The Nine Traits of High-Performing Trucking Companies

The TCA Profitability Program’s Chris Henry knows a lot about what makes trucking companies great. He’s observed more than 100 North American companies, worked closely with members of the TCA’s Best Practice Groups, and spoken with people in a range of roles from Operations Manager to CEO. He has since distilled his findings from all this research into nine traits of high-performing companies and their leaders. These qualities show up consistently in companies with high gross margins and signal organizations that are building toward a bigger future.

If you’re reading this, chances are you want your company to be great. But how can you actually do that? Below, we’ll break down the nine things high-performing trucking companies do and offer some suggestions on how to incorporate them into your business.

1. Add By Subtraction.

If you’re trying to build a growing business, chances are you care about staying on the cutting edge and adding new technology and strategies to your company. But top performers know that employees only have so much time and energy to implement new ideas. The best way to focus on growth is to remove inefficiencies and needless manual processes that are wasting time, which frees you up to focus on the future.

Tenstreet Tip:

Are you still using your fax machine to do your employment verifications? A paper-based manual process wastes tons of employee time. Tenstreet’s Xchange Network for employer verifications brings this process online, freeing up your recruiters and safety people to do more valuable work that grows your business. Bonus: it’s free.

2. Invest In Tangible And Intangible Assets.

It’s not hard to see how investing in tangible assets – for example, more trucks – can grow your business. But dynamic companies also need intangible value to remain relevant in the marketplace. Intangible assets can be anything from notable customer service to software that helps run your business smoothly.

Tenstreet Tip:

One intangible asset all companies have is their pool of drivers. Your driving team is valuable and needs to be cultivated so that drivers remain satisfied long-term employees. Even the people who have applied to your company but not gotten a job can be an asset if you use services like Tenstreet’s Drip Marketing, which allows you to contact previous applicants when new positions open up.

3. Build a Skilled Workforce.

A company that retains its best employees is one that nurtures their growth and encourages them to learn new skills. If your people feel like they’re increasing their own value by working for your organization, they’ll want to increase the value of your company.

Tenstreet Tip:

There are many ways for workers to develop new skills – reading books, listening to podcasts, enrolling in free online courses, and attending industry events are just a few. Tenstreet’s annual User Conference is designed around this idea, teaching the valued employees of our clients how to use our products in dynamic new ways.

4. Get Out of the Whirlwind.

Sometimes your best work comes when you finally stop working. If you never take a break from the onslaught of duties and frustrations that populate your day, you won’t have the mental energy to contemplate new ideas or refresh yourself to attack a problem from a new angle.

Tenstreet Tip:

Ever notice how some of your best ideas come to you while you’re taking a shower, walking the dog, or driving to work? That’s because your mind makes unusual, innovative connections when it’s left free to wander away from the problem you’ve been staring in the face. If you’re feeling burnt out, try taking a walk, listening to music, cooking dinner, or anything else that lets your mind relax. Consider this permission to take a break.

5. Embrace Idea Meritocracy.

Idea meritocracy is the concept that the best ideas in an organization win out, regardless of who they come from. It’s an easy strategy to idealize and hard to put into practice, but companies that make a habit of listening to employees at every level will find themselves more informed about the realities of how their business operates. 

Tenstreet Tip:

If your company doesn’t have a way to collect the opinions of your drivers, you’re missing out on valuable information that could make you more appealing to new workers. Tenstreet’s Issues & Surveys tool (a component of our Driver Management service) sends automated post-hire surveys directly to a driver’s phone. Asking drivers about the ever-changing issues they face and inviting them to take satisfaction surveys not only help you retain those drivers, it also keeps communication channels open so you can access their best ideas.

6. Listen 95% of the Time.

This one is pretty straightforward – listen more than you talk. When you do speak, other people will understand the value of what you’ve got to say and pay attention to it.

Tenstreet Tip:

Sometimes the least experienced people in an organization can give a fresh perspective on inefficiencies you’ve become blind to. Just like we mentioned in the point about idea meritocracy, it’s important to solicit feedback regularly from everyone in your organization, from your director of operations to your newest driver.

7. Understand the Value of Time.

While meetings can be a valuable way to generate ideas and keep team members updated on projects, they also risk sucking time away from getting work done. Great companies ensure that meetings are as infrequent and efficient as possible. Plus, research shows that shorter meetings are more productive than longer ones.

Tenstreet Tip:

Go into meetings with clear goals or action items in mind. If you can’t figure out what the meeting is accomplishing, why have it?

8. Have Discipline.

Every business has good times and bad times – this is an unavoidable fact of working in trucking. But top performers know that working hard even when things aren’t going so well is the key to prospering in the long run. Plus, businesses rarely become successes overnight – slow and steady growth is the foundation of a good company.

Tenstreet Tip:

A lot of companies have trouble keeping up-to-date on those less revenue-impacting but still important aspects of running a good business. Have you checked whether your hiring processes are compliant recently? Moved your DQF paperwork online? Slow seasons in your industry are the best time to clean house.

9. Try to Improve 1% Every Day.

In addition to discipline, companies need to have clear goals they can make gradual, measurable progress toward. Identify what’s most important to your business and make every day an effort to get one step closer to that goal.

Tenstreet Tip:

Many companies have a key goal of hiring drivers more efficiently or minimizing their advertising spend. Tenstreet’s Origins tool allows you to quantify and track your spending month over month and helps you see how to direct your funds toward the most results-generating lead sources.

Tenstreet is always looking to help more companies reach greatness. To meet with one of our advisors to discuss how we can help your business better embody these nine key traits, call us at 877-219-9283 or email [email protected] to set up a conversation.

More information on Chris’s research for the TCA Profitability Program on these nine traits can be found here.

Share this post