As Over the Road enters its 27th year of publishing, we would like to recognize Robert Scheper and his company Making Your Miles Count. Robert has been writing a monthly article for Over the Road for over 12 years now, and we thank him for all the valuable information that he has shared with our readers.
Robert has been so generous with his knowledge and advice over the years, that we wanted to write an article giving our readers some more information about Robert and his company, and to give him a chance to share some more of his thoughts pertaining to the industry.
This article is Part Two of Two.
Robert Scheper & Making Your Miles Count
Leading one of the largest and most innovative accounting firms in the Canadian Independent Operator market is a lonely venture. Firstly, there are only a few big players, if you define a big player as a firm with over 400-500 active monthly clients. Most Operators have their taxes prepared by a non-specializing firm. Most accounting firms do not specialize in the Operator industry because of the money (or shortness of it). You will not get rich doing taxes for Operators. It is a labor-intensive; low-margin industry and you need to love the industry. You need great respect for those who make up the front line of the freight movement. There requires a desire to make a difference in people’s lives, to help as many as you can to succeed, as much as they can.
In researching his first book, Robert Scheper stumbled across Non-Taxable Benefits for drivers. The difference between the standard method (TL2) and NTB represented thousands of dollars of savings per year for an Operator. The value produced for the client isn’t just an easy sell, it’s a “no-brainer”. If it wasn’t for the super value produced for the client, Robert probably would have gone into a different industry. Non-Taxable benefits make a massive difference to every client’s bottom line… or as Robert states it… after-tax wealth.
The tax savings value by the firm to the Operator is amazing by itself but Robert wanted to help Operators in more ways than just preparing taxes. In 2015 he published his second book “MYMC: Choosing a Trucking Company”. It dealt with many topics: fuel costs, carrier rates and all things in-between. The combination of both books totalled well over 15,000 hours of research and writing. Though it represents a monumental portion of his career, Robert says he would do it again (if he had the energy). It was a good choice for Robert to invest into the Operator industry. The firm also purchased the copyright for Bill Cameron’s book “So you want to own a trucking company”, a lively advice compilation that Robert asks his clients to read before considering getting their running rights and going out on their own. It’s a very non-romantic observation of the industry, providing time-saving and money-saving advice to fresh, starting-out carriers.
Robert believes that having a library of resources for his clients (literally) is the first step to securing a classification of specialist. If you don’t have passion for what you are doing… you are probably just doing it for the money. To be good at what you do, it CANNOT be just for the money.
Q&A with Robert:
What is your most unusual approach to your job as President?
I always want to RELATE to my clients. I love talking personally one on one and can easily get tied up for hours in a good conversation. Though I have my history as a driver and Operator to stand upon, I chose to do more. For example: financially, I don’t draw a wage higher than my average client. I’ve never bought a new car… actually, I have never even test-driven a new car. My wife has bought most/all our furniture from Kijiji and over 80% of what I wear comes from Costco. We try to live a simple life… though admittedly, each year, as time goes by, I’m having a more difficult time doing so.
What was the most difficult choice you ever made?
Trying to survive financially as a firm before I had 250-300 clients was brutal. I had to drive truck on weekends to make it work. However, that wasn’t the really difficult choice. I had plenty of opportunity to make good money from other sources and industries while growing my business, but I chose to walk away from those opportunities. Good opportunities always lead to other opportunities in or around the same industry. I did not want to dilute the firm’s specialty so walking away in that situation meant I had to sacrifice much more than the average sacrifice. I may have been wrong in this approach… but I don’t like second-guessing after the water has passed beneath the bridge.
What is your biggest weakness?
Believing in people. Yes! That can get a person in trouble. I have always believed that when a person says they are committed to something and will do whatever it takes… they will literally do whatever it takes. However, I now know that this is not true. There are people who will say they will do what it takes to succeed but they are only interested in getting a helping hand… or even a hand-out. This sleight of hand (or mouth) is still very difficult for me to understand. In the past, I had risked a huge financial commitment on people who baled when they were 75% finished. It cost me well over ten years of my life. However, I refuse to dilute my faith in people as I enjoy encouraging people too much. When it comes to hiring our staff, I’m only involved in the first few stages… my senior staff make the final choices. They have great instincts for BS… much better than I do, so I let them do a better job than I would.
What is your greatest virtue?
Humility… I wish I had it! Making Your Miles Count is an accounting firm for Canadian Independent Operators. Though it has a national presence, it will always have a small-town feel with my staff and myself always happy to speak with anyone. At my firm, the answering machine only comes on when everyone calls in at once. If Making Your Miles Count ever get rid of the telephone receptionist… you will know that Robert Scheper has passed away.
If you have any questions for Robert or would like more information about Making Your Miles Count you can reach him at 1-877-987-9787, or visit their website at www.makingyourmilescount.com
Robert D Scheper operates an accounting and consulting firm in Steinbach, Manitoba. He has a Masters Degree in Business Administration and is the author of the Book “Making Your Miles Count: taxes, taxes, taxes” (now available on CD). You can find him at www.thrconsulting.ca and thrconsulting.blogspot.com or at 1-877-987-9787. You can e-mail him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.