How to Start a Dump Truck Business: The Complete Guide

The market for dump truck businesses is high—the industry is expected to be worth $24 billion by 2025, driven mostly by commercial construction projects, but also propelled by smaller home renovation and demolition needs as well.[1]

So, if you’re thinking about starting a dump truck business, you’re in luck. As long as you have the capital and know-how required to get started, this is the kind of work that can be done successfully just about anywhere.

How to Start a Dump Truck Business

Whether you’ve been driving a dump truck for another company or you’re interested in learning how to start a dump truck business with no prior experience, there’s plenty to cover—permits, licenses, financing, marketing, and more.

Here are the six steps you can follow to start your business.

1. Draft a Business Plan

Behind every successful business is a robust business plan. Creating a blueprint by which you plan to build your company is essential for getting it off the ground in the right way. Sticking to your plan as you continue to grow is essential.

A good business plan sets out your vision for what the company will be and helps you collect your thoughts about how it will work. This includes revenue generation, competitors in the space, unique advantages that will set your dump truck business apart, as well as what kind of small business financing you may need in order to get off the ground (and grow in the future). You’ll also want to include a cursory timeline that spells out when certain milestones should be hit, so you can assess your overall progress compared to your goals. 

When you’re writing a business plan for your dump truck business, there are a few important notes you’ll want to keep in mind:

  • Driving experience: If you’ve been working for another company and have commercial driving experience—that’s great. If not, you need to incorporate the time to learn and get the proper training into your business plan timeline.
  • Startup costs: Considering the equipment you’ll need to start your own dump truck business, you should calculate your startup costs ahead of time. The largest cost will be the dump truck itself—if you don’t have one already. A new dump truck can run anywhere from $100,000 to $150,000, whereas you might be able to find a used truck for as low as $15,000.[2] The truck aside, you should expect to devote an additional $10,000 to $20,000 to startup costs.[3]
  • Services and target market: Dump trucks can be used for a variety of tasks—from hauling garbage to dump sites to assisting with construction projects and real estate builds. What is going to be the focus of your dump truck business? Are you going to focus on a specific range of services? Will your business be restricted based on the area where you live? Who will be your ideal customer? Is there a local or regional market for your services? These are all questions to consider and answer in your business plan.

2. Choose an Entity Type and Register Your Business

With a business plan in hand, the next thing you’ll want to do is determine the kind of business entity you want to use for your dump truck business. In short, a business entity makes your business a reality—it determines how you pay taxes, employees, and even yourself. 

Choosing the right one is essential, as your business entity type determines how you operate your company. Overall, there are several options for registering your dump truck business. Most business owners opt for a limited liability corporation (LLC). LLCs are often easier to set up than other business types and also make it easier to pay taxes.

Establishing an LLC also helps protect your personal assets in the event that your business incurs any legal trouble, such as bankruptcy or lawsuits. Of course, you might also opt to structure your business as a corporation, sole proprietorship, or another entity type—the decision is up to you.

If you’re unsure which structure is right for your business, we’d recommend consulting a business attorney or tax professional.

Once you’ve chosen your business entity type, you’ll be ready to register your business with the state, if necessary. The registration process will vary by state, so you’ll want to visit your secretary of state’s website and follow the proper procedure based on your location.

3. Secure Permits and Licenses

When it comes down to it, most municipalities are going to have a significant number of rules regarding a dump truck business—particularly if you plan to cart or haul debris to local garbage and recycling centers.

Therefore, in addition to checking to make sure that you meet standard business licensing and permit requirements in your state and town, you’ll also want to make sure that you meet any necessary requirements that are unique to your industry.

As an example, you may need to get one or more business licenses that will allow you to officially pick up materials in the towns in which you operate. You’ll also need a CDL, or commercial driver’s license, which may require different certifications—such as dump truck tailgate removal and installation, HAZMAT endorsements, or passenger endorsements.

You’ll need to have all of these licenses and registrations active before you start taking jobs; otherwise, you run the risk of expensive fines or lawsuits. In general, carting and hauling companies tend to attract attention from town and city halls across the country due to the nature of their business.

That said, if you’re not sure where to begin your licensing process or you’re unsure of which rules might apply to your dump truck business, you can start by contacting your local officials or chamber of commerce. Most will be more than willing to point you in the right direction.

4. Purchase a Dump Truck and Other Necessary Equipment

Now that your dump truck business is officially registered, you’re ready to get all of the equipment you need to start operating. Therefore, if you don’t yet have your own dump truck, it’s time to find the right one.

As mentioned above, buying a dump truck is going to be one of the biggest costs you face when starting your trucking company, so you’ll want to do extensive research before purchasing your truck.

If you’re looking to save on initial costs, purchasing a used truck may be cheaper upfront, but keep in mind that a used truck may require more consistent maintenance and may not last as long in comparison to a new truck. Of course, a new truck will be significantly more expensive.

You might also consider leasing your dump truck, instead of buying it—that way, you can avoid ongoing maintenance costs and upgrade once the truck becomes out of date. Overall, both equipment leasing and equipment loans are great options for financing a dump truck purchase.

That said, in any case, you’ll want to make sure the truck you buy is mechanically sound, easy for you and any potential employees to operate, and suitable for the work you plan to do. You’ll also want to consider what the costs of fuel, insurance, and maintenance will look like.

5. Get Business Insurance

Once you have your truck and other equipment, the next step in starting a dump truck business is getting insurance. With heavy equipment, employees lifting large and bulky materials, and plenty else that can go awry, it’s essential to have the right kinds of business insurance in place:

  • General liability insurance: Protects against injuries and accidents on the job that could create hefty bills (or even lead to lawsuits). 
  • Commercial auto and property insurance: Vehicle and property insurance policies are also essential for dump truck businesses, given the expensive nature of the equipment used.
  • Workers compensation, disability, and unemployment insurance: Odds are good that you’re going to need more than one set of hands for your dump truck business, meaning that you’ll also need insurance for your employees in order to stay compliant with state and local laws.

6. Market Your Business and Develop a Loyal Customer Base

After you’ve taken care of all of the paperwork, legal requirements, and purchased your equipment, you’re ready to hit the ground running. When you’re starting a dump truck business, building a solid and loyal customer base will be key, so you’ll want to develop strategies to market your company effectively.

Depending on the focus of your business, it’s very likely that you’ll invest in local marketing tactics, such as mailing flyers, posting signs in local coffee shops, and participating in local events.

That said, you don’t want to forget about social media and online marketing—especially building a business website and encouraging customers to leave positive reviews. Word-of-mouth marketing could also be particularly helpful to your dump truck business, so encourage happy customers to mention your company to their family and friends.

The Bottom Line

Learning how to start a dump truck business can be a bit tricky, given the intricate nature of the industry and the amount of capital needed to begin. That said, it’s far from impossible—and it can be pretty profitable as well. 

With the right plan, registration, licenses, and attitude, you can get your own dump truck business off the ground and ready to roll in no time.

Article Sources:

  1. GMInsights.com. “Dump Trucks Market Size by Type
  2. Tigergeneral.com. “How Much Dump Trucks Cost
  3. Apexcapitalcorp.com. “Trucking Company Startup Costs

Christine Aebischer

Christine Aebischer is an editor at JustBusiness and Fundera.

Previously, Christine was an editor at the financial planning startup LearnVest and its parent company, Northwestern Mutual. There she wrote and edited on topics such as debt, budgeting, insurance, taxes, investing, and retirement. She has written for print and online on topics ranging from personal finance to luxury real estate.

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