Do you want to start a pilot car company? If YES, here is a 20-step guide on how to open a pilot car business with no money or experience. One good thing about pilot car business is that you can start the business with little or no cash if you already own a car and you have a valid driver license. As a pilot car driver, your core business is to lead the road and help huge oversized cargo truck driver arrive at their destination without hitches.

Your responsibility is to drive ahead of them and give them vital information that will make their journey hitch free; you are to warn the cargo truck driver of any danger that lies ahead of him on the route he is to travel and to warn people who may want to cause obstruction on the road that a huge cargo truck is going to ply the road soon.

The bottom line is that you must be in constant communication with the driver of the cargo truck. Much more than owning a sound car and a valid driver’s license, you would also be required to know the various routes in the region you are expected to work.

With this type of business, you don’t necessarily need an office space to operate from and you can choose to either work for yourself or work as partner with a registered pilot car company. Please note that if you intend to start this type of business, it is advisable to first look at the existing laws and zonal regulations in the country or state you reside in to know what is expected of you.

You also need to pay a visit to the regulatory bodies in your country to get all the information you need before you can legally open your pilot car services company business in your city. You can start your pilot car services business from a small town in the United States and if you are good at what you do, it won’t be too long before your brand becomes a nationally recognized brand especially if you go into franchising.

20 Steps to Starting a Pilot Car Business

  1. Understand the Industry

An escort vehicle, also called a pilot vehicle in most areas, is an automobile used to escort trucks with large loads, convoys of large vehicles, guide motorists through construction sites, and assist aircraft in taxiing from the runway to the tarmac.

Pilot vehicles are provided by companies that specialize in convoy escort, although escort duties are occasionally performed by police vehicles (especially for parades and funeral processions or shipments that require a high level of security during transit). Some escort companies have special authority for traffic control through state approval.

Pilot or escort vehicles are public safety vehicles; they are also considered a warning device to forewarn the public of a potential danger. They are usually equipped with a C.B. radio, or other two-way radios to communicate with each other.

On a two-lane road, a load with one escort takes position in front of the load being escorted, on a four or more-lane road the escort then transitions behind the truck being escorted. Depending on the size of the load, the load may require more escorts, usually one in the front and one in the rear.

Please note that as a pilot car driver, your core business is to lead the road and help oversized cargo truck drivers arrive at their destination without hitches. Your responsibility is to drive ahead of them and give them vital information that will make their journey hitch free.

You are to warn the cargo truck driver of any danger that lies ahead of him on the route he is to travel and to warn people who may want to cause obstruction on the road that a huge cargo truck is going to ply the road soon. The bottom line is that you must be in constant communication with the driver of the cargo truck.

Lastly, much more than owning a sound car and a valid driver’s license, you would also be required to know road various routes in the region. With this type of business, you don’t necessarily need an office space to operate from and you can choose to either work for yourself or partner with a registered pilot car company.

  1. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies

  • Demographics and Psychographics

The demographic and psychographic composition of those who patronize pilot car services cut across businesses that deal with heavy duty trucks and haulage companies, hence the demographic composition of pilot car services company is not restricted to oversized cargo truck drivers but all businesses and establishments that transport heavy duty equipment and cargos.

So, if you are thinking of launching your own pilot car services business then you should make the target demographics all encompassing, you can as well partner with shipping and logistics companies in and around your city.

  1. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On

There is no niche idea in this industry because most pilot car services companies tend to provide a straightforward service as it relates to leading the road and help oversized cargo truck drivers arrive at their destination without hitch.

Your responsibility is to drive ahead of them and give them vital information that will make their journey hitch free; you are to warn the cargo truck driver of any danger that lies ahead of him on the route he is to travel and to warn people who may want to cause obstruction on the road that a huge cargo truck is going to ply the road soon.

The Level of Competition in the Industry

The competition that exists in the pilot car services industry goes beyond competitions amongst pilot car service providers; you will be expected to compete with other players in related industries such as power bikers and freelance drivers who would want to also offer same services as you do. So, it will be right to say the competition in the pilot car services business is tough.

