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By Henry Albert
As an independent owner-operator, I’ve had many drivers ask me, “How do you find your own customers?” The answer to that is you can go about this in various ways.
Years ago, when I began my business, I went to the local library to research companies that offered the proper materials to be transported on a flatbed trailer. One thing that really helped my business is that I had decided upon two major cities in which I was going to ply my trade. My thoughts at the time were to deal with only a few customers on both ends. I already knew if Albert Transport wanted more substantial profits, I needed to build customer satisfaction and didn’t want to rely on freight from brokers.
At the time, I did not have the option of Google so my research began with “Standard Industry Codes” (SIC Codes). Today, I’m sure this information is available online. A gold mine of information can be found such as:
- Product or material manufactured
- Phone number
- Years in business
- Credit rating
- Size of business
- Number of employees
- And much more information about each company
The contacts for the CEO or other staff members may also be listed. Other areas I researched were “Trade Publications” and advertisements for lumber, construction, steel, and various other building products. The librarian was more than happy to assist in the research and as most people do not go to the library today, they just might be missing out on a piece of knowledge only the librarian knows.
One day, I had the bright idea to search our local Home Depot, Lowes and lumber yards. The materials at these locations all provide a label with the states where the product originated. I would simply look for cities in which I wanted to serve and sometimes the phone number was located on the label.
If you are starting this search today, I would still suggest sorting through SIC Codes in the area you want to set up your business. Once you have created the list of contacts it’s time to pick up the phone, go visit them, or email the point of contact to set up a meeting. Before you pick up the phone, have your elevator speech prepared with what differentiates your business from others should they choose to use you.