Waa, waa, waa, waa, waa…

The day that old morning sun rises in the west
And they pass a law in L.A. banning artificial breasts
When cars can run on water, gasoline and oil ain’t worth jack
Right then, that’s when
I’ll take you back

It’s like music
To hear you bawling
Waa, waa, waa, waa, waa

Brad Paisley

Ok, I’ll admit it.  I’m a complete friggin’ idiot.  I should have bought Kleenex stock 2 years ago (along with, Viagra, Cialis, Cymbalta, and oceanic spill containment systems); and the entire fleet of Tiger Woods “How I Play Golf” DVD’s.  Whoda’ thunk it.  Hmm.  I should call Bret Michaels and see what he would do.

I’m ticked off.  (Big Surprise)

They’re seems (is) to be quite a bit of whining and crying going on today.  I finally figured out why they call it “Baby Boomers”.

One “could” assume that tears are absolutely and relentlessly gushing due to lost revenue, stricter government control, mandates, operating costs, lack of qualified drivers, insurance costs, Hours of Service, EPA regulations, EOBR’s….”I got rid of my Safety Director because I thought I could handle it myself, my daughter is pregnant and my kid needs braces” syndrome…it’s a disease and everyone is looking for a magic pill.  Thank You Viagra!!!

The reality is, the majority (80%) aren’t crying anymore over their businesses suffering from their own inequities AND laziness.  They’ve experienced their own “epiphany”, where it’s “just OK” that their business sucks, because, well, it sucks for a lot of other people…so it’s just OK (Social Proof is an amazing concept).  What are they crying about?  The Biggest Loser.  The Next American Idol Winner.  The Final Episode of Lost.  Crying for The Next Survivor???   I’m lost.

Not much else to say.  A mentor of mine once told me “the only difference Johnny, between wealthy successful business owners and those struggling is the size of their TV’s.  Successful people build libraries, while the majority buy the biggest and latest TV’s.”  Take a look around you.  It might be time to find new friends.  Don’t worry.  You’ll be ok.  Trust me.

I will say this.  That, pretty much, any person, young or old, male or female (whether she’s been with Tiger Woods or not); pretty much gets in life whatever he or she (or You), accepts.  If you run a trucking company today, and it sucks.  And you’re whining about it.  *sit down* It’s your own damn fault.  Get over it, or move the hell out of the way.  You can stand still today and “wait for things to happen”.  Surprisingly, there’s no regulation against it.  You “could” also, maybe, possibly…DO s.o.m.e.t.h.i.n.g.

Those defying the path of the majority, are (have been) reaping the rewards of “pack separation” and true, gritty, balls-to-the-wall entrepreneurism.  Kick Ass and Take Names (for some this is genetic). They (and I) discourage acceptance by the majority, anything less than “crushing the competition”, and of course the almighty “Victim Status” (also available in serum bottles in Stores Everywhere).

Unstoppable companies are surrounded by an “insiders circle” of ruthless and status-defying individuals that truly “get it”.  Everyone “get’s it”.  It’s about the Mindset (yep, that’s some deep stuff).  Not the company.  Not titles.  Not even management (most Board Rooms are the cause for failure).  They accept nothing sloppy.  Demand the best from everyone.  Do things fast and do them right.  Did I say Fast?

Ignorance is disappointing.  The Biggest, Baddest, Ugliest problems a business faces today, are indeed, the easiest to fix.  Their completely obvious, which is why most business owners “can’t finger em’ out”.  It only takes 1 person (that “gets it”) to decide if it’s OK to fix them.

But WAIT!  Before you run off to shut off Oprah, and apologize to yourself, remember this.  The people in the trucking industry today, that are truly “crushing it” while still enjoying life, on their own terms…are you ready for this?  It’s a Secret, so don’t tell anyone.

They actually W.O.R.K.  They literally do something that is called “rolling up their sleeves”.  Seriously, you should try it.  It’s actually pretty fun.

