Smooth, Efficient Operations Keep Trucking Companies Successfully Hauling Loads
by Mario Tarradell | October 21, 2022
Smooth, Efficient Operations Keep Trucking Companies Successfully Hauling Loads
Apex Experts: Jennifer Lance Knows the Power of Organization Behind 18-Wheels
Trucking companies thrive on more than just lucrative loads. The back-office support, not to mention keeping documents organized as you stay abreast of industry changes, is a direct link to the success of any company, particularly trucking companies. Jennifer Lance, Chief Operations Officer for Apex Capital, brings 22 years of experience in day-to-day operations. She understands the importance of keeping employees happy, files organized, processes managed, and technology updated. She’s here to offer invaluable advice on keeping the internal machine oiled and cranking.
How do you keep day-to-day business operations smooth and efficient?
In operations, you are always going to have day-to-day fires. But you also need to have more proactive and long-term approaches to managing efficiency. Always plan for the day understanding what the workload is and what your staff level looks like. There are going to be times that you’re short staffed. So, you may need contingency plans. When you have a busy day and you’re short staffed, you need to keep things going efficiently.
Your employees need support and when they’re busy, you need to check on them and remove any roadblocks they’re facing. Be flexible and recognize when your employees need help and realize that even though you manage operations, you may not be involved in the day-to-day workload.
There are going to be day-to-day issues and confusion that arise. Address it as soon as possible because the last thing you want are issues to continue, which only compounds confusion. Next thing you know, you’re doing work differently or not as consistently. It’s hard to pull everyone together when they’re busy. But it is going to make everything go much smoother. That’s the opportunity to automate, question why you are doing something, or maybe eliminate it altogether.
And lastly, you can’t manage what you can’t measure. Know what drives your organization and operations. There are going to be trends that change over time. There are going to be days that are busier and more time consuming than others, and next year those days are totally different. Know how much time each task takes. All of that is important to measure so you can realize when you need to make a change and when you need to be flexible as the business shifts.
Do trucking companies need to keep their back-office support well-staffed?
Your organization should have a forecast and a budget for what it’s going to do and how it’s going to grow. That drives your back-office needs. So, if you’re going to grow the number of trucks and you’re going to haul more loads, you’re going to need more drivers. That means you’re going to be invoicing more and collecting more. You are also going to be looking at credit worthiness more. Know what drives your back-office and how that translates to needing employees to handle the increased workload.
Look at all this monthly so you aren’t guessing what you’re going to do next year. This way you can compare what you said you were going to do to what you did. Over time, you’re going to see what the trend is and know if your forecast was too aggressive or too conservative. If it’s aggressive, scale back how many people you planned on hiring. If it’s conservative, then reevaluate your hiring needs.
Understand there’s a training time, so a back-office person might not know rate sheets and bills of lading and how to prepare an invoice. Figure if it takes one month to three months to bring them up to speed to handle the higher volume. Also, consider hiring one extra person so you always have that extra staff or train someone else in your business that has a little bit of flexibility in their day.
Then listen to your people if they say they are crazy busy and hardly keeping up, you notice they’re working through their lunches and they’re not taking breaks, or they are working late. Make sure your staff level is appropriate.
Should trucking companies keep documentation organized to stay successful?
There are still some of us that are very comfortable with paper. We might prefer to mail things. But many of us are liking everything digital. You can look at things right on the screen, drag things over, attach them, and upload them. The key to that is organization and it’s about having a neat workspace, whether it be paperwork or your computer. Keep your physical or computer files organized, have a naming system that is meaningful to you, so you find what you need easily.
Use templates to make your work fast if you’re creating an invoice or a worksheet. It doesn’t matter what you’re creating because you can always pull from that template. Look for tools that can help you be organized and manage your time and tasks on a day-to-day basis. You can categorize things within your calendar, color code them for priority.
Is it crucial to stay abreast of the changes and evolution in the trucking industry?
There have been so many changes in technology, and it evolves constantly. Read industry news and look for what’s changing, what’s coming, and how to redefine your operations strategy or requirements. Look for technology trends and what other trucking companies are doing, what brokerages are doing, what they require, who they are partnering with, and who you could partner with. What tools do you need to adopt? How can you leverage those tools to be more successful?
Technology in this industry continues to change, and what might not have worked three years ago is now more refined and a viable solution for your business. Keep looking because it’s about timing. Your business also must evolve to remain scalable and relevant. Think about Blockbuster and so many brick-and-mortar businesses. Things have even changed with Netflix and Hulu. There are so many examples of the way we must evolve our business to stay relevant.
In this industry pricing also changes constantly. When prices go down, productivity and efficiency is more important. Rates ebb and flow, so the more efficient you can keep your back-office through the technological changes that occur in the industry, the more you keep your processes and operations running at a low cost so you can deliver the service levels your partners and customers expect.
Is keeping employees happy and thriving key to ensuring the business thrives?
Make sure the people in your back-office understand what they do and why they do it. Let them know the importance of their work to the organization, to your customers, and to the broader market. People need to understand why they’re doing something even if it’s the same every day.
Value them, appreciate them and the work they do. Reward them, even if it’s a simple gift card or bringing in lunch for the day or letting them come in an hour late or leave an hour early. Surprise them with little things, encourage them, and listen to their ideas and their opinions because they’re the ones doing the work. Empower them and trust them to get their job done. Let them do what they do the best, and what you’ve hired them to do.
A great way to make sure your employees take breaks to avoid burnout is to work with a factoring company that provides top-notch back-office support as we do here at Apex. That also provides flexibility and peace of mind as you have a trusted partner taking care of paperwork and collections. This in turn encourages your employees to recharge. It also shows that you care about them and want to make sure they are taken care of so they will stay with you.
Finding the right factoring partner with expert back-office support can keep your trucking company successful. Apex factoring helps you manage your cash flow as well as organize your day-do-day business with excellent customer service. Visit our website or give us a call at 855-369-2739.