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Dollars & Sense

Maximizing Productivity is Easier Than You Think

By Jason McGlone
Posted Sep 7th 2010 6:48AM

“Productivity,” as a generalized concept, is pretty broad.  it can include all industries, products, workers--essentially, the whole of business.  But taken as a word, its definition is extraordinarily simple: productivity is a measure of output per unit of input.  As a driver, carrier, fleet owner, or however you’d define yourself in the expediting industry, it all comes down to one thing: keeping the freight moving.  

But you knew that already.  

Measuring your productivity, though, is more than just keeping the freight moving (albeit only a little more than that): it’s how much freight in dollars you move in a particular period of time.  It’s true that if trucker A takes three loads in a week and if trucker B takes two loads, A is probably more productive than B.  But what if there are extenuating circumstances for trucker B, like his loads were thousands of miles farther than trucker A’s, and B’s loads were bigger?  That can change things.  

Speaking of things you already know: the more productive you are, the more money you’re likely to make.  Simple, right?  When it comes to expediting, though, staying on the move, especially during certain times of the year, can prove to be dicey.  That said, this year has been a fair bit busier than anyone really expected, so the chances are fairly decent that you’re having an above-average year.  This translates to an opportunity for more productivity, and given the nature of the job, it’s a foregone conclusion that those who are given the chance are capitalizing on those opportunities.

A major part of the productivity you’ll see in your work is due likely in part to the carrier you’re driving for.  While it’s true that some carriers are just busier than others, that’s not exactly what I’m referring to.  Just as each carrier has differences and certain peculiarities that make up their general identity, so too do drivers.  It’s in your best interest, as you’re likely aware, to find the carrier that best suits your needs and wants as a driver.  The carrier that best matches these is more likely to get you everything you’re looking to gain from working in the expediting industry.  

Of course, there’s always the possibility that your needs and wants relating to expediting will change, and along with that, your productivity will likely change, as well.  If that’s something you’re looking to maintain and/or improve upon, it might be a good time to think about changing carriers.  

Another suggestion you might consider taking would be to follow the news--especially that relating to expediting and/or the industries for which you most often handle loads for.  Doing this, beyond just staying on top of the comings and goings of the industry (or industries, for that matter) you’re working in/for, there’s the possibility that you’ll hit upon something that could help you capitalize further on the opportunities that the industry is offering.  Simply depending upon your carrier and its vendors, while undoubtedly helpful and likely profitable, won’t necessarily help you to increase your productivity.  A good place to start--and you know this because you’re already here--is ExpeditersOnline.com.  They publish pertinent news items every day that are likely to help you in your expediting forays--or at least to broaden your horizons a bit.  

Another possibility you might look further into, if you’re not already up on things, is the current available technology relating to trucking.  Of course, there’s no shortage of GPS units available, and the great majority of truckers are using those these days, but there are often firmware and software updates that could possibly improve your life, albeit ever so slightly.  But hey, sometimes it’s the little things that make the biggest differences, right?

Finally, you might consider paying attention to what other drivers are doing.  I understand the potential drive to want to be a trendsetter as opposed to a trend follower, but there are times where it’s probably best to simply do what other drivers are doing.  At a minimum, this is likely the path of least resistance, and if you’re looking for productivity alone, the less “resistance” you have, the better, generally speaking.  You probably have endless avenues to explore how other drivers are staying productive and to gather advice from them, but I’d suggest that you’d perhaps benefit from visiting the EO forums as a start for such a journey.  

In the end, staying productive, especially in an industry like expediting, is the lifeblood of your pocketbook.  As long as you’re getting loads and keeping the wheels moving forward, you’re more or less golden, as productivity goes.  Teaming up with the right carrier for you and maintaining contact with other drivers in the community is vital for staying on top of the movements of the industry.  Of course, you knew that already. 

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