Thinking about opening a personal freight forwarding business? We tell you what you need to know to get started.
Overview of the Personal Freight Forwarding Industry
These days, the portable and mobile nature of life has resulted in increased demand for services that assist in the relocation of individuals and families to international destinations. Personal freight forwarders are a key link in the international relocation chain, providing shipping services not just for people who are moving abroad, but for anyone who needs to send LTL or FTL shipments overseas.
The combined U.S. commercial and personal freight forwarding industry is substantial, yielding $50 billion in annual revenues. Personal freight forwarding startups are commonplace, yet those who survive are the ones that have invested time and resources in developing their expertise and creating an international network of shipping contacts.
If you don't have a background in freight forwarding, it's essential to work in the industry or develop a relationship with a seasoned mentor before striking out on your own. A few years in the industry will prove invaluable in acclimating you to standard freight forwarding procedures and help you develop an initial base of contacts for your startup.
Setting the Stage for a Successful Personal Freight Forwarding Launch
Highly successful freight forwarding startups are extremely cautious when it comes to market positioning, customer acquisition and strategic relationships. A firm grasp of importing, exporting and shipping concepts is essential. But in this industry, efficiency drives profits, so you'll need to deliberately incorporate elements that attract one-time customers and facilitate the seamless transportation of their cargo to remote locations.
- Online Marketing. Unlike commercial freight forwarding, personal freight forwarding does not benefit from recurring revenue streams. Unless you can contract with large employers to ship relocated workers' property overseas, you'll need to leverage online marketing strategies to connect with a widely dispersed customer base.
- Logistics Solutions. Technology will be your personal freight forwarding startup's most important asset. In the modern technology marketplace, logistics and shipping software solutions streamline freight forwarding procedures, enabling up-to-the-minute connections with carriers and other stakeholders.
- Trade Associations. Memberships in trade associations like FIATA are critical for personal freight forwarding entrepreneurs. Affiliations in key trade organizations give your startup credibility and create connections with other players in the industry.
Characteristics of a Good Personal Freight Forwarding Company Business Plan
Your personal freight forwarding company's business plan should be tailored to your business's unique traits and goals. But if it's done right, your personal freight forwarding business's plan should contain a handful of sound business plan elements:
- Mission Statement – A concise declaration of values, strategy and identity.
- Goals & Objectives – A list of mile markers on your personal freight forwarding business's road to success.
- Financial, Marketing & Action Plans – Specific plans that describe your business environment, demographic targets and quantitative estimates.
Prior to opening a personal freight forwarding business in your area, it's worthwhile to determine how you will fit in the competitive landscape. Try our link below to get a list of local competitors in your city. Simply enter your city, state and zip code to get a list of personal freight forwarding businesses in your town.
Before you open up shop, make sure you know what you will offer to your customers that provides a significant advantage over your competition's offering.
Learning More About the Industry
If you are interested in starting a personal freight forwarding business, the next step is to learn from folks who are already in business. If you think owners of nearby personal freight forwarding businesses will give you advice, think again. What's in it for them?
But, a person who owns a personal freight forwarding business on the other side of the country will be much more likely to talk with you, after they realize you reside far away from them and won't be stealing their local customers. Indeed, many experienced entrepreneurs enjoy offering advice to startup entrepreneurs. It can take a while to find an entrepreneur who is willing to talk, but it's well worth the effort.
How do you go about finding a personal freight forwarding business entrepreneur who is willing to talk to you but doesn't live nearby?
It's easy. Here's a link you can use to find a mentor outside of your area.
Top Three Reasons to Buy an Established Personal Freight Forwarding Business
At Gaebler, we think it makes a lot of sense to explore a personal freight forwarding business purchase before committing to a startup.
You'll want to conduct a comprehensive due diligence process, but here are three arguments why you should think about buying instead of a startup.
- Initial Revenue. Startups struggle to bring in revenue right out of the gate while existing businesses usually have a steady stream of income.
- Operational Efficiency. A good personal freight forwarding business should already function like a well-oiled machine.
- Capital Acquisition. With several years of operations under its belt, a purchased company is much more appealing to lenders and investors interested in avoiding the risk of an unproven startup.
Explore Franchising Options
The odds of growing your business are much greater if you go the franchising route and leverage their successful brand and track record.
As part of your process in starting a personal freight forwarding business, you would be wise to assess whether buying a franchise could make sense for you.
The link below gives you access to our franchise directory so you can see if there's a franchise opportunity for you. You might even find something that points you in a completely different direction.
These additional resources regarding starting a business may be of interest to you.
If you already are in business and came here to learn about growing an existing personal freight forwarding business, these resources will come in handy:
If you came here to learn about selling to personal freight forwarding businesses, you're in the wrong place. Try these resources instead:
If you are interested in starting a different kind of business, please browse our directory of guides below.