5 Tips to Improve Your Shipping Business

CitizenShipper CitizenShipper · Updated February 23, 2024

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Working as a professional carrier can be a solid business venture as the demand for quality transport services increases. In recent years, logistics have shifted. Now, much of the industry is dominated by marketplace-type providers. This flexible marketplace structure connects carriers directly to customers and offers them the possibility to set their own work hours and prices. The problem is, that not everyone knows how to start a transportation business.

The marketplace model offers tremendous independence to drivers. However, it presents its own unique set of challenges for new transporters. This article will provide you with a few basics on how to improve your shipping business with a marketplace provider.

1. Create a Standout Professional Profile

Your profile is the face of your shipping business so creating an unforgettable profile is your first step. Therefore, you must invest time and energy into what your potential customers see first. Your profile must reflect your expertise and experience.

  • Include clear, high-quality pictures of yourself and your equipment.
  • List relevant previous work experience — if you’ve done volunteer work or rideshare include that too!
  • Be sure to describe your work philosophy
  • If you have any specialized equipment you work with, describe it in the profile.

Details are essential at this point! A customer will want to know more than just how many shipments you’ve completed. Include descriptive information like the breed of dog you’ve shipped, if you’ve ever worked with a breeder, the types of vehicles/motorcycles/boats you’ve shipped, the distances you’ve shipped, the locations that you service and any special services you can provide. It’s crucial to highlight your most unique offer and skillset.

2. Put Effort Into Customer Communication

Once you have a convincing profile, customers will start to contact you. The next step in your goal to start a transportation business is honing your communication skills. The manner in which you present yourself via instant messaging and through text or phone calls once you’ve won the bid, is crucial. The way you interact with customers gives them an impression of the quality of your work and your trustworthiness.

  • Good communication and customer care aren’t just central to winning bids — it’s also a long-term investment into sustainable relationships with your clients.
  • Be friendly, demonstrate your expertise and answer any and all customer questions with detailed responses.
  • Send regular updates and respond within a short timeframe.

Remember that hiring a stranger to transport a valuable item or pet comes with a lot of anxiety. It’s your job to assure customers that their belongings are in good hands. Great communication transforms an excellent driver into an outstanding one.

Good communication is one of the building blocks of how to start a transportation business.

3. Reviews Are a Key Deciding Factor

While the first thing a customer sees is your profile, one of the most important factors in getting hired is your reviews. It’s a way for customers to analyze your reliability and verify your work quality.

  • You’re in competition with other drivers, so reviews are often a deciding factor in a customer’s choice.
  • Providing high-quality service to customers has a snowball effect — you’ll get great reviews, which will lead to more jobs, which leads to more positive reviews.
  • Be sure to respond to reviews, good and bad.

This structure also comes with a tricky problem. How to get a job with no reviews?

  • If you have other reviews from previous jobs, include link to those in your profile.
  • If you just started to work in the shipping business, it can be a good idea to take a few smaller, local jobs or make lower bids in order to win so you have a few positive reviews.
  • As mentioned above, communication is key! Explain to potential customers that you’re new to the platform, you’re working hard to get your foot in the door and you’ll go above and beyond to get a great review.
  • Our internal research has found that it takes most new drivers around 20 bids before they win their first shipment, so stick with it and don’t get discouraged.

What if you get a bad review? We all make mistakes. It can always happen that you get poorly rated for a job. When reading bad reviews, many customers include the transporters reaction to the critique in their evaluation. It’s essential not to get defensive but admit mistakes and offer concrete compensations, if possible.

4. Set An Appropriate Price

In an online marketplace, a potential client posts a job and drivers bid with a quote. The competitive nature of the marketplace allows customers to select a transporter based on price, experience or reputation.

  • Set a fair price that factors in the circumstances of the job, your work experience and your reputation.
  • The marketplace structure will regulate your worth compared with other drivers, which means you won’t get a job if you’re too expensive — but you won’t make money if you bid too low.
  • The more you drive, and the more experience and ratings you get, the higher your price can be. Many customers appreciate transparency — ensure that you can break down the pricing structure and explain why your services are worth paying a little more.

5. Become an Expert at Efficient Route Planning

One of the quickest ways to find financial success as a transporter is taking multiple jobs at once and avoiding driving with an empty vehicle. The most successful transporters don’t just have a great profile and reviews or have excellent communication skills, they’re also masters of route planning.

  • Plan your route ahead of time. If your pick-up point is in Florida and the drop-off point is in Texas, try to find another transportation job that brings you back to Florida.
  • There are search tools that help you plan these round-trip routes, so take advantage of them!
  • Stack shipments to improve the efficiency of your trips. Try to find multiple shipments that start in the same general area and end along similar routes. You may not be able to take the most direct route so be sure to communicate this info to customers.
  • Think outside the box when you’re planning your routes — sometimes it’s better to pick a route that begins several states away and try to win bids that lead you to the pick-up point.
  • Calculate a reasonable ETA for your customers.

CitizenShipper’s Training Program Helps You Start a Transportation Business

The shipping industry is a dynamic economic sector with many possibilities for self-employment success. While these five tips are solid introduction to improvement strategies for your business, there is much more to learn.

CitizenShipper makes an investment in its drivers by providing free, comprehensive online training. You’ll receive instruction on every step of the process, from signing up on the platform to marketing your business to customers. Training provided by the platform includes:

  • Introduction to the Platform
  • Profile Building
  • Client Communication
  • Route Planning

It can feel overwhelming to start your own business on a marketplace platform. CitizenShipper’s training program provides new drivers with a step-by-step introduction to the transport economy. Training isn’t just for new drivers! Experienced drivers can be advised on how to change specialties, win more bids or simply brush up their skills.

CitizenShipper has free resources available for drivers of all experiences. Whether you want help starting out or becoming an expert in a specific shipping field, don’t hesitate to reach out to our driver support team. Once you know how to start a transportation business you can join the many self-employed drivers on CitizenShipper!