Truck News


Small carriers: How well do you know your operation?

Know what one of the biggest differences is between large carriers and small carriers?

It’s not equipment; I’ve seen small carriers invest in equipment that’s just as good as that of their bigger competitors.

It’s not people; although large carriers likely pay better on the average there are many reasons beyond pay that make some of the industry’s sharpest minds choose to work for smaller carriers.

And it’s certainly not service; our annual Shippers Choice Survey, conducted by our sister publication Canadian Shipper for over a decade, affirms that small carriers can wow their customers with service delivery just like their larger counterparts can.

If you want to know one of the biggest differences between large carriers and their smaller competitors you have to get more granular than that. It’s data: Large carriers are better at generating it, accessing it, and using it to make meaningful decisions. That’s an important advantage when you consider how important understanding your essential performance indicators (EPIs) are to improving profit, particularly during challenging, slow-growth economic periods like the one we are stuck in now.

I’m talking about EPIs such as your revenue per truck per week, your maintenance cost per mile and your variable equipment operating expense per mile. Last year I introduced you to the folks from inGauge, who are making it easier and more affordable for small carriers to gather, understand and keep a close eye on such EPIs. You would be amazed at the difference among the poor, average and top performers and the resulting impact on profitability.

Now I want to introduce you to an important new development geared towards helping the industry’s small carriers – the heart of our industry – make the intelligent business decisions possible when leveraging benchmarking performance metrics on a monthly basis. I’m proud to say I’ve played a role in bringing together inGauge and its treasure trove of performance indicator data with Castrol, a well known industry lubricant supplier looking to help small carriers reach a higher level of decision making. Every month till the end of the year in the pages of Truck News and Truck West Castrol and inGauge are bringing you a new EPI, explaining how it’s calculated and outlining the poor, average and top performance metrics. It’s definitely worth following.

There’s more. To raise awareness and encourage participation Castrol is offering a grand prize to small carriers (35 trucks or less and registered in Canada) who submit their scores for all six EPIs. The winner gets three months of free oil changes and six months of LabCheck services. That’s a value of about $15,000 if you’ve got about 20 power units. On top of that is the bragging right to being named the 2016 Castrol Small Fleet Efficiency Award winner.

We will be announcing the winner in January. To submit your EPI for each month go to or call 1-888-CASTROL

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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