Fleet-Tax Services offer drug and alcohol collection for fleets and carriers. For information on Fleet Tax Services please visit www.fleettaxservices.com which helps independent operators set up their operating authorities among other services.
As I meet many owner operators in my travels many of them have lofty ideas of starting their own small fleet of two or three trucks. There is nothing wrong with that dream and since I am a big goal person I would rather work with someone who has goals than to work with those that have nothing planned out for the future. Having specific goals are great and that is the way everyone should work. It allows you to focus your business on items that will help you attain your goals. There is one problem for those of us that are extremely focused, sometimes we can grow too fast and cause more problems than needed. Adding trucks onto your business will drastically change the dynamics of how you operate, the amount of investment required, and develop roles in the company that you may be handling all by yourself.
Think about it, right now you are the owner, the office manager, the dispatcher, the driver, the janitor, the mechanic, and any other job you can possibly find for yourself. Once you start adding other people into the mix the dynamics change and that can make you take on positions you weren’t planning on. For instance think about expanding your fleet to just one truck. You now have to hire another driver which will now add payroll duties, possibly dispatch (if you are totally independent) vacation fill in and so on. You may still be driving and able to handle that but your administration work will double with two trucks possibly causing you to outsource it.
Let’s assume you move to two extra trucks, you may find you are starting to work outside of the truck. That’s fine if you are planning on that but if you wanted to continue to drive it may be an area you are uncomfortable with. At this point you may also need more administration staff and depending how your business is set up you may find yourself now doing sales to find enough work for the trucks. You may also have to start adding more overhead to your business, parking issues, maintenance issues, and office space can add more overhead than most people plan on.
Now going back to the beginning of this article I don’t want to scare you. Many of these issue may go away depending on how you are operating your business. If you’re leased on with a carrier then maybe parking, maintenance, dispatch, and sales may not be an issue. Bookkeeping and other office administrative tasks can be outsourced. The trick is to have a plan in place of how you will handle expansion.
Planning is the best thing you can do for your business and your future.
About the Author
Bruce Outridge is a business and leadership consultant for the transportation industry. He helps Owner Operators run successful businesses. For information on Fleet Tax Services please visit www.fleettaxservices.com which helps independent operators set up their operating authorities among other services.
There is one item in business that is the key to success, the engine that drives your car, the most important paper in the filing cabinet, the invoice. For most of us in business that is the key to getting paid and to moving your business forward. If you are not creating invoices, then you are not getting paid. This is normal practice for traditional business that trade products and services in the general course of business, but what about the owner operator. He doesn’t need an invoice because he receives a statement, wrong! In speaking with owner operators all over the province about their profit and loss statements many of them would benefit from creating an invoice for their work. Most people don’t like to do any extra work but by creating an invoice for your work it gives you a clear picture into how much you are really earning. It is an extra step that so many would benefit from by taking the time to do it properly. Here is why I like an invoice.
Statements are issued by your company; they also have a variety of items on them such as fuel payments, plates, holdbacks, and so on. They are also usually a month behind of what you actually have run due to the process of collecting data by the person in charge of payroll. So many owner operators when they get their statements are not getting a true picture of what they are getting paid for and even worse some do not know if they are being paid for all of their miles. The fact that they do not have an invoice tracking their income gives them no recourse should they have to fight the company for funds at a later date. Have you ever heard someone wining that they aren’t making enough money and when you ask them to show how they got to that point they have nothing to show you, no evidence to back up their claim other than a broke bank account. Bank accounts mean nothing in the world of business, many successful companies have no money in their accounts, assets, and invoiced sales, among other factors are what drive business. The company isn’t giving you a pay check, you are billing them as a customer, and it is up to you to make sure you are being paid for your work, not the company.
