"Affliction comes to us all, not to make us sad, but sober; not to make us sorry, but to make us wise; not to make us despondent, but by its darkness to refresh us as the night refreshes the day; not to impoverish, but to enrich us." -Henry Ward Beecher
The temptation in trucking is to focus on just the immediate tangibles day in and day out: equipment, fuel, drivers, terminals, etc. One thing, however, that gets overlooked quite a bit is all the “invisible” infrastructure that‘s required to keep a company going - whether you‘re running one truck or a thousand. That infrastructure, by necessity, involves people doing a lot of non-driving and non-freight handling work - dispatchers, load planners, accounts receivable clerks, accountants, lawyers, administrative assistants ... the list goes on and on.
Among many owner-operators and even some small fleets, spouses and other family members provide that critical infrastructure. And any way you look at it, someone‘s got to keep track of all the paperwork required in trucking - health forms, DOT inspection reports, background checks, logbooks - much less make sure the fiscal books are ready every year at tax time.
Professor Jerry Osteryoung from the college of business at Florida State University has some thoughts about this “business infrastructure” and why having a plan to put it in place is vital for entrepreneurial businesses, which trucking certainly is. So I‘m going to let him put some thoughts and issues out there for you to think about. Professor Osteryoung, the floor is yours:
“One of the most important tasks for each and every entrepreneur is to ensure that adequate infrastructure is in place to both operate the business and allow the business to grow. By infrastructure, I mean the people, money and things that are so necessary for operating a business.
Infrastructure is so essential because it allows a business to serve its customers. Both important and critical, infrastructure also costs money! It is something that must be funded continually. We were assisting a medical office and its doctor, who was working extremely hard. He was acting as both a medical professional and a business manager, and because he had no training in business management, he was sinking rapidly. He was about to implode from the stress of having insufficient time to do both his medical work and run his office.
On the personal front, he was spending so much time at the office doing the bookkeeping and the many other chores that the staff just did not have time to handle, that his family was suffering badly from his lack of time with them. The man simply had no life of his own, and because of all the work he was doing, he always felt as though he was letting someone down.
When we first met this doctor, he wanted our advice on a number of issues, but the most critical was clearly an inadequate infrastructure. He just did not have the necessary staff to allow him to function and survive.
Initially, we recommended that he hire an office manager to take the workload off of him. However, he was very reluctant to do this as he thought that he could not afford the position. Over the years, he had grown his practice by hiring staff for specific jobs rather than by planning for the overall infrastructure. This lack of planning was having a detrimental effect on his and his family‘s lives.
We were able to show him how to easily cover the office manager‘s salary by reducing excessive costs, and he went ahead and began interviewing for an office manager. While this assistance project is still in process, there is no question in my mind that once this doctor hires an office manager, his life will be so much better.
Infrastructure is critical to each and every business. It just cannot be added in a ‘willy-nilly‘ or unplanned fashion. Infrastructure must be planned in advance and put in place through a strategic plan. This will flesh out necessary details, such as what the infrastructure should look like and when additions to it should be made.”
You can contact Professor Osteryoung by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 850-644-3372.