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How to Start a Dump Truck Business [Beginner’s Guide]

Want to start making money with a dump truck, but don’t have the first clue on how to get started?

You’re in the right place. Trying to figure out how to start a dump truck business can be complicated and confusing. It’s not as simple as just buying a dump truck and picking up loads.

In this guide, I am going to discuss the 9 key steps to starting a dump truck business. So you know what we’ll be covering, below are each of the steps (and links if you want to skip ahead).

So that we lay the right foundation for the discussion, I will start this guide by answering some introductory questions relating to the dump truck business, including how dump truck owners make money, how profitable a dump truck business can be, and overall starting costs.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on a link and complete a transaction, I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you. 

The information contained in this post is for informational purposes only.  It is not a recommendation to buy or invest, and it is not financial, investment, legal, or tax advice.  You should seek the advice of a qualified professional before making any investment or other decisions relating to the topics covered by this article.

How Do Dump Truck Owners Make Money?

Dump truck owners generally make money by collecting fees for loads they move. Loads can include garbage or other waste (if you service the waste management industry or want to help individual residents get rid of their junk), coal (if you are working the mining industry), or gravel, sand, dirt, and other construction-related materials (if you are working in the construction space).

What are Typical Load Rates for Dump Trucks?

You will often see dump truck companies charging by the hour, especially for construction-related loads. Load rates will vary, but typically range from $70 to $120 per hour. Alternatively, you can charge by weight (tonnage) or a flat fee for the load (residential customers sometimes prefer a fixed fee for the entire load).

Rates will vary by region, so if you want to get a more accurate picture of what load rates will be for your area, call local dump truck companies and ask for quotes. You will get a pretty good sense of the market just with this simple step.

Is a Dump Truck Business Profitable?

Now that we have covered how dump truck businesses make money, let’s turn to whether this type of business can be profitable.

How Much Do Dump Truck Owners Make?

According to Payscale, a dump truck owner can make between $39,000 to $200,000, with the average base compensation landing at $97,174. As you can imagine, there are many factors that can affect how much you make, including the location you service (some regions are more suited to dump truck businesses, such as those located close to mining operations, areas that are experiencing a boom in construction activities, etc.)

How Much Does it Cost to Start a Dump Truck Business?

As you can imagine, starting a dump truck business can be pricey, with the biggest cost being the dump truck itself. A new dump truck starts at approximately $100,000, but can often cost around $150,000. Higher-end models (e.g., Kenworth) can start at $180,000 or more. Source

A used dump truck will be much cheaper, with prices ranging from as low as $30,000 to $100,000. Source

Because costs can range so high, you may want to seriously consider financing or leasing your truck. The good news is that there are plenty of options for both, which I’ve provided below. Some of them even offer no money down programs, even for brand new businesses!

Financing For New Dump Trucks

Financing For Used Dump Trucks

You should bear in mind that the cost of obtaining your truck is not the only expense you need to consider. You’ll also need to budget for marketing and branding costs, expenses associated with establishing your business entity, and costs for required licenses (CDLs), permits, registrations, taxes, and so on.

However, all of these costs should not really cost much more than a few thousand dollar combined.

How Hard Is It To Start a Dump Truck Business?

Starting a dump truck business can be challenging because you will need to meet some very specific requirements, such as buying or leasing a dump truck, getting proper licensing, finding profitable loads, and hiring and managing drivers (if you plan on growing your business).

On top of that, you will need to handle all of the paperwork and operational steps associated with establishing any new business, such as setting up your LLC or other corporate entity, getting a proper name and logo, etc., filing the right tax paperwork with your state, etc.

But don’t get too bogged down in these types of details. They are just that – details. There are plenty of companies that offer reasonably priced packages that handle all of these types of compliance related matters for you.

Step 1: Avoid Disaster and Research the Market First

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Benjamin Franklin

I get that you may be excited to start your dump truck business. But the last thing you want to do is jump in without doing your research.

