur.https://www.truckpartsandservice.com/economic-trends/indicators/article/14991095/trucking-industry-sees-influx-of-mediumduty-vehicles
The U.S. trucking industry is greatly influenced by the e-commerce market, which is expected to grow from $430 billion in 2020 to over $560 billion by 2025, an increase of 30%, according to market research firm Statista. This means that trucks capable of making a lot of deliveries in a limited area in a certain timeframe will be in great demand.https://www.statista.com/statistics/272391/us-retail-e-commerce-sales-forecast/
How much does it cost to start a box truck business?
Startup costs for a box truck business range from about $6,500 to $14,000. These numbers include either buying a used truck for as little as $5,000, or putting a 5-10% down payment on a new truck, which could cost as much as $50,000.
|Start-up Costs||Ballpark Range||Average|
|Setting up a business name and corportation||$150 - $200||$175|
|Licenses and permits||$100 - $300||$200|
|Insurance||$100 - $300||$200|
|Business cards and brochures||$200 - $300||$250|
|Website setup||$1,000 - $3,000||$2,000|
|Down payment on a truck or the purchase of a used truck||$5,000 - $10,000||$7,500|
|Total||$6,550 - 14,100||$10,325|
How much can you earn from a box truck business?
Prices for box truck deliveries vary greatly depending on the size and value of the load. Working by yourself, you can expect a 70% profit margin and assume an average load price of $200.
In your first year or two, you could work from home and do 10 deliveries per week, bringing in about $100,000 in annual revenue and $70,000 in profit. As your brand gains recognition and you add trucks, hire drivers, and rent an office, you might do 50 loads per week, but your margin would fall to around 20%. Thus, your annual revenue would be over $500,000 and your pre-tax profit would be around $100,000.
These numbers are in line with Amazon’s delivery program Amazon Relay, which offers average salaries running from about $50,000 to $150,000. That’s another opportunity you might consider, though the hours can be long.
You can use Step By Step’s profit margin calculator to analyze your numbers.
What barriers to entry are there?
There are a few barriers to entry for a box truck business. Your biggest challenges will be:
- Getting clients – You’ll need to stand out to attract work
- Box Truck – You’ll need to find and finance a reliable vehicle
Step 2: Hone Your Idea
Now that you know what’s involved in starting a box truck business, it’s a good idea to hone your concept in preparation to enter a competitive market.
Why? Identify an opportunity
Research box truck companies in your area to examine their services, price points, customer reviews, and what seems to be most in demand. You’re looking for a market gap to fill. For instance, maybe the local market is missing an estate clean-out service in which you haul away items left in a home after the estate is settled. This is targeting a niche market by specializing in a certain aspect of your industry. This could jumpstart your word-of-mouth marketing and attract clients right away.
What? Determine your products or services
Since a box truck has so many potential uses, you may want to choose which services you’ll offer. You could:
- Deliver for local stores
- Provide moving services
- Haul junk from basement or garage cleanouts
- Remove items from estates
- Catered food delivery
- Advertising, as a mobile billboard
- Partner with a logistics company
- Add a snowplow to boost work in winter
How much should you charge for box truck services?
Box truck delivery prices vary by weight and value of the load. Often, there is a minimum rate of $120 and the weight and value are used to calculate the final price. You should check the prices of box truck companies in your area to make sure yours are competitive. Before you hire staff, your main costs will be for the truck and gas. Once you know your costs, use the Step By Step profit margin calculator to determine your price points.
Who? Identify your target market
Your target market will depend on what types of services you want to offer. If you offer a delivery service for local stores, you can find business owners on sites like LinkedIn.
Where? Choose your business premises
In the early stages, you may want to run your business from home to keep costs low. But as your business grows, you’ll likely need to hire workers for various roles and may need to rent out an office. Find commercial space to rent in your area on Loopnet, Craigslist, Crexi, and Commercial Cafe.
When choosing a commercial space, you may want to follow these rules of thumb:
- Central location accessible via public transport
- Ventilated and spacious, with good natural light
- Flexible lease that can be extended as your business grows
- Ready-to-use space with no major renovations or repairs needed
Step 3: Brainstorm a Business Name
Your business name is your business identity, so choose one that encapsulates your objectives, services, and mission in just a few words. You probably want a name that’s short and easy to remember, since much of your business, and your initial business in particular, will come from word-of-mouth referrals.
