Did you see that recent video about young men trying to use a dial telephone?  It took them nearly 4 minutes to figure it out – with coaching.  There are days when we hear about truckers still using an old-fashioned envelope system to track their trucking business expenses.  We think maybe they need some coaching to improve their trucking business organization.

Organization: Envelope, App or Email?

Trucking business organization starts with every receipt.  We mean EVERY receipt.  There are plenty of expenses that don’t count for an owner-operator trucking business, but the habit of saving all the receipts will prevent you from losing one that’s important.  It’s what you do with them next that’s just as important.

There are a few ways to keep track of your receipts.

Envelopes

This is the traditional way for truckers to keep track of materials and receipts:  the envelope.  Regardless of what the envelope looked like – a plastic folder, a cigar box, or a real, big yellow envelope – it was a place to stuff receipts along with the bill of lading, shipping instructions, maps, and directions.  It’s an all-purpose collection point.  But there are a few drawbacks.

  • The Spill:  The one time that everything falls out – into the slushy puddle next to the fuel pump.
  • The Mess:  Organizing all those pieces of paper date or by category.
  • The LTL:  Putting the right receipts with the right load.

It’s a classic system, but it’s got problems.  Even if you choose to use multiple envelopes or perhaps a notebook with multiple envelopes or folders, you’re going to have to handle those receipts again and again when you add them into your records.

Apps

There are dozens of apps for your smartphone that will scan your receipts and enter them into a database or spreadsheet.  If you take a look at Google Play or Apple Store, you’ll find plenty of options.  That looks like a convenient option, especially one from QuickBooks that offers to track miles and expenses.  Sounds perfect, right?  Except

  • it doesn’t track miles per state
  • you can’t use the numbers to figure out your IFTA
  • you need QuickBooks to handle your billing.

Have you tried using QuickBooks for your billing?  Maybe if you’re an accountant (or have one handy) you can make QuickBooks work for your billing.  But it’s not an easy process to adapt to trucking invoicing.

Email

Since virtually every cell phone has a camera in it, taking pictures has become natural for all of us.  Between selfies and SnapChat, using images to track data is seen as a reliable way to store data.  That leads us to the email option:  take a picture of your receipt and email it to yourself.  In the process, the date and time will be recorded (and sometimes the location) and you will have a contemporary record of your expense.  For BOLs, this is ideal – you can simply forward the BOL to the shipper as soon as it’s signed, which will speed up your billing process.  But it will also make it a lot easier for you to keep track of your expenses.  You can be as clever with this as you want:  your trucking company can use a Google Gmail account to store a lot of images.  Just be sure to use the subject line to indicate what you need to track:  fuel, toll, food – whatever category you want.  Using a dispatch or invoice number might also make it easier to search for it if you need it in the future.

TruckingOffice Trucking Business Organization

Any method of trucking business organization must be

  • efficient
  • accessible
  • easy to manage.

If any of those parts are missing, we’re likely to give up on the method.  Complicated or slow systems are almost always self-defeating.  That’s why the trucking industry has moved to computerized systems.  The system has been streamlined and refined to make it simple and fast.  With so many moving parts in our industry (ok, yes, the pun is intended) we have to have a way to maximize the data and reduce the time it takes to enter it.

What’s the best solution?  Wouldn’t it be best for you to enter that data one time and be done with it?  Let the computer handle it from that point on?

For example, your fuel purchases.

That fuel purchase isn’t just a business expense.  It’s part of your IFTA and may be on your load invoices.  It’s an indication of the condition of your engine.  Are you going to manage a separate spreadsheet for each?

If an organization system needs to be efficient and easy to manage, spreadsheets aren’t the solution.  They may be easy to create.  But when numbers get transposed, trying to find the error can suck hours out of our lives or cause us to mess up the IFTA filing.  Or you might miss the signs of an engine problem because a spreadsheet doesn’t show us trends, just raw data.

Re-entering data increases the chances of it being wrong or misfiled.  If you use many spreadsheets, you’ll have to enter the data into each one separately.  If you could enter it once, think of all the time and effort you’ll save yourself – and how many ways it could be used.

You need more than a spreadsheet. 

You need a data management system that’s going to use every bit of data in every way necessary.

Trucking business organization doesn’t need to be complicated up front.  Trucking business organization needs to be simple!  That’s our plan with TruckingOffice trucking management software.  Trucking software should create trucking business organization, not make it harder.  Like those young men learning to use a dial telephone, you will find that using the right software is like comparing the dial phone to a smartphone.

TruckingOffice Free Offer

Want to try out a trucking business organization tool for free?  We’ll give you a free trial to discover how to get your trucking business organized and file your IFTA for free next month.  Get organized and discover how successful your trucking business can be!

 

 

 

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