There’s a lot of money and time involved in starting any new enterprise and with a dump truck, you’ve buying a sizable and expensive asset (maybe even going into debt to do it).

So it’s worth your time to check the waters before you take the plunge. Here are some things to consider in your research.

Identify Your Market

Imagine your target customer. Are they homeowners? Then you’ll want to know the demographics for your target area. Check out city-data.com to start researching demographics in your area.

Will you be offering your service to local builders in your area? Do you prefer to offer your services to cities and counties? Mining operations?

Once you figure out your target customer base, start looking into whether there the market to crowded or not. Get involved in local business groups and talk to people in the industry, call your potential customers and see if they are happy with the dump truck provider.

Try to learn what their pain points are and evaluate if you can offer something that would compel them to switch.

Conduct Competitive Analysis

Another key step is to learn about your competition.

Figuring out who your competitors are shouldn’t be too hard.

Just type in “dump truck services near me” and Google will pull up a list of local businesses that offer these services. In a nutshell, that’s who you’ll be competing with. Yelp is also a good place to see who’s operating in your space.

Once you’ve identified your key competition, learn what you can about their pricing, services, customer service, etc. Reviews may be available – read all of them. Then formulate a plan to launch your business and beat the competition.

Step 2: Establish Your Business

Assuming your market research checks out, you can move on to the next step, which establishing your business.

For that, selecting a name and logo is a sensible place to begin. 

Have a creative block?  Try Shopify’s business name generator.  It’s free.   

As for a logo, you can go on canva.com and check out some of their logo templates and start from there. It’s free, but you have to tinker around with the templates and make the logo your own.

If you want something easier, check out Looka. For a modest fee, they will generate customized logos for you using AI tools that match your criteria.

Note: An important warning about names and logo. Make sure they are original to you. If you are uncertain, check out the USPTO’s trademark search tool and your state’s “dba” database.

For more great strategies and tips on how to select the right name and logo for your business, check out my article on How to Choose a Company Name and Logo [16 Key Strategies and Tips].

Create a Website For Your Dump Truck Business

In this day and age, you can’t have a business that doesn’t have at least a decent website.

But you don’t need to break the bank. Google allows you to build your first business profile for free.  It’s not really a full blown website, but it does provide an online presence with key info about your business.

It also allows people to find you on Google search when people are looking for local businesses offering dump truck services. Nice way to kill two birds with one stone.

Set Up Your Business Entity

This is an optional step, but many people choose to set up a formal business entity.

It can be an LLC, corporation, or partnership (and any number of variants within these categories). Or you can just keep it in your personal name by having a sole proprietorship.

The key reason for having a corporate entity of some sort is to shield yourself from liability and perhaps receive preferential tax treatment (check with your lawyer and accountant on this).

For a handy table comparing the different types of business entities, check out my ultimate guide to starting a business.

Step 3: Create a Business Plan For Your Dump Truck Business

A business plan is basically a summary of how you plan on executing your business.

Some key areas in a business plan include budgeting, identifying your target market and competition, marketing strategy (how will you get loads), pricing strategy, operational plans (will you have drivers, etc.), and growth projections.

If you’ve never done one, it can be hard to know where to start. Fortunately, the Small Business Administration has a great tool to help you along the way.

Step 4: Open Up a Business Checking Account

You should open a dedicated checking account in the name of your dump truck business. It keeps things separate from your personal account and makes things easier when tax time comes.

It also projects credibility and professionalism when you write a check from your business account or ask someone to pay to your business account.

If you don’t know where to get started, check out Novo.

They are perfect for new small businesses because they offer no monthly fees or minimum balances, and give you unlimited ATM fee refunds. On top of that, they give you access to tons of other free perks, like major discounts on places like Stripe, Quickbooks and Google Ads.

In my opinion, they are one of the best options in the market.

Step 5: Obtain Funding

Now, we’ve already talked about equipment financing for your dump truck (loans and leases), so I won’t rehash that.