Here are some ideas for brainstorming your business name:
- Short, unique, and catchy names tend to stand out
- Names that are easy to say and spell tend to do better
- The name should be relevant to your product or service offerings
- Ask around — family, friends, colleagues, social media — for suggestions
- Including keywords, such as “truck” or “trucking”, boosts SEO
- Choose a name that allows for expansion: “Jim’s Bakery” over “Jim’s Cookies”
- Avoid location-based names that might hinder future expansion
- Use online tools like the Step by Step business name generator
Once you’ve got a list of potential names, visit the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office to make sure they are available for registration and check the availability of related domain names at a web cataloging site such as NameChk. Using “.com” or “.org” sharply increases credibility, so it’s best to focus on these.
Finally, make your choice among the names that pass this screening and go ahead with domain registration and social media account creation. And if you’ve exhausted all your creative juices but still don’t have a business name, don’t stress! Instead, check out our business name generator. Just type in a few keywords and hit “generate” and you’ll have dozens of suggestions at your fingertips.
Step 4: Create a Business Plan
Every business needs a plan. This will function as a guidebook to take your startup through the launch process and maintain focus on your key goals. A business plan also enables potential partners and investors to better understand your company and its vision:
- Executive Summary: Brief overview of the entire business plan; should be written after the plan is complete.
- Business Overview: Overview of the company, vision, mission, ownership, and corporate goals.
- Product and Services: Describe your offerings in detail.
- Market Analysis: Assess market trends such as variations in demand and prospects for growth, and do a SWOT analysis.
- Competitive Analysis: Analyze main competitors, assessing their strengths and weaknesses, and create a list of the advantages of your services.
- Sales and Marketing: Examine your companies’ unique selling propositions (USPs) and develop sales, marketing, and promotional strategies.
- Management Team: Overview of management team, detailing their roles and professional background, along with a corporate hierarchy.
- Operations Plan: Your company’s operational plan includes procurement, office location, key assets and equipment, and other logistical details.
- Financial Plan: Three years of financial planning, including startup costs, break-even analysis, profit and loss estimates, cash flow, and balance sheet.
- Appendix: Include any additional financial or business-related documents.
If you’ve never created a business plan yourself before, it can be an intimidating task. Consider hiring an experienced business plan writer on Fiverr to create a professional business plan for you.
Step 5: Register Your Business
Registering your business is an absolutely crucial step — it’s the prerequisite to paying taxes, raising capital, opening a bank account, and other guideposts on the road to getting a business up and running.
Plus, registration is exciting because it makes the entire process official. Once it’s complete, you’ll have your own business!
Choose where to register your company
Your business location is important because it can affect taxes, legal requirements, and revenue. Most people will register their business in the state where they live, but if you are planning to expand, you might consider looking elsewhere, as some states could offer real advantages when it comes to a box truck business.
If you’re willing to move, you could really maximize your business! Keep in mind, it’s relatively easy to transfer your business to another state.
Choose your business structure
Business entities come in several varieties, each with its pros and cons. The legal structure you choose for your box truck business will shape your taxes, personal liability, and business registration requirements, so choose wisely.
Here are the four main options:
- Sole proprietorship – The most common structure for small businesses makes no legal distinction between company and owner. All income goes to the owner, who’s also liable for any debts, losses, or liabilities incurred by the business.
- Partnership – Similar to a sole proprietorship, but for two or more people. Again, owners keep the pre-tax profits and are liable for losses.
- Corporation – Under this structure, the business is a distinct legal entity and the owner or owners are not personally liable for its debts. Owners take profits through shareholder dividends, rather than directly.
- Limited Liability Company (LLC) – Combines the characteristics of corporations with those of sole proprietorships or partnerships. Again, the owners are not personally liable for debts.
We recommend that most new business owners form an LLC as it offers liability protection and pass-through taxation while being simpler to form than a corporation. You can quickly and cheaply form an LLC using ZenBusiness’s online LLC formation service (it can take as little as 5 minutes). They will check that your business name is available before filing, submit your Articles of Organization and be on hand to answer any questions you have about the company formation process.
Step 6: Register for Taxes
The final step before you’re able to pay taxes is getting an Employer Identification Number, or EIN. You can file for your EIN online or by mail or fax: visit the IRS website to learn more. Keep in mind, if you’ve chosen to be a sole proprietorship you can simply use your social security number as your EIN.
Once you have your EIN, you’ll need to choose your tax year. Financially speaking, your business will operate in a calendar year (January–December) or a fiscal year, a 12-month period that can start in any month. This will determine your tax cycle, while your business structure will determine which taxes you’ll pay.
