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Rules for Success

7 Rules for Success from Top Expedite Fleet Owners

By Sean M. Lyden - Staff Writer
Posted Mar 11th 2019 9:00AM

In the past year on EO, we’ve interviewed several fleet owners who shared their stories and offered their keys to success.

So, what were the best pieces of advice for current and aspiring fleet owners?

Here are the top 7 tips.

#1. Know what you’re getting into.
Do your homework. Do you have what it takes financially to make it in the fleet business?

“You've got to really understand what you're getting into,” says Dave Corfman. “When somebody fails as a fleet owner, you can trace it right back to capital. It takes a lot of capital to make this business float and work right. If you understand that, you'll be fine.”  (Read More)

#2. Don’t make promises you can’t keep.
If you want to keep good drivers, be someone they can trust.

“We don't promise our drivers anything as far as a certain number of miles or how much they’re going to make or anything like that,” says Tom and Tina Evans. “The only thing we do promise them is that we guarantee you that we will pay you every Friday, and it will be right, and it will be on time. That's something that we have always prided ourselves on. Their pay is always there when we say it's going to be there—and they can depend on that.”  (Read More)

#3. Listen to drivers.
“We continuously listen to our drivers and solicit feedback from them,” says Rob Ahlers.

What’s an example?

"We just updated our bonus program. And the feedback we were getting from the drivers was, ‘I lost my bonus for this month because the truck was down for four days and I didn't make it.' Or whatever the situation," says Ahlers. "So we looked at monthly goals and combined them into quarterly goals. That's because you can recover from a week or two down within a quarterly time frame, but you really can't recover from any downtime during a month. So, it's little things like that which can make a big difference."  (Read More)

#4. Prepare for the slow times.
This tip is especially relevant in early 2019 as the expedite industry is experiencing a slowdown.

“My biggest piece of advice: Be sure to build your rainy day account,” says Brian Bishop. “Always have plenty of reserves set aside because it’s not a matter of if but when the slow times come. And if those slow times don't come quickly, then you've put yourself in a strong position to where you have extra funds on hand to invest in growing your fleet.”  (Read More)

#5. Provide exceptional service to ALL customers.
Patrick Lee says that, as a fleet owner, you have two types of customers—your carrier and your drivers.

“You have to serve both of them,” says Lee. “I think that's crucial. A lot of stuff I hear in the industry is that carriers complain about their fleet owners, that they’re difficult to work with. I think that happens when the fleet owner forgets that they’re providing a service to the carrier, not the other way around. And then you have to always remember that your drivers are the backbone of your company and should be treated that way—with respect. You have to pay them on time and not take them for granted,” says Lee.  (Read More)

#6. Protect yourself.
“You have to protect yourself, which I didn’t do when I first started,” says David Mayfield. “I did everything as a sole proprietor, and I ended up getting sued. That’s why I recommend everyone in the business should get incorporated or become a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC). That's a big thing.”  (Read More)

#8. Never stop learning.
The industry is constantly changing—new regulations, new technologies, new market trends. How do you keep up so you don't get blindsided?

Become a student of the industry.

“You need to know the industry, whether it's in vans or straight trucks or tractors. You need to learn the how’s, what’s, why’s, and the pros and cons,” says Eric Escobar. “Then once you start learning, grab hold of a shirt from a fleet owner who has time to mentor you. And always ask questions—about the industry, about a contract, about whatever—until you get the answers you need. There's an answer to every question.”  (Read More)


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