Software solutions

| December 12, 2008

By the mid-1990s, he was out of trucking and into selling Easy Trucking. Due in March, the latest version of Easy Trucking includes expanded bookkeeping options, Internet links to maps and shippers and easier-to-use options.

LoadLedger is another popular program designed for owner-operators. Karen Rudolph created the software in 2000 after growing tired of options that did not help her then-husband figure vital stats such as fuel tax, state miles and tolls. The program now has an integrated accounting system for income and expenses, and it’s compatible with Quicken and QuickBooks. LoadLedger is now marketed by Smart Trucking Solutions.

Truckers Helper also hatched from an owner-operator team, according to the company’s website. The software now includes billing, load management and tracking, dispatch, brokering, accounting, safety compliance, maintenance and fuel-tax tracking. Different versions are available for company drivers, owner-operators and small fleets.

Of course, software isn’t for everyone. Joyce Roberts, who hauled for 18 years as an owner-operator before retiring last year, never used a computer to track her operation. “I kept track the same as I always did – paper and pencil,” the Tell City, Ind., resident says, adding that computers can be infuriating.

For those like Roberts, who are easily frustrated by computers, several software vendors’ websites offer customer support, such as through frequently asked questions or e-mail links. Sometimes help lines go directly to computerized answering machines, but not always. Limberg, for example, prides himself on personally helping drivers over the phone with Easy Trucking.

But if you’re one of the many owner-operators already comfortable with computers, you probably will find the biggest challenge is collecting and entering the data.


A HARD LOOK AT SOFTWARE
Denver-based American Truck Business Services suggests the following considerations before purchasing software that promises improvements to your business:

  • Determine how much time it will save.

  • Determine how the software will reduce operating costs.
  • Determine how long you must use the software before it pays for itself.
  • Make sure your computer specs are adequate to run the program.
  • Try a demo of the product.

OWNER-OPERATOR PROGRAMS
Some business software is aimed at one-truck owner-operators. Here are some of the best known products.

ALK Technologies
(800) 377-6453
www.alk.com
Voice-activated routing, GPS, fuel/road taxes, fleet tracking and optimization, all with PC*Miler brand name

Applied Arts
(859) 225-1572
www.a2soft.com
Operations consulting, software including Truckin Buddy and Fuel Tax Buddy

Consultran
(651) 482-1124
www.consultran.com
Regulatory compliance, online fuel and mile tax services

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