Being a small business owner and truck driver, the financial crisis has negatively affected the trucking community in almost every way imaginable. The trucks I operate pull flatbed trailers, which haul everything from housing materials to onions. That being said, the housing market has nearly collapsed with the consequences being very little building materials being shipped. As oil prices skyrocketed, the cost of shipping increased significantly due to the increase in fuel costs, increased maintenance costs, as well as increased tire costs. This is combined with the necessary job cuts to meet the demand as more manufacturers cut production and close doors.
Of course, staying in business and protecting my livelihood has become priority number one. Surviving in a fierce financial crisis, such as this, requires tightening belts, cutting back, and making smart business decisions. Steps I have taken to improve my own financial standing include expense management, such as fuel, preventative maintenance, employee selection, and decreased competition where freight is concerned.
One of the biggest expenses in the trucking community is fuel. In order to manage this monster bill, trucks are forced to slow down in order to improve fuel mileage. Also, using fuel discounts at participating locations lowers the fuel cost significantly.
Preventative maintenance is often overlooked as a cost cutting technique. Since trucks travel hundreds of miles every day, simple steps, such as maintaining correct tire pressure, can affect fuel mileage as well as the extend the life of a tire. Regular oil changes also affect fuel mileage and performance.
Driver selection is important because how he or she performs affects the bottom line. A driver should always care for the equipment as if it were his or her own. I recently had to let go one driver in order to get a better one. A driver should choose freight that will bring in the most revenue to the truck while keeping the truck moving. For the most part, a truck that isn’t moving isn’t making any money.
In order to keep trucks moving, one may have to take less desirable freight. Many drivers want to take the higher paying load and will wait to get it. However, with the financial crisis, that can take a little while to happen. By being less competitive and taking loads that aren’t ideal, a truck can stay moving and still make money. The economy is no longer capable of sustaining the position of a choosy driver. Whereas, someone who is willing to open up their preferences on what they are willing to haul and where they are willing to go, will move faster and generate more revenue.
This financial crisis has had its affects on almost everyone. The ability and willingness to adapt, adjust, and change with the economy will determine the survivors. I have taken steps that will, hopefully, help me protect my livelihood. My goal, like most everyone else, is to come out of it intact.