how to start a box truck business

How to Start a Box Truck Business in 13 Steps (2022)

Elena Hudgens
By Elena Hudgens 27 Min Read

If you’re looking for a new way to make money, starting a box truck business might be the best solution for you. Box truck businesses are easy to start and require very few resources. You don’t need a lot of money, and you don’t need a lot of time. In fact, you can start your own box truck business in as little as two weeks. So what are you waiting for? Read this guide on how to start a box truck business now!

What is a box truck? 

A box truck is a type of chassis cab truck with an enclosed rectangular cargo area. They are typically 10–26 feet long and can range from Class 3 to Class 7 (12,500 lb. to 33,000 lb. gross vehicle weight rating). It’s often used for moving small items like furniture or clothes. For example, if you’ve ever rented a U-Haul, you have driven a box truck!

What is a box truck business? 

A box truck business is a business where you make money by delivering loads in your box truck. In most cases, the freight you deliver covers the “less than truckload” (LTL) sector- which has been burgeoning with the expansion of e-commerce. These types of deliveries can include packages, furniture, bulk food items, and other cargo that need local delivery but don’t require retail or online purchase. Box trucks are perfect for urban areas because they can navigate difficult to get to neighbourhoods or package contents into small spaces without breaking the budget!

Facts about the Business

Revenue potential$104,000 – $520,000 p.a.
Investment range$6,550 – $14,100
Profit potential$72,800 – $104,000 p.a.
Industry trendGrowing
Time to build1 – 3 Months

How much money will you make as a box truck owner?

The national average pay for a box truck owner-operator is $110,275 per year. This translates to around $53 per hour. However, the range can be from as low as $23,500 to as high as $293,000! Based on various factors such as how many loads you deliver and expenses managed well-the pay can vary quite a bit! 

How much money does a box truck business cost? 

Start-up CostsBallpark RangeAverage
Setting up a business name and corporation$150 – $200$175
Insurance$100 – $300$200
Licenses and permits$100 – $300$200
Website setup$50 – $100$75
Marketing$1000 – $2000$1500
Down payment for truck or the cost of a used truck$5,000 – $10,000$7,500
Total$6,400 – $12,900$9,650

Before knowing how to start a box truck business, you must know how much it will cost. The cost of a new box truck can range from $25,000 to $45,000. A light-duty class 2 or 3 truck costs between $25,000 and $45,000. You can buy a used truck at a discount if you have 200,000 miles. This means the truck has been driven only once and it is in good condition! It will also be less expensive than buying a new one, which may have had more miles or been brand-new when you bought it.

Steps on how to start a box truck business

Step 1: Set up your business 

The primary step in your plan about starting a box truck business should be to select a name and logo that you prefer, create a website, and list your box truck business online.

#1. Select a name and logo 

Choosing a name for your business can be challenging, but you can use Copy AI to help you generate a unique business name. 

Before registering a name, check the US Patent and Trademark Office website to verify that it is available. Then check the availability of related domains at a cataloging site like NameChk.

A well-designed logo builds trust by exhibiting professionalism and encourages customers to stick around.

It tells potential clients who you are, what you do, and how you might be of assistance to them. It conveys that you produce excellent work for those with no prior knowledge or experience with your company.

Create a memorable logo to help customers remember your business and form good associations. People’s memories and emotions are linked to logos.

With Canva Pro, you can search for industry-specific template logos or use the canvas interface to drag and drop elements like icons, textures, shapes, outlines, and background details. 

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But what if you’re new to this and don’t have any staff or a large marketing budget but need assistance with graphic design, and logo design? What options do you have? Fiverr could be the answer.

Fiverr is where consumers and sellers connect to trade services for money. The majority of services start at $5.00 per Gig. Typically, the $5 service is a little sample, but you can use it to gauge whether you want to purchase a full-service package.

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Thousands of creative professionals provide graphic design, logo design, and brand development services. If handled effectively, Fiverr can become your go-to resource for help with marketing your new business.

#2. Create a website 

Your business requires a website, especially if you will offer services to the general public, for example, offering local moving services. 

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You can get a free webflow.io domain or start a basic plan for as little as $12 per month which gives you access to multiple templates and wireframes that you can use in building primary portfolio sites, blogs, and even e-commerce sites. 

