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Why reinvent the wheel when you can capitalize on others’ knowledge and experience? You’ll find a wealth of information for improving your business at association meetings, through peer networking, by reading publications such as Commercial Carrier Journal and by attending continuing education programs like Commercial Carrier University, co-sponsored by Bridgestone/Firestone.

CCU, a partnership between Randall Publishing and the Truckload Academy of the Truckload Carriers Association, offers continuing education for senior and mid-level managers. The studies are presented in a series of workbooks that address topics such as: how to use financial statements, how to write a business plan, how to evaluate life-cycle costs, how to manage cash flow and how to recruit and retain drivers. Courses held at industry events relay valuable insights from trucking experts.

Getting such information is easy; incorporating the philosophy of continuing education into the strategic mission of your company is more difficult.

Harry Norris, president and owner of Howell’s Motor Freight in Roanoke, Va., says he’s passionate about using industry information like CCU to help him gather the knowledge he needs to stay competitive. Part of that commitment included learning how to crunch numbers on every aspect of his 200-truck fleet. “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it,” he says. Norris used CCU’s cash flow module to scrutinize his operation and trim expenses. “It’s all a numbers game. You’ve got to get the numbers, but then you have to analyze what they mean in the overall scheme of the operation.” Norris feels he has to set the tone for his company. “Knowledge gives you power,” he says. “Successful fleet owners are the ones that are the most educated and that continue the pursuit of knowledge.”

Norris recently implemented strategies he learned at a benchmarking seminar. “Sometimes we don’t do as well in one area of the company as we should, but how would you know that without benchmarking?” he says.

Norris passes his commitment to continuing education down the chain of command. All of his managers are responsible for raising the bar within their groups. “It flows all the way down to the drivers who need to be constantly trained and made aware of cost-cutting, maintenance and safety issues and regulations.” The bottom line for Norris is to always remain open to new ideas. “If you attend a seminar or read an article about something you don’t know anything about, it can start you thinking about it. And that’s a good thing,” he says.

For more information about the CCU Management series, call or e-mail me.