In the trucking industry, understanding what you can control and knowing what you can’t is very important. On this blog over the last several months, I've discussed the things you do have control over in your day-to-day operations. These are things like:
To a point, all of these are within your grasp. But things like government regulations, fuel prices, where the macro-economy is headed, weather/traffic conditions, and what shippers, receivers, brokers, your drivers, or any other person, company, or government agency does is completely out of the realm of your control.
However, just because you can’t control something doesn’t mean you have no influence over it.
For example, if the FMCSA asks for comments on a proposed rule, make your contribution and submit a comment that includes the challenges and problems you see with the proposed rule and what your solutions are for them. Or, on the other hand, what, if any, are the benefits you can see if the rule is implemented.
The same holds true with customers insofar as challenges to be faced and your ideas to overcome those challenges.
But as in life, you can only change your behaviors, attitudes and methods of doing things, not those of others. The best you can do is champion your position as to why your way is better not just for your company, but why it's beneficial for all concerned.
At the end of the day, you have one thing you can control when it comes to dealing with customers, drivers, employees, or vendors, and that is to say 'yes' or 'no.'
But keep in mind one very important part of the process: If you said you would do it, even after you discovered it was the wrong decision, backing out and not completing the task or promise can tarnish your reputation. So select these types of tasks or promises with care and think over the long-term repercussions, not just the short-term. In most cases, the great thing about trucking is that each load delivered is the end of a challenge or problem unless you elect to carry it forward.
When it comes to traffic, weather, road construction – all the things that make meeting pickup and delivery schedules challenging – the best approach is to be prepared. Try your best to schedule your runs before or after rush hours, track the weather, and have alternative routes set if the current one becomes problematic. When it comes to road construction, sometimes you can route your trucks around it, other times you have to plan a longer travel time to deal with the delays it causes.
And with all of this, even with the best-laid plans and preparations, Murphy and his 'laws' of messing everything up will enter the picture. The only alternative then is to communicate what's occurred to all impacted by the event, and develop the Plan B required to get everyone back to square one.
In the end, being prepared is the only defense for the things not in your control.
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 http://www.timothybrady.com/