Columbus, Kan.-based owner-operator John Clark describes his 7-Cs Trucking business as one of the many “little guys the government and big companies want to put out of businesss,” he says. His 1995 Kenworth T600 powers the business, running the Midwest, primarily and utilizing load boards (“mainly Internet Truckstop,” Clark says) for freight. He factors through TBS Factoring and has a few direct customers as well.
Clark’s been using the relatively new Rig Expense Tracker software for a variety of purposes. The package, available only since January of this year, bucks the trends I reported on in this month’s issue of Overdrive (the core of the story’s available in two parts here and here on the website as well) of computer programs new and old migrating toward a web-based model. In that model, business information is entered into an online database and stored on remote, secure servers, which Rig Expense Tracker developer Rick Stephens is uneasy with — as are, he says, many owner-operators.
Like legacy programs such as Fog Line’s Truckn Pro 7 and Truckers Helper, Rig Expense Tracker is a standalone program housed only on the owner-operator’s computer, with various backup options available. It’s available to members of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, furthermore, at a 30 percent discount off the $75 basic one-truck purchase price.
“I’m totally pleased with this software and its functionality,” says owner-operator Clark. “I am able to go in to any field and make changes without an Act of Congress, like some trucking software programs out there — where you have to put everything in a specific order.”
Here, he says, you’re able to go in, add partial information, then go back and finish your entry. As you enter your customers you create your own database.”
The fuel database within the program Clark singles out for the user’s ability to “pulls up the fuel stops listed by chain and/or state to choose from.”
And in terms of running and exporting reports, Clark says it’s versatile and easy to understand. “I was able to use this software as soon as I downloaded it, without reading a large manual or going to some training class. For the small cost of this program, I highly recommend it to all owner-operator operations.”
Backing up your local data on the Rig Expense Tracker servers is an option he enjoys as well — he’s learned the importance of data backups the hard way. “I have had a hard drive crash and lost that backup from other software companies, but now that data is safe with Rig Expense Tracker to download when needed. If I do have a question or concern, Rick and his team are only an email or phone call away.”
Clark also singles out the customer invoicing tools — “I can put my load in and also print or email an invoice from the same form, without reentering any additional information.”
Stephens says he’s receptive, too, to new ideas from his owner-operator customers. One he got “straight from an owner-operator’s mouth” at the Joplin, Mo., Petro was creation of a GPS interface with the program to allow near-automatic entry of IFTA mileage from laptop GPS-utilizing programs like Microsoft Streets and Trips.
What’s next for the program? Working on the development language to allow for movement between Mac and Microsoft use: “With the next version of my development language, within it you’ll be able to compile for Mac and Microsoft,” Stephens says. “A lot of things for going from one version to another of different operating systems. Everybody’s got to be on the same page before you can jump to that. I know I’ll be able to do it.”
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