You like fries with that?

Freedom of choice is one of the great things about capitalism. Its downside is there can be too much of a good thing.

Sheena Iyengar, a Columbia University professor, made this point in a recent Money magazine interview. In one of her best-known experiments, customers in a store sampled 24 flavors of jam, while others sampled six flavors. More customers liked the big assortment, but only 3 percent bought anything. Of those sampling the smaller group, 30 percent bought.

In other words, too much choice can paralyze. It’s not that big a deal when you’re shopping for jam, but when you’re shopping for a business partner, a lot’s at stake.

Driver demand is higher than it’s been in more than two years. For leased owner-operators, it could be a good time to get updated on compensation packages and other lease terms, especially if you’ve been with the same carrier for more than a few years.

If you try to examine every recruiting solicitation in trucking magazines and on the Internet, not to mention word of mouth from fellow drivers, it will overwhelm you. One bad outcome of that is the inability to choose.

When you’re shopping for a business partner, a lot’s at stake.

The other extreme is rash decision-making. Do you jump to the fleet offering a handsome sign-on bonus? Or one with the highest pay per mile? The most sincere promise of home time? The best fuel surcharge? One that specializes in hauls to a certain region?

Of course, there is no simple answer. Nor is there one answer that suits everyone. It would be lazy to let one factor dictate this kind of decision, but one factor can be a good way to begin screening potential carriers, moving from broad categories to smaller ones, narrowing choices as you go. Kevin Rutherford explains how to do that in this month’s Dollars & Sense, Page 18, about finding your ideal job.

He’ll conclude the process in September, but in the meantime you can learn more about finalizing a lease to a carrier by listening to our “Evaluating Prospective Carriers” webinar. It will feature Richard DeForest, vice president of fleet sales with ATBS, the financial services provider that co-produces our Partners in Business program. Visit TruckerWebinars.com to register for the free event, Aug. 19.

Partner Insights
Information to advance your business from industry suppliers
The ALL NEW Rand Tablet
Presented by Rand McNally

Yes, the methodical approaches DeForest and Rutherford advocate can get tedious. Likely the last thing you want to do in your time off is raise your blood pressure while coaxing key information from strangers via phone and computer. It’s easier to talk to drivers, gather bits and pieces as you go, hurry to catch that next load, and think some more about where to lease.

“We like keeping our options open,” Iyengar says. “The important thing is to realize there are costs to doing that.”

In the case of your career, the biggest cost could be opportunities you’ll never know you missed.