Book review: Making Your Miles Count
This is Robert D. Scheper’s second book in his Making Your Miles Count series. It follows his 2007 release of Taxes, Taxes, Taxes. “Written for truck drivers,” is how Scheper describes this recent volume, and the first chapter is a narrative seen through the eyes of fictional truck owner, Mike. But the events are based on real scenarios that Scheper has come across in his practice, and he’s not even telling you the worst cases.
The author draws on decades of experience as both he and his wife have been both independent operators and accountants to the industry. His 1996 master’s thesis was completed on, and in the midst of, deregulation and represents the starting point of the book’s 16 years of research. At the crux of his work, he charts and compares 10 contracts in 1996 and 10 in 2012, and the book is packed with information.
He’s really answering the question that he posed in his master’s thesis: Have contracts (and net returns) gotten any better since deregulation? You might guess that the short answer is yes and no: good contracts have gotten better while the lower-end ones have dropped further.
“Drivers that have found a niche are really doing quite well, but generally the lower cost carriers pay only what they can get away with (less),” he says via telephone from his office in Steinbeck, Man. “The rules for success in 1996 have become even more important today.”
As can be expected from a master’s thesis, this is a dense body of work. The chapter on fuel costs and taxes is extremely thorough (I learned more about IFTA than I will ever need to know). But he offers some good advice along the way and debunks some common misconceptions.
For instance, some drivers believe buying fuel in every state or province reduces your IFTA on the settlement statement. But, he argues, there is no net benefit: “Purchasing fuel just to reduce your fuel tax is misplaced effort.”
For the sake of the reader, Scheper clarifies the difference between a lease-operator and owner-operator, two succinctly different business models (the terminology is often used interchangeably in the industry).
“Lease-operators get paid by the mile and owner-operators get paid by a percentage of the freight invoice,” he says.
He also deals extensively with fuel issues, turnover and dozens of miscellaneous threads.
“All carriers are not the same,” says Scheper. “Some…are true leaders in the industry and nation…(but) they compete daily with some carriers who are ruthless liars, people who should never be trusted.”
The author also goes to some length to discuss fuel surcharges and fuel caps, examining both the positives and negatives associated with these practices.
“Some drivers will tell you they won’t run for any less than a 42-cent fuel surcharge, but that’s really meaningless,” he says. “It all depends on what the base cost is.”
For drivers who love trucking and are serious about their profession, there is a mountain of information here. Scheper says he’s received much positive feedback about the work.
“Drivers who love trucking really love it. But not all truck drivers love this business – I’d say only about half,” he adds. “I don’t expect everyone to read it, just the ones who want to be successful.”
Choosing a Trucking Company is available online at
You can also contact the author directly at Robert@thrconsulting.ca.
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