False thinking raises its ugly head
Have you ever thought there would come a day when life stopped dishing out lessons for us to learn? Well, if you are like me we can always hope so. What I found last week instead was false thinking on my part.
You see, I thought when I left the job at the bank and started building my own auto transport business security was a done deal, locked in. I knew that jobs in corporate America were no longer secure in the new economy. By reading the headlines in the morning paper or watching the evening news I see evidence of the insecurity in working for someone else.
My husband and I lived through the very insecure timber industry here in northern California when he lost his job not once, but three times to it. Learning to live on twenty-five percent of a mill workers income when the bills did not decrease accordingly stunk! This was one more reason we wanted to be independent, work for ourselves, control our own destiny.
Auto transport market changes in business
Part of the lessons I learned early on in our broker business was we must be aware and have our finger on the pulse of the industry. Keeping our head buried in the sand like an ostrich is not how a business owner builds a successful business. In fact, if you do not watch what is going on in the rest of the country you could easily go broke.
Just like when Hurricane Katrina hit and we almost lost the business. If it were not for our owner-operators, who love and cared for us giving us advice we would have closed our doors. It certainly was a tough lesson and one we will not soon forget.
During the darkest of times back then is when we decided we had better look at alternate ways to make money if I wanted to keep the business going and stay home to work. If you recall we were building a part time vitamin business at the same time. It was at a networking breakfast meeting that one of our members questioned me about what an auto transport broker did. When I answered the question, they asked for a business card and said their uncle was looking for my type of service.
The following week we received a call from the uncle of the member of the networking group. It did not take long to figure out that they had misunderstood my explanation of what I do. This man was looking for a dispatcher.
However, I agreed to meet him and his wife for coffee to discuss what services I could offer them. The rest is history, thus was born “The Dispatch Center”, a division of Carla’s Transport Services.
Do not put all your eggs in one basket
The next phase of the business grew right along. Soon after accepting one owner-operator job, others followed. Even though the customer side of auto transport had slowed down, the dispatching of auto carriers kept me hopping.
I found I loved working with the variety of clients, from car owners, other brokers to the drivers themselves. Relationships grew, as did my circle of professional business partners. Soon I found myself inside their lives helping them with their health, too. How could that be you might wonder?
One of the drivers I had dispatched a car to for one of my auto transport customers transports went missing in action. Panic began to set in when his company called me looking for any updated information. His wife called me asking when the last communication we had was, what time of day and the like.
All I can say is thank goodness for relationships, companies who care for their employees and the GPS systems some trucking firms use on their trucks. After a whole day of investigating, he was finally located at a truck stop, in the back, face down having suffered a stroke. He is all right today, thanks to everyone’s effort and relentless phone calls.
As the seasons change so does the volume of business, both on the brokering and dispatching side of the business. It made perfect sense to diversify and build our vitamin business due to the difficulties of the market.
However, I neglected one detail. I settled into the false thinking of security. The mindset of if brokering slows, I have the dispatching to fall back on. Doesn’t it seem logical and safe? Wrong.
Depending on someone elses business for security
In this current economy, government agencies are looking for ways to boost our economy. Now, I am not saying anything is wrong with that it does need help. However, let me share with you what happened to one of the trucks I dispatch. Please, share your thoughts and help me understand the logic of this situation.
This truck has been running the same route for over six years. What this means is he hauls a load of cars from California to Texas and back again using the same interstates. For our safety there are inspection stations manned by Highway Patrol officers trained in semi-tractor safety and highway law. Stay with me here as I take you through my thinking.
On the last load-in the inspector tells the driver that his equipment is one foot too long. Now, after six years his truck is illegal to run the state of California, he is done. What does this mean to his business and mine? One of two things can happen. He can purchase new equipment that is the right length for the state requirements at a great cost or he is out of business.
What did this teach me? The light bulb went off in my head and it exploded. I had allowed my thinking to slip back into a comfort zone that had gotten others and me into trouble before. I thought I was secure in my auto transport broker and dispatch center. I thought even if one side generated less revenue it would be okay because I had the other side.
What I had not counted on were the regulations changing. We try not to think about trucks breaking down, trailers being too long. This all caused an immediate loss of work, revenue and comfort.
We were comforted knowing that while we were building our business we did not put all of our eggs in one basket. We had begun building another business part time, our anti-aging vitamin company.