5 Steps to Start a Dump Truck Business in 2023

Thang Truong
Thang Truong
Updated on:

The business of dump trucks encompasses a range of services, such as transporting materials to and from construction sites, clearing debris in the aftermath of natural disasters, and aiding in demolition works. However, being an owner and operator of a dump truck goes beyond just operating the vehicle; it entails client development, landfill coordination, and managing accounting tasks. The minimum prerequisites to start this business include owning a truck and obtaining a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL).

1. Obtaining Necessary Business Licenses

Starting a dump truck business, like any other commercial endeavor, requires several business licenses and permits. Here’s a list of the licenses you might need:

Business License: 

The foremost requirement is a general business license that legally allows you to operate in your city, county, or state. The specifics vary by region, so check with your local government office or Small Business Administration (SBA) office for details.

Commercial Driver’s License (CDL): 

To run a dump truck business, you must secure a CDL through the Department of Safety, a requirement for all dump truck operators nationwide. Consider enrolling in a local truck driving course to prepare for the CDL examination. Most truck driving schools offer assistance with job placement after graduation.

Federal DOT Number and Motor Carrier Authority Number: 

If your business involves interstate transportation, you’ll need to register with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and obtain a USDOT Number and a Motor Carrier (MC) Number.

Heavy Use Tax Form: 

If your dump truck weighs 55,000 pounds or more, you need to file the Heavy Vehicle Use Tax (HVUT Form 2290).

State Permits: 

Depending on your state, you may need specific permits, especially if you’re transporting specific types of materials or operating in certain areas.

Remember, this list isn’t exhaustive, and requirements vary based on your location and the specific nature of your operations. It’s always a good idea to consult with a local business advisor or attorney to make sure you’re meeting all the legal requirements for your dump truck business.

2. Accumulating Driving Experience 

Consider gaining experience by working as a dump truck driver for an established company. It’s beneficial to learn from the mistakes made while working for someone else before starting your own business. Simultaneously, start saving money to buy your dump truck.

3. Buy or Lease Your First Dump Truck?

When starting a dump truck business, one of the most significant decisions you’ll need to make is whether to buy or lease your first truck. The dump truck you choose should be powerful and spacious enough to cater to a variety of jobs.

Both options come with their unique benefits and challenges. Let’s explore both:

Buying a Dump Truck

While used trucks may present mechanical issues sooner, they are considerably cheaper than new ones. Consider your budget, and ensure the truck you choose has a clear title, functional hydraulic equipment, and is mechanically reliable.


  • Ownership: Buying a dump truck means you own the asset outright after paying for it. Ownership gives you complete control over the truck, allowing you to customize and use it as you see fit.
  • No Restrictions: When you own the truck, there are no restrictions on mileage or wear and tear, unlike leasing.
  • Resale Value: Owning a truck also gives you the opportunity to sell it in the future, potentially recouping some of your initial investment.


  • Upfront Costs: Purchasing a dump truck, especially a new one, can require a significant upfront investment. This can be a hurdle for many startup businesses.
  • Maintenance and Repair Costs: As the owner, you’re responsible for all maintenance and repair costs. Over time, these can add up, particularly for older models.
  • Depreciation: Like any vehicle, a dump truck will depreciate over time, which can diminish its resale value.

Leasing a Dump Truck


  • Lower Initial Costs: Leasing generally involves lower upfront costs compared to buying, making it more financially accessible for many startups.
  • Fleet Flexibility: Leasing allows you to upgrade your fleet more frequently, ensuring you always have access to the latest models with the newest technology and best fuel efficiency.
  • Maintenance Agreements: Many lease agreements come with maintenance packages, which can significantly reduce your responsibility for repairs and maintenance.


  • No Ownership: With leasing, you never own the truck, so you’re essentially paying for its use without gaining an asset.
  • Mileage and Wear Restrictions: Lease contracts often come with restrictions on mileage and wear and tear, which can limit your usage or lead to additional fees.
  • Long-term Cost: While leasing has lower upfront costs, over the long term, it could end up being more expensive than buying, especially if you continually lease new trucks.

Cost Comparison Between Buying and Leasing a Dump Truck

The costs of buying versus leasing a dump truck can vary significantly depending on factors like the truck’s age, condition, size, and whether it’s new or used. On average, purchasing a new dump truck can cost anywhere from $100,000 to $150,000 or more. Used models can range from around $30,000 to $100,000.

Leasing costs vary widely based on the lease terms, type and age of the truck, and the included services, like maintenance packages. However, you can typically expect to pay several thousand dollars per month.

When comparing costs, don’t forget to consider other related expenses, such as insurance, maintenance, and repair costs for owned trucks, or potential fees for excess mileage or wear and tear for leased vehicles.

Ultimately, whether to buy or lease your first dump truck will depend on your business’s specific needs, budget, and long-term plans. Be sure to consider all factors carefully before making your decision.

4. Insurance Coverage for Dump Truck Owner-Operators

Navigating the world of insurance coverage can be a complex task for any business owner, especially those in industries such as dump truck services that come with unique risks. The nature of the job demands comprehensive insurance coverage to protect against a myriad of potential liabilities. Here’s a detailed breakdown of the essential insurance coverage a dump truck owner-operator should have:

Commercial Truck Liability Insurance

As a dump truck operator, the first insurance coverage you should consider is commercial truck liability Insurance. This policy covers property damage and bodily injury caused by your dump truck in the event of an accident. Given the size and weight of dump trucks, any accident could lead to significant damage and injury, leading to substantial claims.