It takes sweat equity today.  There is no Easy Money.  Opportunities are plentiful.  The field has been leveled.  Market differentiation is a golden nugget.  CSA 2010 is nothing less than a BIG ASS, Wide Open opportunity to exploit your Strengths.  If you have any…

What Are You Waiting For, Really?

The Positive Touch (Shove, if necessary)

Are you waiting for something to happen? As hesitant as I am in asking that question, I believe it’s true, in a lot of cases. We’re people, we MAKE things happen, and some aren’t waiting. Regardless of whether this is the “new economy” or that it might come back (to something) we have to continue to make things happen, and in fact, accelerate. Today would be the best time to do it. But you probably can’t do it alone. You need good, honest, thinking people.

The Point? Go for the objective – push everything else out of the way…
If you have a very tight group of people, all of whom know the objective and all work together to reach that objective, you are probably very successful. They must be relentless in their efforts to search out the necessary knowledge. Then, and only then, will those efforts pay off. There’s no room for ignorance; everyone must understand the process and the job at hand. There are so many people who don’t grasp what is really going on, when it comes to getting things done – and done right. What we attempt to accomplish can get mired down with ignorance to the point that the majority not only makes erratic decisions, but goes down the wrong road completely; in the opposite direction! It’s true! It’s asinine! And it wastes precious time. In this type of situation, ignorance triumphs over intelligence. Entirely unqualified opinion is accepted on equal footing with knowledge. This can occur in large or small groups. It depends upon the people in those groups and the leadership (power is best left in the hands of those who don’t need or want it). The right people insist on getting the right information. Anything less is disinterest or laziness in getting the right information necessary to make knowledgeable decisions. And that’s pathetic. Such an organization needs a transfusion, new leadership and a lot more knowledge.

Making something happen…
Many years ago, we formed a small group of experienced industry people for the purpose of developing a cost effective platform for the training, education and elevation of truck drivers. Why elevation? Personal success; which is recognized because of the effort necessary to attain higher learning, and, vast improvement due to the acquired knowledge. This, along with practical application, continuing education and elevation translates to retention; in fact, it retains the best, most qualified drivers and other employees. The initial plan was to include entry-level training, practical application (OJT), continuing education and eventual specialized training in one of many other facets of the business. This endeavor was successful only in the earliest stage because it eventually got “mired down”. However, I used as much of the original content as I could get approved in our own operation. The result was a very strong sense of pride and accomplishment, throughout the organization. The payoff was enormous including dramatically increased retention, huge cost savings, reduced losses of all types and the list goes on. Long story short, we enjoyed a LOT of success. In this business, today’s industry answer is CSA2010 – that’s enforcement. I’m not saying I’m opposed, if that’s the only way to overcome some of the ignorance. I’m talking about going well beyond these basics. True in any business.
Retention – Keep your good insureds or customers…
I recently changed insurance agents, because I haven’t seen or heard from them in many years. I don’t even remember what they look like. Not that they did anything wrong, they just didn’t do anything. When I had a question, I called them and they usually gave me a plausible answer. I said “usually” because, occasionally, my questions were answered with “I think” and were never taken further, to positive (and correct) answers. I didn’t change for cheaper rates, and I didn’t get any. We’re people and we’re still the same as we’ve always been. Yes, through technology, we now have more tools than ever, but new, faster computers, software, e-mails and the like simply do not take the place of getting things done. But they can assist you. And customer service? What do think about that subject? Don’t look to the tech producers for that! And many others are guilty of poor customer service too. What an opportunity for those who strive to do their best! I do use new technology, a lot. I use anything that will assist me in achieving my objective. Customer service has always been the focus. But it does take constant change to continually reach that goal. We need to stay abreast of everything, including our customers’ customers and be standing there, ready, when the forgone conclusion comes to light. And that changes. To win, you have to look well beyond your competitors. Your customers are looking for something.

