It’s not about the numbers.
Whether your fleet is two or two hundred, it won’t matter how big or small it is if you don’t have the customers who need your services.
In the end, it’s not about the numbers, it’s about the people. The ones you work with. The ones who work for you.
Truck fleet management is a different game altogether than running a solo operation. You’re not really managing a fleet of trucks. Trucks only do what a driver makes them do. No, you’re managing people, which is a far more important and challenging task. It’s easy to forget that when you’ve got loads coming and going. It’s especially easy to forget when something goes wrong. According to most sources, the number one reason people leave a job isn’t the pay or the hours – it’s the boss. Many of us started out as owner operators because we like the freedom from a boss. When we become the boss, do we always remember that?
Maybe not. But it’s a critical part to getting a good driver and keeping them on the schedule.
The other people you’ll deal with are the shippers. Sure, there are fleet managers who work the load boards exclusively and don’t bother trying to develop relationships with local businesses. I think that’s one way to do business, but building a long-term relationship has many rewards that working a load board will never produce.We’ve got a big steel company in our town – that’s who I want to be hauling for. That’s the easiest company for me to make contact with. I’ve got neighbors and friends who work for that company. I can join the local Chamber of Commerce. I can find out who the head of shipping is and make direct contact. I can build a relationship with that company and when I serve them well, I’ve got a regular customer who won’t go to the load boards – they’ll call me. That’s real truck fleet management.
We’ve got a big steel company in our town – that’s who I want to be hauling for. That’s the easiest company for me to make contact with. I’ve got neighbors and friends who work for that company. I can join the local Chamber of Commerce. I can build a relationship with that company and when I serve them well, I’ve got a regular customer who won’t go to the load boards – they’ll call me. That’s real truck fleet management.
If you’re an owner operator looking at expansion, we’ve got a few tips for you. While the potential rewards are larger, so are the day-to-day challenges. At TruckingOffice, we’re committed to helping every fleet manager achieve his or her highest potential. With that in mind, here are three tips for ensuring your expansion is successful.
- Successful fleets are based on long-term partnerships with clients, not on one-time deals. Take every chance you get to foster goodwill on the part of your customers. This is especially important for small- and mid-sized companies who can’t compete with the giant fleets on price alone. To stay in business, they have to go above and beyond in providing outstanding service. Forging relationships with clients is the start and may become the reason to expand your fleet.
- Unless you’re independently wealthy, you’ll need to finance your expansion. The problem is, many clients don’t pay invoices for 60 days or more, while that expense note comes due the same time every month. Then there are expenses like fuel and repairs to worry about. Fortunately, many lenders offer a feature called freight factoring that allows you to take out an advance against future receivables. This is a great way to keep your trucks on the road when money is temporarily tight.
- You can’t ignore maintenance. When do your trucks need their tires or windshield wipers checked? Oil changes, brake inspections… the DOT has a list of items they’ll check that you have to be on top of. If you’re currently an owner operator looking to expand, you already probably have a system in place for your rig. But for the rig you’re not driving, you’ll need a way to monitor its condition. Do you want to consider a road-side repair service and become a customer now, or are you willing to take your chances when an emergency hits? All of these decisions are based on your style of management.
Do you currently reach out to previous customers to build relationships? Do you have their contact info in a place that you could reach it easily when you’re waiting on the dock or at a rest stop? Do you know the financial status of your business and what’s the minimum you should take for a load? Do you have a plan for maintaining your equipment in top condition to avoid an expensive, on-the-road repair?
Do you need three different software packages to have all these things? You do not. We do it all in one package. TruckingOffice trucking management software works for the owner operator and the fleet manager.
Start your free 30-day test drive of our truck fleet management product today.