- Travel

Launching a Chiller Van or Freezer Van Business

So you want to start a refrigerated trucking business? Kudos to you for wanting to dive into the world of entrepreneurship. Launching any new business takes a lot of hard work and dedication, but the rewards of being your own boss can be well worth it. A chiller van or freezer van business fills an important need, transporting temperature-controlled goods and perishable items. If you’re up for the challenge of getting this type of business off the ground, it can be a very viable and lucrative commercial venture. But where do you start? How do you navigate regulations, buy or lease vans, find customers, hire qualified drivers and set competitive rates? This article will walk you through the key steps to launching your own refrigerated trucking business from scratch. By the end, you’ll have a solid plan in place and be well on your way to getting your chiller vans out on the road.

Obtaining the Necessary Licenses and Permits to Operate

So you want to get into the refrigerated trucking business, huh? Exciting! But before you go buying that shiny new reefer and hitting the open road, there are a few legal hoops you’ll need to jump through.

First, you’ll need an interstate operating authority, which involves registering with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and obtaining a motor carrier number. You’ll have to provide info about your company, safety programs, insurance, and intended routes.

Next up, commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) for you and your drivers. CDL holders need special endorsements to haul refrigerated loads, so make sure everyone has the proper credentials.

Don’t forget state-level permits and business licenses. The requirements vary in each state, so check with agencies where you plan to operate. You’ll typically need general business licenses or permits, plus special licenses or permits to transport perishable goods or operate a refrigerated vehicle.

Vehicle insurance is a must. You’ll need commercial auto liability insurance, cargo insurance, and possibly other policies to cover refrigeration units and their contents. Work with an insurance broker experienced in the trucking industry.

Finally, your vehicles will require refrigeration unit licenses or permits in many areas. These help ensure your reefer equipment meets health and safety standards for perishable cargo.

Whew, that’s a lot of red tape! But by obtaining all the necessary licenses, permits, and insurance, you’ll have a solid legal foundation for your new refrigerated trucking company. Smooth sailing and happy hauling from here on out!

Choosing the Right Chiller Vans or Freezer Vans

Choosing the right refrigerated vans is key to success in this business. You have options like chiller vans for fresh goods or freezer vans for frozen items. Consider what types of perishable products you want to transport to determine the best solution.

For frozen goods, you’ll want a freezer van. Look for vans rated for -20°F that can maintain ideal freezer temperatures. Popular brands of freezer vans provide reliable refrigeration units and insulation. These vans typically cost a bit more upfront but are essential for frozen cargo.

If you’re shipping fresh produce, dairy, or other chilled goods, a chiller van is good. These vans can maintain temperatures of 33 to 41°F. Options range from basic chiller vans to more advanced models with tighter temperature controls and monitoring systems. For the best quality, look for a van rated for multi-temperature zones so you can transport different types of perishable goods.

Think about van size based on the volume of cargo you need to move. Do you need a large van for big shipments or will a mid-size van suit your needs? Consider fuel efficiency as well since you’ll be operating the refrigeration unit. Look for a van with an efficient engine to save on fuel costs.

Other features to consider include lift gates for easy loading/unloading, backup cameras and sensors for safety, and a strong security system to monitor your cargo and equipment when away from the vehicle. With the right chiller van or freezer van chosen for your specific needs, you’ll be well on your way to a thriving refrigerated trucking business.

Finding and Retaining Qualified Refrigerated Truck Drivers

Finding and keeping good refrigerated truck drivers is key to running a successful chiller van business. As an owner, there are several things you can do to attract top talent and build a team of qualified drivers.

Offer Competitive Pay and Benefits

Pay refrigerated truck drivers a competitive wage and offer additional benefits like health insurance, paid time off, and performance bonuses. Skilled drivers have many job opportunities, so you need to provide good compensation and incentives for them to work for your company.

Invest in High-Quality Equipment

Provide drivers with well-maintained, reliable equipment that makes their jobs easier and safer. Things like refrigeration units, lift gates, and ergonomic cab designs will make driving more comfortable and help reduce risks. Happy, unstressed drivers are more likely to stick around.

Create a Supportive Company Culture

Build a company culture where drivers feel valued and supported. Be available to address any issues or concerns they may have. Provide opportunities for feedback and implement their suggestions when possible. Little things like sending birthday cards, praising safe driving records, and hosting company barbecues go a long way in making people feel like part of the team.

