5 Lessons Learned: Scaling a trucking company from $1M to $20M in 3 years.

I helped my dad build a trucking company from $1M+ to $20M+ in 3 years.

Don’t get me wrong.

This is far from the top.

But, here is the secret.

I did the hard things.

Things that 99% of my competitors were not doing.

And I did them over and over again.

The trucking cycle repeats itself every 3-5 years.

Everyone knows it, but very few take advantage of it.

You need to recognize it and build true partnerships rather than 1-sided relationships.

Here are 5 lessons that helped me.

Lesson 1. Figuring out your cost per hour & ROI.

a. Mark the tasks you do daily and figure out how much revenue it generates.

b. Sort them into 3 categories: < $150 per day, < $500 per day, > $1,000 per day.

c. Figure out a system to automate the tasks cost <$150 per day. If it cannot be automated, delegate it to someone else.

d. Focus on the >$1,000 per day tasks.

Lesson 2. “Be greedy when others are fearful, and fearful when others are greedy” – Buffet

a. This is easy to say, but hard to execute.

b. When Celadon went out of business in 2019, I bought about 20 of their trucks for $20k-30k each at auctions. (2016 Cascadia < 500k miles)

c. The trucking market is more predictable than the stock market. Follow your intuition and market patterns. The opportunity of buying cheap equipment will come again. We are already 6-8 months into the bear market for carriers.

Lesson 3. Chase down direct shippers at the peak of a bull market for carriers.

a. Never put 100% of your capacities chasing record-high spot market loads.

b. 99% of your competitors will do that, but remember you are in this for the long run.

c. This is the EASIEST time to build partnerships with direct shippers when they struggle to find trucks. Not the other way around.

d. Be customer obsessed once you land them; no one will award you dedicate loads right away. Leverage technology to provide top-notch services.

Lesson 4. Don’t get burned out. Build a team.

a. Growing a business is marathon, not sprint. You need to have a clear head to be right a lot.

b. Hire and develop the best. Most owners try to run a 1 man show. Don’t do that.

c. Be frugal but not with your team. Pay at least 10% higher than market rate to attract top talents, but fire fast too.

Lesson 5: Having an operating system is the most critical piece

The most important lesson I’ve learned is about having an operating system in place.

An operating system is a backbone of how your business works. For example, my weeks are scheduled out to execute tasks worth $1000+ first, and my technology automates the rest. If they can’t be automated, I delegate them to my assistants.

Everything I do is intentional. And the results are highly predictable.

Spreadsheet is great, but not an operating system built to scale.

Ezpapel is essentially the system I created to scale the trucking business for my dad.

It is my favorite operating system.

From choosing a trucking niche, to building relationships with shippers and brokers, automating repetitive tasks, generating inbound and outbound leads, and making sales…it’s all part of an operating system.