Trucking, the Internet, and You
If you dont
read anything else today, take a few minutes and read this. I
promise that if you are involved in the trucking industry today
and plan to remain in business tomorrow, then reading this editorial
is mandatory. A few minutes of your time now, could make all the
difference in your future. If you agree, disagree, or just have
some comments of your own concerning this topic, just click on
my picture and e-mail me your comments.
are seeing little glimmers of internet usage by the trucking industry.
In fact I would say that trucking internet use today approximates
nationwide industry internet use back in 1996. Today the internet
has major impact on the nationwide industries, and it will most
certainly have major impact on the trucking industry during the
next year. Let me tell you why I predict this.
Back in 1996,
industry considered the internet as nothing more than a fancy
toy for computer scientists and some geeks (nerds). Industry had
not yet learned of the advantages that the internet could offer.
A few brave pioneers setup shop on the internet and hard to find
information slowly began to trickle out to Joe public. Then some
more pioneers decided that, what the heck, why canít we also sell
things through the internet ? Sure, those things have to be downloadable
or at least something we can mail, but why not give it a try.
Well, they did give it a try, and it worked to some degree, but
both industry and Joe Public still didnít understand the full
potential of the internet.
all, back in 1996, industry had no idea about how and if the internet
could be used to promote business and increase the sale of products.
Sure it sounded neat, but what could you actually do with it?
Over the next four years both industry and the public consumers
discovered the many and varied uses which have brought the internet
to the forefront today. Industry learned how to adapt to the advantages
of the internet, Joe Public learned that he could get a better
deal on the internet, and the banking industry figured out ways
to securely transfer funds through the internet.
these entities started working smoothly together, the internet
took off, and it will surely never go away. Once industry adapted
its business practices to incorporate the internet, the internet
became more and more important and made the industry more efficient.
Joe Public quickly learned that industry was now making information
available which was never before obtainable. The more information
that Joe Public looked for, the more information industry published,
just to keep Joe Public happy and impressed. Selling products
on the Internet started taking off just because of the shear volume
We all know
about that snowball effect which is still building larger each
day. The internet demonstrated runaway business practices which
drove both industry and Joe Public to where it is today. Now you
can find information, services, and products today like you never
could back in 1996. Joe Public is happy and the industry is prosperous.
yada, but what has all this got to do with the trucking industry?
Within the next year, I predict the same runaway business practice
changes in the trucking industry. It has already started, still
lacks full maturity, but is growing bigger every day.
scenes, many forces besides industry management and Joe Public,
were at work promoting the internet concept from 1996 to today.
As peopleís lives become more fulfilled (to busy), time becomes
a sacred asset. There just arenít enough hours in the day! Everything
has to be done more efficiently, we have deadlines to meet, I
need more information to make the best decision, I canít be running
around to find the best price, Iím just here for a short time
and I donít know where everything is, I must be able to compete
in todayís competitive industries ÖÖ doesnít this sound like todayís
trucking industry demands?
is the million dollar question; did Industry and Joe Public change
the internet, or did the internet change Industry and Joe Public?
The obvious answer is, "YES", both were changed. Each
one impacted the other. Why then, would the trucking industry
be any different? As complexity increases to support effeciency,
more information is required to keep it all working.
got more complicated, to improve the internet, more information
was required on the internet, to educate the computer users and
to help them maintain their complicated computers. This same information
included the latest trends, and the users delighted the computer
manufacturers, by upgrading computers all the while. Informed
buyers buy things. They evaluate how the improved products will
benefit them, and then they buy to reap those benefits.
metamorphosis is beginning to take place today in the trucking
industry. As trucks become more complicated with anti-lock brakes,
computer controlled diesel engines, load balancing suspension
systems, lighter weight materials, and driver convenience options;
truck owners and operators need more information and education
to see how they can maintain and benefit from these new features.
Many trucking companies are realizing that loading up a new truck
with driver convience options not only retains more qualified
drivers, but also increases the resale value of the truck substantially.
Which used truck will sell faster, one with no driver conveniences,
or one loaded with driver conveniences?
that in with driving schools turning out inexperienced drivers
in record numbers, and you can see where this is all going. Not
only do the new and younger drivers need more information resources,
they are also much more computer literate than the older drivers.
After all, they learned computers and the internet during their
last few years in High School. The internet didnít even exist
when the older drivers were in High School.
Most of us
agree that the driver training schools certainly do not provide
all the driving skill requirements that new driver needs. In fact
many driving schools teach some practices which are just plain
wrong. They look good on paper, or they meet some perceived requirement,
but they are just plain wrong.
most driving schools teach drivers to always start out in first
gear. Well, guess what folks? This decreases the driverís ability
to obtain smooth clutch engagement on level ground, which results
in bouncing truck front ends, roughed up clutch discs, and weakened
clutch plate torque springs, and overstressed drive train components.