Deliver it.

http://www.professionalsafetyconsulting.com/memberships

Heads In The Sands of Time

Heads in the Sands of Time………Fence-riders and bullet dodgers don’t make money

There are good reasons why some companies are able to implement profitable programs, whether they are related to customer service, sales and marketing, safety, operations, maintenance or any other facet affecting the profit margin. Likewise, there are reasons why some companies’ programs fail. A program could be designed incorrectly or it doesn’t quite fit the purpose. But, most often, the problem is that there is a lack of sufficient support, a program integrity problem or improper administration. Regardless of its purpose, carrying out the program to a successful result requires the same steps and support. If administered correctly, and supported by everyone, it can be a money-maker.

“ACTIVE” vs. “PASSIVE” support (and why you need to know this)

Non-support of a program can, and usually does cause failure, regardless of whether it’s inadvertent or purposeful. There are many subtle ways that programs have been sabotaged. Some people might think it’s harmless to make a seemingly subtle, yet negative statement or gesture about the program. Facial expressions and any number of other “subtle” references or indications that a program is frivolous or foolish, can sabotage a program. We’ve all seen it, heard it and we fully understand it; a wince, a sneer, a scoffing snicker at the most opportune time. Despite the attempt to be “subtle”, these reflections on a program can do much harm, particularly if directed at anyone who doesn’t understand the entire program and its merits and is unwilling to speak up in support, when this occurs.

Some people use these techniques if they are attempting to “dodge any bullets”- escape any blame, if the program goes awry. That’s because they know how and they practice it: they never say or do anything except just enough to get by. You know them. They will criticize an idea but seldom, if ever, offer an alternative. Ultimately, if allowed to continue, these people will negatively affect a company’s bottom line profit. And it doesn’t matter what their job is within the company.

Adopt an “Active Support” policy

If someone in the company appears to be “riding the fence”, this person is not yet “actively” supporting the program, is not effective in his/her job and is affecting everyone else. This “fence rider” must become effective in his or her job function, as soon as possible, and should be assisted through training. If this doesn’t happen immediately, your efforts will be sabotaged. Never mind whether it’s inadvertent- the result is exactly the same-sabotage.

How do you get support?

First, involve people from each department in the initial development of the program. Next, distribute the draft to those people who will be involved or affected by the program. Invite comments, so that everyone has the opportunity to offer suggestions for changes, additions, etc. This has a two-fold purpose: 1), you get the benefit of additional ideas for the program and; 2) those involved in this process will likely support it. Then, management must impart the following to everyone within the company;

ACTIVE support, and nothing else, is acceptable. This is not to say that everyone needs to be an active participant in the administration of the program but rather to actively show support anytime a topic concerning the program is discussed or surfaces in any conversation or other reference to the program. Passive support, “riding the fence”, active non-support or anything else is identifiable and will not be tolerated. In order to effectively and actively support the program, you must fully understand it. (Consider creating a short “training” program, expanding upon the information above)

Program Integrity

Whether its purpose is to show your appreciation, to assist your customer service efforts or an operational program for improvement, a solid program must be conducted with the utmost integrity and be fully supported. For example, regarding your safety award program, if you judge an accident as “non-preventable” when most drivers know it’s really probably “preventable”, your program integrity will be severely compromised. (Follow the rules!) The same holds true for a customer service program, customer relationships, maintenance or any other program.

Incidentally, remember the old adage “birds of a feather flock together”. People who like to “do things right” want to be associated with others who share that integrity. Managers get respect from these fantastic employees by making certain that they are the only ones welcome to join the group and share in the company’s successes. That’s because these people know they are making a significant contribution and that they are instrumental in the company’s success. Recognize these people, sincerely, and assist them at every opportunity. That is a vital part of the “integrity” of a program. Don’t wait until an employee or driver “appreciation day” arrives. This should be an everyday thing.

Proper Administration

First: Owners and GM’s: Implement only those programs that; you fully believe in and you will actively support (including involvement), and, those that contain no inequities.

Supervisors, dispatchers and everyone else in the company: you must support all company programs, or those programs are doomed to failure, which will affect your own jobs, in some way.

