How I Started A $20K/Month Auto Shipping Broker Business
Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hi! I’m Dvir and I run Nationwide Auto Transportation. NAT is an auto shipping broker, which means that we connect consumers in need of car shipping services with truckers who transport vehicles across the United States.
Since the inception of our company 12 years ago, we have served more than 50,000 customers - many multiple times. We ship approximately 4,000 vehicles per month.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
In 2008, I started working as a freelancer for a locksmith company and I learned the job quickly. One day, I decided that I would like to open my own business, so I started my locksmith business. Through that, I gained valuable experience and learned how to advertise and get leads.
I decided one day after I received an offer to sell the business that I would look into advertising for something similar to emergency service advertising. That's how I came up with the idea to open a towing company.
Never stop investing in your business - both in your processes, tools, and in your people. It’s important to keep your reputation in good standing too. And never stop investing in yourself.
I started advertising and used subcontractors to get the job done. One of the freelancers taught me the business and helped me buy trucks. He became a manager in this business. He agreed, and a few years later he bought this business from me. However, I stayed with the transportation business.
I started a local towing company in Colorado back in 2006. One day in 2007, I needed to buy a wrecker truck for my business in Pennsylvania and I flew out to see the truck. I ended up buying this truck, and I contacted a few companies to ship the truck to Colorado, as I did not have time to drive it across the country. I had to get back to my business.
One company told me that they could ship my new truck, but they ended up not understanding how shipping requirements work. They didn’t know how to ship my equipment, and in the end, I had to drive the truck all the way back to Colorado, which took me about 4 days on the road. During those four days on the road, I spent all my time thinking that once I reached Colorado, I would research this industry to understand what people are doing wrong. I wanted to research the potential of this industry. The idea was born that I could open my own business that builds on my towing experience, but that would work for other people that need to ship vehicles.
And so, Nationwide Auto Transportation started as a DBA of my towing company. Later, it became my main business. I sold the local towing company in Colorado.
I already knew how to advertise and run a business, so I stepped into the business and grew it every year since then. That’s how I started and grew NAT. It has been my own creation. I created everything on my own.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
We offer a service through independent carriers, so establishing those relationships was our priority. However, it’s not a matter of just going on the internet and finding any truckers. We had to look for carriers who were licensed, bonded, and insured. At the same time, they had to meet the FMCSA and DoT criteria, registration, and licensing.
Next, we had to find clients. We needed a website to reach clients from all over. We’re proud to say that our website is one of the most comprehensive in our industry today. We also developed some proprietary technology, such as our quote calculator.
Finally, it’s up to us to marry the two - clients and service providers. We had to show them the unique value proposition we offer, which is facilitating communications and processes through innovative, cutting-edge technology.
Nationwide distinguishes itself from the competition by providing as much information as possible about the process via our blog and social channels. Also, we’re not afraid to offer custom services. For instance, when clients can’t find companies that are willing or prepared to ship their vehicles, NAT will often be able to find them a solution.
I think the big difference is that I work on my own advertising and bring my own leads. I have my own team that I build during the year to create the best advertising for my business.
I think what makes us better than any other broker in the field is a custom CRM that I built that helps us locate carriers and complete all the bookings with customers very fast and simple. We aim to get them the best deal with the best carrier.
Describe the process of launching the business.
We started small, but because we were able to work hands-on, we could quickly iron out issues while providing quality service. This enabled us to grow quickly through repeat business and referrals from satisfied clients.
The business started as a one-man business, but we now have staff all over. The big help was that I already had a lot of experience with advertising. Also, the towing business taught me what it's like to move cars. That was a winner for starting this business, as I have an intimate understanding of different parts of the industry from both a consumer’s and driver’s perspective.
I did put a manager in place for the towing side of the business for me to focus on the transportation business. Later on, the manager bought the towing business from me.
I do outsource a lot of work to freelancers, especially for advertising tasks. Using Upwork (odesk) and Fiverr is a great way to delegate some of your tasks.
I started adding my dispatchers one at a time and I used a call center for backup when the business became busier. I keep hiring more dispatchers, and this is why I am not losing calls. This is a lean business operation, and I find not having too many workers help reduce business expenses while employing experts around the globe.
On top of that, we continue on our online marketing, improving our SEO, and running PPC campaigns.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
When I started my first business, we used yellow pages and Dex media, but things have changed since then. Internet advertising started taking over and I started to invest in it. In the beginning, PPC worked great, but after a few years, it started becoming more expensive. That’s when I decided to move into SEO. To me, this is the best advertising method for my business. We also work on social media and other advertising, but SEO works much better than anything else for my industry.
The one thing that has worked well for us is to provide as much information as possible to our clients. That’s why we built a very comprehensive website. We market the site through social media - Facebook and Instagram.
Our strategy includes appealing to our audience in the early phases of the buyer’s journey. For instance, we provide people who want to move to different cities or states with all the information they need to get started and introduce them to the benefits of shipping their cars at that stage already. By the time they are ready to take action, they know that we’re standing by to transport their cars.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Although we continue to invest in the company weekly, we are a thriving company today. We continue to service 4,000 customers per month across the 48 states.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
One of the best decisions we made was investing a lot of money in our custom CRM. We invested more than $100K in building a custom CRM. In the end, it allowed us to manage all the dispatchers, drivers, and customers in the best way to save us money on human resources and provide better service to our customers.
Communication and education are vital to your success in business. As a broker, it has been a process to educate the market on our role and responsibilities. Also, when many people are involved in a process, mistakes or delays are inevitable. We overcome these issues through communication and educating the market.
Today, I have more than 8 workers on a full-time basis working for my business, some of them as a freelancer that works on almost a full-time basis for my business. I am always thinking about maybe trying to open another business. I love learning and doing new stuff all the time. This business is essential for me, and I will keep investing most of my time into this business.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
Our quote calculator is by far my favorite business tool. It acts as a lead magnet while helping facilitate the ordering process. It also alleviates a lot of unnecessary work.
Furthermore, we use Upwork, a freelance platform to hire content specialists and developers to work on our sites. This enables us to find the right people for the job - people we would otherwise never have found.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
Nathan Gotch’s Youtube channel has been incredibly informative in shaping how we do SEO, as was Brian Dean.
While learning these marketing skills have been pivotal, self-improvement has also been another key to making my business the best it could be.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
Never stop investing in your business - both in your processes, tools, and your people. It’s important to keep your reputation in good standing too. And never stop investing in yourself.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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