Trucks at Work

Administrative focus

“One of the tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency.” --Arnold Glasgow.

There's no getting around it: pushing paper is a dull task on the very best of days. Today, with the massive amount of information coming from the Internet and other electronic sources, managing the paper flow can seem almost overwhelming. And not a few in the business world -- trucking included -- express no small amount of exasperation in dealing with it.

Yet paperwork (still a catch-all phrase despite information's more electronic profile nowadays) is still vital -- especially in trucking. Just look outside our industry for a minute: the District of Columbia lost over $44 million over a seven year period to an employee in the tax department who siphoned off that money by giving bogus refund checks to family and friends. How does this happen? Lax administration. You can't take $44 million without leaving a paper trail ... but you need to be looking at the paper trail to notice a problem.

Switch back to trucking. Meeting hours of service (HOS) rules requires a huge devotion to paperwork. Whether you agree with the rules or not, one thing is for certain though: if that paperwork isn't in order, for the driver or for the companyas a whole, all kinds of trouble will be coming your way. That's why many fleets have top administrative folks keeping tabs on all their HOS information.

I'm going to let Dr. Jerry Osteryoung at Florida State University's college of business take it from here: he's got some good insight into the reasons why administration is a necessary task your company -- be it a one or 500 truck carrier -- needs to be good at.

"Administration of a business is one of those things that every entrepreneur and business owner must deal with over and over. Keeping books, maintaining proper documentation, paying bills and taxes, selecting vendors and finding insurance carriers are just a few of these tasks. While many wish they did not have to deal with them, administrative tasks cannot be avoided. Despite the fact that administration is neither a fun nor a necessarily high-payoff activity, it is critical to the success of any business.

When running a business, the devil is in the details. Therefore, administration is just one of those things that cannot be avoided. You just cannot make intelligent decisions about important parts of your business without a clear understanding of their ramifications. In many cases, however, many in business feel as if it is more important that they be out selling or doing something that is more productive. They do not want to 'waste' time on these administrative functions.

As a result, I have frequently seen many entrepreneusr relegating very important decisions to very low skill-level employees. Unfortunately, I have also witnessed the tragic errors of doing so. These errors have included failing to arrange the proper insurance for company vehicles and skipping an employee‘s background check with dire consequences.

These administrative functions are both important and frequently urgent. Sure, ask an employee to do some of the background work, but the ultimate decision must be yours. While you rarely see a positive return on making a correct decision, the costs of making an incorrect decision are so very high. It is just too dangerous to trust these types of decisions to workers without the appropriate background.

Most successful entrepreneurs spend 20% to 25% of their time on administration. For small and start-up businesses, administration can seem even more time consuming. However, it is just the cost of doing business, and over time, it will get better.

Entrepreneurs who simply cannot devote the necessary time to administrative functions should either hire outside consultants or enlist people they trust to help make these decisions. One savvy accountant suggested that the administrative tasks be shared by other people in the organization - assuming of course, that there are appropriate checks and balances.

These functions are absolutely critical to the success of your business and are just too important not to warrant adequate amounts of your time. By devoting the appropriate time and energy to this part of your business, you will allow the business to grow to the next level."