Top tips on growing your trucking business from founders who’ve done it

The Christmas/New Year holiday period is a time for reflection and resolution, and some of you may be wondering how to grow your business. We picked the brains of NRC members who have been there and done that for their top tips on developing a transport business.

SBS Tranz managing director Mandeep Padda says SBS started with one unit for VersaCold in 2010, carrying chilled and frozen store deliveries for Restaurant Brands. Today, the company runs about 90 units with more than 100 drivers and four locations in the North Island.

“We grew with great service and explored any opportunity, including general freight and containers. Our operation is customer-centric, and we always believe in growth with our customers.

“Safety of drivers and vehicles is our key KPI, and we always put people before profit. We are a technology-focused company, always Investing in new tech for business, vehicles and people. Our vehicles and drivers are visible reminders of our commitment to providing an excellent and dependable transport service.”

How did SBS Tranz grow?

  • Never cutting corners and believing in great service.
  • Always providing a solution to the problem, not just a price.
  • Keeping drivers at the top of the food chain.
  • Building a great team with like-minded people.
  • Having full trust in the team – no micro-managing.
  • Investing back in the business for growth.
  • Building good relationships with customers, not the contracts.
  • Providing a safe work environment for everyone.
  • Working on better ways for customers and drivers.
  • Adapting quickly to new challenges.
  • Never being afraid of failures – mistakes are part of the journey.

Mandeep Padda’s top tips

  • Pay people on time with respect.
  • Teams are important, so learn to delegate.
  • Technology is your friend.
  • Appreciate the people who do the hard yards.
  • Adapt quickly to new changes.
  • Focus on tomorrow, not today.

Sims Transport director Phillip Sims started in 1985 as a courier. After 14 years, he moved to larger trucks, starting with one six-wheeler curtainsider. After a couple of years, the freight company he was contracting to allowed him to add extra trucks.

“The business grew as the freight volumes grew, and I managed to get a couple of major clients to look after. Between my company and my wife’s company, we now operate 16 truck and trailer units doing Auckland metro work.”

Phillip Sim’s top tips

  • Always answer your phone, as there will always be someone else out there to do the work.
  • Make the right decisions … but if you don’t, don’t make the same mistake again.
  • Choose the right partners/suppliers and build good relationships with them.
  • National Road Carriers is a great team and will point you in the right direction. I’ve been a member for at least 20 years.
  • Choose mechanics and other service providers who make time to meet your needs so your trucks are not down for long.
  • Hire an accountant who knows your business

Newey Transport was created in 2002 as a one-truck operator, carting logs, says NRC board member Ian Newey.

“My background was logging as I went into the forest industry when I left school. I then took up driving logging trucks, which led to an opportunity to buy a second-hand truck, which we owned for three years.

“Then it became clear that we needed a new truck. This was the best thing we ever did. I drove that truck until it was freehold and then brought a second new truck and ran the two side by side. One was freehold, and one had debt.

How did Newey Transport grow?

“Our goal has always been that up to 50% of our fleet is owned outright, and as the business has grown, we have had to go through downturns in the logging over the years, so this has served us well.

“You never want to overcapitalise – just buy the truck needed to do your job. Separate your dream truck from the correct truck. Standardising your truck brands makes everything easier.

“Understand your costs and understand your margins. Make sure you have options in your financing arrangements so you can make changes when things out of your control happen.”

Ian Newey’s top tips

  • Make the time to shop around for your best cost prices.
  • Build a network of like-minded people.
  • Plan for the medium to long-term view of your business.
  • Understand your sector and the links in the sector chain.
  • Be ready for opportunities that may come your way, as these are often unexpected.

To be successful in business is challenging. My advice to all those aspiring to grow is to engage with the team at National Road Carriers so we can connect you to whatever support you need to make the journey easier.