Dollars & Sense

Kevin Rutherford

You can be a change agent

| January 14, 2013

Only one of every five owner-operators tracks fuel mileage on every tank. That means most operators aren’t working effectively to reduce their No. 1 expense.

Only one in 10 produces and analyzes a monthly profit-and-loss statement. If you’re not measuring your business, you’re not working to improve it.

Participation in continuing education, such as Overdrive’s Partners in Business program, is one way to improve the efficiency of your operation and develop skills you can pass on to others.

Virtually no owner-operators receive any in-depth continuing business education. I know, because I have one of the few comprehensive programs in the nation, and I train only about 150 owner-operators a year.

So it’s no surprise that many struggling owner-operators, looking for an easy fix, bounce from carrier to carrier, yielding turnover rates that are absolutely embarrassing. Fleets have lease-purchase programs that try to create owner-operators, but most are massive failures.

The public perception of owner-operators is horrible. Partly because of it, groups lobby the federal and state governments to regulate us even further. Honestly, I don’t blame them. Look around. Our industry needs help – and I want you to help me make it better.

The philosophy I have used over the years to help owner-operators improve their businesses and become industry advocates is based on a book by Seth Godin, “Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us.” We need more of the common-interest groups that Godin calls tribes, and I want to help you create and lead your own. This industry is full of great owner-operators who need to step up and become leaders.

One benefit of doing so is that the best way to learn something is to teach it. By instructing owner-operators on how to run a better business, I’ve learned much more for my own business. You, too, will see ways to grow and expand your business and your influence among your peers.

There are opportunities not only in terms of business but safety, compliance, efficiency and time management. You can start now with the carrier you are leased to or the owner-operators you spend time with. Here are some ways:

**Start a mentoring program for new owner-operators with your carrier. Offer to be the first mentor, then find other business-minded owner-operators there and get them involved.
**Create and deliver training seminars within your carrier.
**Start a blog around one specific area, and become the expert on that issue.
**Write articles for your carrier’s newsletter or other correspondence.
**Get involved with your state’s trucking association.

The opportunities for engagement are endless. Be creative.

If you are intrigued by author Seth Godin’s ideas, e-mail me at, and I’ll explain how I would like to start a program to create leaders in our industry.



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