But if you decide to create your website on a different platform like WordPress, then you’ll need a server space to store your website’s data. You can get a web hosting service for just $13 per month from Flywheel

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Flywheel delivers the fast speeds, stable performance, and support required to keep your site operating smoothly. In addition to that, Flywheel makes it easy to create a website from the ground up through its free demo sites and one-click staging features.

#3. List your business online

By listing your business on Google My Business you can get more exposure and attract people who might not otherwise find your company while searching for box shipping businesses around town. 

Step 2: Choose your business entity

You must choose and register your box truck business’s legal structure with the Secretary of State in every state you operate. There are four main options for a legal entity:

  1. Sole Proprietorship: A business with no legal distinction between company and owner is known as a sole proprietorship. All of the company’s income goes to the owner, who is also responsible for any debts, losses, or liabilities.
  2. Partnership: A partnership is identical to a sole proprietorship, except it involves two or more individuals. The owners keep the pre-tax income and are responsible for any losses.
  3. Corporation: The corporation structure shields owners from personal liability for their debts, and profits are distributed to shareholders rather than received directly.
  4. Limited Liability Company (LLC): A LLC is a hybrid entity with the advantages of a corporation and a sole proprietorship or partnership. The LLC provides liability protection without the disadvantages of a corporation.

We recommend you to invest in setting up a corporation or LLC- these entities have more complex rules and can offer higher potential profits than simple commercial firms. IncFile’s online LLC formation service (taking as little as five minutes) allows you to form an LLC quickly and inexpensively.

Step 3: Develop a business plan 

A business plan is a document that outlines your goals for your business. It’s an essential step in any company, and the Small Business Administration (SBA) recommends you have one created at least 3-5 years in advance. 

You can use the Planigent Business Planning tool. Planigent is a business management consulting firm specializing in business plan preparation and coaching. 

Planigent also provides fully written business plan templates with basic information, colorful charts that depict business key performance metrics, and helpful links for market and industry research, all with no subscription fee using Microsoft Office.

Your business plan must contain the following items:

  • It must contain an executive summary that will outline your company’s history and what it does today. Online software like Copy AI helps you write a perfect executive summary without any grammatical errors. 
  • Next, you should include a Company Description that will tell you about your company’s product or service type. Again Copy AI will help you.

Company Description also includes how much revenue the company brought in last year, projected growth over the next few years, services offered (you can list many different types of services), market analysis, current competition, and future revenue and profit projections. 

  • The Operations section should provide information on where you are now and would like to be in next few years. 
  • You should also have a plan for marketing which includes strategies such as advertising campaigns, website design/builds, etc., discussed later in this article. 
  • The Services section tells us about your business’s different types of products or services. 
  • The Marketing plan should address the 4Ps: The Product/Service you offer, the Price of your Service, the Promotions of your services, and the Place of business. Market Analysis will give you an idea about how well your target market is doing currently and predicts their future potential based on past trends & research. 

Marketing Analysis Tools like SEMrush assists you in analyzing your target market quickly. 

Financial projection gives you guidance on your actual profits & losses if you engage in this particular activity within the specific timeframe. Use a financial projection template to perform this task. Here is a list of business planning tools to make the entire process of business planning easy.

Step 4: Open a business checking account and credit card 

Before you begin generating revenue, you will require opening a bank account. You may keep your business finances separate from your personal account to simplify filing taxes and tracking your box truck business income, even if you operate it as a sole proprietorship. 

Bank accounts for businesses are straightforward to open. You can understand the complete process of opening a business bank account here.

You may also need a business credit card, especially for events requiring a heavy expenditure. Credit cards are mostly easier to qualify for than other types of credit, mainly when you are a brand new business. Even though you don’t need to use it right away, having funds available in case something happens is always intelligent.

Step 5: Get a Commercial Driver’s License

When you are planning on how to start a box truck business, getting a commercial driving license is an essential step.

Suppose you own a vehicle and are 21 years or older. You can apply for a commercial driver’s license (CDL) by submitting and paying the application fees per the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)

How to obtain a commercial driving license?

