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Unplanned Downtime

Avoiding Unplanned Downtime (That Could Take Down Your Business)

By Sean M. Lyden - Staff Writer
Posted Mar 6th 2017 9:00AM

A few years ago, Bob and Linda Caffee were about to arrive at the shipper in downtown San Diego to pick up a load of explosives at 2:00am when a speeding car careened around the corner and smashed into the rear of the Caffee's truck.

"The police were very thankful the explosives weren't already loaded on the truck," Linda quips.

But the impact still caused $27,000 of damage to the truck--and two-months of downtime for the Caffees. During that time, they drove for Expediter Services to continue earning income.

The lesson learned: Get downtime insurance.

"When we bought our insurance we didn't get the downtime insurance because we didn't figure we would ever need it," says Linda. "It's easy to think, 'It could never happen to me.' But, sure enough, it did. And had we had that, we wouldn't have had to go drive for somebody else while our truck was getting worked on. But not having that downtime insurance really turned on some light bulbs for us when we got our new insurance."

In this instance, there was nothing the Caffees could have done to prevent the collision--and the two-month downtime. It was completely out of their control. But there are things you can do in terms of taking care of your truck, your health and your business to improve your odds of avoiding unplanned downtime. Here are four best practices that the Caffees follow to keep their truck--and their business--up and running.

#1. Use "home time" for preventive maintenance.
"When you are home, take the truck to the shop and have it looked over," says Bob. "Know the manufacturer recommended maintenance procedures. Get the filters and fluids changed like they're supposed to be and stay on top of that stuff. I change the fan belts every year whether they need it or not just because I'd rather not have them break because I forgot to change them. That can definitely leave you sitting on the side of the road and potentially lead to even greater damage."

Says Linda, "If we're going to be home more than a couple days, that's when the truck will go to the shop to have something looked at, changed or fixed."

#2. Regularly inspect the truck.
"Sometimes Bob gets teased for how much time he spends polishing and shining and bettering our tires. But what they don't realize is that, when he is doing all those things, he's also inspecting the undercarriage of our truck. He's down there on his little chair, rolling around along the side of the truck, really looking at stuff closely to make sure there's nothing wearing or cracking or anything like that. And that, to me, is really important. So while they harass him for it, that polishing actually does save us money in the long run," says Linda.

#3. Be proactive with your health and medical priorities.
"I have two crowns that I've got to have fixed, so I know I'm going to be down for at least a week," says Linda. "These types of appointments and procedures need to be planned out carefully to minimize the impact on our business."

#4. Plan ahead for renewals of licenses and credentials.
"Stay on top of when your medical card is going to expire or when your driver's license is going to expire and plan ahead to use home time to get those things taken care of. Otherwise, if you don't pay attention to when your driver's license, medical card, or all the tags on the truck are expiring, that can be a lot of down time. At that point, you won't have a choice. You'll have to head home to get that taken care of. You won't be able to haul loads," says Linda.

The Bottom Line
As Benjamin Franklin once said, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." It's much easier and cheaper to take care of potential issues before they become full-blown problems that put your truck--and your business--out of commission.

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