Have you ever thought about what it takes to run a profitable business?
To tell the truth before owning my own auto transport business I never gave it a second thought. Frankly, I think most people are just like me. Many folks just get up in the morning, drive to work, put in their eight hours and go home. The next day they get up and start all over again; it is like being in a rut.
You are probably thinking that is cold! Well, fact of the matter is that is exactly how I used to be. When we hate what we are doing, we just go through the motions. Who cares if there is a profit or not, it does not affect me – we think. All we are there for is to put in our time and collect a paycheck that doesn’t go far enough.
You are probably wondering what this all has to do with auto transport and the piracy of the truck driver. Well, as employees we had better start caring about the company profits. Think about it for just a minute. If they do not make a profit, we probably will not have a job for long. Have you ever thought about it that way?
Auto transport industry is no different…
After talking with a truck driver, today this very point came to mind. Our whole conversation revolved around the economics of running our mutual businesses. There are so many pieces to the puzzle; but, one main reason really took the majority of the talk.
Today there are too many auto transport brokers out there not doing their job the right way. Greed has set in and taken over all common sense. Their focus is on their commission today and not that of the customer, trucker or industry. There is no looking at the stability of the business for tomorrow, next week or next year.
Doing whatever it takes to secure the order they lie, cheat and bait the customer to earn a few dollars. Now I am not saying it is not right to earn money, not at all. The point is that doing business that way is an injustice to all. How you ask?
I could really get on my soapbox here and rant for hours. Instead, let us focus on just one area of concern…the truck driver, or as we call them the owner operator.
Owner operators do not work for free either!
As a business owner, many expenses occur monthly this is called overhead. There are necessary expenditures that keep the truck, office, drivers and other employees “in business”, or employed.
The business owner goes into business to make a profit. Sounds reasonable, right? They know what it costs to replace tires, change the oil and other fluids necessary to keep the big rig safe on the roads. There are permits, fuel taxes and surcharges, insurance costs and fuel costs too. Of course we can not forget there are truck payments, trailer payments, and the savings surplus account for repairs.
Next they must price out their loads to cover the driver expense, taxes, meals and sometimes-overnight lodging accommodations. Then there needs to be some sort of profit margin so the company can stay in business for the following month.
If the business owner is the truck driver as well, he or she must factor in the personal expenses, too. Most have a husband or wife at home with kids. There is the mortgage, power and water bills, telephone, food, insurance and taxes just like all the rest of us.
Auto transport brokers must educate the customer…
Part of the job of an auto transport broker is to educate the customer. I do not know about you, but before becoming a broker I knew nothing about the industry. We learned by talking with truck drivers who had years of business experience under their belts. By implementing these principles in my own business we have been able to weather the storm of this new economy when others have not.
Let me ask you a question…when is the last time you were able to walk into your local supermarket and tell the cashier what you were going to pay for that loaf of bread? Ha…won’t happen will it? Of course not. The market sets the price us consumers will pay for the product and we either buy it or we don’t, right?
When auto transport brokers do their job correctly, the customer will understand how the transport business works. They will understand why the prices are what they are. Sure there will be slight differences between brokers. Healthy competition is expected and good in the marketplace.
What is not good is when one sector of the industry turns to piracy. By charging the customer an excessive rate then paying the trucking company less than market rates this upsets the apple cart. It makes for an unbalanced industry and forces good people like you and me out of business.
Two years ago, we watched as about 75% of owner operators handed in their keys. Some of these hard-working men and women were our friends. Business owners who had provided our clientele incredible service at equitable prices. We had developed friendships. They are real people, just like us. More than once, I cried myself to sleep after listening to the plight of these people and the causes for their decision.
Today something has to change. More honest hearted people need to step up to the plate. Hard working auto transport brokers who own their own business need to get back to the basics. Educate the public that more than just diesel prices drive prices; which by the way is on the rise again.
You would not work for free…stop asking these business owners to pay you to ship your car! As a broker we are not for the government stepping in to solve an industry’s problems like is so rampant today.
However, as an individual auto transport business owner, I’m taking my stand. Education is key and our clients are well-educated, informed and happy. They are happy because their truck driver has a profitable business driven by fair market value.