Our memories are shorter than we would like to believe, and it is natural to place more value on good things than bad. While every operation is different, I think this year has been a very good one for most truck owners. But where do you go from here – continue with your own status quo or shake things up and pursue changes that could make things even better for your business?

The answers to these questions might star you in the face here and now. Still, there is a source for these answers that I know it’s very easy to totally overlook. Are you achieving the goals set in your business plan?

When Marcia and I were honored to be nominated for Owner Operator of the Year in 2016, we were required to submit a written copy of our business plan.. It was a bit of a challenge back then – we had been in the trucking business for 13 years already. I felt like business was going well, I had developed a system that seemed to work, and for the most part, day-to-day decisions had become quite automatic in nature.

Now, years after starting our business, we had to define what we were doing and where Marica and I planned to finish what we had started.

I have to give Marcia all the credit for deciding how we can just explain our actions. Her education and nursing experience provided a platform on which we made sense of our journey, and it also forced us to face the reality that the finish line really wasn’t in many. years.

After experiencing this process, I encourage you to see the real value of pursuing your own plan if you’ve never had an actual written plan – and dusting off the old one if it’s been in a drawer since you started. have started.

Many homeowners have told me that they’ve always wanted to put a plan on paper, but just can’t seem to find the time or the way to make it happen. What I’ve learned is that writing it always seems harder than it actually is. A quick internet search for free business plan templates will provide links to thousands of variations, so we can’t use the lack of examples as an excuse.

What is stopping you? Here is a simple format that we used. This could be a way forward for those of you who wish to embark on the homeownership path. If you’ve been a long-time owner and never had a plan, this might help clarify your story as well as the roadmap to achieving your ultimate business goals.

First, let’s define what a business plan is. It is simply a document that defines the objectives and strategies of a company to achieve them.

[Related: A busy independent’s plan to transition his four-truck business]

3 essentials to keep things simple

  1. Goal – What are you trying to do?
  2. Actions – what you have done or are going to do to achieve the goal.
  3. Results – what happened and your assessment of the result

The plans are what they are – depending on the time and the circumstances, you will adjust and repeat this simple process. If you are successful but never had a written plan, you are probably already doing these things in your mind. But I bet that by writing these thoughts down you will help your business progress by facing the reality of results to avoid repeating missteps.

You don’t have to write a novel here, not even whole paragraphs. Using short statements or bullet points can be more effective in making your business plan useful as the business climate changes.

Here are some examples of goals, actions and results from our own plan to get you started.

Goal: To get the best possible equipment with a payment not exceeding $ 1000 per month.

Actions:

  1. Search for funding availability for a used power unit
  2. Determine the appropriate makes and models in the price range of $ 40,000 to $ 60,000 that are reliable, economical to maintain, aerodynamic and safe

Results:

  1. I met a salesperson who had the type of truck we wanted and who could put us in touch with bank financing.
  2. I bought a Freightliner Century 2000 for $ 48,000 with 300,000 miles. The wheelbase of this truck also allows me to negotiate in smaller spaces than some trucks. I need it for some customer service points.
  3. Financing the purchase from a bank with a 60-month loan – payment of $ 900 / month.

For an even simpler twist, an owner I am helping recently took a big leap in their bookkeeping. Here’s how it was presented in the plan:

Goal: Start filling out the income and expense worksheet each week.

Action: Before starting the new work week, enter the settlement and expenses.

Results: Now have up-to-date profit, loss and operating cost for the current year, which improves rate negotiations and makes better load choices.

[Related: Capture 2020 vision with proactive attention to repair, operating and finance costs]

The business plan as a tool for accountability

In the two examples above, you can clearly see the differences between the goals – one is a large capital purchase with high risk, and the second may seem trivial to some. Yet writing this serves as a trigger or nudge to accomplish a necessary task.

You can think of the elements of a business plan as an accountability tool. What day-to-day pressures influence the decisions owners need to make, whether they relate to purchasing, savings and perhaps more importantly load planning? It’s just to mention a few areas. Are your business actions in line with your plan or rather a habit, such as a quick reaction to the biggest bill to be paid in order of priority?

I’ve learned that the skills necessary for self-dispatching or effective load planning can be the most difficult for homeowners to master. Yet these skills may well be the cornerstone of a fully controlled owner’s day-to-day operations. I want to dive deeper into the world of self-dispatching soon in this column, but as I have tried to write on this topic, I keep coming back to the problems encountered when an owner has not set their goals. commercial first. And the needs of each that determine the goals are, of course, different.

The need for planning never really ends. It can be a plan on how to sell your equipment or your business. Will you be able to retire on your own terms? The plans you need to make for your personal care and finances are also important.

Although the above examples are geared towards very specific goals, it is okay to write your ultimate goal – one that may seem far away in the future. Small businesses are more complex than what we experience every day driving, loading, unloading and (I hit wood, but it happens) breaking down along the way. The current market opportunities highlighted by recent ATBS mid-year benchmarks have opened the door for many of you to take your plan to the next level. This market has also attracted many new people to become truck owners.

Whether or not you fit one of these descriptions, I encourage you to ask yourself this question, “What will be the difference between homeowners who thrive and those who don’t?” “

Todd Amen, President of ATBS, offered his perspective on this issue during last week’s live webinar with Overdrive. Watch the replay of some of his responses, in part based on the high income he experiences among ATBS customers.


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