When we think of a trick, we think of pranks we played on unsuspecting individuals when we were young (or maybe it’s something we pulled yesterday), but the context in which we want to talk about ‘Tricks’ here is techniques or actions that can improve a person's life. Trucking tricks are kept under wraps because of the solitary nature of the business -- a trucker is provided with a truck, a set of keys, a product or item to haul, a place to load and a location where he needs to deliver the load. All of this creates an atmosphere where sharing knowledge with others is limited. So here is a list of ten tricks which can help make the job simpler and more financially beneficial to the trucker, the shipper, the receiver and the trucking company.
In this posting, we’ll cover the first 5 tricks to successful trucking:
1. Always have a plan. This includes the obvious route and time plan to pick up and deliver loads. You also need to include plans for maintaining your equipment, plans for staying healthy on the road, and plans to get the right amount of home time. And most of all, a plan on how to reach your goals, both personal and business.
2. Know what it costs you to operate each piece of your equipment on a daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly basis. You can’t control what you don't know. Reducing unnecessary expenses is necessary for any trucking operation.
3. Develop a program where you pay yourself first. This means including a salary as one of your fixed expenses, which helps you create a visual goal which you can achieve. If you wait for the leftovers on the financial side of your operation, what you'll end up with is the crumbs. You need to help your lease operators do the same. Even your company drivers need to set daily and weekly income goals, because company drivers are usually paid by the mile.
4. Schedule Preventive Maintenance. Remember a truck or trailer whose maintenance needs are ignored will stop your forward progress at the most inopportune time. Making sure your equipment is in top-notch condition at all times means you can achieve your other goals. Ignore its maintenance and the truck will make sure you’re driven to financial failure.
5. Stay with it. In the current economic conditions, freight availability is going to be like riding a roller coaster. There will be times when you have plenty of freight for your trucks; there will be other times where you can’t seem to beg a load. The object is to minimize your no-load times. This is accomplished by developing specific freight lanes for each piece of equipment and planning as far into the future as possible. And always book your loads in the round; for every outbound, have a returning inbound load.
In the next blog post I'll cover the other five tricks to successful trucking. As we continue, keep in mind that it's the entire list and the relationship between each of the ten activities that are necessary to be successful.
Until next time, good loads and safe roads, everyone.