The IRS website also offers a tax-payers checklist, and taxes can be filed online. It is important to consult an accountant or other professional to help you with your taxes to ensure you are completing them correctly.
Step 7: Fund your Business
Securing financing is your next step and there are plenty of ways to raise capital:
- Bank loans: This is the most common method, but getting approved requires a rock-solid business plan and strong credit history.
- SBA-guaranteed loans: The Small Business Administration can act as guarantor, helping gain that elusive bank approval via an SBA-guaranteed loan.
- Government grants: A handful of financial assistance programs help fund entrepreneurs. Visit Grants.gov to learn which might work for you.
- Venture capital: Offer potential investors an ownership stake in exchange for funds, keeping in mind that you would be sacrificing some control over your business. This is probably not an option when you’re just starting out, but when you’re ready to grow your business to a large scale it might be available.
- Crowdfunding: Websites like Kickstarter and GoFundMe offer an increasingly popular low-risk option, in which donors fund an entrepreneur’s vision.
- Personal: Self-fund your business via your savings, the sale of property or other assets, and support from family and friends.
Step 8: Apply for Licenses/Permits
Starting a box truck business comes with significant regulatory requirements.
First, you’ll need to obtain a commercial driver’s license from your state DMV. You’ll also need a Department of Transportation number and a Motor Carrier Authority number, both of which you can get by registering with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Finally, you’ll need to complete a unified carrier’s registration, and if you plan to drive to other states or Canada, an International Registration Plan tag and an International Fuel Tax Agreement decal.
Federal regulations, licenses, and permits associated with starting your business include doing business as, health license and permit from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties, as well as industry-specific licenses and permits.
You may also need state-level licenses and local county or city-based licenses and permits. The license requirements and how to obtain them vary, so check the websites of your state, city, and county governments or contact the appropriate person to learn more. You could also check this SBA guide for your state’s requirements.
This is not a step to be taken lightly, as failing to comply with legal requirements can result in hefty penalties. If you feel overwhelmed by this step or don’t know how to begin, it might be a good idea to hire a professional to help you check all the legal boxes.
For peace of mind and to save time, we recommend using MyCorporation’s Business License Compliance Package. They will research the exact forms you need for your business and state, and provide them to you to make sure you’re fully compliant.
Step 9: Open a Business Bank Account
Before you start making money you’ll need a place to keep it, and that requires opening a bank account.
Keeping your business finances separate from your personal account makes it easy to file taxes and track your company’s income, so it’s worth doing even if you’re running your box truck business as a sole proprietorship. Opening a business bank account is quite simple, and similar to opening a personal one. Most major banks offer accounts tailored for businesses — just inquire at your preferred bank to learn about their rates and features.
Banks vary in terms of offerings, so it’s a good idea to examine your options and select the best plan for you. Once you choose your bank, bring in your EIN (or Social Security Number if you decide on a sole proprietorship), articles of incorporation, and other legal documents and open your new account.
Step 10: Get Business Insurance
Business insurance is an area that often gets overlooked yet it can be vital to your success as an entrepreneur. Insurance protects you from unexpected events that can have a devastating impact on your business.
Here are some types of insurance to consider:
- General liability: The most comprehensive type of insurance, acting as a catch-all for many business elements that require coverage. If you get just one kind of insurance, this is it. It even protects against bodily injury and property damage.
- Business Property: Provides coverage for your equipment and supplies.
- Equipment Breakdown Insurance: Covers the cost of replacing or repairing equipment that has broken due to mechanical issues.
- Worker’s compensation: Provides compensation to employees injured on the job.
- Property: Covers your physical space, whether it is a cart, storefront, or office.
- Commercial auto: Protection for your company-owned vehicle.
- Professional liability: Protects against claims from a client who says they suffered a loss due to an error or omission in your work.
- Business owner’s policy (BOP): This is an insurance plan that acts as an all-in-one insurance policy, a combination of any of the above insurance types.
Step 11: Prepare to Launch
As opening day nears, prepare for launch by reviewing and improving some key elements of your business.
Develop your website
Website development is crucial because your site is your online presence and needs to convince prospective clients of your expertise and professionalism. They are unlikely to find your website, however, unless you follow Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. These are steps that help pages rank higher in the results of top search engines like Google.
You can create your own website using services like WordPress, Webflow, or Squarespace. This route is very affordable, but figuring out how to build a website can be time-consuming. If you lack tech-savvy, you can hire a web designer or developer to create a custom website for your business.
Essential software and tools
Being an entrepreneur often means wearing many hats, from marketing to sales to accounting, which can be overwhelming. Fortunately, many websites and digital tools are available to help simplify many business tasks.
