Owner operators and leased contractors who are well-versed in business practices stand a better chance at being more productive and having a better bottom line than those who aren’t. This week, we are reviewing the most critical business areas to be educated in: record keeping, cost monitoring, and credit.
Keeping your records is critical and required by law. The most important areas you need to retain records for are:
- Inspection, Maintenance & Repair Records – we cannot stress enough the importance of keeping these types of records. They are instrumental in helping your case when a claim arises. Keep extra sets of all your inspections, scheduled maintenance and repair records, and keep them in a secure location. A good rule of thumb is to keep all these types of records for 18 months.
- ELD Records – while the ELD regulation has streamlined record keeping, it still requires companies to retain supporting documents (in paper or digital format) to verify HOS compliance. Carriers must retain the original ELD information (either on the device or on a separate backup) for at least 6 months, along with the associated required supporting documents. Paper copies don’t need to be retained if a digital copy exists. For more information on ELD documents retention, visit the FMCSA’s ELD Supporting Documents page.
Drug & Alcohol Testing – Employers covered under DOT drug & alcohol testing regulations must maintain records that document their testing program consisting with 49 CFR Part 40 and other industry specific regulations. Employers are required to keep the following: test results, testing process administration, return to duty process administration, employee training, supervisor training. These records must be kept in a secure location with controlled access (like in a locked cabinet. There are various lengths of retention required, based on the type of record and the result. Here are the most important ones:
- 1 Year: Negative drug test results.
- 2 Years: Names selected for testing and lists of who was tested.
- 5 Years: Positive drug test results.
Receipts for Tax Purposes
- Store all receipts monthly and tally the receipts at the end of the month. Organizing and doing the expense report monthly will save you time come tax season and make sure you get the best return you can.
Insurance and fuel are two of the biggest contributors to overall operating expenses. Making sure you have the right insurance coverages at the best price is key. For a good review of commercial truck driver insurance, check out our article: 3 Problems New Truck Drivers Face When Searching for Truck Insurance.
For fuel, there are two great tools that will give you good insight into this factor of your operating cost. The first is a cost per mile calculation, found here: OOIDA Cost of Operation Spreadsheet. This great tool will help you understand and track your costs. In addition, understanding your fuel surcharge is key; it assists you in knowing the rate you need to move your truck. You can find the OOIDA’s tool here: Fuel Surcharge Calculator.
A good credit rating gets you access to better interest rates, more lease and loan allowances, and an overall better standing for your company. To gain access to your credit rating, check with your financial institution; they will be able to tell you what your rating is and what measures you can take to improve it, if needed. The OOIDA also has directions on how you can access a free copy of your credit report, which they advise carriers to do every 12 months. Check out the details here: OOIDA Free Credit Reports.
These are some, but not all the valuable business tools that can help you reach optimal operating efficiency, which translates to more money on your bottom line. Gaining a deep understanding of these three areas will have you well on your way to being a business savvy trucking company!