Tips from ATBS on succeeding in your trucking business

It’s been said many times on the Successful Driver Podcast that it’s important for drivers to treat trucking like a business. Todd Amen, President and CEO of American Truck Business Services (ATBS), sat down with us to share his advice on how a driver can make their business succeed.

When it comes to trucking, there are multiple factors that contribute to success. While on the surface it may seem as simple as hopping in a truck and driving, anyone in the business knows there’s more to the industry than that. ATBS assists drivers in an area key to their success, their finances. ATBS has been helping drivers with the business side of trucking since 1998 and is now the largest tax and accounting firm serving owner-operators.

“At ATBS, our goal really is to help the driver treat it like a business. We do a budget, we often call it a ‘profit plan’ because a ‘budget’ sounds like a root canal and a profit plan sounds like something fun.”

There are certain factors that a driver can never truly control. Todd spoke to this when he said that “it literally broke [his] heart when [he] was in the trucking business and [they] had drivers fail for no reason of their own.” There is value to planning for an unforeseen future, whether that includes a tire blowout on the road, a transmission failure, or even an accident. While you can’t control whether these things happen, you can have some control over your response. Saving and practicing healthy budgeting habits is one of the best ways to help yourself prepare for the unexpected.

“I think of all kinds of stories of, you know, the ants saving up for dry season and hoarding their harvest underground so that they can eat for long term, we’re no different. It’s a good time, don’t go out and buy new toys like a Harley, or a bass boat, or a bunch of chrome for your truck. Save that money, man, because the tough times will come and you’re going to need it to get through the tough time, so put some money in the bank right now, don’t just blow it all. It’s nice to make money, it’s nice to have nice things, but make sure you’re building your savings for when the tough time comes.”

Todd shared with us the three main reasons ATBS has seen drivers fail, which include:

  1. Maintenance: Trucks, especially used trucks, will require maintenance. It’s never a question of if, but when, so plan accordingly. “In today’s world, if you’ve got a used truck, we want people setting aside 10 to 14 cents a mile in a maintenance account. Don’t plan on getting a loan from somebody or a second mortgage to fix something that breaks, do preventative maintenance.”
  2. Health: You’re just as important to your business as your truck, so when you don’t have your health, your professional life could be affected as well. “Drivers have health issues, their family has health issues…A lot of times, if you’re independent, you don’t have insurance because it’s expensive. So, take care of yourself and try to get some form of health insurance.”
  3. Bad Business Practices: The business side of anything can often be the most frustrating to manage. Between budgeting and making sure your taxes get paid on time, there are plenty of places where accidents can happen. “Not paying the IRS when you’re supposed to, not paying attention to your numbers…Those are things that cause people to fail, if you can eliminate them by doing the right things, your odds of growing and buying a next truck, and a second truck, and a fifth truck are in your favor.”

Learning tools for new drivers

Arrow isn’t just interested in selling trucks, we’re interested in ensuring that our customers succeed in their business endeavors. This concept is why we launched the Successful Driver Podcast; Arrow strives to be open and informative with our customers, focusing on having the“heart of the teacher” in all that we do.

So, what does that mean? Simply put, Arrow understands that in order to be successful, our customers must first succeed. Don Fotiades, Regional Branch Manager at Arrow Truck Sales, spoke on this topic, saying; “Any time you’re dealing with the public, if you truly want to provide a support role, to help, to impart knowledge, you have to learn and share. You have to be invested and believe in what you’re doing every day to make those people around you better, whether they’re working with you, selling the equipment, or are the people you’re selling the equipment to. Educate them, knowledge is power and if we keep it to ourselves, we’re not doing anybody any favors.”

Since launching the Successful Driver Podcast, Arrow has collected a library of information that are great learning tools for anyone getting started in the trucking industry. From financial advice to tips on maintenance and truck upkeep, we have what you need to start building your industry knowledge.

Follow the links below to watch interviews on specific topics, and keep an eye on Arrow’s social media to help stay up-to-date on when our next episodes are going live!

  1. Tips for choosing the right truck warranty
  2. How to maintain your truck’s resale value
  3. Road safety and inspector compliance with CVSA
  4. Advice from a Finance and Insurance Manager
  5. Tax and accounting services for truckers

What to consider when choosing a truck warranty…

When purchasing a used truck, it is vital that you have a plan for what happens when the inevitable breakdown or wear-out occurs. It’s no secret that a used truck will have used truck issues, which is why coverage that caters specifically to trucks with expired factory warranties exists. A basic factory warranty will cover a truck for up to 200,000 miles, or roughly two years. With six out of ten used trucks being likely to experience major equipment failure in their lifetime, you can understand why two years of coverage isn’t enough to fully protect your investment.

Wade Bontrager, CEO of National Truck Protection (NTP) joined us on the Successful Driver Podcast to discuss warranties and to share some tips on choosing the program that’s right for you. When asked who needs to consider a warranty, Wade’s simple answer was, “anyone who’s not flush with cash.” To elaborate, he added that “it’s really the smaller guys, the single owner-operators where if they have a $20,000 engine claim or a $25,000 engine claim and they get a couple of those in six months…they’re out of business.”

According to actual claims paid by NTP customers, half of all claims have repair costs of over $5,000 and one in five cost over $10,000. Protecting your truck from equipment failure is big, but how do you know what coverage to get? Wade provided three simple parameters to help first time truck buyers narrow down what they need to select when shopping for warranties.

What components are covered?

Know what components you want covered and make sure you’re aware of what is part of the plan before purchasing. There is a big difference between full coverage and catastrophic coverage, for example.

What conditions are applied to the coverage?

It’s important you know how your coverage handles things like deductibles, progressive damage, and pre-existing conditions.

 

How long of a warranty do you need?

This depends largely on where you are with your finances. For example, Wade recommends you purchase coverage to match the length of your loan if you’re financing a truck.

 

 

“Make sure you look at the covered components and see what’s covered and make sure that’s covering the things that generally fail and that’s what we’ve tried to accomplish with our products; building a suite of products that really cover those things that fail and doing it very transparently. We want to make sure people know what’s not covered as well. Our product has gotten pretty broad, so it covers things like comfort package that does cover things like the radio and air conditioner and radiators, things that aren’t normally covered by our market.”

Visit NTPWarranty.com to learn more about what they offer and watch Wade’s full interview for more helpful warranty tips and info!