owner operator

Reading Nutrition Labels

Before I started studying nutrition, I don’t think I ever looked at a Nutrition Facts Label. I thought it was because I didn’t care about the numbers and percentages on it, but really, I didn’t know what I was looking at. I mentioned last week some of the important things on a label (and hopefully some of you took a peek at one over the past week) but I wanted to explain it more clearly. That little box full of lines and numbers not only has meaning, but can easily help you make better food choices.

 A label has many different categories, and though they’re all important, I’ll just focus on a few.

Nutrition Facts HighlightedServings: The serving size lets you know the amount of food that all the information is based on. This section also tells you how many servings are in a package (most food items have more than one serving per package). 

Calories: This number states the amount of calories that your body will get from one serving of the food. You now know, that not all calories are equal and you should keep this in mind when looking at the rest of the label (having more calories with more vitamins might be better than have less calories and no vitamins).

Total Fat: Fat comes in two basic forms: unsaturated and saturated. A label will give you the total fat and the saturated fat, but subtracting the saturated fat from the total fat will give you the unsaturated fat. A good rule of thumb is to eat more unsaturated fats, they are the healthier choice. Some labels will also list Trans-Fat, and the less of it you eat, the better.

Cholesterol: The thing about cholesterol is that our body makes it on its own, so we don’t need too much coming from our food. When we do get it in food, it will always come from animal products (vegetables are naturally cholesterol-free). For those of you worried about your cholesterol, looking at this number is most important in keeping your heart healthy. Doctors say that eating less than 200mg a day is best for the average person.

Sodium: This number is most important for those of you worried about high blood pressure. The American diet has a very high level of salt, so choosing items with less of it, even just once a day, can help make the biggest difference in your health. The recommended intake for salt is 2400 mg a day.

Total Carbohydrates: Like fat, carbs are also broken down into categories on a label: fiber and sugar. Those of you with diabetes can help control your insulin by spreading out your carb intake (ask your doctors for more info, if you’re interested!). When it comes to fiber, anything from 3-5g or higher, is considered great (and remember fiber can help lower cholesterol!). Sugars, though they are super tasty, should be limited whenever possible.

Vitamins & Minerals: I mentioned last week some of the vitamins and minerals that are listed on a label. No matter which are on the label you’re reading, the advice is always the same: the more the better!

Though this is a ton of information, I feel that it is important for you guys to have it. Companies are required by law to put this info on their food for a reason, but no one is required to teach us how to use it. So whether or not you’re ready to take the next step toward a better lifestyle, here is the know-how. Use some of it, all of it, or none of it, but next time you pick up a snack, look at the label and see what you can read.

Be sure to ask your doctor about any question you have before making a drastic change in your diet.

DAT Blog | Finding the Hot Spots

It sure would be nice if someone just generated an email telling you that Cleveland was going to be hot this week and that Indianapolis was cooling off.  That would really help position your truck.

Unfortunately, this reading of the tea leaves is not available for those drivers that are running around like the 3 blind mice hoping they land in a hot market.

For them, it is like hitting the Spot Market Rate Lottery.

Fortunately,  for the business owner that is in the trucking business, there are resources for data and knowledge to help them make educated guesses on where to position themselves and how to price themselves for the market.

We all would love this to be like some fixed math formula where we can plug all the information in and get solid results, but in reality it is much more like picking stocks than solving a calculus problem.  At the end of the day the business owner takes all the available data on capacity, knowledge of the industries that are in various markets, and their gut into consideration to make a decision.

Triad of Rates 2Like someone that picks stocks for a living, if you are right more than you are wrong then you are considered a genius.

All of this ties into my Triad of Great Rates and applies to the Knowledge portion but you still need to perform and have relationships. 

There are various resources to help the trucking business professional gain the knowledge to make the best decision.

1. I have to plug in The Trucking MBA.  This is a free resource that I have created to help Owner Operators and drivers looking at becoming Owner Operators understand the business and increase their chances of becoming successful.  All of our online classes are free.  Make sure you are following our blog to get all of the latest updates.

