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Football and Trucking: Not That Different

I love basketball, I really do, but with limited assets (5 on the floor at a time), it resembles more of a small truck line to me.  While managing 120 personalities, I find it very easy to compare our current trucking environment to football.  Don’t see it?  Hear me out.

TEAM BUILDING

Free Agency:

Football’s free agency has just begun and it is easy to look at how trucking and football add talent to their teams.  In football, you have limited time and resources (salary cap) to improve your talent pool (players) and these decisions truly drive a team’s results.  In trucking/transportation, free agency is year round.  You have the ability to find, recruit and sign talent all year round.  Again, because of razor thin margins, we have an allotment that we can spend on our on the field talent (drivers).  Many times free agency is the big splash; you spend to know what you are going to get and usually have more predictable results.

Drafting:
In football, this is where the executives either look very good or really bad.  In trucking, this is where many don’t play.  We don’t allow rookie drivers on our payroll because of risks and many of us bet on the sure thing (established players/drivers).  With a driver shortage on our hands, rookie drivers are more common than ever, using driving colleges to get them started.  This will continue and hopefully for many of us, finds us with much success.

BALANCING OF PRIORITIES

Winning Today:
Every executive of a football team wants to win today which is not a trait to be too shy about,  but with limited resources, these executives have to be careful to put too much into immediate success that they forget about the future.  This is also the case in trucking.  Trucking needs to improve their immediate balance sheets but they also need to continue to invest in things that ensure long term success.

Building a Team for Tomorrow
As mentioned, balance is the key.  The best executives have the ability to balance today’s needs with building a team that will be extremely successful down the road.  Having the ability to see the talent that is needed and to find the raw traits that will develop over time is quite the challenge.  The best are very good at it, while others of us pretend to be learning these skills.

COACHING
Many of the best coaches in football are superstars in their own right.  I find the exact opposite in trucking.  Many of the very best executives are very silent and diligent about going about their own way.  Jim Collins describes the best coaches/leaders in Good to Great.  He says a Level Five leader, the highest level, is one that puts the company’s success in front of their own success. Collins states that a Level Four leader needs to bring attention to themselves.  Surprisingly, he describes the skillset of both leaders as equal but they just have a different desire of who gets the recognition.

COMMUNICATION
I think everyone would agree that communication is at the soul of every great company or team.  No different here, regardless if it is play-calling, disciplining, teaching, routing or dispatching.  The message that is delivered needs to be accurate, timely and efficient.

TEAMWORK
No need for deep conversation here either.  The ability to take the team that you have and get the most out of them and allow them to be successful is a powerful tool in both sports and trucking.

KEEPING SCORE
Seems obvious that in sports there is a scoreboard and a standings listing of how your team is performing. The best of trucking companies have their KPI’s, financials, benchmarks and rankings.  In the end, winning is quite important on the field and on the road.

LUCK
Some absolutely hate using the word luck.  I have heard everyone’s version of luck:  the harder I work the luckier I get, luck is the result of hard work, and luck is earned.

I get all of that, but at the end of the day, there are a lot of hard working companies and people that just don’t get that lucky break.  Luck of being in the right spot at the right time can be the difference of something interesting and something special.

Be it 100 yards on a football field or a 1,000 miles on the interstate, both football and trucking need all these components and excellent teamwork to get to the ultimate goal. For some wide receivers, it’s boils down to listening to Peyton Manning at the line changing their route at the last minute. For our drivers, it’s our team at the office telling them their route, too. Both scenarios have a finite finish, the end-zone or the loading dock.

Don’t Forget Who Brought Your Bread!

I am admittedly a man of many pet peeves and I am trying to make my list smaller.  But today, my list got one bigger.  I do have an issue with some of the decisions made by those involved in the storms in the Southeastern part of the United States.

Our drivers work for more than us.  They work for society.  They bring you the things you need to live.  They are trying to do their job safely and yet make sure that society has things they need.

Remember, if you need water, food or supplies; it comes by a truck.  It seems that every time there is a storm, everyone buys enough to live 90 days.  Therefore, the shelves go empty very quickly.  Remember that guy in the truck, he is taking that load of whatever you need, because you don’t want to hear that one isn’t available.

Lastly, I beg everyone in this industry for your common sense.  We have people that are delivering to their locations in Atlanta today.  One customer is telling us to leave their property and the cops are attempting to ticket our drivers because they are driving.  If we are good enough to bring your bread, don’t forget that driver who brought it.  Furthermore, if he is good enough to bring it; allow him the corner of your yard until your governor says we can drive again.

The Difficulties of Winter Trucking

This winter reminds us of the many challenges in trucking during the winter.  Like many companies, our company demands safety first.  In this age of the trucking, setting safety as our priority is a must to our drivers, our customers, and society as a whole.  While managing a customer service driven company and one that needs to take safety first can be a challenge.  Cooler minds and good common sense seems to prevail and be the first step to success.

In closing, I have to share with you this story about last week’s storm in Atlanta.  We had a broker irate about us not getting his load picked up in Atlanta.  We apologized for the delay and explained to the broker we were late to pick-up but we were in-fact at his shipper and they had not come to work.  The broker didn’t take time to understand the message but decided to continue to address his dissatisfaction for our service.  When the conversation ended, the only thing I could wonder is – have we spoiled this industry with top notch service to the point of impossible service seeming possible?  Ironic on how the uncontrollable seems controllable by many within the industry.

Then again, this might be just another example of an untrained third party logistic professional. That might be a topic of another rant.

It Was An Interesting Week In Trucking

Last week was an interesting week in the trucking industry. If you follow Commercial Carrier Journal (CCJ), you’ve seen that they’ve posted many thought provoking articles.

These three combine for an interesting market for trucking in 2014.

Drivers: The Centerpiece of Trucking

Today’s exercise is to go to Google, type in ‘2014 trucking outlook’ and hit search. You will find articles about inflation’s effects on trucking, trucking’s gains post- recession, intermodal’s role in trucking and, most commonly, drivers.

In fact, the most common ad is companies looking for drivers.  Did I type in this search right?  I typed in ‘2014 trucking outlook’ and the ads are for truck drivers? Obviously, companies are paying high dollar for any search involving trucking.

As trucking companies try to figure out how to attract the best drivers and keep them, our success rate, or lack thereof, is making drivers the centerpiece of the entire outlook of the industry.  Drivers should be the centerpiece, but for reasons other than not having enough of them.

We all know that driving is a tough job. We have tried to make our schedules very driver friendly, but even with these improvements, being a driver is still very tough.

Trucking companies know that the key to survival is drivers, but does the shipping community also recognize this?  When’s the last time a shipper truly looked at their environment and asked themselves, ‘Are we driver friendly?’  If you are one of those shippers, tell me about it at kyle@kottke-trucking.com

If I receive any great responses, I’ll be sure to pass them along.

(800) 248-2623 (320) 833-5385

Kottke Trucking, Inc.