Offer Ongoing Training

Provide paid training opportunities to help drivers strengthen key skills and stay up-to-date with industry regulations and best practices. Things like refrigeration system operation, load securement, and defensive driving courses not only make them better at their jobs but also show you’re invested in their professional development.

Following these tips will help ensure you have qualified, dedicated refrigerated truck drivers to keep your chiller vans on the road and your business running smoothly. Building a team of skilled, motivated drivers is well worth the investment. Happy trucking!

Developing a Business and Marketing Plan

A solid business plan is essential for any new company, especially in a highly competitive industry like refrigerated trucking. Here are some key things to consider for your business and marketing plan:

Define Your Business Goals and Vision

What do you want your chiller van or freezer van business to achieve in the next 1-5 years? Set concrete goals and milestones to work toward. Also establish your mission and vision – how you will serve customers and stand out from competitors.

Analyze Your Target Market

  •         Identify who needs refrigerated transport services in your area. This could include restaurants, grocery stores, food distributors, farms, etc.
  •         Assess their specific needs and how much they currently spend on refrigerated shipping. See if there are any gaps you could fill.
  •         Evaluate your competition and their strengths/weaknesses. Look for opportunities to differentiate yourself.

Develop Your Strategy

  •         Outline the logistics of how you will transport perishable goods. Will you focus on local delivery or long-haul shipping? What types of vehicles and refrigeration equipment will you need?
  •         Create a marketing plan to reach new customers through your website, social media, networking, advertising, and word-of-mouth. Offer promotions and discounts to attract new business.
  •         Build a financial plan that includes startup costs, operating expenses, potential revenue streams, and profit projections. Develop a pricing structure that will sustain and grow your company.

Stay Flexible and Adapt

Refrigerated transportation is a challenging business with many variables. Your plan should not remain static – review and revise it regularly based on the current market conditions, customer feedback, new technologies, costs, and other factors. Make adjustments to keep your company profitable and on track to achieve its goals. With hard work and persistence, you’ll be on the road to success!

Setting Competitive Rates for Your Refrigerated Trucking Services

When setting your rates for refrigerated trucking services, you need to consider several factors to remain competitive. Think of it as a balancing act.

Know Your Costs

To determine competitive rates, you first need to calculate your costs. Factor in things like fuel, maintenance, insurance, loan payments on your vehicles, and wages for drivers. Make sure your rates will generate a profit after covering all costs. If your costs are too high, you may need to find ways to cut expenses before launching your business.

Research the Competition

See what other refrigerated trucking companies in your area are charging for similar services. Their rates will give you a good starting point. You may need to charge a bit less when you’re first starting out to win over new customers. Offering introductory discounts or promotions is common for new businesses.

services offered

The types of refrigerated trucking services you provide will also impact your rates. For example, you can typically charge more for expedited delivery, multiple stops on one trip, or hauling hazardous materials that require special certifications. Services that require more time, resources and responsibility on your part warrant higher rates.

Flexible rates

Consider offering tiered rates based on factors like distance, number of stops, type of cargo, season, and customer demand. For example, you may charge higher rates during peak produce season or winter holidays. Be willing to negotiate rates for large volume customers or long-term contracts. Having some flexibility in your rates will make you more competitive.

  • Staying up to date with trends in the refrigerated trucking industry will help you set and adjust rates to keep your business profitable and competitive. Make minor rate changes as needed based on the changing costs of doing business and what other companies in your area are charging. With the right balance of competitive yet profitable rates, your chiller van or freezer van business will thrive.


So there you have it, the key steps to getting your own chiller van or freezer van business up and running. It’ll take a lot of hard work and dedication, but if you have the drive, you can build a successful refrigerated trucking company. Start making those calls, get the financing lined up, find the right equipment and staff, build up your client base, and before you know it you’ll be hitting the open road. Running a business always comes with challenges, but for the right person with the right mindset, the rewards of being your own boss and watching your company grow can make it all worthwhile. If this sounds like the opportunity you’ve been waiting for, don’t hesitate – take that first step and start bringing your chiller van business dreams to life today! The cold chain needs you.

About Carmen Morgan

Read All Posts By Carmen Morgan