Thoughts for the New Year

January 14, 2016

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It is traditional to make resolutions at the end of each year for the next year.  Goal setting is an important part of success.  As Yogi Berra once said, “If you don’t know where you are going,  you’ll end up someplace else.”  As people who navigate every day for a living, we all know that we plan our day with the destination in mind and work our way back from there.

What are some good goals for us to consider for 2016?  Here are a few ideas…

Improving customer service.  Drivers all want miles because they are paid by the mile.  So is the company.  Drivers are often shocked when I tell them that I don’t have any miles.  It’s true.  I don’t make anything, I don’t ship anything; the customer does.  The customer has the miles.  They give the miles to us and we in turn give them to you.  So what is the secret to good miles?  Obviously, it is critically important to keep the one who creates the miles, the customer, happy so they keep giving them to us and give us more.

Keeping the customer happy is even more important in a soft freight environment.  When carriers have more freight than they can haul, as happened in 2014, we see new customers call us.  On the other hand, when freight is soft, customers get lots of calls from truckers and brokers.  In fact, it is a sure sign to them that they have the upper hand in rate negotiations.  When freight is busy, the customer has to figure out how to secure enough capacity to haul its freight.  On the other hand when freight is soft, the customer has to decide which of the many carriers calling to use.  If you were in this situation what would you do?  You would pick the truckers with the best rate and the best service and reject the others.

All of us can always improve customer service.  This is a great New Year’s resolution to ensure all of us get the miles we need.new-years-day-972294__180

It can wait.  We all want to be safe, both for ourselves and others.  One of the most dangerous things on the road today is the use of cell phones while driving.  You see it with the four wheelers each and every day.  Our policy is “hands free” only.  Common sense will tell you that there are times when we ought not to be on the phone at all; congestion, bad weather, school zones, constructions zones and other dangerous conditions.  Event recorders teach us all through film review how easily any distraction can be unsafe.  Let’s all resolve to put that phone down…it can wait.

8 mpg.  Even though we are seeing low fuel prices we haven’t seen in years, fuel is still the largest expense for a trucker.  A contractor will buy 15,000 to 20,000 gallons per year.  We buy 5,300,000 gallons per year.  You can easily see why saving a couple cents at the pump or improving your mpg 2/10’s saves a lot of money over time.  Our trucks will get between 8 and 9 mpg from fuel conscious drivers.  Some get over 9 on an annual average.  Whether you are a contractor or employee everyone’s job is to save money so we can take more home.  Pick one or two habits to change for the year.  Speed is the biggest.  Slowdown 2 mph and see what happens.  Check, really check, your tire inflation.  Use cruise more.  Keep your trailer gap and tight as possible.  Balance your load.  If you pick one or two of these for a resolution you can make a big difference.

Planning.  Sometimes we get in such a hurry that we forget to plan.  You maximize your and our miles and improve customer service simply by planning your trip before you leave.  There is so much now available on the internet to help you.  “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” ― Benjamin Franklin

Review your budget with those at home.  This is a great time of year to sit down with your spouse and do a budget.  This is especially important for truckers.  Your miles will vary each week and in different times of the year.  Your check is not the same every week.  But your bills are.  You can control your expenses.  Sit down and make a plan.  Use last year’s miles as a base.  Be sure to allow for savings for the inevitable slow times or the times something goes wrong.

I hope some of the tips can help you make 2016 a great year!

Happy and Profitable Trucking!

Tom