Transcom kicks off cross-country management training tour

by James Menzies

CALGARY, Alta. – Transcom Fleet Services Inc. kicked off its cross-country transportation management seminar tour in Calgary recently, providing attendees with tips on how to improve their company’s bottom line.

Transcom founder Roy Craigen is presenting the full day seminar (sponsored by Truck News and Marsh Canada) in cities from coast-to-coast through May and June. The focus is on how to reduce costs in a trucking operation while attracting and retaining skilled drivers in a people-depleted industry.

“We’re in a tough environment, there’s no doubt about that,” admitted Craigen. He added it’s more important than ever to drive out waste and increase revenues.

Craigen has a long history of fleet management experience he incorporates into the interactive seminar. He shares Transcom’s hiring procedure which he said helped one carrier achieve industry-leading retention levels between 1993 and 2003.

Craigen urged carriers to pay more attention to who they’re hiring and not to rush the process, noting it’s a $1.6 million decision (based on $55,000 per year with a 20 per cent burden over a 35-year career).

“Everything expensive and important is being controlled by the professional driver – they’re managing the business,” Craigen said. “If we hire a mid-range driver then we spend dozens of hours doing work they didn’t do right.”

After a new hire is put behind the wheel, Craigen said it’s important to hold evaluations 30, 60 and 90 days into his employment. Annual evaluations should follow, he added.

“If you hire well, it’s going to be tough not to be successful,” insisted Craigen.

Once drivers are hired, the next key to success is keeping them in the company. Trade magazines are filled with job opportunities and like anyone, drivers often wonder if the grass is greener on the other side. Craigen said the key to retaining drivers is to get them involved in the company.

That may mean showing them the P&L statements and having them develop goals and objectives. Craigen also said it’s important to develop a continuous learning culture. He added one Transcom customer achieved 15 per cent annual growth over 10 years after implementing a continuous learning culture. The improvements came in the form of lower accident costs, lower freight claims (less than $1,000 per year), low driver turnover and improved customer service (customers were so happy the fleet was able to raise its rates.)

The Transcom seminar also focused on professionalism and the impact it can have on a company.

“One thing that doesn’t cost much money is professionalism,” Craigen pointed out. “In fact, if anything it saves you money.”

In an industry with slim profit margins, Craigen insisted there are ways carriers can reduce their operating costs.

“How much money we generate is being replaced with how much money we don’t spend,” he explained. He said a common philosophy in the trucking industry when setting rates is “Can you pay us enough to help keep us ahead of our waste?”

He also said today’s carriers often accept damaging cargo or equipment as a cost of doing business.

“The attitude is that we can afford to wreck a truck or two because we’re really busy,” said Craigen. “Think about if WestJet followed that same standard! If we use trucking’s reasoning, they should be able to drop a plane a year. Our strategy has to be we cannot wreck anything – especially our mobile profit center.”

Craigen urged cooperation between non-competing trucking firms. For instance, he asked why carriers have never shared their satellite-tracking systems.

“Could we not share that link together to drive down that cost?” he asked. “If I haul logs in B.C. and you haul milk in Saskatchewan, the chances of us taking a run at each other is pretty slim.”

He also said drivers must be trained to be fuel efficient, noting spec’ing the right equipment and putting a fuel-conscious driver behind the wheel can result in a 35 per cent reduction in fuel costs.

Craigen said fuel usage should be posted in the driver’s room to create healthy competition among drivers.

Creating a customer service program is another cost-effective way to increase revenues, Craigen said. He encouraged managers to hold annual customer service meetings with customers and staff. He also said customers should be able to contact drivers directly.

“The person who wants the freight should talk to the guy who has the freight and the rest of us should keep our noses out of it,” he insisted.

Transcom’s management course continues this month with seminars in Toronto (June 7 and 8), Moncton (June 14), Halifax (June 16), Winnipeg (June 21) and Regina (June 23). For information, contact Transcom at (780) 449-7200 or e-mail Transcom at

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