The truth is that no matter the level of competition in an industry, if you have done your due diligence and you brand and promote your services or business properly, you will always make headway in the industry. Just ensure your escort vehicles (pilot cars) are well – equipped (equipped with a C.B. radio, or other two-way radios to communicate with each other), your workers are well – trained, and your customer care services is top notch.

  1. Know Your Major Competitors in the industry

Here are some of the most popular pilot car services companies in the United States of America;

  • PDQ Pilot Car Service
  • C B Piloting Services, LLC
  • N.A Piloting Services, LLC
  • Diamond Piloting Services, LLC
  • Marshal Vidalia Dispatch Services, Inc.
  • American Pilot Service, Inc.
Economic Analysis

When it comes to starting a pilot car services company, you just have to get your feasibility studies and market research right before venturing into the business. It is good to mention that pilot car services business comes with its own far share of challenges.

Starting this kind of business definitely entails that you raise plenty of capital because you will need capital to purchase the first set of standard escort vehicles (pilot cars) or at least to finance the purchase of the first set of pilot cars. Depending on the scale at which you want to start from, you might require as much as multiple thousands of dollars to strike this off.

You will be expected to hire experts that will help you with comprehensive economic analysis of the businesses within the location that you intend launching the business. If you get your economic and cost analysis right before launching the business, you may not have to stay the long before you breakeven.

  1. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch

There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to choosing how you intend starting a business. Basically, you should be guided by your overall business vision and mission statement. If you are looking towards starting a pilot car services business, you have to start from the very scratch because you can hardly get the franchise of a pilot car services business to buy, if you do, it will be way too expensive.

Besides starting a pilot car services business from the scratch is less stressful when compared to other small – scale businesses that usually require detailed groundwork. With pilot car services business, you should just try as much as possible to purchase the needed escort vehicles (pilot cars) and then leverage on every marketing tool within your disposal especially the internet when it comes to marketing your business.

Please note that most of the big and successful pilot car services companies around started from the scratch and they were able to build a solid business brand. It takes dedication, hard work and determination to achieve business success.

  1. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face

If you decide to start your own pilot car services company today, one of the major challenges you are likely going to face is the presence of well – established pilot car services companies, power bikers, and other forms of freelance drivers who are offering same services that you intend offering. The only way to avoid this challenge is to create your own market.

Some other threats that you are likely going to face as a pilot car services company operating in the United States are unfavorable government policies (transportation reforms reforms), rising cost of gas, maintenance cost, and the arrival of a competitor within your location of operations and global economic downturn.

  1. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)

When considering starting a pilot car services company, the legal entity you choose will go a long way to determine how big the business can grow. Generally, you have the options of either choosing a general partnership or limited liability company for your pilot car services company. Ordinarily, general partnership should have been the ideal business structure for a small – scale pilot car services company especially if you are just starting out with a moderate start-up capital.

But if your intention is to grow the business and have clients from all across the United States of America and other countries of the world, then choosing general partnership is not an option for you. Limited Liability Company, LLC will cut it for you.

  1. Choose a Catchy Business Name from the ideas Below

Normally, when it comes to choosing a name for your business, you should be creative because whatever name you choose for your business will go a long way to create a perception of what the business represents. Typically, it is the norm for people to follow the trend in the industry they intend operating from when naming their business.

If you are considering starting your own pilot car services business in the United States of America, here are some catchy names that you can choose from;

  • Clear Road® Pilot Car Services, LLC
  • Go Bob® Professional Escort Services, Inc.
  • Save Life© Pilot Car Services, LLC
  • Black Panthers™ Pilot Car Services, Inc.
  • This Way® Pilot Car Services, LLC
  • Blue Strides™ Professional Escort Services Group
  • Mike Nelson© Pilot Car Services, LLC
  • Alpha Beta® Pilot Car Services Ltd.
  • Eagles Watch® Pilot Car Services, Inc.
  • Go Pro® Pilot Car Services, Inc.
  • Rolling Star© Pilot Car Services, Inc.
  • White Horse® Pilot Car Services, Inc.
  1. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You

In the United States and in most countries of the world, you can’t operate a business without having some of the basic insurance policies that are required by the industry you want to operate from. Thus, it is imperative to create a budget for insurance and perhaps consult an insurance broker to guide you in choosing the best and most appropriate insurance policies for your business.