Follow these steps to obtain a commercial driving license:

1. Pass the age requirement– You may obtain a CDL at 18 in most states, but most trucking businesses require drivers to be at least 21 to drive across state lines.

2. Get a CLP– Having a commercial learner’s permit (CLP) allows you to practice driving semis. Some truck driving schools require a CLP before starting the course, while others include obtaining the license as part of the program. 

3. Attend a CDL Program– You must attend a truck driving school or a community college to earn a CDL. A trucking school program usually lasts about three weeks, while a community college program typically lasts six weeks.

4. Pass the knowledge exam and skill test– The knowledge test is online and evaluates your understanding of commercial driving based on the CDL manual. The skill test has three parts: vehicle inspection, basic controls, and a road test.

5. Gather all necessary documents– You need to gather and submit the following documents:

  • Valid non-commercial driver’s license
  • Social security card or social security number.
  • Birth certificate or unexpired U.S. passport.
  • Green card (if you are not an American citizen).

6. Pass the background screen and medical exam– You must take a DOT physical exam to obtain a CDL. In addition to a DOT physical, you also need to pass all required background checks.

After completing these steps, drivers receive their CDL. If you’re 18-20 years old, you can drive intrastate only; if you are over 18 years old but don’t have a driver’s license yet, contact your local DMV to find out how to become licensed in your state or country.

Step 6: Obtain necessary licenses and permits

After receiving a commercial driving license, you must register with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to get a Department of Transportation number (USDOT number) and a Motor Carrier Authority number (MC number). 

You can check out how to get a USDOT number and get an MC number to ease your process of obtaining these documents.

After that, you can register as an interstate carrier and receive an International Registration Plan tag and an International Fuel Tax Agreement decal. In many situations, you will be required to obtain a general business license. Finally, you must complete a suitable carrier’s registration

State-level licenses and local county or city-based permits and licenses may also be required. Look up the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) websites of your state and county governments for more information on license requirements. This SBA guide provides the necessary information on your license requirements.Failing to meet legal requirements could result in severe penalties, so taking this step isn’t a simple undertaking.

Step 7: Pick a Process Agent

When you start a new box truck business, you may need to choose a process agent. 

What is a process agent, and why do you need one?

Your business needs process agents in every state you travel, work, and operate. When a motor carrier, broker, or freight forwarder is being sued, a process agent acts as the defendant’s representative and accepts court papers. This person can legally represent you when you file the court papers for your business. Please don’t ignore this step while planning how to start a box truck business because it is a necessary step. Process agents’ services are helpful because they help if there are any problems with BOC-3 paperwork, which many entrepreneurs don’t encounter. To find available process agents, click here.

Step 8: Get Insurance for your business

It is essential to have appropriate insurance for your box truck business as insurance protects you from devastating consequences resulting from unexpected events. 

Here are the kinds of insurance you should consider:

  1. General Liability: It covers a wide range of issues, making it the most comprehensive type of insurance. This is the only sort of insurance we recommend you should get. It even covers property damage and bodily injury.
  2. Business Property: Delivers coverage for your equipment and supplies.
  3. Equipment Breakdown Insurance: Mechanical equipment failure is covered by equipment breakdown insurance, covering the cost of replacing or repairing the equipment.
  4. Workers Compensation Insurance: Provides compensation to employees injured on the job.
  5. Property Insurance: Covers your physical space, whether a cart, storefront, or office.
  6. Professional Liability Insurance: It covers your business against claims of professional negligence.
  7. Business Interruption Insurance: Protects lost income and expenses if your business is forced to shut down due to a covered event.

Step 9: Get funding for your business

It’s essential to get business loans or seek investors when starting a trucking business. This is especially true if you are starting from scratch, as there may be costs associated with getting a loan and finding investors. 

To assist you with this process, you can refer to our guide on raising money for your business and tips for raising money fast

You may check with large and small banks for financing your business requirement. Credit unions can often provide more favorable terms than smaller banks. 

Some ways to raise money are personal savings, loans from friends and family, or fundraising campaigns.

Step 10: Get a location and hire employees 

After you know how to start a box truck business, you should get a location and begin the hiring process with the help of these hiring tools

You’ll want to find a place that doesn’t take very much money but is close enough to your target neighborhoods so you can get our stuff quickly. You may also need to buy a storage container for your box truck when you are not using it.

