Every day, auto transporters across the United States move thousands of vehicles from one place to another for a fee. Customers include car manufacturers, new and used car dealers, car-rental agencies, and businesses or individuals that need to relocate a vehicle to a new location, often across the country or hundreds of miles away. Because of its breadth and scope, the auto-transport industry offers opportunities to become a contractor to or employee of an existing company, or to start a new business.
Meet industry requirements. To become a contractor to an existing auto-transport provider, according to National Auto Transport, you must have a Motor Carrier (MC) number, as well as U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) authorization as a carrier. You must also show proof of ample auto insurance as well as general liability coverage.
Find a vendor looking for drivers. That usually requires that you be an independent owner-operator of your own equipment, such as a specialized truck for hauling automobiles. Many so-called “national” providers of auto transport are, in fact, built on a network of independent regional and local owner-operators. American Auto Transport touts a network that includes more than 500 licensed owner-operators that function as regular subcontractors. As of early 2011, East Coast Auto Transport and Supreme Auto Transport are actively seeking such owner-operators.
Do your due diligence. Check the MC number of your prospective partner. If it’s not shown clearly on their website, that’s usually reason for concern. The best source for information on an auto-transport company, notes ASN, is the U.S. Department of Transportation SAFER system, where you can investigate by name, MC number or USDOT number.
Go into business for yourself. Each year, new vendors enter the auto-transport business in local and regional markets across the country. Lease or purchase your equipment, such as specially fitted trucks, then go out and secure your own customers. If you can offer a better price or some other advantage for them, the customers will follow. But. the costs of entry into the market and ongoing maintenance of equipment and facilities is capital-intensive and not for the small investor.