Some of your business will come from the casual online visitors, but still you should invest in marketing! Getting the word out is especially important for new businesses, as it’ll boost customer and brand awareness.
Once your website is up and running, link it to your social media accounts and vice versa. Social media is a great tool for promoting your business because you can create engaging posts that advertise your products:
- Facebook: Great platform for paid advertising, allows you to target specific demographics, like men under age 50 in the Cleveland area.
- Instagram: Same benefits as Facebook but with different target audiences.
- Website: SEO will help your website appear closer to the top in relevant search results, a crucial element for increasing sales.
- Popular web-based accounting programs for smaller businesses include Quickbooks, Freshbooks, and Xero.
- If you’re unfamiliar with basic accounting, you may want to hire a professional, especially as you begin. The consequences for filing incorrect tax documents can be harsh, so accuracy is crucial.
You’ll need a handful of items to successfully launch your box truck business. Here’s a list to help you get started:
- Box truck with shelving
- Trailer and hitch
- Furniture pads and dollies
Step 12: Build Your Team
If you’re starting out small from a home office, you may not need any employees. But as your business grows, you will likely need workers to fill various roles. Potential positions for a box truck business would include:
- Drivers – Pack/unpack loads and deliver
- Dispatcher – Take calls, schedule services
- General Manager – Manage staff, accounting
- Marketing Lead – SEO strategies, social media, other marketing
At some point, you may need to hire all of these positions or simply a few, depending on the size and needs of your business. You might also hire multiple workers for a single role or a single worker for multiple roles, again depending on need.
Free-of-charge methods to recruit employees include posting ads on popular platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Jobs.com. You might also consider a premium recruitment option, such as advertising on Indeed, Glassdoor, or ZipRecruiter. Further, if you have the resources, you could consider hiring a recruitment agency to help you find talent.
Step 13: Start Making Money!
Focus on USPs
Unique selling propositions, or USPs, are the characteristics of a product or service that sets it apart from the competition. Customers today are inundated with buying options, so you’ll have a real advantage if they are able to quickly grasp how your box truck business meets their needs or wishes. It’s wise to do all you can to ensure your USPs stand out on your website and in your marketing and promotional materials, stimulating buyer desire.
Global pizza chain Domino’s is renowned for its USP: “Hot pizza in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.” Signature USPs for your box truck business could be:
- A truckful of care for your deliveries
- We haul anything, anytime
- Need a quick move? Lightning-fast moving service
Take advantage of your website, social media presence and real-life activities to increase awareness of your offerings and build your brand. Some suggestions include:
- Competitions and giveaways – Generate interest by offering prizes for customers who complete a certain action, such as 50% off your first delivery.
- Optimize calls to action – Experiment with text, color, size, and position of calls to action such as “Schedule Now”. This can sharply increase purchases.
- Signage – Put up eye-catching signage on your website
- Flyering – Distribute flyers in your neighborhood and at industry events
- In-Person Sales – Offer your products/services at local markets, trade shows
Build Affiliate Relationships
Affiliate marketing is advertising in which you compensate third parties (i.e. your affiliates) in order to generate traffic to your website. You can develop long-term relationships with these affiliates and generate traffic for each other on an ongoing basis.
With the sharp growth in online sales and the trend toward local distribution centers, it’s a great time to jump into the box truck business. It’s a relatively low-cost business to enter, yet with great profit potential. With the trucking industry worth more than $700 billion, there is plenty of money to be made. With just one truck you can offer a multitude of services, or deliver for Amazon and make up to $200,000 a year.
Now that you’re armed with the necessary information, you’re ready to start your entrepreneurial journey and build a successful box truck business.
Box Truck Business FAQs
If you work full-time, you can make a healthy profit with just one truck. As a solopreneur you could make $70,000 a year or more. A box truck offers a world of opportunities.
It would be difficult to do unless you already have a truck! You can get a used truck for about $5,000 – $10,000 or a new one for $40,000 – $50,000, but you can get financing. You still, however, would probably need a down payment of 5% to 10%.
There are many possibilities. You can make deliveries for local stores, provide moving services, deliver catered food, do junk hauling, or even work with the Amazon Relay program. You could do a combination of any of those to stay busy all the time!
You can work on a contract basis with a logistics company, which will provide you with orders for a percentage of the revenue. You could become a mover. You could work for Amazon, or add a snowplow and offer your services to local businesses and homeowners in winter. The possibilities are endless.