Author: truckingmba

Attitude is Everything

As the old adage says, “Attitude is everything.” Applying the right attitude you your job not matter what you are doing can prove to be highly profitable. One of the worst attitudes you can have is that you don’t get the right opportunities. This outlook can ruin any business. Most of us are not given the right opportunities, they are earned. If you feel like you are missing out on opportunities, you should reevaluate the quality of work you are doing and the relationships you have with customers and clients. Look at fellow O/O that are getting the opportunities you want. What are they doing differently? There may be practices that they have that would be beneficial to adopt into your own business model.

Another horrible attitude to have towards business is that you don’t have enough time. This ties back in with our first point. You have to go out and make time to be where you want to be. If you are finding that you cannot possibly fit everything you have to do into your day, reevaluate your schedule. You may have to cut out those little breaks or work a couple weekends here and there, but if you really want to succeed you will make the time.

Lastly, we come to the self-doubt of not being good enough. The majority of people going into business do not have some special talent that makes them successful. Everybody starts somewhere and improves over time. Keep working and keep learning and your skills will grow.

Customer Service

Customer service is a key part in doing business for anybody. Good customer service means a happy customer and potentially repeated business. For owner operators customer service matters most when working with brokers.

There are three keys to keep in mind when dealing with customers, which are early, often, and always. When working with a new customer it is always a good idea to be active early on with them. This means reaching out shortly after making the contact and shows them that you are committed to doing business with them. It also gives them a good first impression for you and your employees which is invaluable.

It is also important to contact customers often. Repeated contact shows that you stay dedicated to your customers and keeps you in their focus when they are looking for drivers or loads. This greatly increases your chances of having repeat business. Lastly you need to always put forth your best effort. If you are always providing your best services, even under the least ideal circumstances, you will get better loads and the customer will get a reliable driver that they are confident in.

No matter how big your customer base gets you should always keep these three rules in your head when dealing with customers. If you do so, your business will continue to grow and it makes everything much easier in the long run.

Behavior in the Work Place

When it comes to business, how you react to certain situations can have a big impact in how successful your business will be (and reduce the overall stress in your life).

How one deals with stress and the problems that arise is a big factor in setting successful people apart from ones that seem to struggle (and appear to always be under more stress). Of course, successful people tend to do better at planning to keep the “fires” from flaring up, situations will arise. It’s the person that is better able to deal with stress and keep a clear head that inspires leadership, relaxes others around them, tends to inspire a more favorable outcome and finds better solutions.

Naivety is another behavior that budding entrepreneurs’ seem to fall victim to. Gaining the business knowledge to make informed decisions tends to be something that is gained with experience. The trick is gaining this experience while making a few mistakes as possible. One great tactic is to get a couple good mentors and LISTEN to what they have to say.

One challenge that many overlook is sensitivity. Being oversensitive in this day and age of so much communication being via email and text can be deadly. Many people try to read into written communication something that isn’t there. Nuances that can be conveyed via tone in a verbal conversation likely don’t come across when written. A person that tends to be oversensitive may read something that isn’t intended, react and make a rash decision.

With making sure that you keep situation in perspective, look to learn and grow as much as possible and make sure that you have a solid understand of peoples intentions you will have a good foundation in becoming a leader and build a solid business.

Retirement Fund

Whether you’re a rugged veteran or a rookie it is never too soon to start looking at your retirement plan. The earlier you start on planning, the better you will be when the checks stop rolling in. If you haven’t started one yet don’t worry it is not too late to start. As for those who have already begun it is always a good idea to get tips and suggestions when available about your finances and retirement plan. When planning your retirement funds it is always important to look at the overall goal. You don’t want to plan too short of a retirement and run out of money early and you don’t want to plan too big of one and not be able to afford it. Many people recommend looking at your finances during your career to see how you want to live after retirement. This should be done periodically due to the fact that your life style changes throughout your career. Once you have decided the life style you want after retirement you should figure out how much it will take monthly to pay for said choice. When calculating this you should keep in mind inflation over the years that you are saving. After you have determined a sum, the hard work begins. At this point you actually need to make a plan to save through whatever path you chose. This lasts the course of your career, and although that time may seem very distant, you want to be sure to position yourself early on. Don’t be afraid to ask questions when it comes to your retirement fund, the answers can only help you.

Recruitment

As a growing fleet we are constantly looking for ways to expand our business. Often times, this entails finding new drivers. We look for drivers who are hardworking and willing to stay with us as we grow as a company. The 2014 HireRight Transportation Report showed that many drivers that left their fleet, that year, left for the same reasons we see year after year. Drivers want more pay, more time at home and better benefits; but another large factor was broken recruitment promises. As a company we realize that it is also our responsibility to keep our drivers happy. We eliminate driver frustration with recruiting through the removal of a recruiter position and the addition of the Driver Developer. These personal driver trainers, help the driver learn what it takes to run a successful operation. These Driver Developers work with the driver from day one to help them transition into our company and take them all the way through orientation and post-orientation training. We are always striving to make all our drivers happy and feel at home, especially our new drivers. So, please let us know your pet peeves in the recruitment processes you’ve dealt with and any way we can better our company process as well.