A failed program can cast doubt on other facets of the operation, which can be very expensive in ways that are difficult to track. On the other hand, failing to implement necessary programs can be far more expensive. Well structured programs are relatively inexpensive and typically pay off liberally.

If you are the Safety Director, Operations Manager or anyone else responsible for developing a program, you need full support from top management on down. Without it, your program probably doesn’t have a chance at success. If you are charged with the responsibility for carrying out any program, first make sure everyone will actively, not passively, support it. And remember, there can be NO “fence riders”-they’re either part of the cure or they are part of the problem.

Success today does NOT need to be viewed as overly difficult work. But your efforts must be directed toward those endeavors that are purposeful, fair, equitable and profitable. A company will be judged upon those attributes, by its customers and its employees, and will obviously reap the associated benefits.

CSA 2010 – Proven Experience vs. “techno-geek”

Despite the fact that computer software and computers themselves are still not particularly “user friendly” and have WAY too many “glitches”, they have been a tremendous help to our businesses. However, we have to spend so much time (and money for assistance) in the programs themselves that we have far less time to work on our businesses. The “gurus” know how to make computers and software work, at least to their advantage. Case in point: There are many “computer geeks” out there who have developed upscale websites and computer programs (with aggressive marketing) who try to sell these programs to our industry while claiming to be “experts” in trucking and transportation in general. Example: Do you really need another method, such as a “report card” or other means to find out where you might be placed in your “safety performance” with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration? You already have that information, FREE! Do you really need more information that is also free, regarding CSA2010? You can pay big bucks to buy the information from several vendors. Ours is free.

What Everyone Needs To Know Is This: How do I actually IMPROVE my company’s Safety Performance. CSA2010 is all about the FMCSA’s method to track motor carriers’ Safety Performance and to intervene when a carrier’s performance shows a score high on the percentile chart. Carriers will have no trouble knowing where they are in the percentile rankings but where’s the help? The intervention process will require a “cooperative safety plan”, only AFTER a carrier is shown to be deficient in its safety performance in a given BASIC.

A company’s safety performance (and a driver’s performance) will be available to you, your insurance company, your customers, etc., with permission, but this information alone will not be of any assistance, rather it is just to inform you, or your insurance company (or anyone else, such as a paying customer) that you need to DO SOMETHING to improve your safety performance.
The Question Is This: what are you doing and what are you going to do?

Here the starting point, and we have lot more. Carriers must get everyone in their respective companies involved. This is not just about Safety Directors and Drivers. Top management, dispatchers and everyone else in the company must fully understand that their job tasks directly affect the company’s total “Safety Performance”, which will also affect the company’s marketability and ultimately affect its bottom line profit.

We have found that many insurers are willing to help the motor carriers they insure, but are wisely not interested in providing additional products or services that are redundant or have little or no affect on actual performance and profitability of the company they insure. That’s another reason why we built, and constantly add to, our own website. We show our members “how” to get those necessary things done.

Don’t wait until the CSA2010 implementation dates roll around because the data is already being collected. We are the REAL experts and we have been here, assisting motor carriers and their insurance companies for just about 25 years. And we don’t charge exorbitant rates for our services. We will continue to give you lots of good information, FREE and additional information and services at a fair price.

CSA 2010 “Death Sentence or Pot of Gold?”

Throw out everything you’re hearing from the self appointed professional speculators because that’s exactly what’s flooded our media channels and inboxes. Speculation. Assumption. Opinion. FACT: Whether you like, love it, hate it, don’t understand it, don’t want to understand it or plan on putting your head in the sand, CSA 2010 is here; in a BIG way. In a Good Way.

