Columnists, Framework, V6I5

Is Your Business Humming Along?

Last month, our Facebook hauler page’s cover photo contest asked for “stuck” photos. And boy do some of us know how to get stuck! Sadly, most would say their problem was preventable if they’d only paid more attention.

I remember a time back in the ’70s when my dad was asked to move a building across a creek. We waited until winter. The creek would freeze over, he said. When the time finally came, my brother and I were giddy with excitement.

We loaded the 12 by 24 lofted barn. Dad eased the big Ford out on the creek. Nice and easy, except my dad forgot one important thing: all 48 cap blocks were still in the back of the truck. A single crack, and splash—down we went. 

It took six hours and two big John Deere tractors to get to the other side—because of one miscalculation.

Getting your truck stuck in the mud or a creek is bad. But what’s worse is getting your business stuck. It takes more than two John Deere tractors to fix a business that has run aground.

The fact is, some of us are great at hauling sheds, but we get stuck on the business side.

Paperwork can be a nightmare. DOT and FMCSA pose a mindboggling struggle. Billing can get so far behind that you forget to bill everyone. Insurance issues, scheduled preventive maintenance, audits, fines, late payments … the list goes on.

And the whole time, you’re too busy hauling and making money to notice your business is veering into a ditch—until it’s too late, and you’re already stuck.

There are two solutions for the hauler who finds his business run aground. Either you can go drive for someone else and let them have the headaches—you just go make money—or you can stop what you are doing, evaluate why it isn’t working, and fix it.

If you went with option number two, here’s what you need to do:

 Ask yourself, can you even do paperwork? If not, hire someone who can. Don’t haul another shed until you do.

If you’re confident in your paperwork ability, then the first thing you do is schedule a time to do it, just like you schedule a moving job. Block out at least 30 minutes every day. That’s your paperwork time.

And just so we’re clear, you can’t do it at 11 p.m. when you’re dead tired. Or at 7 when you have a family. It doesn’t work. Find a time that does.

• Next, get some tools. What do you have to take care of? Schedule? Invoice? IFTA? Taxes? Your workload determines what tools you need. Spend more time and money upfront; save more time and money down the road.

Look at it like this: your winch should always be with you. You know that. Here’s a new thought: so should your laptop.

• Now that you have the time and the tools, educate yourself. Read. Study. Make notes. Ask questions. Listen. All the time and resources in the world won’t do you any good if you don’t know what to do with them.

• Finally, apply. Put the knowledge into practice. It’s that simple.

Having the proper business system in place is just as important as having the right hauling equipment. Having a business mentality is just as important as knowing how to haul sheds.

I remember, years ago when I was running freight from the West Coast, how sweet 18 wheels sounded humming on the asphalt that stretched through the huge canyon passes. Let’s get the wheels of your business sounding just as sweet.

Haul on!          

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