Negotiations

Negotiations are an everyday task in the business as an Owner Operator. Part of what can make or break an O/O is the ability to negotiate rates. Haggling over a price can be a nightmare at times. Once the conversation about a load turns to something just about the money; you’ve most likely lost. At that point you have left money on the table and you are taking a hit to your profit. When starting negotiations you should always know your personal and your company’s strength/weaknesses. You should be able to sell yourself for the load as a service provider and justify a better price than offered. While in negotiations you should always ask a few questions to receive basic information about the load. You should always know what your cost per mile is, how long the load will take to finish, how long the dead head is for this load, and what the capacity to load availability ratio is in the delivering city. These key pieces of information will help you to decide whether or not this load is worth negotiating over. Another thing to keep in mind is whether or not this load will open any more opportunities, such as more loads with this broker or loads out of your new loactions.

Becoming an Owner Operator

Many drivers, from rookies to the veterans, are looking to become an owner operator and become the next big success story. These drivers are looking to break away from the security of being a company driver and work independently making their own money. This can be a great step for a driver, but there is a lot that goes into become a successful owner operator. Before jumping into the long process of becoming independent you should really look into your personal and professional life with great detail. There are many avenues to consider before jumping head-long into this stage of your career. In this post, we will discuss two components that are often overlooked.

This first thing to consider is the probable change in your routine. When making the jump from company driver to owner operator the first big change you will notice is in your schedule. Owner operators are not guaranteed loads on any given day of the week, meaning you may not be home in time for the weekend or special family events. You have to be ok with the fact that you will encounter some of these botched loads along the way. With the change in schedule you may have to worrying about running with tight deadlines on some loads which can lead to a lot of stress if not scheduled carefully.

The next big consideration is whether or not you are ok with paying for your own expenses. As an O/O you will be stuck with all of the costs of running your truck. This is huge for people that are new to being independent because expenses can get out of control very quickly and easily. Proper book keeping and tracking of your expenses is essential.

With these key factors in mind you can start looking into becoming an O/O further by looking into trucks to buy, licenses and insurance needed, even what companies to lease to. There is still a lot of research and planning involved in taking this next step, and we encourage you to reach out if you have questions or concerns. If this article has sparked your interest in

becoming an owner operator, please give us a call or continue reading our blog for more information.

Preventing Securement Violations

Complying with safety regulations can be extremely stressful just from the shear mass of regulations. Regulating cargo securement entails some of the most complex rules we have to satisfy as well. There are many different rules dependent upon the type of cargo and trucks that go with them. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in heavy fines and points to fleets’ safety scores. With the new flatbed division at Farm2Fleet, any prospective drivers should start to consider these issues that are less common in dry van logistics.

The most common violation in this sector of the industry is “failure to prevent shifting cargo,” with “leaking cargo” right behind it. These two violations are the broadest in their categories and amount for the majority of the violations. There are three more violations that are commonly enforced and easily fixed. The first being “damaged securement system” which includes damaged straps as the most common reason. Another common citation is loose or unfastened straps, which can occur when trailers travel over bumps in the road. The third very common violation is failure to meet minimum tie down requirements; which can be violated in multiple different ways. These include in weight, length, and quantity.

All of these violations are easily avoided by taking a couple extra minutes to check all your cargo and tie downs before and during your load. With checking your securement periodically you can prevent having loose, unattached, and damaged tie downs. These extra percussions can save you and you money throughout the year.

Electronic Logging Mandate

The electronic logging device mandate, also known as ELD mandate, is getting some hype here lately. This mandate will force drivers, who do not already have an ELD, to get one installed. Obviously, there are people on both side of the argument for this mandate.

Many drivers are threating to retire if this mandate is passed. Studies are showing that 71 percent of independent driver would rather retire than utilize this device. When we apply these numbers to carriers with fifteen trucks; there is a 10 truck drop which can ultimately put a carrier out of business. Many experts thinks the threats are just that and many won’t act on them. Often, the people that are saying they are going to retire have been in this industry for many years and don’t want to deal with the hassle of dealing with ELD’s. As for the drivers who have already switched over to ELD they have found them to be extraordinarily helpful with their logs, IFTA, and communication with dispatch.

We are interested in what you have to say about this. Does anybody have an ELD system already? How do you like it? If not are you willing to install one in your truck? Why or why not? Please let us know how you feel on this subject.

Inspections

Last year there may have been minimal changes in the intensity of inspections conducted in most states, however some states made major leaps that you may not be aware of. Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Nevada witnessed major adjustments in their inspection levels and made it to the top ten for most detailed inspections. Two factors contribute to the way this intensity level is measured. First, the number of inspections held in the state in a given year. The second is the number of highway miles contained within the state. This gives a ratio of inspection levels based on size. It is also important to keep in mind that many of these states have a different ratio of roadside and fixed location inspections. Some of the states in the top ten have more than sixty percent of their inspections on roadside. With these things in mind, be aware when traveling, you may want to add travel time to allow for an inspection just in case. As always, conducting proper pre-trip and post-trip inspections can help get you through these inspections a whole lot faster.