Before: What You Don’t Know, You Don’t Know.
NOW: What You Don’t Know, Will Hurt You and May Kill Your Business.
One thing hasn’t changed. You are still responsible and held accountable for your company. Has this ever been a bad thing? Do we really need reminded?
There are (2) types of business owners, those “reactive” and those “pro-active”.
The businesses clutching desperately onto what they have left, waiting to see “how this thing fairs out”, are already dead. They just don’t realize it, yet.  There’s “speculation” on horrific and terrifying statistics, such as how many people will be adversely affected, further job losses in an already shorthanded field. (etc.)
To some, CSA 2010 is a Blessing in Disguise. It’s the New Paradigm for The New Trucker. The old way of doing business and perceptions of safety being plagued by “big brother” are now grossly overshadowed with a bright, fresh, new systematized way of doing things the way they should have, and always have been (by some), done. This “new way” garners Efficiency, Accountability and Performance. It’s straight forward and results driven.
Ethical, hard working, quality driven businesses should find comfort in CSA 2010. The focus, if clarity has been attained, is, without doubt, “Pro-Active Implementation and Profitability”. To ignore CSA 2010’s opportunity for profitability is naïve and businesses WILL suffer. This will also make more room for rapid growth among a percentage of savvy, growth hungry and “pro-active” company owners.

So what’s the good news?
It’s as Easy as 1,2,3.
Even though there are a plethora of resources out there, who realistically has time to sit in on another webinar or teleseminar? Times waits for no one. We’re trying to navigate through rough waters and the coast guard wants to talk. Right.  These are ok resources, most of which regurgitate what the feds have already put out there for the taking. And, it should be noted, they did a pretty damn good job at it, which is making it difficult for all those “copy and paste” happy folks out there that want to turn lemons into lemonade and cram the full version back down your throat.
So, here’s your options to getting an edge on the competition and not viewing CSA as another “compliance woe is me”, rather a new, and time deserving business strategy, that when implemented efficiently and rapidly, will not only produce enhanced levels of safety, but without a doubt, rapid profitability in multiple streams of direly needed revenue.

“Step-by-Step to ProACTIVE Implementation & Profitability”

Good
1. Update Your MCS-150 Form
2. Check Your Inspections & Crash Reports at http://ai.fmcsa.dot.gov
3. Visit the Official CSA 2010 website at http://csa2010.fmcsa.dot.gov
BETTER
1. Be Pro-Active in analyzing (consistently) all 3 steps above.
2. Go to www.professionalsafetyconsulting.com and Sign Up for our CSA 2010 Updates FREE eNewsletter Updates.
3. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest NEWS and TIPS.
BEST
Turn your F-O-C-U-S to Marketing & CSA 2010. These are the (2) fastest roadways to Success and Profitability in the Emerging New Economy. You CAN turn CSA 2010 into a Profit Center by The End of January 2010 by Investing in Yourself Now for The Trucking Info Summit 2010 at http://www.thetruckinginfosummit.com While everyone else is still trying to figure out how to implement it by this coming July, we’ll have already taken you, step-by-step, hand-in-hand, through a systematized process, far beyond “hopeful” compliance, peeling back the curtain, and exploiting the strategies you need to produce results now. You can move on quickly, get back to working ON the business and let us show you how you can profit (sustainably) from fast implementation of CSA 2010. It’s the biggest opportunity our industry has had in years and will be garnered by the savviest of trucking professionals and entrepreneurs. So invest in yourself, and immerse yourself, among the best marketing and safety professionals in the industry, for 3 Full Days, taking away information you can implement immediately to kick start your business in 2010 and for years to come.

Predictably Irrational…

Since my last blog, I took my own advice and went hunting, both figuratively, and literally. I bagged a deer, couple of pheasants, a quail, missed a duck and two geese and picked up some new customers. Also launched and started receiving registrations for The Trucking InfoSummit 2010.

www.thetruckinginfosummit.com

In that time, Thanksgiving also rolled around, and I also lost a very close cousin (Jason) who was at the ripe age of 33 with 4 kids. It’s a profound thing when we allow business (work) to consume our lives to the extent that when we lose an important part of our life, everything comes to a screeching halt and we put things into an entirely different perspective, dramatically different, and very quickly. It’s then I realized, how many of us really live like this, with this perspective, all of the time? This mindset that is so laser-beam focused, it see’s no failure. Not everyone experiences it. I wish they would but then we would have no critics. They would call it “hype” or being “irrational”. I’m sure they’re right. They seem to be most of the time.

