Finding your own customer base can be more difficult than negotiating a crowded shippers yard .

As an independent owner operator, I’ve had many drivers ask me “how do you find your own customers?” you can go about this in various ways.

Years ago, when I began my business, my wife and I went to our local library to research companies which offered the proper materials to be transported on a flatbed trailer. We went down to our larger city library, which offered more selection of business materials. We had already decided upon two major cities in which we were going to work. Our thoughts were to develop strong relationships with a few customers on both ends. We knew if we wanted larger profits and to build customer satisfaction, we didn’t want to rely on freight from brokers.

Our research began with “Standard Industry Codes.” (SIC Codes). You can get this information from the business section. Today, I’m sure it’s available online. You can obtain information regarding a company such as: The product or material manufactured, address, phone number, years in business, credit rating, size of business, # of employees etc… Also, the CEO or other contacts of reference to staff members may be listed. While at the library, we also looked at “Trade Publications” related to our flatbed business. We researched magazines and advertisements for lumber, construction, steel and various other building products. Don’t be shy if you need to ask questions. The library staff is there to assist you and they are happy to do so.

One day, I had the bright idea to search our local Home Depot and Lowes establishments. Lumber yards were also a big resource. The materials at these locations all provide a label which states where the product originated. I would simply look for cities which I wanted to serve. Sometimes, the phone number was located on the label. Today, I could just go to my computer and Google the information.
Once you have a list of potential customers for your business, it’s time to make contact with them. I’ll discuss how to go about this in a future post.

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Henry Albert

Henry Albert is the owner of Albert Transport, Inc., based in Statesville, NC. Before participating in the "Slice of Life" program, Albert drove a 2001 Freightliner Century Class S/Tâ„¢, and will use his Cascadia for general freight and a dry van trailer. Albert, who has been a trucker since 1983, was recognized by Overdrive as its 2007 Trucker of the Year.

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