So how do you start? First of all you have to make this a habit, do it all the time always. It won’t work if you only do it for one week. Second of all start at the beginning of a month. This way you have a nice clean break. Now if you are a driver only each time you get back to you terminal photocopy your trip envelope or print off your run sheet, however your company does their trip reporting. That becomes your invoice so to speak. If you are an owner operator I want you to create an invoice on a weekly basis showing where you went, your trip number, and your income made for that trip. You don’t have to send it off to anyone, but when you receive your statement if you are using software or by hand you can check off that you have been paid for the trip. At the end of the year you will know exactly how much income you earned, if you have been paid properly, and how long it took you to be paid. Should you be looking to purchase a truck or trying to get funding you will have proper invoices to show to help you make your case to the financial institution. This is considered due diligence, successful companies do it, so why don’t you?
About the Author
Bruce Outridge is a business and leadership consultant for the transportation industry. Bruce is a columnist for many trade magazines and industry blogs. Fleet Tax Services offers compliance and administrative services for independent trucking companies and Owner Operators. For more information please visit their website at www.fleettaxservices.com
“All right that’s it, we’re creating new rules because people here can’t follow the system!”, said the Manager. Have you ever heard something like this at your workplace? What was your first reaction, was it like the masses, “They’re trying to get us, they want to keep us down and control us!” That is what most think when they hear announcements and commands brought down by management. In my career there have been many times when I could have joined the people and revolted against management. So why didn’t I, what made me different from the others, was the message not for me? Did I work at a different location? Did I hear a different message?
The truth is that I heard the same message, and could have felt the same way but decided to feel differently. I thought about being in the other persons shoes, thought about what they may be going through, tried to stand on the other side of the track. By doing that I was able to see past the message itself to the reasoning behind it. By doing that I found that the rule or regulation is put in place to make sure that things keep running smoothly. Unless you know the background for the decision on making the rule or were in the meetings prior overseeing the problem you would not have a clear picture for the decision.
When something new comes into effect that may seem to be against your operating procedures take a close look as to why the decision was made. If you’re not clear on the reasoning go and talk to management to get clarification. Know for yourself the reasons behind decisions that affect you and you will be able to live by the procedure much better. Think like the boss and you will find that you probably would have done the same thing in their shoes. Thinking like the boss is the best way to handle change and the best way to be a leader as an employee. You’ll be better off for it.
About the Author
Bruce Outridge is a business and leadership consultant specializing in the transportation industry. More information can be found on his website at www.outridge.ca . Fleet Tax Services helps small to medium sized transportation business remain successful through compliance and audit services. For more information on the company please visit their website at www.fleettaxservices.com
When you start looking to purchase your first truck and evaluating the different warranties on the market you may find it hard to evaluate which one is best for you. This is especially true if you don’t know how many miles you will run in any given time. My advice is get as much as you can. First you have to figure out roughly how many miles you will run in a given year. For long haul drivers you are looking at around 10,000 miles a month or even more. Multiply that by 12 and 120,000 miles will be the average. With that in mind a 50,000 mile warranty isn’t going to take you very far. Realize that your first truck needs to last at least three years before it is time to trade it in so you want your warranty to go as far as possible.
Once you’ve evaluated the miles you need to look at the components covered in the warranty. Remember if a motor blows on a truck you could be in for a repair bill that exceeds $15,000 so coverage is essential. You want to make sure all of the major components are covered within the next three years. Go over warranties with a fine tooth comb to make sure you are clear on what is covered. Ask lots of questions and make sure you are comfortable with the answers.
After components look into other programs such as towing, off-site repairs and what possibilities are available in those areas . Tractor trailers require special tow trucks and costs are a lot higher than with a car. Towing coverage may be very beneficial if things break down on the road. Other areas to review are service calls, labour charges and so on.
So how do you track all of this so when buying a truck you ask the right questions? The best way is to create a list of possible items to cover when you begin looking for a truck. Another idea is to take a tape recorder with you so you can go over the answers later and take notes. Be sure to let the sales person know you are recording the conversation. The last part is to deal with knowledgeable people that care and with the track record of SelecTrucks you know where to start.
About the Author
Bruce Outridge is a leadership and business consultant in Southern Ontario. He specializes in the transportation industry. He can be reached at http://www.outridge.ca . To learn more about Fleet Tax Services and how they can help your operation please visit www.fleettaxservices.com