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.”