Not every box truck business needs employees in the initial stage. If you are going to be the owner-operator, you can operate your loads without any other drivers. But suppose you want to position your business for growth as soon as possible. 

In that case, it’s essential to hire qualified drivers – those who have clean driving requirements or other requirements that call for a certain level of competence and experience.

When you hire drivers, it’s essential to ensure that you have the necessary infrastructure to handle payroll. With so many payroll administration providers available like 1-800Accountants you can take the withholding and payment processes without difficulty.

Step 11: Develop your business marketing strategy

Even though some of your clients will discover your company online, you should still invest in marketing to boost customer and brand recognition. Social media is incredible for advertising your company because you can create engaging content promoting your services.

Here is how you can create a good marketing strategy for your box truck business:

  1. Set up social media accounts: A box truck business can establish social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media networks to connect with customers and other individuals. You can also use social media tools to manage your social media accounts. 
  2. Create a website: As discussed in step 1 of this guide, you must create a website for your box truck business to avail the benefits of an online presence and increase sales. You can use Webflow to create lower-cost website. Web hosting providers such as Flywheel help provide server space for your website at lower rates.
  3. Search Engine Optimization: Having your website appear near the top of relevant search results can significantly increase sales, and SEO can help with that. We recommend using SEMrush to make your website SEO optimized.
  4. Flyering: Distribute flyers in your neighborhood and at public events. You can use Canva to create flyers for free or hire freelance designer services at Fiverr for cheap. 

Apart from the above options, you can use these marketing tools to grow your business efficiently. Marketing is essential when you are planning on how to start a box truck business.

Step 12: Manage your finances 

When starting a box truck business, you need at least $10,000 as an initial cost. The down payment for a truck may cost an average of $5,000-$10,000, and you’ll also have other expenses like insurance, legal fees, and maintenance. 

Once you get financing for your business, you will need an accounting program to track your finances. Use these web-based accounting programs for smaller companies 1-800Accountants.

You can also hire the best tax attorney and bookkeeper for your accounting needs. You might want to look into invoice factoring to pay more quickly from day one and reduce the amount of administrative paperwork involved in billing and collections.

Step 13: Be compliant with the law 

Owning a business requires you to meet applicable legal requirements and stay up-to-date on trucking industry regulations. It means keeping your CDLs current, filing quarterly tax returns, and knowing state transportation safety laws and national truck driving rules. To achieve this, you can follow websites like Truckstop

Protect your company from danger and liabilities. Their comprehensive suite of CaaS solutions includes a dedicated staff of compliance specialists who have your back, the industry’s most comprehensive carrier database with over 98% active carriers, and continuous monitoring during your engagement with the carrier.

Their Automated Carrier Monitoring keeps you informed and updated, so you can rest easy knowing you’re protected if a carrier’s compliance status changes.

Additionally, you need to hire drivers with up-to-date regulatory compliance information to reduce liability. You can monitor compliance with USComplianceServices to stay ahead of the curve and win business with carriers compliant with applicable law.

Final thoughts 

Owning your own trucking business is a great way to make a living. However, it can take time and effort to get started. Don’t let the initial paperwork or credit requirements stop you from owning your business. You can simplify many business tasks with the help of these websites and digital tools already mentioned in the article. 

Now that you have read our complete guide on how to start a box truck business, it is time to take action!

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Posted by Elena Hudgens
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Elena Hudgens is an entrepreneur with 10+ years of experience. She started her journey by building her own e-commerce website on Shopify and turned her $1000 savings to millions in just 2 years. Soon she started different ventures in which she failed and succeeded. And now, she's on a mission to help other entrepreneurs with her life and business lessons.
2 Comments
  • Wow this was very informative and taught me alot. I would like to thank you for taking the time and doing all of the necessary research to supply the public with this info.

  • I’m pretty sure you don’t need a CDL license to own a box truck business and I’m pretty sure you don’t even need a CDL license when driving box trucks across state lines etc as long as the total weight is less than 26,000 lbs. Or the cargo is less than 10,000 lbs.

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