Christmas cheer for contractors

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Chip Magner is publisher of Commercial Carrier Journal. E-mail [email protected].

If you want to really give your owner-operators something special for Christmas this year, Kevin Rutherford of Orlando, Fla.-based The Alliance says give them the “big hug.”

He’s talking about making the owner-operator one of your most valuable assets and wrapping your arms around him to help him become successful. Instead of tossing an owner-operator a turkey or chipping in fifty or a hundred extra bucks to his settlement, consider investing in his business knowledge, and you’ll end up with an even more valuable asset than before.

Owner-operators go into the business fully intending to make a profit. However, due to unforeseen events like increased fuel prices, maintenance issues, personal problems like illnesses or divorce, their business fails, and they lose their truck. When that happens, you lose too. It’s in everyone’s best interests for your owner-operator to run profitably and present a professional image to your customers. The “big hug” philosophy includes not only attracting the best owner-operators but also giving them the resources to succeed. Some ideas fleet owners are using to help make their owner-operators profitable:

  • Hiring a financial planner to individually work with your owner-operators. An organization like The Alliance will help an owner-operator plan everything from how to finance his truck to how to manage his cash flow.
  • Setting up an escrow account for emergency funds. Setting aside a rainy day fund forces the owner-operator to plan for contingencies. He can draw from the fund instead of borrowing money from you.
  • Pooling resources for the best insurance rates. You can leverage your buying power by pooling owner-operators for group insurance discounts.
  • Providing fuel cards. Group discounts on fuel and lodging expenses can add up to individual savings for your owner-operator.
  • Offering safety incentives. Cash and recognition safety incentives keep accident rates low along with having an impact on fuel economy due to reduced speeds. Safety incentives also help determine insurance rates.

Increasing your owner-operators’ business savvy pays off and helps keep your costs down. It’s been estimated that it costs between $8,500 and $10,000 to replace an owner-operator.

Spending a fraction of that on helping keep the good ones you have is truly the gift that keeps on giving – to you and your owner-operators.

Happy Holidays to you from all of us at Commercial Carrier Journal.