Here are some of the basic insurance policies that you should consider purchasing if you want to start a pilot car services company in the United States of America;

  • General insurance
  • Health insurance
  • Liability insurance
  • Risk Insurance
  • Workers’ compensation
  • Commercial Hull Insurance
  • Physical Damage Insurance
  • Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist
  • Motor vehicle insurance (comprehensive insurance)
  • Overhead expense disability insurance
  • Business owner’s policy group insurance
  • Payment protection insurance

You can contact the following leading insurance companies in the United States of America to purchase the needed insurance policies for your pilot car services business;

  • Allstate Insurance Group
  • Liberty Mutual
  • Progressive Insurance Group (PGR)
  • Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC)
  • New York Life Insurance Company
  • Lincoln National Life Insurance Company
  • MassMutual (Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company)
  • Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company
  1. Protect your Intellectual Property with Trademark, Copyrights, Patents

If you are considering starting your own pilot car services company, usually you may or may not have any need to file for intellectual property protection/trademark because the nature of the business makes it possible for you to successfully run it without having any cause to challenge anybody in court for illegally making use of your company’s intellectual properties.

But if you just want to protect your company’s logo and other documents or software that are unique to you or even jingles and media production concepts, then you can go ahead to file for intellectual property protection. If you want to register your trademark, you are expected to begin the process by filing an application with the USPTO. The final approval of your trademark is subjected to the review of attorneys as required by USPTO.

  1. Get the Necessary Professional Certification

Attend a Driving – Pilot Course

This is one of the best steps that you should look to partake in. This is because of the very important skills that you will be able to bring to the table. Therefore, attending a driving pilot course is imperative. How can you achieve this? You can look around you to see schools that offer this course. You may also want to garner information about this on the internet. Taking a course as this isn’t a child’s play, as such you have to have the money required to do so.

Acquire the Required Driver’s License

You cannot start this business without the driver’s license. This is why it is vital that you acquire the license after you are certified fit to drive a car. So, you have to strive to practice to be perfect so that you are not denied a driving license.

Aside from the results you produce, professional certification is one of the main reasons why some pilot car services companies stand out. If you want to make an impact in the pilot car services company, you should work towards acquiring all the needed certifications in your area of specialization. These are some of the certifications you can work towards achieving if you want to run your own pilot car services company;

  • City & Guilds Level 2 Certificate of Competence in Abnormal Loads (Escort Driver)
  • City & Guilds Level 3 Certificate of Competence in Abnormal Loads (Escort Manager).

Please note that some states require pilot car and escort vehicle drivers to be certified operators before operating within their jurisdictions. If you are considering operating a oversize load truck escorting service you will be required to have certain “certifications” in each of the following states. Arizona – Colorado – Florida – Georgia – Louisiana – Minnesota – Nevada – New Mexico – New York – Oklahoma – Virginia – Washington.

  1. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate

It is a fact that you cannot successfully run any business in the United States without the proper documentations. If you do, it won’t be too long before the long hands of the law catch up with you. These are some of the basic legal documents that you are expected to have in place if you want to legally run your own business in the United States of America;

  1. Raise the Needed Startup Capital

Starting a pilot car services company is indeed a relatively capital-intensive business hence entrepreneurs willing to start the business ensure that they raise the required startup capital from all available legal means. No doubt when it comes to financing a business, one of the first things you should consider is to write a good business plan.

If you have a good and workable business plan document in place, you may not have to labor yourself before convincing your bank, investors and your friends to invest in your business. Here are some of the options you can explore when sourcing for startup capital for your pilot car services company;

  • Raising money from personal savings and sale of personal stocks and properties
  • Raising money from investors and business partners
  • Sell shares to interested investors
  • Applying for loan from your bank
  • Pitching your business idea and applying for business grants and seed funding from, government, donor organizations and angel investors
  • Source for soft loans from your family members and your friends.
  1. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business

Choosing a location for a pilot car services company can be in two phases. Firstly, it must be located in a city that has need for such services and also in a city that a good number of heavy-duty haulage and cargo companies and also good road network. So also, you are expected to secure administrative office in a visible and busy location.