Trucking Physical Damage Insurance

Trucking physical damage insurance is crucial to protect your dump truck from damage or loss due to events like accidents, theft, or vandalism. It typically includes Collision Insurance (for damage from accidents) and Comprehensive Insurance (for non-collision damage like theft or natural disasters). This type of coverage is particularly important if you’ve invested a significant amount of capital in purchasing your dump truck or if you’re leasing and required to maintain such insurance.

Motor Truck Cargo Insurance

Motor Truck Cargo Insurance protects you from liability for cargo that is lost or damaged while in your possession. This is particularly important if you’re hauling expensive materials or equipment for clients.

Non-Trucking Liability Insurance

Non-Trucking Liability Insurance provides coverage for when your dump truck is used for non-business purposes, such as running personal errands. It is often required by motor carriers and covers damages or injuries to other people or property in the event of an accident.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance

If you employ others in your dump truck business, workers’ compensation insurance for truckers is a must. It covers medical expenses and a portion of lost wages if an employee is injured or becomes ill due to their work.

Trucking General Liability Insurance

Trucking general liability insurance provides broad coverage for any potential liability claims not directly related to the operation of your dump truck, such as accidents on your premises or property damage or injury caused by your work or products.

For more information on finding the best insurance provider for your needs, check out our article on the Best Dump Truck Insurance Companies. Once you’ve selected a provider, you’ll also want to know how much to budget for these insurance coverages, and our article on Dump Truck Insurance Costs can help guide you.

Remember, insurance isn’t just a legal necessity—it’s also a critical part of risk management for your business. The right coverage can mean the difference between a minor setback and a devastating loss. Make sure to review your needs with a knowledgeable insurance agent who is familiar with the dump truck industry to ensure you’re adequately covered.

5. Finding Your First Clients as a Dump Truck Owner-Operator

As a first-time dump truck owner-operator, establishing a reliable client base may seem daunting. But fear not! Here are some strategies you can employ to get your first clients and get your business rolling.


The power of networking cannot be overstated. Use your existing connections within the industry and reach out to local contractors, construction companies, and landscaping businesses. Attend local industry-related meetings or events to establish relationships. Let them know you’re in business and are ready to take on jobs.

Online Presence: 

Creating a professional online presence is key in today’s digital world. At a minimum, you should have a user-friendly website detailing your services, contact information, and, ideally, some testimonials as you gain experience. Consider creating a Google My Business listing to help local clients find you and list your services on industry-specific online platforms where potential clients might look for dump truck services.

Social Media and Online Ads: 

Using social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram can help you reach a larger audience and attract potential clients. Moreover, running targeted online ads on these platforms can help you reach potential clients in your local area.

Direct Outreach: 

Identify potential clients in your local area—construction companies, landscapers, municipal councils, etc.—and reach out to them directly. This could be via email, a phone call, or even in person. You could offer introductory rates to entice them to try your services.

Partner with Other Businesses: 

Consider partnering with other local businesses that might need your services regularly. This could include construction companies, landscapers, home renovation companies, or even waste management businesses.

Local Print Advertising: 

Don’t discount the power of traditional print media. Local newspapers, industry magazines, and community bulletin boards are all places where potential clients might see your ad.

Remember, building a client base doesn’t happen overnight, and it requires persistent and consistent efforts. Always provide excellent service to your clients, as word-of-mouth and good reviews are powerful tools for attracting new business. With dedication and a strategic approach, you’ll start to see your client base grow.

Online load boards for dump truck operators

Load boards connect truckers with shippers who need loads moved. Here are some load board options:

Trucker Path: 

This load board has thousands of available loads. The platform is easy to use, and it allows truckers to filter by trip length, cargo type, and weight, making it a solid choice for dump truck operators.

DAT Load Board: 

DAT operates one of the largest load boards, and it’s widely respected in the industry. They have a vast amount of loads and also offer useful features like broker credit scores and days-to-pay information.

Direct Freight: 

Direct Freight is another load board that provides many useful features, including weather updates, truck routing, and full credit reports for brokers and shippers. It’s a comprehensive platform that can be useful for dump truck operators.


TruckLoads offers a free load board that you can access via a mobile app, with the option to upgrade to a premium service. The platform is easy to navigate and allows you to search for loads by various parameters.


This load board offers a free tier as well as premium options. It has many user-friendly features, like the ability to sort loads by weight, trip length, or location.

Remember, while load boards can be a good source of jobs, especially when you’re starting out, they should not be the only method for finding work. Establishing direct relationships with clients can lead to more reliable and potentially more lucrative work. It’s important to check each load board’s reputation and understand their terms and conditions before signing up.

Essential Resources 

You’ll need the following to start your dump truck business:

  • Dump truck
  • Dump truck insurance 
  • Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)
Thang Truong

Thang Truong covers small business insurance and small business success at BravoPolicy. He is a licensed P&C insurance agent. Previously, he held product leadership positions at realtor.com, Capital One, NerdWallet, and Mulberry Technology. He holds a MBA degree from UC Berkeley - Haas School of Business.

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