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Private fleets: Benchmark yourself

We’ve done something great, something groundbreaking, with the help of one of the most respected organizations in this industry. And I can’t wait to tell you about it.
But first I need to give you a little background so you can understand why I’m as excited as I am. You see, for the past decade every opportunity I got — whether it was when invited to speak to industry groups, or when sharing data with companies wanting to market their equipment to the Canadian trucking market, or in simple conversations with the many industry friends I have made over the past 20 years – I have made a point to stress the importance of private trucking.
Why? Well, first, being as involved with industry stats as I am, how could I not? Private trucking is the quiet giant of Canadian transportation. It’s at least as large as the for-hire sector, if not larger, accounting for about $35B in annual activity. There are close to 12,000 private truck fleets, according to our records. Used correctly and under the right circumstances, and sometimes in combination with for-hire carrier services, running a private fleet can be an excellent way to have direct control over transportation costs, capacity and customer service.
But the main reason I have always stressed the importance of private trucking is that I have long felt it does not get the attention or respect it deserves – not from the media, not from marketers and certainly not from the government agencies tasked with understanding the industries they regulate.
It has been more than a decade since Statistics Canada or Transport Canada has done any substantial research on private trucking. How can such negligence be justified when private fleet transportation is estimated to account for 2.5% of Canadian GDP? How can such negligence be justified when sectors crucial to our economy, such as wholesale trade, retail trade and construction are so reliant on private transportation? The result of this ongoing negligence, I believe, is too many supply chain decisions being made and too many opinions held in the absence of recent and reliable market data.
Okay, enough complaining. Let me now tell you what I’m so excited about.
Transportation Media has worked with the Private Motor Truck Council to finally get private fleet managers the kind of specific market data they require to make informed decisions about their operations. The first project from this initiative, the 2011 Canadian Private Fleet Practices Benchmark Study, is now available. Our goal was to provide private fleet managers with benchmark information that will allow them to compare their practices and results with similar operations and with the fleets employing “best practices.” We gathered data on more than 100 questions across 13 categories, ranging from key challenges and composition of private fleets to operational costs, operating policies and hiring practices.
Let’s look at idling policies, for example, to see the kind of information you can glean from the Benchmark Study. Not only can you use the Benchmark Study to find out the percentage of private fleets that have an idling policy, but you can also compare how many do so by size of fleet and also compare that to fleets judged to be employing industry best practices. But that’s not all. You can use the Benchmark Study to find out which idling time limits are most used by private fleets – 0 minutes; 1-3 minutes; 4-5 minutes; 6-10 minutes; over 10 minutes. Need more information, such as whether policies like automatic shut off or different rules for summer vs. winter are being used? No problem, we have that too. And, of course, you can compare those as well by fleet size and against the industry leaders.
Oh but we didn’t stop there. We really wanted this information to be comprehensive; we really wanted private fleets to be able to compare apples to apples. So you can use our date to benchmark by geographic scope of operation and by region too.
We believe our research provides valuable input for private fleet managers looking to plan for the future. The report is available for purchase through our sister publication’s web site. Simply go to our Website and click on the 2011 Canadian Private Fleet Practices Benchmark Study icon on the top right. It’s a quick download. Have a read and let me know what you think.

Lou Smyrlis

Lou Smyrlis

With more than 25 years of experience reporting on transportation issues, Lou is one of the more recognizable personalities in the industry. An award-winning writer well known for his insightful writing and meticulous market analysis, he is a leading authority on industry trends and statistics.
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2 Comments » for Private fleets: Benchmark yourself
  1. Anne Miner says:

    Hello Lou,
    I am confused. In your post above, you indicate that this study is a quick download … I ordered and paid for this report but did not see or receive any download instructions.It looked like the report would be mailed to me.
    Can you help?
    Thank you!
    Anne Miner

  2. Gary says:

    Hello Lou,
    I am new to the industry. I have been trying to locate financial benchmarking for the industry with little success. How much of the above study reports on financial information? Can you provide any examples? Or lead me in the right direction for obtaining this information? Appreciate your time.

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