We’ve been focusing some of our blog posts on goals and goal setting.
- SMART goal setting
- SCHEMES to figure out your action plan
- Measurements to determine where your strengths and weaknesses are
- Handling the Challenges of emergencies
- Staying Motivated on your trucking business goals
- Understand Your Numbers and make them work for you
- Set Benchmarks to determine your progress
- Build Your Team at home for success on the road
- Systems are steps to success
This multi-part series will continue to help truckers reach their dream of success as owner-operators.
Why Do We Set Goals?
Other times, we set goals for personal or business profit: reduce deadhead miles, increase LTL shipping, build up the customer base. Goal-setting for owner-operators probably includes many different concerns. When you set your business goals, did you include your equipment? Maintenance isn’t obviously a goal, but it’s one you should add to your list.
When I bought my first truck, I bought it from a farmer with money borrowed from my mother. I ran that truck for years – and then I bought another. And another. I had 5 trucks going at one time – and all of them had mechanical issues.
I’ve said before that if I were smarter about financial management, I probably could have kept them on the road longer. But I was concerned about being in debt and never learned the power of credit. So when one of my trucks needed a major repair, I was often stuck with a big bill or the “junk the rig” decision.
Those big decisions would have been easier with more information and better equipment management.
That’s why I strongly urge owner-operators to include rig maintenance as a specific goal.
If a goal is supposed to be SMART:
- Results focused
Then rig maintenance is an ideal goal.
Systems – last month’s goal setting blog post – are key. You need a system to make sure that your rig is being maintained properly. The ideal method is based on a calendar and your log book.
Some items need to be scheduled regularly based on time. Some things need a weekly check – like tires. Others may be monthly, such as checking your coolant and other fluids. Mileage determines oil changes. So we need to have a system that maintains both. (TruckingOffice does this automatically without any extra cost or work on your part. Dispatches and mileage management work with the maintenance module. You’ll want to check it out!)
When you get a system into place, you’re growing a positive habit that will produce good results. Maintaining your rig requires you to create a system that will recognize the problems – you can’t take your tire pressures when the tires are hot – as well as the items that we’re just as likely to forget because we do it so rarely. The benefits of this system are obvious – when the DOT pulls you over, you won’t have to be anxious that you’re at risk. You’re prepared. Isn’t that the ultimate value of a goal?
Paying for Your Goal
Rig maintenance has costs. No doubt about it – a set of tires is going to set you back a lot of money. Rebuilding an engine can destroy an owner-operator business. I think that adding a goal in rig maintenance of saving for repairs is absolutely necessary. If the end of your career depends on you having enough money on hand to cover an unexpected disaster – you’ll find the way to save it.
I think you should have $5,000 available immediately if you need it. There are ways to do this – a prepaid debit card or a savings account that you can access easily on the road. Lines of credit that are already in place have saved more than one trucker on the road. This could be a goal to get started with. Once you have that in your pocket, adding another $5,000 over time for a down payment on another cab or toward the purchase of a trailer (if you’re leasing your current equipment) is a smart move. By having adequate funds to support your business, you’re investing in your future. You’re prepared. That’s the purpose of setting any goal.
The Real Profit of Goals
Goals have value. The intent is for us to profit from these changes and efforts we make to achieve our goals. We put them in place to make things better for ourselves – personally or professionally.
Sometimes profit isn’t just a dollar figure. Sometimes it’s investment into the things that matter most to us.
What are your goals? After the last few months of reading these posts on goals, are you seeing a change in your owner-operator trucking business? Do you need more tools to help you? What can we help you to do?