Want to know how to do better faster in trucking – whether you are just getting started good or are a long time trucking veteran with years of experience?
The first thing I would suggest is to keep an open mind and always be learning.
A very common – and tragic mistake – often made in trucking is doing the exact opposite of that and making bad decisions based on inaccurate, obsolete, or otherwise just wrong information.
This is something I learned more than 25 years ago – and never forgot.
At the time I was working for a mid-sized motor carrier that had just done very poorly during a DOT audit (Compliance Review). I had just started there and was working as a dispatcher – with ambitions to move to recruiting and eventually on to safety and risk management – all with the intent of starting my own trucking-related business in the future. So I was already studying all aspects of trucking – not to mention had just come off the road with several years of driving experience.
Since I was able to answer some of the questions that no one else there had any clue about – I was given an opportunity to take over safety and compliance and see if I could “fix it” before DOT came back.
That meant I needed a ton more information and training – and I needed it fast.
First DOT Seminar Learning Experience
I found a DOT seminar that was being conducted near Pittsburg which was about three and a half hours or so away, and it was a week-long event. This particular event was being conducted by DOT itself – so I figured what better source to get information from other than the agency responsible, to begin with.
So off I went. It was about $500 or so, as best as I can recall, not counting the motel or the rental car or other expenses – and it was one of the best investments of my time and the company’s money ever made too.
There were about twenty other people there – as best as I can remember – keep in mind this was well over two decades ago now. Most of them were fleet owners or seasoned safety directors all with years of experience. In other words, you would think they were all already experts in the trucking business and especially safety, compliance, and overall risk management. You would also be very wrong.
It very quickly became painfully apparent that not a single person in that training room knew anywhere near what they were supposed to know – even though they were already running large trucking operations and had been doing so for years! That’s a key lesson right there – just because things have always been done a certain way and even with confidence – does NOT mean they are being done right!
It just means they have not been caught. Not yet anyway.
That brings me to my next point.
Others in the room were there because they had already been notified of an impending audit. Some had already gone through an audit and had bad results – just as my company had just done. They were there out of crisis and desperation to try to survive and keep operating. The point is that this is not the best time to seek information and training – and that ideally, you want to do that BEFORE something bad is imminent or has already occurred. It is much cheaper and much less stressful when you are not being fined and are not fighting to keep your business operating and are truly there of your own accord to learn more so you can prevent such problems in the first place.
I learned a ton of very useful information during that seminar from the instructor. I also learned even more from all the other participants in that room – including both what to do and what NOT to do.
Regulations and procedures need to be learned accurately from the beginning – and many were not. Most of these people were taught by other people in other companies or their own over the years. Often their mentors and trainers had been doing their jobs for years and appeared confident and competent. Yet they were doing and teaching the wrong stuff!
Others were taught correctly – at the original time they learned the lessons – however things do change. Regulations change, as do other compliance-related matters over time. So you have to stay current and keep getting updated information. Simply going to training or reading a manual of book once is not going to help you when things change that you are unaware of – so you must learn to keep getting updates and keep learning on a continuous basis so long as you are involved in the trucking business.
Military Experiences, W. Edwards Deming and TQM Combined With Specialized Training and Information Equal Results
I took everything I learned and combined that all with lessons I had already learned over more than a decade in the military and with lessons I had learned in real estate and life in general. Years earlier I had learned about the work of Deming and specifically about TQM (Total Quality Management) and its military variant TQL (Total Quality Leadership).
All of these elements were used to design, build, and implement management control systems that worked and to do it all very fast.
Long story short – DOT did come back and went through everything we had done since they left and they were more than happy with the progress we had made. Safety rating restored, crisis averted – and during the next decade while I was in charge of safety and risk management we never had another regulatory problem.
Yet I made sure to never forget the powerful lessons I learned at the beginning – and never become stagnant in learning, complacent or arrogant either. Keep learning and keep working to make improvements on a continuous basis.
The good news is that once you know how to set up adequate management control systems and policies and procedures – and how to maintain them – it gets a lot easier. It will always be work and it will always take effort – but it is nowhere near as bad as it can seem initially. Just do yourself a favor and learn it and apply it NOW!
Recruiting, Training, and Leadership
Trucking has many variables and many constantly moving and changing parts. The better you can set up and implement good management control systems across your entire operation the better off you will be.
Over the years I have set up and run a tractor-trailer training school, and an internal driver training program, Independent Contractor Associate (company driver to owner operator lease purchase) programs, in-person and online training courses, onsite consulting and telephone consulting for owner operators, small fleets, freight brokers and other small businesses.
I can help you too – if you want to do better in your own trucking career, or your own trucking business or any business where you are a manager or leader – or want to be.
Regardless of where you are – from just thinking about getting started, to seasoned professional, fleet owner, executive management, freight broker, shipping and distribution specialist, or any other trucking business-related situation – I can help you if you want help.
That’s what this site is all about and though the site is new – the concept is not.
Over time additional information, training, services, products – and opportunities will be added so check back often!
If you have questions or want to get in touch with me use the contact information page and you can find out how to do that there.