If you put what’s important first, really first, then work backwards, completely immune to criticism, speed limits, and defying status quo, working like your life completely depended on it; if you did this all the time, to the majority, you’d be “predictably irrational”. I’ve learned to garner this term. It should be posted above a doorway, something you can slap on the way out, just like Rudy did. “Whatever it takes”.

Here’s a tip. Surround yourself with reminders of what you’re working for. It sounds simple, but I bet I’ve just stumped quite a few folks. Don’t worry, no one is looking over your shoulder or lurking in on your thoughts. Be real with yourself. What are you really working for? Is it family? Is it a spouse? Is it for your kids and/or grandkids? Put those images around you, remind yourself not to be distracted from why you’re doing what you’re doing. Time waits for no one. And when we’re gone, we’re gone. Nothing profound about that, eh?>

Be irrational. What the hell is wrong with that? Since when is it cool to be another average company (victim) complaining about some aching economy. Now that’s it completely tanked, it’s looked upon “distastefully” to nipping on the heels of success or defying status quo. There’s a lot of professional spectators out there today with professional speculations. You roll with the majority, and you’ll roll with the majority’s results Expectations have plummeted. Opportunity prevails.

Don’t underestimate the power that other people’s thoughts and actions have over you. If you’re surrounded by 5 negative people, chances are, you’re going to be #6. They influence you in many ways. If you find yourself following the herd, or having a difficult time making intentional decisions, maybe it’s time to find new friends, join new groups, and spend more time working on what YOU really want – not what others around you want you to want. Be a kid. It’s cool.

If something smells like crap, it usually is.

It’s Hunting Season…

As we’re reluctantly racing into another (grueling for many) Holiday Season, which year after year, has an uncanny way of weeding out the sickest and most desperate businesses; something additionally profound takes place.  In the midst of dodging the gools and goblins that October graciously brings, for those that skirted through unscathed, brings upon the frightful post era of incoherent turkey day feasting followed by a fresh and hearty “New Year!”; for more than none, another year of the same, or for more this year than ever, much, much less.  Err, that’s bleak.  No, it’s true and real.  Always has been and always will be.  This disturbingly represents a significant percentage of our industry (“industry” is a scandalous scapegoat for personal failure).  What’s more disheartening is that it’s by choice, not circumstance; because it’s about the results, not the objective.  Many people are offended by this truism.  It’s cyclic.  It’s a good thing.

Out of the chaos and noise, far from the big city, in a land far, far, away is a lurking and elusive creature that draws about 80% of us “close” to its secret hiding place; about 15% do “OK” and 5% of us really, truly find it.  Not by happenstance as the 20% that never went might say.  We all come for different reasons and motives.  And, we all bring a different weapon of choice.  The hunt can be strategically planned out, through thoughtful planning and implementation; or it can be a “sit and wait”, “let’s see what happens” session.  Strategic Hunters, those that continually invest in themselves, use the best equipment, latest tactics, and find (intentionally and deliberately) the Right Spot, without fail, win BIG every time, without fail.

Profitability (prosperity) in the trucking “industry” is an elusive creature.  It’s the Ultimate Big Game Hunt.  All hunters yearn for the trophy on the wall and cash flow that will crush any competitor and allow for investment in fulfilling lives and memories.  What do the successful hunters have in common?  A lot of hunters have great weapons, might even have great strategies, and may even be lucky enough to “get close” to The Spot; but they just don’t make it.  They don’t have laser beam focus, speed to action, persistent patience and unassailable determination.

They also have bigger TV’s than they do libraries.

Equity is in the relationship.  Investment in knowledge creates sustainability.  Taking a different road in, with someone “mastering” the hunt vs. “dabbling”, defying the status quo may be a risk (not for the entrepreneurial spirited); albeit calculated, tactful, and more rewarding, more frequently, than any other way.

 

Happy Hunting.