I’m Different

Starting a benchmarking service is hard. It would be almost impossible without the strong history, and foundation of the Best Practice Groups (BPG). Recently, I was asked what the most common objection to getting involved in benchmarking was. I didn’t have to think twice. The most common objection/phrase I hear (almost daily) is “I’m Different”. Since I’m polite by nature, my typical response is “Interesting, tell me more…”. However, in the back of my head I‘m saying “I’m sure you are” – with heavy sarcasm.

Although this perception is a psychological barrier for some, the contrarian approach (and proper one in my opinion) is to embrace the attributes that make a company different. The Best Practice Groups are Operating Mode specific, but beyond that, if you look at the members within (as an outsider looking in), you’ll immediately see big differences in size, location, and more importantly those unique operating attributes that make them ‘different’.

As a group facilitator, I’m primary concerned with three things: 1) Personality compatibility with other group members, 2) Level of engagement, and 3) Unique perspectives/Contrarian opinions/Problem solving ability. If the combination is right, it not only provides an energetic atmosphere for group meetings, it also provides an endless inventory of new ideas for each member to take back to their respective businesses (and profit from). An outsider would expect that the biggest carriers would have the best ideas, the freshest perspectives and ultimately best long-term performance. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, some of the best performing trucking companies in the Best Practice Groups are under 100 trucks.

It should be noted, differences in operating models do affect the comparative results, but those differences are typically isolated in secondary KPI categories (Average Length of Haul, Loaded %, etc). When it comes down to the primary KPIs (Gross Margin, Gross Margin per load, per driver, per non-driver, Admin % of Gross Margin etc), that is where excuses about differences float away. It also highlights those companies that have out-performed their peers. Those situations start the conversations, and those rabbit holes are what I live for.

I could sit and listen to a member talk about their strategies and tactics all day long, and coincidentally, that is a common trait of BPG members. They are fans of business, and the Best Practice Groups are like a continuous March Madness.

Yes, you’re different, and that’s why benchmarking is for you and your company.

Embrace it.

Get Involved.

Get Better.


New Maintenance Metrics Now Live!

This  past Monday, we activated thirty new Maintenance-related metrics. These metrics were developed based on feedback from executives at Bison Transport, SLH Transport and, Prime. Please consider these metrics to be officially in Beta mode. Both the data survey (including descriptions) will be reviewed regularly based on feedback from our users, both online and Best Practice Group members. For most Best Practice Group Members, six of these metrics do not require any further data.

Here is a full list of all the metrics:

  • Parts Inventory Turnover
  • Tire Expense Average per Tractor
  • Tire Expense Average per Trailer
  • Tire Expense per Mile (Labor and Product)
  • Maintenance Expense per Truck
  • Maintenance Expense per Trailer
  • Total Accident Expense per Truck
  • Total Accident Expense per Trailer
  • Total Accident Expense per Mile
  • PM Compliance
  • Truck Accident Damage to Maintenance Ratio (%)
  • Trailer Accident Damage to Maintenance Ratio (%)
  • Tractor Maintenance (Cost per Mile)
  • Trailer Maintenance (% of Revenue)
  • Breakdown – Downtime Aging (Average # of Days from Call to Roll)
  • External Maintenance Expense – Tractors (per Mile) – Available with existing BPG Data
  • External Maintenance Expense – Trailers (per Mile) – – Available with existing BPG Data
  • Breakdowns per Million Miles
  • Technician Productivity
  • Technician Efficiency
  • Technician Proficiency
  • Parts Expense Average per Tractor –  Available with existing BPG Data
  • Parts Expense Average per Trailer – – Available with existing BPG Data
  • Average Technician Expense per HourMaintenance Metrics 10_01_2017
  • Maintenance Admin Overhead (% of Billed/Allocation Maintenance Expense)
  • Technician – (Average Wages & Benefit Expense per Technician per Year)
  • Internal / External Maintenance Ratio (%) – – Available with existing BPG Data
  • Production Hours per Bay
  • Aging of Warranty Receivables
  • Average Monthly Downtime per Truck (Hours)
  • Retail Shop Revenue (as % of Total Shop Labor)
  • Total Warranty Recovery (as a % of Maintenance Expense) – – Available with existing BPG Data

As always with new metrics, these new data points, descriptions and, formulas will generate discussion among members. We are committed to reviewing this metrics regularly, adding to descriptions and adjusting the formulas if required.

To review the additional data requirements in detail, please download this excel file (which can be completed separately from your existing submissions). If you have capability to report your data via API, please contact us to review the inGauge API developer documentation.

Introducing the TCA Profitability Program

Truckload Carriers Association (Alexandria, VA)

On July 1, 2017, the Truckload Carriers Association will launch its “TCA Profitability Program (TPP),” a three-tiered system powered by the inGaugeTM online platform. It’s designed to provide truckload carriers with functional composites to increase their profitability and lower their risk profiles.

