Sharpen your trucking business performance

Updated May 12, 2023

There's help out there for owner-operators looking to more effectively manage business.

Longtime Overdrive contributor and former owner-operator Gary Buchs now works as a one-on-one business coach for scads of owner-operator clients.

In the video above, part of a talk with Eric Harley of Red Eye Radio and ATBS' Mike Hosted at the 2023 Mid-America Trucking Show, Buchs details his work to help those operators overcome obstacles to effective management and analysis of their own trucking performance. 

Buchs noted that, when he works with owner-operators, he's not telling anyone what to do, rather helping guide them toward success by assisting as a kind of accountability partner of sorts, a sounding board for ideas and a reliable check that the work that needs to get done gets done. 

"People ask me, 'Well, how many clients do you have?'" Buchs said. "I focus on quality, not quantity, and they graduate through. I don't want too many. I want to help them move beyond needing what we do, to be self-sustaining, that independent owner that they want to become."

Catch more in the video. The full talk can be heard via Red Eye Radio's "Extra Mile" podcast. Find brief excerpts from the talk in the eight-video playlist below. 

[Related: Take control of your variable cost per mile, fixed costs and more]

Owners looking for additional management tips, among a myriad of other topics, can find more in the Overdrive/ATBS-coproduced "Partners in Business" manual for new and established owner-operators, a comprehensive guide to running a small trucking business. Click here to download the updated 2023 edition of the Partners in Business manual free of charge


Eric Harley: Gary Buchs. You are an owner-operator coach. You're a contributor to Overdrive. Your experience, first of all, give us some background. You were an owner-operator at one time?

Gary Buchs: Yes. I was an owner-operator, leased with Landstar, 17 years, and very proud of the success and the plan, retired as planned, successfully. Transitioned into what I'm doing now because I'd done so much mentoring and it's moved beyond mentoring, as you call it. Just the great humbling opportunity through Overdrive to be asked to contribute to business writing and ideas and simple-to-use practices, behavioral things.

Eric Harley: Yeah. You hit something, and when you said retired as planned. Planning requires that, developing those practices and having the discipline to maintain those practices.

Gary Buchs: It's hard to maintain a plan. It's hard. One of the things we find a lot, and I find this as I get older, we'll say things like, "Well, you need a budget." It's easy to say, "You need to save." It's easy to say, it's hard to practice. How do you develop those practices? What I've found are some tools through working with them through simulation, interactive things. I don't tell people how to run their business. I guide them and I have them do the practices back to me on these apps. There are a lot of people that still struggle. They don't understand how that works. I get on with them and I show them firsthand. I've had people come to me and say, "I bought a bookkeeping program. I don't even know how to use it, and I can't get anybody to teach me." That's what I do is that kind of thing.

Eric Harley: Yeah. Okay. You just hit on something. Those are the things that at times I'll find something, I'll come across it and the ad looks great, and it's like, okay, this is useful in this way, and then I'll get it, and then it'll be delivered to my house, and then I open it out of the box, and then I'm like, "Oh, okay. I'm not sure about this." Now, I know that if I walk through, and my wife will always tell me, "Well, you can start by reading the instructions," but you honestly and seriously, I kind of feel intimidated in putting, implementing that, whatever, if it's a device or a program, whatever it is. That level of intimidation then brings on that procrastination. I'm guessing that's what you're finding with a lot of owner-operators.

Gary Buchs: Exactly. They give up. What you're experiencing is the IKEA effect. There are a number of people who have businesses now that will put together your IKEA purchase, because people try to do it. They don't know how, so they hire someone to put it together. That's very close to what I do. People ask me, "Well, how many clients do you have?" I said, "I focus on quality, not quantity," and they graduate through. I don't want too many. I want to help them move beyond needing what we do. To be self-sustaining. That independent owner that they want to become.

Eric Harley: If they want to reach out to you, Gary, how do they find you?

Gary Buchs:  Maybe the best way is I have a new, little very crude website