Last Updated on March 7, 2023
Are you wondering how to start a dump truck business? These machines are ideal for moving large amounts of dirt, rock, sand, and demolition waste from one location to another. They get used in applications from mining and excavation, to loose material delivery and removal. And, a dump truck business can be profitable.
There are several types of dump trucks, such as a straight dump, side dump, and an articulated dump truck (ADT). Which is the best option for you?
Here are several tips on starting a dump truck business.
Choosing a truck
Side dump trucks have niche applications, like filling rail cars, so the companies who need these dumps tend to purchase the trucks themselves. Therefore, side dumps aren’t a good choice on which to build your dump truck business.
ADTs get used for mines, quarries, and large earthmoving projects. Since companies use these trucks in the same location for months to years (similar to the above scenario), they tend to own the equipment. That way they can control and plan costs, as well as take steps to avoid downtime.
The best option is to choose a dump truck that can be driven on municipal roads and standard highways. The most popular applications for these trucks are the pick up and drop off of loose material at construction projects and the delivery of aggregate (gravel and other small stones) from quarries.
Construction projects of all sizes require delivery and removal of loose material, including delivery of soil for infill, large rocks for stability or decoration, and mulch (during the landscaping portion of the project). They also require material to be moved off-site, such as excavated soil (digging out basements, for example), unwanted rocks, contaminated materials, and demolition waste from both construction and demolition projects.
These construction companies require dump trucks for only short intervals compared to the lengthy construction process, so they don’t want to own the trucks. They use them so infrequently, they may never get their ROI (return on investment). And although their excavator, loader, and crane operators could be very well trained on their respective equipment, chances are, no one has a CDL (commercial driver’s license). By contracting out the work, companies avoid these costs and headaches.
Quarries deliver tens of thousands, even millions of tons of aggregate each day to road building contractors to use as sub-base material for roads. They also deliver to concrete plants who mix the aggregate with cement to make concrete, to landscapers to use as decorations, and to anyone else requiring a large amount of small stones.
Although quarries probably own a few trucks that work strictly on site, they probably don’t own any trucks that make off-site deliveries. Output levels vary, whereas a fleet has a fixed number of trucks, so the quarry could have too few or too many trucks each day. Also, product delivery/customer service is a very different business model from blasting and crushing rocks so, for that reason, the quarry would rather contract the work.
Starting a business
There are three absolute essentials to running a dump truck business: you need a CDL, you need a truck, and you need clients.
1. Get a CDL
A CDL is required to drive a truck with a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of more than 26,000 pounds.
In order to get a CDL, an individual must have a valid, standard driver’s license and a commercial learner’s permit (CLP), which can be acquired by application. You will need to have a valid, standard driver’s license, show proof of residency, provide your social security number, allow the department of transportation (DOT) for your state to perform a background check on you, and pass a vision test and medical exam.
After getting your CLP, you will need to do the following to get your CDL: submit a 10-year record of your driving history, pass the CDL Knowledge Test, successfully complete a pre-trip vehicle inspection, and finally, complete the Road Skills Test. There is a 14-day waiting period from the time you receive your CLP before you can take the CDL Road Skills Test, which requires a certain amount of hours behind the wheel—see the hours for each state here.
You can expect the entire process to take four weeks, assuming you don’t take any commercial truck driving lessons. Those courses last between three weeks and three months, and run at predetermined times of the year, so you may need to wait weeks or months to enroll depending on what is available near you.
2. Get a truck
You can either buy a new or a used truck from a dealer, or opt for something from a private owner or at an auction. If you buy used, your capital costs will be less, and it will take less time to recover your ROI.
You do take on a little more risk with a used truck, because the chances of it experiencing a malfunction or requiring repair or replacement of major components are higher than on a new truck. Your owning and operating costs will likely be greater compared to buying a new truck, because the used truck will require more parts to be repaired or replaced, including major parts, such as the engine. Whereas, a new truck will have more parts under warranty, and the lifespan of major components are years in length.
When inspecting a used truck, bring an experienced, licensed mechanic with you, that is, if you’re not an experienced, licensed mechanic yourself.
3. Get clients
The final absolute to starting a dump truck business is getting clients, and there are three major ways to get clients: networking, marketing, and advertising.
Through networking, you have the potential to build relationships with people who may become your clients or who will refer you to potential clients. Consider who your clients are likely going to be. Based on the above best dump truck applications, the two types of people who will be the most important to you are construction project managers and quarry operators, since these people are most likely to contract dump truck operators.
Attend industry events where you expect to see them, such as conferences, trade shows, and trade association events. Also, connect with them or follow them or their companies on social media.
Networking can create strong results, but it takes longer than marketing or advertising. The best way to market yourself is by creating a website and social media pages, and then updating those pages regularly with content that is designed to attract your preferred clients and show your expertise.
Advertise in construction and quarry publications, as well as newsletters put out by trade associations. Combine advertising, marketing, and social media to get the most leads.
If you’re ready to start your search for a dump truck, then go ahead and take a look at what Municibid has to offer.