A great thing about the trucking industry is that it’s always in a state of change. So when times are difficult and tonnage is slow, that's the best time to catch up with innovative new ways to do business. Here are a few areas where you should start your continuing trucker education:
Just since 2000, there have been more changes in regulations than the industry experienced from its earliest beginnings in the 1930s.
And with each new regulation comes a new challenge to be overcome:
And the list goes on and on. What's a good business practice yesterday may be different tomorrow, depending on the regulations the FMCSA came up with today.
And we haven’t even mentioned state regulations. Like it or not, what happens in California seems to make its way across the country sooner or later, and with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) regulations on engine and refrigeration unit emissions, who knows what will wash up on the East Coast next?
Then there’s technology. While every bit of new technology isn't required to operate your business, it's important to stay up-to-date with what’s available and what’s on the horizon. As we look back at the 1990s and compare the technology available then to what's available today, it’s like comparing horse-drawn wagons to semis.
The biggest concern that any single owner/operator or small fleet owner must have when considering new technology is how the cost of the new tool compares with the increased efficiency of their operation, and, most importantly, their company’s bottom line.
In other words, even though it looks cool, will it really work for your operation? Fads aren't conducive to success in business, especially when it comes to what's truly cutting edge. The cost alone can be prohibitive if you keep replacing one generation of technology with the next new update. But with that said, having a working knowledge of what’s available is extremely important.
Finally, but definitely not least, are business skills and techniques. It's vital that you know the basics of running a business. For example, do you know
Business and accounting skills are all something you must constantly review so you don’t lose focus on your goals and priorities.
The real point here is that education and gathering knowledge is the one activity a trucker, dispatcher, safety director, or carrier owner must do constantly and consistently to remain competitive and prepared for what’s over the next hill. It's done by reading trucking business magazines and blogs, browsing logistics publications, taking local college classes or trucking business courses, and attending freight industry workshops.
Be involved in online discussion groups (like Getloaded's Message Boards) with folks that either haul similar freight or the shippers and brokers from which you’d book said freight.
Don’t assume just one source is going to give you all information you need on a particular topic. Do your research by looking for more information, even opposing ideas and views. It's the only way you can develop your own unique knowledge and skills, which will set you apart from your competition.
Anyone who thinks he's learned it all will find himself scratching his head as the rest of the trucking world passes him in the hammer lane, blowing the doors off their truck.
Success comes from knowledge. Knowledge comes from education. The knowledge you gain is what helps you attain success.
Drive long and prosper.
Timothy D. Brady is a speaker, business coach, and trucking industry guru. He provides training and educational presentations for small to large trucking companies, logistics organizations, and community groups. Learn more about Tim at www.timothybrady.com