“The TPP is going to be the catalyst for truckload carriers who seek to be the very best,” said TCA President John Lyboldt. “The trucking industry is constantly changing, so the more certainty that carriers can maintain during times of major change, the easier it is for them not only to get through these times unscathed, but to remain highly profitable.”

The TPP’s three-tiered system allows carriers the flexibility to choose exactly how much time and resources they want to dedicate to the program, with plans ranging from simple snapshot composites to full online access and bi-annual meetings.

The program’s first tier, Digital Composite Lite, requires little from the carrier. By inputting only a small subset of information into the inGaugeTMplatform, carriers receive a limited snapshot of critical data points from other carriers in their segment of the industry to which they can compare themselves.

TPP’s second tier, FastStart, provides full access to the inGaugeTM platform. Carriers input their full revenue, expense, and operational lines, and the platform standardizes them and creates an action plan. Whereas the first tier provides only a snapshot of data, this second tier includes a full digital composite for the carrier’s segment of the industry.

The final tier is exclusively for those carriers who are committed to being top performers in the trucking industry. Best Practice Groups are the foundation on which the TPP was formed, with six groups and 60 carriers already active. This tier includes all of the features of inGaugeTM that the FastStart users can access, but with the additional benefit of peer-to-peer, bi-annual group meetings. These sessions provide opportunities for carriers to share ideas that make their businesses successful, thus learning from each other in a deeper way than simply comparing numbers from the office.

“We take back two or three things we’ve learned at each meeting, and just progressively have gotten better,” said Chairman of Hirschbach Motor Lines, Inc., Tom Grojean, Jr. “Trucking’s a penny business—there are no silver bullets—so in our mind, [we] just raise the needle a little bit here and there as we go along.”

If you would like more information on the TCA Profitability Program, including pricing and how to get involved, please contact Jack Porter by email at [email protected], or Chris Henry at [email protected] . Both can be reached, by phone, via 1-888-504-6428.

What to Look for in a Telematics Solution

We have all heard about the ELD mandate that’s coming and we pretty much are certain that this is going to happen. Are you still working with cell phones and trip itinerary sheets? Are you using a basic ELD and are looking to get a little bit more but are not sure where to start? Let’s take a look at a framework to help guide you.

First of all, what do you currently have – nothing, cell phones, a basic logging evict that maybe has some GPS capabilities? Are you currently on a contract? Finally, did you just expense the items or are they still on the books and depreciating each month? These are a few of the items that your Controller or CFO are going to look at as a baseline to see what sort of income statement impact this project is going to have on your organization.


TCA Annual Convention – Recap #1

You could feel the energy at this year’s annual convention. Most carriers I spoke to (of all operating modes) are optimistic about business conditions for the remainder of 2017. The weight of last year’s challenges appear to have lifted. This was magnified by the buzz created by the strategic direction outlined by TCA President John Lyboldt. (more…)

Scorecarding Drivers – Leveraging Your Telemetrics Investment

Many of us have invested in in-cab satellite or cellular based devices that give us critical features like GPS positioning, two-way messaging, act as an EOBR, and possibly provide in-cab scanning and printing. These provide mission critical (or regulatory) functions, but are you taking advantage of the data that many of these devices can give you? (more…)

Katz, Sapper & Miller and inGauge Work Together to Promote Benchmarking

The relevance of performance benchmarking in any industry is strongly correlated to the size and diversity of the reporting population. Katz, Sapper & Miller (KSM) has been conducting an annual trucking industry benchmarking survey in conjunction with McLeod Software since 2014. The scope of this survey has grown consistently since its introduction, with the most recent study covering more than 200 data elements obtained from survey questionnaires and McLeod’s LoadMaster Enterprise software. (more…)

Hydrogen Fuel Cells – Could they help break your diesel fuel habit?

Diesel fuel has been our industry’s main power source for years. We love the power it provides while hating its price and the relatively poor mileage we get. There’s a never ending line of additional emissions regulations that mean additional and costly technologies that are required to meet those regulations. Wouldn’t it be great to break that diesel habit and find something else, preferably something that gets around those requirements? (more…)

Inspect What You Expect: The Evolution of Benchmarking


After spending 30 years in Dealer Twenty Groups, and now facilitating TCA’s Best Practice Groups (the only formal benchmarking program in the Truckload segment), I believe it is time for an evolution, if not a revolution, in the use of technology and business intelligence. (more…)

New Maintenance Metrics for inGauge

Based on careful review with a select group of BPG users, we have narrowed down our new list of Maintenance-related metrics from 72 to 34. Some of these metrics will be driven from existing data points which we currently track, but many of them will be driven new (more granular) data points which will be added to the data template starting next week. (more…)