Why do so many people in local trucking feel like it’s impossible to retire?
Commercial Carrier Journal (CCJ) writes: “Experts say that more than 40 percent of family-owned businesses will experience a change in ownership in any five-year period. Of those, only 4 percent have a formal succession plan.” See http://www.ccjdigital.com/education/ccu/manuals for a little more info.
Is this you?
When we talk with customers and prospects, a recurring theme comes up: there is often only one person in the company who knows critical things about the business. In one example, only the owner knows the ins and outs of every special customer rate – and when the owner is away, orders get billed incorrectly. The results are embarrassing phone calls, damage to the customer relationship, and much more time and energy to fix the problem than it would have taken to bill the correct rate the first time.
The problem is not that the owner knows the rate; the problem is that nobody else does.
CCJ also notes that 65% of family-owned businesses don’t make it past the first generation. Information is power, and perhaps you, as an owner, are afraid of giving away too much power. However, founders and owners in all sorts of businesses shoot themselves in the foot by being stingy with information that could help everyone. In your company, who is there that you can trust to run the shop when you’re not around? Who can do things the way you would do them? Who can remember the special rates that you and only you have authorized? How will all the stuff that’s “in your head” get into the brains of the people who work for you, so that you really can enjoy that margarita at the pool without having your cell phone ring all the time?
There are a number of ways to lessen the risk of having only one person know everything about certain aspects of your business.
- Some CEOs gradually “spin off” parts of their jobs, training one key person in that essential skill and another key person in another skill. If this happens, then piece by piece, the owner no longer is indispensable. Over time, this allows the business to survive the “what if Tim gets hit by a bus?” test.
- Some companies cross-train everyone, so that multiple people know how to rate, dispatch, and bill, and so on. Small businesses and even some smart government agencies do this as well, so that no single person knows procedures that nobody else can replicate.
- Some companies invest in software. Great software captures all essential order and rate information as soon as anyone knows about it. Great software gives everyone the ability (within reason) to retrieve it, so that nobody has to say “hold on, let me get George…. Oh, whoops, he’s out to lunch…. Can you call back in an hour?”
It’s a lot easier to contemplate handing over the reins when you have a place to download all the expertise in your brain so that others can use your wisdom. While no software package can replace experience and intuition, the best TMS software distills wisdom from decades of trucking experience and puts it to work for you.
At JSY, we make it our business to create easy-to-use tools that address exactly these issues of “who knows what,” reducing the need for anyone to hoard information. Our customers tell us how much better it is when everyone has the same information and can share it with customers on demand.