If You’re Not Interested In Putting in the Time, Don’t Waste your Dime.

If You’re Not Interested In Putting in the Time, Don’t Waste your Dime.

Becoming an independent operator requires applying yourself to learn a particular set of skills that will provide a respectable return on invested dollars, time and financial liability (risk). Many things have been written and said about fuel consumption, trip planning etc. but there are many other issues that continue to reveal itself as critical to long term survival.

For example, understanding the risks of Driver Inc. issues when exposed to them requires a driver to pay attention to their risks. Far too often drivers believe only what they want to believe, hear only what they want to hear or… unfortunately place their trust in the wrong people.

After performing a seminar lately I talked with a recruiter who asked me about one of my clients. Apparently the client mentioned I had a few positions that worried the recruiter. After hearing what the client told her I could understand the recruiter’s concerns. The way it was presented was nearly the exact opposite of my position (or very skewed). I thanked her for asking me about it and I hope I alleviated her concerns with my response.

This certainly is not the first time this occurred. In fact I have been “quoted” as saying many things I don’t agree with or even said. Misunderstanding an issue (especially a critical one) is too often just lazy thinking, wanting a quick one line answer to a more broad issue or, worse yet, someone just saying something dramatic to garnish the attention a spectacular position brings about.

When a driver wishes to become a professional driver they need to apply themselves to the facts within their industry. This means not just keeping the truck between the ditches but to understand business and relationships within their industry. It means they need to understand every aspect of their venture, including unpopular things like tax implications and cash flow. Blaming the wrong entity when things go sideways is just pure immaturity.

I have seen an operator blame a carrier for: poor fuel costs, maintenance issues, late loads, damaged shipments… virtually everything. Far too often the real issue is the drivers inability to take responsibility for their own actions or (mostly) creating unreal expectations in their own minds and assigning blame to everybody else.

Being an independent operator requires taking on all responsibilities for all results. Making active and strategic choices so as to create the best chance for their success. What specific actions can be taken to produce the highest return on invested time/effort/money? Just “doing what you want to do” will not automatically produce a respectable return on investment. Appropriately and strategically acting on the facts in your business will produce the respected return on investment.

Being an Accountant to operators I have witnessed numerous clients who refuse to think through what they are doing (tax wise). It’s like they throw their brains into neutral as their eyes glaze over. They do not want to think, they do not want to change what they do even if it shows they will loose thousands of dollars doing it “their way”. This type of stubbornness is very self destructive. Using the excuse “I don’t understand taxes” is not acceptable to a professional operator. If you don’t want to learn the essentials of business success… maybe you should go back to being company driver. Stop wasting your time and energy trying to make a business work without first understanding HOW it works.

I’m a big fan of dragons den and shark tank. One of the fundamental issues of successful business models is accumulating the accurate understanding of your industry, customer, market and cash flow. Successful business people understand their numbers. If you don’t put in the time… don’t bother wasting your dime.

Every day, every trip, every year requires your full attention, it demands your best effort. If you want to be the best don’t settle for half an answer to what happened, learn your business.

Robert Scheper

Robert D Scheper has a Masters Degree in Business Administration and is the author of two books, “Making Your Miles Count: Taxes, Taxes, Taxes” and "Making Your Miles Count: Choosing a Trucking Company".

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