The Name Game
Still, successful websites and social media pages need ongoing attention, so expectations for online marketing should be realistic. “A one-truck guy is not going to have the time to manage a website,” says Joe Rajkovacz, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association’s Lregulatory affairs director. “He’s going to spend a lot of time during his day just getting loads.”
Mark “Gator” Arnold, 53-year-old owner of Bells, Texas-based All Ways Trucking, launched a Facebook page to help build his reputation.
“I can have a new broker signed up before most guys can find a truck stop,” Arnold says, noting he can often find food loads for his 2007 Volvo and reefer within 100 miles of his home.
Clay Allman, 54-year-old owner of Road Dog Express, based in Indianapolis, hired veteran drivers for his startup two years ago, but relied on younger workers for online efforts. Office manager Crystal Shafer and sales associate Clay Graham, both in their late 20s, helped Allman work with a web designer for a planned January website launch. It emphasizes service and driver experience as the strengths of the seven-truck fleet.
“They had to change my way of thinking,” says Allman of his young office staff. “They’re the future. They tell me that website’s going to make a big difference.”
Fleets as small as one truck need to market their trucks, drivers and customized service, says David Owen, president of the National Association of Small Trucking Companies, which has 3,000 members.
“The large carriers go out on the golf course to advertise,” he says. “Our guys don’t have that luxury.” Internet marketing and other online tools, Owen says, give small fleets “inexpensive access to where the rates and loads are.”
Fifty-year-old Dale Harshbarger of Petersburg, Ky., started Burlington, Ky.-based Edge Auto Transportation in 2003 with one truck. A former municipal fire chief, Harshbarger “talked to people and made good friends at the large auctions” to develop a client base.
He promotes dependable service with a website, a tri-fold flier and business cards. He also makes image part of his marketing, using new Peterbilts, washed weekly, and having his drivers wear uniforms.
“You have to market your organization well,” Harshbarger says. “If you do, it’s easier at the bank when you need a new truck and a new building.”
His website, edgeautotransport.com, which also hosts a logistics company Harshbarger runs, displays gleaming rigs at the top and helps him schedule jobs.
In August, Harshbarger bought his sixth truck, a 2012 Peterbilt, and a new trailer. He now moves 400 cars weekly, primarily in Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Illinois and Wisconsin. The regional service makes it possible to deliver cars on schedule in this time-sensitive niche, Harshbarger says.