But if you want other potential sources of funding for your business, consider the following options:

  • Personal savings. Many lenders want you to have some skin in the game, so some having some personal savings is a good idea.
  • Credit Cards. This can work in a pinch, but watch out for high interest rates.
  • Friends and family. I’d be careful with this option. You run the risk of ruining relationships if things go south.
  • Banks. Banks are a tried and true source of funding for new businesses, but they are really strict. SBA loans would be included in this option.
  • Online Funding. Lots of options in this space. Peer-to-peer lending, funding through kickstarter campaigns, using online lenders, are all worth exploring.
  • Retirement Accounts. This should be a last resort, but I include it for the sake of completeness. Before you withdraw money from these accounts, check with your financial advisor or accountant to figure out tax and financial implications of doing so.

Step 6: Obtain Licenses and Permits

As a preliminary matter, if you are going to be an owner-operator of your dump truck, you will need a CDL. If you want a guide on how to get one, check out this link.

There may be other required licenses, permits or registrations too, depending on the scope and range of your activities. Check with your state and local municipalities (including your DMV) on specifics. Your county clerk’s office is also a good place to start.

Step 7: Protect Your Dump Truck Business With Proper Insurance

People often neglect insurance or gloss over it. Don’t do that.

You want to make sure you protect the business you are building.

Dump truck insurance, in particular, is very important. After all, you are operating a large vehicle that could seriously harm others if things go sideways.

But not to worry – proper insurance is out there that caters to dump truck owners. After doing some research on it, I have come up with the following options.

Step 8: Secure a Location and Hire Drivers (If Needed)

Finding a good place to park your dump truck when it’s not in use is something you need to address.

There’s a tradeoff involved here. The more remote your parking lot, the less you’ll pay in fees, but you’ll need to shell out more for things like gas, mileage, and general wear and tear on your truck (let along the added time to drive your truck to and from the location).

Now let’s turn to employees.

If you are going to start this business as an owner-operator, employees are not a concern at this point. But if you are not going to be driving or want to position your business for growth as soon as possible, you will want to hire qualified drivers.

This can be a challenge, but the key is to find a driver with a safe and reliable record who has been doing it for a while. There is no substitute for experience and a proven track record.

Step 9: Get Dump Truck Contracts

One of the things you absolutely need to get right is getting consistent and profitable dump truck contracts.

So how do you do this? We’ve got your covered.

Here are some practical strategies to get dump truck contracts.

1. Use Load Boards

A great way to get loads for your dump truck business is to use load boards. They are essentially online “bulletin boards” that advertise available loads. If you want to learn more about this option, check out my article on the best load boards for dump trucks.

2. Use Your Contacts If You Have Them

If you are already in the business, you will likely have contacts in the industry that you can draw on to drum up business. If people know you are a good operator, that’s worth its weight in gold. Use your good reputation to build your new business.

If you are not in the industry already, get out there and start making contacts. Join relevant associations and talk to people. Make yourself known. It will make things much easier if people know your name when you come around marketing your services.

3. Reach Out to Key Customers

Regardless of who your customers are going to be, you will need to come up with a solid marketing plan to reach them.

For residential customers, you should try to leverage online resources like we already discussed. So get on Google Business Profile, develop a solid website that attracts customer traffic, and get on platforms like Yelp to advertise your services.

For those who want to use more traditional methods, you can always advertise in print publications, put up flyers, and use direct mail campaigns.

If you want to service the construction industry, you will need to be more targeted in your outreach. Call local builders and landscapers to see if they need dump truck services. Again, even if they are using someone, you can put on your sales hat and try to make them switch by offering compelling discounts or other incentives for them giving you a shot.

You can also reach out to local HOAs and municipalities to see if they are interested in snow removal or other services that can be performed using your dump truck.

For more great options on how to get dump truck contract, check out my full article on the topic here, which covers 9 great strategies you can explore.

Conclusion

So there you have it – 9 steps to start a dump truck business.

For more targeted articles on other businesses in the trucking industry, check out my articles on how to start a box truck business and and how to start a dumpster rental business.