2.  If you are not a Facebook junkie,  one of the best groups around to learn about rates and markets is “The Rates Per Mile Masters”.  At present they have over 2,000 members and the typical internet bickering and insults are not tolerated and dealt with immediately.  I wish I had found a group like this years ago.  They can be found at https://www.facebook.com/groups/740941659272552/

3. Check out the blog below on one of the must have products for getting information on rates and capacity, the DAT Load Board.  Chad that runs the above mentioned Facebook group has negotiated a free month.  Just use “promo721” when signing up.  In the coming weeks we are going to be hosting webinars that focus on specific areas in the DAT load board and how to use the tools to get the best rates possible and position your truck in the best markets.

DAT Blog | Finding the Hot Spots.

This is just a short list of resources that are out there to help you become a better business owner.  I am sure that there are dozens more.  Please share.

A rising tide raises all boats.

New Nutritionist Segment!

Nutrition Logo 2

The Trucking MBA is now starting a nutrition segment for drivers. Our staff nutritionist, Lili, is going to be posting later this week and then each Monday going forward. She will provide information and advice on how drivers can affordably eat healthy meals with the limited space and resources they are restricted by. This new segment is open to questions and comments throughout the week, feel free to post your own experiences and ask Lili for any information you may need through our blog. We are excited to be able to help drivers live and feel better.

Be happy, be healthy…

You ARE Bigger Than Life

Today, Chad posted in the Facebook group “Rate Per Mile Masters” (if you aren’t a member you need to join https://www.facebook.com/groups/740941659272552/) about telling brokers that you can charge more because you are a member of this group. I absolutely love this attitude.

The Owner Operators in Farm2Fleet that have the best rates and success absolutely believe with all their heart and soul that they are worth every penny of what they charge. It isn’t arrogance to expect 50% or more on your rate than what a broker that deals with bottom feeders is hearing. It is knowing what you are worth and demanding it.

Unless you are convinced that you are bigger than life when you talk to brokers, it is just hot air. Step-up with the big attitude, back it up with over the top service and watch you rates rise.

With experience your highs will get higher, and lows will get higher.

 The more “RPMM’s” we have in the market, the better we will all have it. Thanks Chad for the great post and helping me with more relevant blog content. 😉

Also, in the next couple days I am going to create a longer related post that talks about how Farm2Fleet Trucking (with 20 Owner Operators) could go from a single truck operation to being recognized in the Best Fleets to Driver For program, got ranked at the 306th fastest growing company by Inc. Magazine (in the top 10 in Logistics), and have a greater brand recognition than companies 10x our size in less than 4-years. Many of the things that we do can be used by Independent Owner Operators to grow their business!

The Trucking MBA B-Plan

One Page Business PlanOne thing that strikes me is the lack of good business plans and business planning tools out there for Owner Operators. I believe in the value of a business plan, but there are challenges that arise for Owner Operators. The tools that are out there, currently, for business planning are far too complex for the typical O/O. This makes the job time-consuming and takes away from the process of developing your business to best suit your needs.

The reason building a business plan is so valuable is because it gets you thinking about what it is you’re doing and why you are doing it. It helps you discover why you are getting into being an Owner Operator (or clarify if you are already one) and how you plan to succeed once you begin.

There are four key components you need to consider in planning your business:

“Why?” – Why are you getting into this business? What benefits do you see for yourself in the long run and what short-term advantages are there for you as an Owner Operator and what are you trying to achieve in the long-term? The “Why” is the most important part. With independent businesses already facing low odds of success, you want to be sure that you are in it for the right reasons. These should be reasons that motivate you, keeping you driven and focused.

“One-liner” – This is a short concise statement that sums up who you are and what you do. The purpose of this statement is to leave an impression. When you meet new people and they ask you what you do, you should be able to sum it up in a sentence or two and leave them with a solid understanding of your skills and motivations. “I drive a truck” really doesn’t come close to what we do in this business.

Objectives – Set quantifiable goals that can be measured and tracked. Be specific with your goals and try to set milestones to achieve them. Create objectives like, “I want to reach an average of ‘x’ rate per mile, all miles by ‘y’ date”.

“How?” – How are you going to meet these objectives? This section doesn’t have to be as specific, but the idea is that you create a strategy for each goal you set and try to track your progress or performance. This will allow you to see how well you have done at working towards your goals, and also motivate you to progress consistently.

The best way to approach creating these plans is being honest with yourself. Don’t set goals that can’t be met and remember to track progress where you can. Don’t get overwhelmed by large-scale business structuring strategies. Good business planning tools are designed to help you think through a process, the one page business plan does just that.