If you’re like most entrepreneurs there are situations that you will find yourself in that eat up a lot of your time and lead you to ask yourself, what has this got to do with trucking? These are the distractions that you must show discipline with so that you stay committed to those things that help grow your company. If you happen to have that discipline, then the next question is where is this business weak, where is it strong, and where are the opportunities, and how does it not stack up to the rest of the industry.
Here in lies the million dollar question and the real discipline test, for we as humans will always gravitate to our comfort zones, whatever they may be in our businesses, could be operations, sales, or maintenance. It is typically one of these that truckers are most comfortable in, which is why when I am typically asked to go out to visit trucking companies. I can usually guess that what I’ll be asked to give advice on, and nine times out of ten it will be in the safety realm, compliance, HR, administration or operating systems. Makes sense right? So here are a couple of ideas for you to consider if you think you might be in this position.
First would be to perform a SWOT test on your business. I have written articles on this time tested effective tool in the past, SWOT of course referring to Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Recognizing of course that identifying where you are exposed or weak is just a first step in the process. It’s what you’re going to do with that knowledge that is of equal or greater importance, I won’t bore you with the explanation of the whole exercise, if you’re interested just send me a request and I will send you the information.
In many sectors of the economy one would depend on their accountants for direction and advice but unfortunately there are not to many accounting firms that I am aware of that really understand the trucking segment. This has always confused me considering the size and scope of the opportunity for firms to carve out a nice sized trucking niche. I would go so far as to say that 99% of the accounting firms I have met over the years have no clue about what it takes to manage a trucking company. Not to say they can’t make the numbers balance, most of them can do that part, they do up nice reports to help keep the banker’s covenants satisfied right? But when you consider the cost of this exercise and what you get out of it as a management tool, is there true value there, likely not for what it’s costing you and your company?
Of course larger companies might have a CA on staff that, along with many other duties would not only produce financial statements but also identify trends in the business to alert management to various anomalies that might arise. They may even have built an operating model for the company to do future planning. What these folks can’t do though is compare their performance to the competition to see where they stack up against various key performance indicators, things such as daily revenue, maintenance cost, labour cost, admin cost, trucks per dispatcher, average length of haul, MPG, cost of fuel, insurance cost, profitability, etc.
There is a new service coming down the pipe that should be available shortly and that can fill the void called InGauge, that will allow owners and managers of trucking companies to focus in on those areas of most need within their companies. This service will ask companies to anonymously, online, submit numbers from their operation into a standard reporting form on a monthly basis, what they will receive in return is a measurement as to where they stack up against their competition in various EPI’s (Essential Performance Indicators). This will free people up to focus on where their company needs to be stronger or more efficient and more profitable. In addition there will resource material available from a library of educational products relevant to each of the EPI’s that are measured. As you may have read:
“The Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) will be hosting a webinar Feb. 17 with inGauge to help those in the trucking industry create efficiencies in their operations and see how they stack up with the competition.
The OTA announced the partnership with the Truckload Carriers Association and inGauge last week, saying it was a first-of-its-kind benchmarking initiative for the Canadian trucking industry.
StakUp Inc. created the benchmarking tool, which harnesses data, anonymously ranking members’ performance so that carriers can pinpoint the areas of their operations that could drive profitability and efficiency.
OTA members are able to evaluate this new service until April 30 free of charge, after which they will qualify for a discount to the regular subscription fee.
Could this be what many trucking companies have been looking for, could there finally be a tool that will show folks where and how to be more successful?
Mr. Ray Haight has enjoyed a successful career in transportation starting as a company driver and Owner Operator logging over one million accident free miles prior to starting his own company. After stepping down from a successful career managing one of Canada’s 50 largest trucking companies, Ray focused on industry involvement including terms as Chairman of each of the following, the Truckload Carriers Association, Professional Truck Drivers Institute, North American Training and Management Institute and the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities voluntary apprenticeship of Tractor Trailer Commercial Driver, along with many other business interests, he enjoys a successful consulting business, also sitting on various Boards of both industry associations a private motor carriers. He is also Co-Founder of StakUp O/A TCAinGauge an online bench marking service designed to assist trucking companies throughout North America focus on efficiency and profitability within their operations. All posts by Ray Haight