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Setting Goals for a Successful 2018

By Sean M. Lyden - Staff Writer
Posted Dec 26th 2017 9:27AM

As we enter the new year, this is the time many of us spend reflecting on the past 12 months, thinking about lessons learned, things we can improve, and new goals we’d like to accomplish moving forward.

But when it comes to goal-setting, there’s not a one-size-fits-all way of doing it--especially in the expedited trucking business. At least, that’s what I have learned by speaking with veteran expediters Linda and Bob Caffee, Heather and Jason Hutchens, and Greg Huggins.

How do they go about goal-setting? What types of goals do they set? And what advice do they have to give to other expediters?

Outcome vs. Process Goals
Before we dive in, it’s important to make a distinction between outcome and process goals. An “outcome goal” is something like, “I want to earn X dollars of revenue or profit over the next 12 months.” A “process goal” refers to a specific action that, if you follow through on doing it, you can be confident that it will contribute to your overall success.

In other words, if you fulfill your process goals, your outcome goals--the results--will usually take care of themselves.

And process goals are what the Caffees focus on most with their goal-setting.

“If you set a revenue [outcome] goal, you know that you have to run this many paid miles to hit that number. And often that’s not realistic,” says Bob.

Linda agrees. “We don’t really look at revenue goals because the market changes too quickly. Instead we look at: If you have extra money [after expenses], what are you going to do with it? Build another truck? Add something to the current truck? Put it in your retirement? Sometimes there's a lot of extra money, and sometimes there's not. For us, that ‘extra’ is really where our ‘goals’ go.”

The idea here is that this process goal--deciding what to do with extra money earned--is an action you can control, versus something that depends on market forces that you can’t influence.

Linda says that when they do set outcome goals that relate to revenue, they focus on the minimums they need to earn--first, to survive, and then, to build for retirement.

“We have two break-even goals,” says Linda. “We have what we need to earn to cover our bills and then what we want to put back into our savings. Our optimal goal is to be able to put money away, but we also have to know what our minimum goal is to survive.”

Why is that minimum number so important for expediters to focus on? “There are drivers who say they need two dollars on all miles to take a load,” says Linda. “But, really, in their business, they probably could survive with a dollar per mile and keep themselves moving. You really need to know your minimum break-even number because that day pay adds up quick.”

Controlling Expenses
A direct contributor to your break-even number is your expenses. And that’s one area that Heather and Jason Hutchens focus on when they do their goal-setting: Where can they cut costs and improve their spending decisions?

Again, this is an example of a process goal--where they have control over whether or not they follow through.

“We’ll look at what we did this past year and see where we can cut back on expenses. We’ll say, ‘Okay. This is what we spent this year; let's try to cut that back or be more mindful of what we're spending to make us more profitable,’” says Heather.

And that annual review process appears to be working. “Heather will look at our profits for the year and notice that we spent $3,000 on cameras last year and ask, ‘Do we really need all these cameras? Let's try not to buy more cameras this year.’ I'm like, ‘Okay. Yeah. I probably shouldn't have bought $3,000 worth of cameras,’" Jason quips.

Being Flexible
For Greg Huggins, a solo owner-operator, goal-setting is not a once-a-year practice but something he does on an ongoing basis.

“At the end of the year, many people want to make resolutions and set big goals for the next year, but my goals tend to change or evolve throughout the year,” says Huggins. “I know a lot of people who set really hard goals but often don't reach them. I think that if you're going to set hard goals like that, you should also set the steps in between so that it's an easy transition to modify that goal if need be.”

Why?

“Because, especially nowadays, things move fast, and they're out of your control. Your goal may not be anything what you want it to be in six months,” says Huggins.

What About You?
How do you go about setting your goals? What type of goals do you set? In what ways would achieving those goals impact your business and family?

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