Friday, April 18, 2008

Idle money released into thin air …

We reported earlier this week about troubles at IdleAire.

The company says it is in financial trouble—and the company says it has “substantial doubt” about its ability to keep operating.

A lot of folks had questions from the beginning about how this thing would survive once the federal money dried up.

A caller to our program asked how they arrived at this point with $55 million in federal money. Let’s show the full picture – they got $55 million, and then they ended up $93 million in the hole this year alone.

Even if you don’t count the losses for previous years – and apparently, they were all losses – that’s $148 million they burned through. The final tally of losses may go much higher.

We not only need an investigation of where the money went – we need to learn some lessons to use the next time someone comes along with a scheme like this asking for our federal taxpayer money.

Every single one of us has faced a scam or two in life. We learn from it, and then we avoid the problem the next time it crops up.

The federal government should be expected to do no less.

It’s a simple matter of survival

Trucking is a business. No one out there needs us to tell them that.

And everyone knows about the strain that fuel prices are putting on every business in trucking. Again, everyone reading this knows.

Ultimately, though, the solution to the cost of fuel is business practices.

We can’t control the price we pay at the pump. The government could, but it’s so unlikely they will that it’s not smart to put your business on hold waiting for them.

What we can control is how we do business – what loads you will accept, which ones you won’t … you can know what your cost of operations is and you can know what price you need to make a living.

We’ve heard a lot from truckers about how this is playing out on the open road. A recent call to the show’s Listener Comment Line put a familiar spin on it.

Steve, a regular caller based in Massachusetts, said he was offered a load for $1,100. He told the broker he would not move it for a penny under $2,400.

Well, guess what? The broker piped up and said he already had someone to haul it for $2,000. Steve’s refusal stopped that broker from pocketing $900 more of the shipper’s money – cash that legitimately should go to the trucker.

Steve’s story points to exactly what we’ve been talking about, both on the program and elsewhere here at OOIDA headquarters.

Not only did the load pay far more than the broker let on – I’m willing to bet it even paid enough to cover Steve’s $2,400 and give that broker a more than decent fee.

Let’s face it – when the broker couldn’t find someone to take the load for $1,100, he had to pay more. And if that broker hadn’t found the $2,000 dollar trucker, he would have used Steve.

Here at OOIDA, we’ve heard from plenty of truckers who did exactly what Steve did, but they did get their price and they did get the load.

The fact is, truckers can’t make it in the long run without covering their costs and paying themselves a salary. If you want to be around in five years, this isn’t something you should do. It’s something you must do.

It’s better to sit out a few days waiting for the right load than running at a loss and putting yourself into bankruptcy … or an early grave from the stress.