by Tim Brady,
Set your business on an evolutionary path
The temptation for many truckers in today’s logistics business environment is to consider a revolution—an insurrection of sorts. Why? With new regulations coming down the pike, not only from Washington but every state capital, the increasing cost of equipment and labor, and the ups and downs of fuel costs, it’s becoming an effort in futility to set and maintain profitable rates and reasonable revenue levels.
Is a revolution the solution? The biggest problem with revolutions is the cost to the little guy trying to gain ground against larger, better-supplied and better-equipped forces. Only a few of the revolutionaries ever survive the insurrection. But if not a revolt, then what?
Are you trying to compete with B Model Mack technology in a world filled with Cascadias, ProStars, 579s, T880s, and Pinnacles? Have you been updating and improving your business model, ensuring it evolves with the changing environment of the logistics hauling industry?
Remember how goods were transported from Point A to Point B back in the olden days? If you look at the 30-year period from the 1890s to the late 1920s, the difference in how freight was handled and transported evolved by leaps and bounds—from the horse and wagon to the internal combustion engine. Now take a look at the 30-year period from 1983 to 2013. What has changed? Almost everything. Fuel mileage has nearly doubled; more powerful engines and stronger powertrains have been introduced; computer technology that eclipses the power of the computers that put a man on the moon in the late ’60s has been developed; and communications and tracking capabilities that were nothing but science fiction in the 1980s are now a reality.
The question is, has your business evolved, or are you still driving your business like that old B Model Mack?
Here are some ways to make sure you’re evolving rather than just attempting a revolution:
- Where do you stand on technology? Are you still using a basic phone instead of a smartphone? What about satellite communications and tracking? Now don’t get me wrong here. Not all of the new-fangled technology is beneficial to operating your business; however, if you’re still running your operation on Windows 98 (almost as bad as DOS) or not using a smartphone, you’ll be left in the dust by those who are proficient in using many of these technologies.
- Are you up-to-date on all that’s going on in the world of logistics? It’s all about being current on what shippers and receivers are doing and what challenges they face. If you don’t know, you can’t help solve your customers’ freight shipping problems. Keep up-to-date with the shipping world, because many times another company’s solution may become a component to the problem-solving and troubleshooting you do for your customers. It’s all about staying informed.
- Are you fighting for your rights? Many of us object to the vast majority of new regulations being thrust upon our industry; however, the fact is, it’s too late to fight a regulation once it’s on the books. So while the new rules are in the development stage, not only should you fight to stop them, but you need to be putting together a strategy on how you and your truckers will make them work to your business advantage.
- Have you reduced rolling resistance, improved fuel mileage and aerodynamics, and stopped idling? Every drop of fuel that stays in your fuel tank and doesn’t go out the exhaust is money that goes to your bottom line. That old B Model Mack was lucky to get 4 mpg. There are OTR semis today pushing the 8 and 9 mpg threshold, which equals 12,500 gals. of fuel saved for every 100,000 mi. driven. At $4/gal., that’s a cool $50,000 in savings per year. Are you burning too many decomposed dinosaurs and, in effect, making your operation a dinosaur too?
Albert Einstein said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used to create them.” In other words, just because it worked in the past doesn’t necessarily mean it will work in the present or carry us into the future.
Knowledge is the best resource we have for solving the challenges truckers face. It comes from many places—experience, success and failure, just to name a few. We can also learn by observing others and emulating their victories while avoiding their mistakes.
But the one knowledge resource many already in business forget is education. Take courses to improve the skills required to be competitive and successful. While there have been many individuals who have successfully owned and operated a trucking business with a high school diploma or less, the complex challenges faced in today’s trucking industry make some specific courses a necessity if you wish to keep that competitive edge. Those courses could include the latest technologies, but they may also include the management skills necessary to obtain the best freight to haul or how to hire the best drivers.
The evolutionary trucker is a Renaissance individual, one who’s constantly on the prowl for new methods that are evaluated and then used if they are proven to provide a true benefit to the operation. A trucker never takes anything at face value, but looks at how it will improve the bottom line. He’s continually adding new information and knowledge through research, observation and education—all the things required to keep his carrier at the top of the evolutionary chain.
Take control of your business by becoming an evolutionary trucker. Be the one others follow by staying out front with the right technology, skills and knowledge.
Contact Tim Brady at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 731-749-8567. Join Brady in the Trucking Business Community at www.truckersu.com.