Indeed, location has great influence on the success of pilot car services company. If you have taken your time to study the industry, you will realize that pilot car services pay expensive rents in order to stay in shipping and cargo hubs; a place where business activities and financial activities are at its peak.

It cannot be overemphasized that the location you choose to open your pilot car services company is key to the success of the business, hence entrepreneurs are willing to rent or lease a facility in a visible location; a location where the demography consists of people and organization with the require purchasing power and business interest.

If you make the mistake of renting or leasing a facility for your pilot car services company in a not too visible or hidden location simply because it is cheap, then you must be prepared to spend more in promoting the business. It is important to note that a business facility in good location does not come cheap hence you should be able to allocate enough fund for leasing/renting in your budget.

If you are new to the dynamics of choosing a location for your business, then you should feel free to talk to a business consultant or a realtor who has a full grasp of the city and perhaps country you intend starting your pilot car services company. Having said that, these are some of the cities in the United States of America where you can locate your pilot car services company;

  • New York
  • Newark
  • Houston
  • Minneapolis
  • Paul
  • Dallas-Fort Worth
  • Kansas City
  • Louis
  • Chicago
  • Cleveland
  • Boston, Massachusetts
  1. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs

On the average, there are no special technology or equipment needed to run this type of business except for escort vehicles equipped with a C.B. radio, or other two-way radios, and software applications. You will also need computers/laptops, internet facility, telephone, fax machine and office furniture (chairs, tables, and shelves) amongst others and all these can be gotten as fairly used.

When it comes to choosing between renting and leasing an office space, the size of the pilot car services company you want to build, and your entire budget for the business should influence your choice. If you have enough capital to run a standard pilot car services company, then you should consider the option of leasing a facility for your office; when you lease, you will be able to work with long – term planning, structuring and expansion.

As regards the number of employees that you are expected to kick start the business with, you would need to consider your finance before making the decision. Averagely, you would need a Chief Executive Officer or President (you can occupy this role), an Admin and Human Resource Manager, Dispatcher, Professional Escort Car Drivers (Pilots), Assistant, Accounting Officer, Business Development Executive / Marketing Executive, and Customer Service Officer or Call Center Agents.

Over and above, you would need a minimum of 5 to 20 key staff to effectively run a medium scale but standard pilot car services company. Please note that you would need the services of automobile servicing and maintenance engineers.

If you are just starting out, you may not have the financial capacity or required business structure to retain all the professionals that are expected to work with you. Hence you are expected to contract out some roles.

The Service Delivery Process of the Business

On the average, the way pilot car services work varies from one company to another, but ideally, a pilot car services company is expected to first and foremost hire highly skilled and licensed escort car drivers with commercial driver’s license, get their well-equipped pilot cars available for charter and then once a client books any of their escort cars, they lead the road and help them arrive at their destination without hitch.

Their responsibility is to drive ahead of them and give vital information that will make their journey hitch free; they are to warn the cargo truck driver of any danger that lies ahead of him on the route he is to travel and to warn people who may want to cause obstruction on the road that a huge cargo truck is going to ply the road soon.

It is important to state that a pilot car services company may decide to improvise or adopt any business process and structure that will guarantee them good return on investment and flexibility; the above stated business cum services process is not cast on stone.

  1. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies

As a pilot car services company, you would have to prove your worth over and over again before attracting high profile clients. So, if you have plans to start your own pilot car services company, it will pay you to build first build a successful career in the transportation services industry with key emphasis on safety.

People and organizations will hire your services if they know that you are going to take them safely to their destination. So, when you are drafting your marketing plans, make sure that you create a compelling company profile.

