Seasons of Extreme Change
Given the extreme changes coming to the trucking industry in 2022, it may be worthwhile to consider a strategy for approaching difficulties. Probably the best and most obvious attitude would be optimistic rather than fearful. However, optimism must be focused on the long-term outcome and not the present circumstances. For instance, being positive about KEEPING your existing circumstances may not be realistic. However, being optimistic can produce the highest probability of seeing the steps to take to adjust your operations, and to produce a net positive result.
I remember in grad school reviewing a consulting contract with my professor (the contractor was losing money in his business). 80% of the contractor’s revenue came from one customer, whose physical location was at the other side of the city. After reviewing the costs of operations, the consultant (my professor) concluded that the contractor would either have to increase his rates considerably to the specific customer or stop serving them. The contractor drew a cold sweat at the thought of dropping 80% of their revenue. However, numbers don’t lie when they are laid out transparently. Once it made sense, he acted on the facts. He called the customer and told them of the new rates or the option to go elsewhere. The customer chose to leave. When the work dried up and adjustments were made (partially new business and partially downsizing), the company started making money again. The choice was difficult but needed. He had faith (optimism) in the numbers and his own abilities to adjust accordingly.
New regulations and restrictions will produce changes in carriers, employees, operators, and customers. The regulations are the instigator of the extreme changes in the trucking industry. These changes are not a slow-moving current but are white water rapids, complete with sharp rocks hidden from sight. If circumstances seem to require jumping out of one canoe and into another, we best make sure we know exactly what we are doing. That doesn’t always mean we have all our ducks in a row when we jump. Sometimes having them all in a row is simply operating too slow for our environment.
In his book ‘The Will to Win’, Robert Herjavec (Dragon’s Den Canada) told the story of being mentored to race cars by a professional. He was racing around the track in training and, over the course of time passed three cars. He was impressed with himself as he came in to be evaluated. However, he found his teacher disappointed. The mentor told him that he missed an opportunity to pass two cars at once, rather than one at a time. In the replay that was clearly shown. It appeared that Robert’s mindset was limited to one at a time rather than a mindset of ‘all possibilities’. Often, we limit our own abilities by our own mindsets. Personally, I know I have. For me, gathering other opinions and perspectives is key to seeing the greater possibilities.
There will be operators and drivers retiring at an astounding rate this year. Others may choose to move to a different carrier or even a different career. Most drivers will be pressured/expected to do things that they never intended. The industry morale will be very vulnerable and tender. Some carriers will not be successful in managing their culture.
I remember another research project in grad school. It was the story of a bank in California. Their service was terrible, and they were losing customers fast. Head office hired an advertising firm to promote the bank as a high service/friendly bank. One Monday morning, without notice to managers, new signs and brochures were plastered all over the walls and desks of the branches. An advertising campaign flooded local TV programs with smiling faces of tellers and customers. The shiny posters inspired the bewildered employees to smile and caused the customers to reply in kind. The customers slowly returned. The campaign seemed to work until the bad habits and incomplete training once again took center stage. Morale fell again and the shiny posters disappeared into the background of the employees and customers. The customers started leaving again. The advertising firm sent out another expensive ad campaign, all across the airwaves but this time, it landed on deaf ears and blind eyes. The bank was shortly swallowed up by another bank, with a better training and support system. The lesson was, beware the loud advertising campaigns… all show, no go… all talk, no walk…
In the end, I’m convinced the deregulated trucking industry will be able to adjust to the extreme changes. Drivers will too. Some things may permanently change, but that is life.
About the Author:
Robert D. Scheper is a leading Accountant and Consultant to the Lease/Owner operator industry in Canada. His first book in the Making Your Miles Count series “taxes, taxes, taxes” was released in 2007. His firm exclusively serves Lease/Owner Operators across Canada. His second book “Choosing a Trucking company” is the most in-depth analysis of the operator industry available today. He has a Master’s degree (MBA) in financial management and has been serving the industry since he and his wife came off the road in 1993. His dedication, commitment and strong opinions can be read and heard in many articles and seminars.
You can find him and his books at www.makingyourmilescount.com or 1-877-987-9787. You can also e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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: email@example.com.