Learning for the long haul

| July 06, 2007

CABS covers the essential aspects of running an owner-operator business in detail, from accounting principles and choice of business structure to how to create and analyze a budget and a profit-and-loss statement to various tax, fuel, maintenance, time management, driver/carrier relationship and health/safety issues. The 12 seminars come on CDs with accompanying workbooks, and timeframes are suggested for each section – with a total 24 weeks, or six months, allowed for completion of the course. On average, says Bruskotter, drivers and owner-operators finish in four to five months, adding that ATBS’s instructors are available to “help keep people motivated and on schedule when it looks like they’re slowing down.” A final test is administered online.

Roehl Transport leased owner-operator Tony Martin, of Newnan, Ga., has just finished lesson six. He’s been in the industry since 2001, four of those years as a company driver, and he calls CABS the “only format of information I’ve seen that explains the trucking industry and how the money is made, and where it comes from. That information is not in any book,” he says.

CABS has also reinforced valuable knowledge Martin picked up while operations manager for the Charlotte, N.C.-based office-furniture contractor the Facility Group. “Most people have this ideology that you win with big windfalls, but in real business that’s not how you make your money. The truth is you make your money one nickel at a time.”

CABS has shown him that in trucking, it’s not just how much you’re making per-mile or how many miles you run but how many you run “efficiently. The better educated truck drivers are more likely to run a leaner portfolio in their business, and they’ll be more profitable. They know what their mistakes are.”

The course is available for $500 to drivers and owner-operators, though your carrier may offer financing or special programs. And it’s not just for drivers. Since its introduction, CABS has seen expansion, Bruskotter says, in fleet personnel’s participation. Just as it helps owner-operators and drivers “understand their relationship to their carriers,” Bruskotter says, it helps as a “training tool for fleet employees – recruiters, dispatchers, retention personnel, fleet managers” and others to understand their drivers’ business.

ATBS also partners with Overdrive magazine to create the Partners in Business manual, which Bruskotter says is comparable to CABS but covers “a lot more stuff in less detail.” It helps veteran, new and aspiring owner-operators understand specific aspects of the business, offering numerous tips on how to understand costs, manage money, learn where fuel is the least costly and evaluate the virtues of buying vs. leasing a truck and various insurance options, among many other essentials. Its 26 chapters are available in a single volume for $14.95 or free at the Partners in Business seminar at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas in August or Louisville’s Mid-America Trucking Show in March.
- Todd Dills


Partners in Business

Is Distance Learning Right for You?
Before enrolling in your first online or correspondence class, ask yourself these questions to determine whether you would respond well to learning without face-to-face contact.

Are you good at working independently? Distance education lets you do your class work when it’s most convenient for you, but you must be able to handle the responsibility of pacing yourself without the structure of regular classes. “If you get behind, it’s hard to catch up,” says former trucker and online student Richard Patterson.

Can you commit time each day or week to your course(s)? Distance-learning courses often require as much time and commitment as face-to-face courses. Depending on your course load, expect to study 10-15 hours per week.

Do you enjoy reading and expressing your ideas in writing? In online courses, nearly all communication is written. If you feel that you are weak in this area, try to brush up on your writing skills and find out how much writing is required for the course before enrolling. Typing skills also can be important in an online course.

Will you miss the experience of sitting in a classroom? While the level of interaction can be very high in online courses, some online students miss having the opportunity to see and listen to their instructor and classmates.

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