Seasons of Extreme Change

Seasons of Extreme Change

Given the extreme changes coming to the trucking industry in 2022 it may be worth while considering a strategy for approaching difficulties. Probably the best and most obvious attitude would be optimistic rather than fearful. However, optimism must be focused on the long term outcome and not the present circumstances. For instance, being positive about KEEPING your existing circumstances may not be realistic. However, being optimistic can produce the highest probability of seeing the steps to adjust your operations and produce a net positive result.

I remember in grad school reviewing a consulting contract of my professor (the contractor was loosing money in his business). 80% of the contractors revenue came from one customer, who’s physical location was at the other side of the city. After reviewing the costs of operations the consultant (my professor) concluded that the contractor would either have to increase his rates considerably to the specific customer or stop serving them. The contractor drew a cold sweat at the thought of dropping 80% of their revenue. However, numbers don’t lie when they are laid out transparently. Once it made sense he acted on the facts. He called the customer and told them of the new rates or the option to go elsewhere. The customer chose to leave. When the work dried up and adjustments were made (partially new business and partially downsizing) the company started making money again. The choice was difficult but needed. He had faith (optimism) in the numbers and his own abilities to adjust accordingly.

New regulations and restrictions will produce change in: carriers, employees, operators and customers. The regulations are the instigator of the extreme change in the trucking industry. These changes are not a slow moving current but are white water rapids, complete with sharp rocks hidden from site. If circumstances seem to require jumping out of one canoe and into another, we best make sure we know exactly what we are doing. That doesn’t always mean we have all our ducks in a row when we jump. Sometimes having them all in a row is simply operating too slow for our environment.

In his book The Will to Win, Robert Herjavec (Dragon’s Den Canada) told the story of being mentored to race cars by a professional. He was racing around the track in training and, over the course of time passed three cars. He was pretty impressed with himself as he came in to be evaluated. However, he found his teacher disappointed. The mentor told him that he missed an opportunity to pass two cars at once, rather than one at a time. In the replay it was clearly shown. It appeared that Robert’s mindset was limited to one at a time rather than a mindset of “all possibilities”. Often times we limit our own abilities by our own mindsets. Personally, I know I have. Gathering other’s opinions and perspectives is key to me seeing the greater possibilities.

There will be operators and drivers retiring at an astounding rate this year. Others may choose to move to a different Carrier or even a different career. Most drivers will be pressured/expected to do things they never intended to. The industry morale will be very vulnerable and tender. Some Carriers will not be successful in managing their culture.

I remember another research project in grad school. It was the story of a bank in California. Their service was terrible and they were loosing customers fast. Head office hired an advertising firm to promote the Bank as a high service/friendly Bank. One Monday morning, without notice to managers, new signs and brochures were plastered all over the walls and desks of the branches. An advertising campaign flooded local TV programs with smiling faces of tellers and customers. The shiny posters inspired the bewildered employees to smile and caused the customers to reply in kind. The customers slowly returned. The campaign seemed to work until the bad habits and incomplete training once again took center stage. Morale fell again and the shiny posters disappeared in the background of the employees and customers. The customers started leaving again. Another expensive add campaign shot across the airwaves but this time it landed on deaf ears and blind eyes. The Bank was shortly swallowed up by another bank, with a better training and support system. The lesson was, beware the loud advertising campaigns… all show, no go… all talk, no walk…

In the end, I’m convinced the deregulated trucking industry will be able adjust to the extreme changes. Drivers will too. Some things may permanently change, but that is life. Good Luck.

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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