Aside from your qualifications and experience in the industry, it is important to clearly state what you have been able to achieve in time past. This will help boost your chances in the market place. Here are some of the platforms you can utilize to market your pilot car services company;

  • Introduce your business by sending introductory letters alongside your brochure to heavy duty cargo companies, haulage companies, shipping companies and players in key industries that transports heavy duty equipment and cargos within your location of operations
  • Advertise your services in community-based newspapers, local TV and radio stations
  • List your business and products on yellow pages ads (local directories)
  • Leverage on the internet to promote your pilot car services company
  • Engage in direct marketing and sales
  • Encourage the use of word-of-mouth marketing (referrals)
  • Leverage on the internet to promote your business
  • Join local chambers of commerce and industries around you with the main aim of networking and marketing your services; you are likely going to get referrals from such networks.
  • Engage the services of marketing executives and business developers to carry out direct marketing for you.
  1. Work Out a Reasonable Pricing for your Services 

One key factor that will help you offer your pilot car services at a price that is highly attractive is to ensure that you source your capital from sources that will give you reasonable interest and payment plans and also purchase cheaper and reliable pilot cars.

Another strategy that will help you offer your pilot car services at the right price is to ensure that you cut operational cost to the barest minimum and channel your efforts towards marketing and promoting your brand name.

Aside from the fact that this strategy will help you save cost, it will also help you get the right pricing for your services. So also, if you are able to secure business partnership as it relates to getting referrals, then you will be able to get the right pricing and of course maximize profits from your business.

  1. Develop Iron-clad Competitive Strategies to Help You Win

The pilot car services industry is a competitive industry, and you must come up with a unique and highly creative strategies to be able to outsmart your competitors in the industry. Part of what you need to do in order to stay competitive in the industry is to continue to provide well-equipped pilot cars and highly trained staff.

In other to stay competitive in this industry, you must ensure that you are always on – time when called upon to escort heavy duty trucks and always ensure that you pay attention to details when carrying out your job. The truth is that if there are fluctuations in the services you provide, customers can choose to shift allegiance and settle for other options available.

  1. Brainstorm Possible Ways to Retain Clients & Customers

When it comes to business, no matter the industry that you choose to pitch your tent in, one of the easiest ways to increase customer retention and perhaps attract new customers is to produce results and satisfy your customers always. If your customers are satisfied with your products and service delivery, they can hardly source for alternative service providers.

If your services and customer service fluctuate, you are likely going to struggle to get your customers retaining your services. Ensure that you offer your customers incentives if you want to retain them and of course continue to generate repeated sales from them and also to attract new customers.

Part of what you need to do to achieve this is to track progress, results or outputs with the aim of improving on them quickly as the case demands. When it comes to managing your customers and building a loyal clientele base, you should purchase a customized CRM software.

With a customized CRM system, you can easily stay in touch with your clients (you can carry out quick surveys, you can introduce new products and prices to them without any hitch, you can felicitate with them on their birthdays and other anniversaries, you can keep track of their progress, you can send bulk sms and customized e – mails and above all, you can easily receive compliant and feedback from them).

  1. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity

If you are in business and you are not conscious about boosting your brand awareness and communicating your corporate identity, then you should be ready to take on whatever the society portrays your business to be. One of the secrets of larger corporations is that they are willing to spend good money to boost their brand awareness and to continue to communicate their corporate identity the way they want people to perceive them to be.

No matter the industry you belong to, the truth is that the market is dynamic and it requires consistent brand awareness and brand boosting cum promotion to continue to appeal to your target market. Here are the platforms you can leverage on to boost your brand and create a corporate identity for your pilot car services company;

  • Place adverts on both print (newspapers and haulage and transportation related magazines) and electronic media platforms
  • Sponsor relevant community – based events / programs
  • Leverage on the internet and social media platforms like; Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google + et al to promote your pilot car services company
  • Install your Bill Boards on strategic locations all around the locations where you operate
  • Distribute your fliers and handbills in target areas
  • List your pilot car services company in local directories / yellow pages
  • Advertise your pilot car services company in your official website and employ strategies that will help you pull traffic to the site.
  • Position your Flexi Banners at strategic positions in the locations where your pilot car services company operates.
  • Ensure that all your staff wear your branded shirts and all your pilot cars and trucks are well branded with your company logo et al.
Ajaero Tony Martins