So, you want to start a transport business in Nigeria?
Well, that is good.
Or you already have one and you need some tips on how to maintain and expand it?
That is cool, too!
Read along, you would definitely find one or two things that can help you in your business.
The truth is that starting a business in Nigeria is more difficult than usual because the challenges that you would face are very peculiar to the environment where we find ourselves.
If you went to a good primary school in Nigeria, you would have been taught that transport is the movement of goods and people from one place to another.
Well if you were a backseater or backbencher (there is a difference!) that always chorused what everyone was saying, you might not remember this!
Anyways, We move!
In Nigeria, there are several means of transport; by land, by air and by water.
Transportation by land is the focus of this article:
Based on the kind of vehicles involved, land transport businesses can be:
- Commercial Car service (Taxi)
- Commercial luxury service
- Commercial intercity services (cars or buses)
- Commercial haulage services
- Commercial tricycle (Keke) - currently banned
- Commercial motorbikes (Okada) - currently banned
>>> You might want to know: 10 easiest ways of making money with your car
1. How to start a transport business in Nigeria - step by step guide
Step #1. Decide which type of transport business you want to pursue
The first step is to actually decide which of the services you would want to offer, depending on your capital, experience and your environment.
Step #2. Purchase the fleet
Go ahead and actually buy the car or keke or truck or whatever it is you want to use. You can get good quality tokunbos that can be used for whatever services you decide to go for. Here are the must consider factors:
- Find a trusted dealer: Make sure that you get a good car dealer; a bad car can and would frustrate your business from the start. You can get the Ultimate list of car dealers in Lagos with brief reviews here or visit our Car for sale page to get cars at affordable prices
- Make sure the fleet is road worthy: Make sure the car is also licensed to move legally on our roads. Please do not buy cars that have been condemned and then put on our roads. The roads are already bad, adding a car in very poor condition is just setting your customers up for danger and accidents. Here are the 10 parts on your car Vehicle Inspection Officers (VIO) will check for roadworthiness.
- Start with a small fleet: It is best to start with one or at most two vehicles if you are a newcomer in the game. This would enable you to study the terrain and understand the way the business goes, with minimal losses and risks. If you are embarking on the haulage business, here are Prices of best trucks in Nigeria.
Starting with one or two vehicles is safe for a new comer
Step #4. Select drivers if needed
For drivers, we would still come back to how to handle drivers, because you would definitely need to select a driver and knowing how to handle him is the secret to run a profitable transport business in Nigeria.
If you can, drive the car or vehicle yourself until you are able to engage the services of a driver after a while, say, maybe, a year.
Step #5. Select the route
The next step is to choose the route that you would be plying. Make sure it is a lucrative one that has a lot of potential of being plied for a long time. Routes to major cities, markets, places are usually busy for the most part of the year.
Step #6. Register
Get registered with the National Union of Road Transport Workers. It is just basic. You cannot work on Nigerian roads if you are not registered with these people and you also do not want to have issues with them. Try to stay out of their bad books as much as you can!
>>> Read also:
- Which cars to take if you’ve decided to embark on an Uber business
2. How to handle drivers - the secrets for a successful transport business in Nigeria
Now, we have talked about general things. But, before you start, since we are in Nigeria, there are a few things you must also know when it comes to handling drivers. Commercial drivers are a very peculiar set of people with their own ideologies and methods. They may not necessarily value what you value and work the way you expect them to work, hence the need to treat this area specially.
Secret #1. Know where you pick your drivers from
Now, this is not foolproof, but it can be useful if you get a driver by referral. If you go through people that the driver respects, it might serve as a means to caution them if they misbehave in future. As I said, it is not always true but at least it is better than picking a random fellow on the street to drive for you.
Choosing the right person to work with is not an easy task
Secret #2. Assume your driver is dishonest until proven otherwise
Oh yes, this might seem a little extreme, but then, there are several incidences of owners being duped by their drivers, all up to a point where the owner has to sell his cars to cut losses. Some of these commercial drivers can be that bad. But if you assume that the person is not being truthful, well, you would be on your feet and take adequate steps to ensure that you are not duped.
Secret #3. Know the cost of repairs, maintenance of vehicles & the expected returns in your area
Before negotiating any deal with your driver, be sure to find out about these things so that you would not get cheated. There is usually a standard price that most commercial drivers would remit every day or every week. This is important to get the profit you deserve in the transport business in Nigeria.
>>> Here are some information you might need:
Secret #4. Have a basic understanding of traffic rules in your area
Yes o! Know the ones that can get you arrested and the ones that would not. The reason is in case the driver comes to you someday telling you tales of how he was arrested and had to pay a bribe or a fine to someone, so he cannot remit any amount.
Some of them can be that funny and ridiculous!
>>> Here is the list you need: Traffic offences and fines in Nigeria by FRSC
Secret #5. Agree on measures to take if the driver defaults
This has to be agreed on and very stringent so that they would not want to default. If possible, get someone that they listen to involved in your discussions; sort of like a third party that is of higher authority. The reason to do this is that they would most likely default; not once or twice, but repeatedly.
Measures to take if the driver defaults must be agreed on in the beginning
Secret #6. Last but not least, throw ‘omo butter attitude’ far from you!
Even if you are a little ‘posh’ please do not act like it! They love to take advantage of people who they presume to be ‘buti’ because their usual assumption is that they have a lot of money and that is why they can drop a vehicle to use for service.
In short, get some street or ‘Marlian’ attitude or get someone who can act the part!
A few last tips
Once you start, have a routine for servicing the vehicles that all drivers must comply to. They most likely would not do so if you do not impose and enforce it.
Pay a lot of attention to your business and give the energy and time it requires.
You can invest in other cars as the profits keep rolling in. Do not spend your profits if you want to grow your transport business in Nigeria. Rather, reinvest it!