What does all this lead to? It leads to premature failure of truck
clutches, drive train components and front shock absorbers. Do
these failures cost the trucking industry money and lost profits?
You bet they do!
internet, who is going to get that word out to enough people to
effect a change in the industry? How will these new drivers learn
all the other things they need to know? Will they all have to
learn through mistakes which take big chunks out of the trucking
If that is
not enough to convince you that major changes in the trucking
industry are needed and are starting to take place, then just
stop and look around. Todayís trucking industry management is
using computers just to keep up. Load dispatching is getting more
complicated due to the industry "get it when I need it"
requirements. Government regulations complication keeps escalating
in attempts to reduce accidents resulting from the shear volume
of vehicles on the road today. Everyone is being forced to become
more competitive just to survive. The cost of truck parts and
fuel are skyrocketing. Many of these pressures can be offset once
the trucking industry learns how to incorporate the internet,
to make necessary information more readily available, and effeciency
a reality and not just a dream.
another obvious change that is about to take place in the trucking
industry. Today you find a few internet load dispatchers, but
most of them are charging the drivers a fee to access that information.
This severely limits the utilization of that service. Just two
years ago (1998) the internet industry was making this same mistake.
They were charging the internet user access fees to get to internet
information. That industry learned over the past two years that
it is much better to give the internet user free access because
this brings many more users, and the service cost is easily paid
for by the service sponsors who are doing much more business.
Some enterprising internet load dispatch service will soon figure
this out, and when they do, they will soar to the top and you
will see a decided improvement in matches between load delivery
requirements and load hauler availability. A match which is sorely
needed to increase truck profits through more loaded miles driven.
of trucking internet gone wrong, are those internet computer terminals
you see in many truckstops today. There are at least two companies
trying to make this work, but they are doing it all wrong. They
are called KIOSKs and they are pay for use internet terminals.
Hello Ö. Is anybody awake out there? You want to get truckers
to use the internet, so you charge them to use something that
they donít know how to use! Now that is really smart. Most truckers
say "what the heck is that thing used for anyway?" And
those who put their money in, stumble around for their time duration,
and then walk away confused, disgruntled, and telling everyone
that they meet, that it was a total waste of their time and money.
Do you think
this trucker will put any more money into one of those machines
again? You took a driver who had initiative, was willing to try
something new to expand his horizons, who realized that the internet
could probably help him; and you threw him out the door, making
him feel that the internet is definitely not for him! One customer,
who will negatively influence many more potential customers, gone
forever! If you are going to charge for using KIOSKs, then you
had better at least provide some free user training instructions
at that terminal.
the best solution is to get the advertisers to pay for the KIOSK
and make it's use free to the trucker. Then you will see lines
waiting to use the KIOSK, instead of empty KIOSK booths with screens
flashing to a non-existant audience. But you will still need to
provide some user training at that terminal. Those lines wont
form when the trucker cant get what he wants, even if the use
is free. Some might say that the free training would prevent paying
customers from eady access. Simply not true if you plan it properly.
For example, you could allow 5-minute free training sessions,
but then prevent training sessions for the next 30 minutes. This
would allow some training to take place, but would ensure significant
access for paying customers (whose numbers will be increasing
because of training).
Many of the
current trucking websites are making another very important blunder.
In their attempt to razzle-dazzle users, and increase revenue,
they are confusing users and distracting users with their flashing
banner ads to the point of disgust. Some of these websites look
like Vegas, blinking and flashing and carrying on to extremes,
to the extinction of useful information and products that the
trucker is actually looking for. Come on folks, give the trucker
a break. The American Native Indians were the last large group
to fall for the trinkets gag. You are not doing the trucker a
service by blinking and flashing him away, and you are probably
negatively impacting your website hits through the whole process.
Just the opposite of what you originally wanted to achieve.
As I said
in the beginning, today you are seeing little glimmers of internet
usage by the trucking industry. Many truckstops now have internet
connections in the truck parking areas, and in-cab satellite repeaters
are beginning to show up at major truckstops. E-mail is being
realized as a much better communications medium between truck
drivers and their families. Limited load dispatching has already
began to take place on the internet.
Internet glimmer is like a lighted match in a pile of dry leaves
on a hot August day. If companies like the KIOSK vendors and the
blinking trucker websites donít blow that match out, that glimmer
will turn into a blaze before you even know what happened. These
internet pioneers will pave the way, and once that pavement is
in place, the internet trucking industry will switch from those
dusty dirt side roads to the interstate highway system where it
belongs, where it can run efficiently, and where it needs to be
in order to survive todayís and tomorrowís economy.
Now who do
you think will get to the trucking Internet interstate highway
first? Those pioneers who are navigating the dirt roads now, or
the spectators setting at the roadside stands watching the traffic
go by? Just remember one thing, it is far dustier sitting alongside
that dirt road than driving down that dirt road!
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