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Truck Assist | Small Business Corner

Starting a Business

Small Business Resources

Congratulations! You’re starting your own business; or trying to… or atleast thinking about it. It’s a huge step. There is so much possibility and responsibility. It’s exciting and daunting at the same time. It’s fulfilling but also risky. 

You may not have the capital, networks or know-how to  pull together all of the professional resources and advice you need from day one, so we’re here to help you with a couple of handy weblinks and apps that may point you in the right direction while you find your way.

  • MyBizPlan App via business.gov.au 
    This handy little app provides a template to help you on your way to creating a solid business plan. Get started with a roadmap to success instead of a blank piece of paper. 

  • MarketMyBiz App via business.gov.au 
    Need a hand with a marketing plan too? There’s an app for that as well. 

  • ASIC Business Checks via Australian Securities & Investments Commission. 
    Reduce your risk by knowing who you’re doing business with. 

  • Taking the plunge by starting a business in Australia for the first time since coming abroad? 
    The Australian Trade and Investment Commission may be a great place for you to start. Gain an understanding of investing in Australia, setting up your own business, and employing people in Australia.

If you’re interested in stories and learning from other small business owners, or bits of advice from those in the know, here are a few websites and blogs that may be of interest to you:

  • Australian Small Business Blog 
    Dr Greg Chapman, author of The 5 Pillars of Guaranteed Business Success runs the Australian Small Business Blog to share his wealth of small business knowledge with those who need it most, for free. 

  • The Bank Doctor 
    Get independent, practical and free business, banking and finance advice from this industry not-for-profit. They aren’t brokers, nor do they accept advertising fees or on-sell your data. Best of all - every resource on this website is free for you to use. 

  • Safety at Work Blog 
    This award winning news and opinion site on workplace health and safety is as informative as it is interesting. Keep up-to-date with daily alerts, or visit the site and search through articles and news pieces relevant to your topic of interest or situation.

Got a web site you’d like to share? 
Let us know in the comments section of any tried & tested resources to help out fellow small business owners.

Route Planning

For more industry news, insights, events, and a place to chat about the things that matter to you, join us at the Truck Assist Club.

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Small Business Corner

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Truck Assist | Small Business Corner

Opinion: Future Growth and Efficiency

ATN

MARCH 2018

Over the next 25 years, operators in the transport and logistics sectors will face significant structural changes.

 

With the Australian population forecast to grow by almost 40 percent, demand for transport and logistics services will grow substantially.

 

The domestic freight task is expected to grow by 26 percent over the next 10 years, more than double in 25 years, and triple by 2050 to service the expanding population.

 

Road freight transporters dominate the Australian non-bulk freight market, benefiting from their advantages in price, speed, convenience and reliability.

 

In cities, light commercial vehicles are the dominant form of transport for the final stage of delivery.

 

The industry's major markets span the entire economy, and efficient road freight transport is integral to the economy’s performance.

 

Infrastructure investment by state and federal governments will heavily influence the sector over the next 25 years.

 

Corridors protected from development will be required to provide for the growing domestic freight task, and we may see a greater shift towards a ‘hub and spoke’ network model, with regional cities acting as multimodal logistics hubs.

 

Advances in manufacturing processes, such as 3D printing, will allow on-demand manufacturing to be undertaken closer to consumers, making the transport of raw material inputs increasingly important.

 

Over the next 25 years, advances in drone technology may ease the logistical burden of increased urbanisation on road infrastructure.

 

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By using GPS, drones will be able to deliver small parcels directly to consumer locations rather than fixed addresses.

 

At an operational level, technology will drive changes in the way industry participants do business.

 

In the short-term, we expect to see the continued shift towards fuel-efficient and low emission vehicles, with increased use of electric-powered and hybrid vehicles for short-haul transport in urban areas.

 

Increased urbanisation is expected to make intra-city freight take up an increasingly significant share of the domestic freight task.

 

Electric vehicles, such SEA Automotive’s EV10 and Daimler’s Fuso eCanter, are already in testing and operation.

 

These vehicles have a limited range, which makes them suitable from intra-city delivery. The total cost of owning electric vehicles is expected to decline over time.

 

Over the next 25 years, we expect to see autonomous vehicle technology being increasingly integrated in trucks.

 

Investment in truck platooning technology for long-haul transport is expected to continue, with increased vehicle-to-vehicle communication and cloud-based data analysis used for route planning.

 

Companies such as Daimler, Volvo and Peterbilt are developing self-driving trucks, with the Daimler Freightliner Inspiration being the first licensed autonomous commercial truck to operate on an open public highway in the United States.

 

However, this shift is expected to be gradual, with semi-autonomous vehicle technology, such as automatic breaking and speed control, initially to be used for long-haul transport, slowly transitioning towards fully autonomous vehicles.

 

A shift towards rail freight and coastal shipping may also ease congestion and the burden on road-based infrastructure, with crewless, self-navigating autonomous ships used for non-urgent transport.

 

The next 25 years will pose several challenges to operators. However, short- to medium-term developments in transport and logistics technology will primarily improve efficiency, benefiting transport and logistics operators.

 

Embracing technological change and implementing cost efficiencies should leave operators well-placed to service Australia’s increasing freight task over the next 25 years.

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Gillian Bristow | Small Business Corner

Subcontractors vs. Employees

How confident are you with the differences between employees and sub-contractors?

We asked our expert, Gillian Bristow, to explain things from an employer's perspective.

Don't forget to drop us a line in the Truck Assist Club forums, or comment below, if you've got any more questions we can put to Gillian!

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Truck Assist | Small Business Corner

Keeping the Wheels Turning

OWNER DRIVER 

FEBRUARY 2018

New Zealand-based farmers Sara and Sam Orsborn decided to help out a mate who’d bought a transport company and taken interest in the paperless system the couple were using to run their stockfeed business.

 

"My husband and I are running the family stockfeed business as well as farming but about 10 years ago some mates of ours bought a livestock transport company," Sara explains.

 

"My husband Sam had built a basic system to run our stockfeed business right from the ordering through to the dispatch and into our accounting program.

 

"Anyway our mate said, ‘let’s come up with something similar to get rid of all this bloody paper I’m dealing with’."

 

That fateful day marked the early beginnings of the now thriving transport management system – MyTrucking – but back then the couple had no idea how far the idea would go.

 

"We got out a whiteboard with them and they mapped out the five steps most transport companies have.

 

"Traditionally they were taking a phone call and writing it in the diary and then the second step was to write out a manifest or run sheet for that truck for the day. The third step is that the driver wrote out a docket and the fourth step is they wrote on that docket the price. Finally the fifth step was manually entering that information into their accounting program, so in total five steps."

 

Together, the couple were able to combine Sam’s technical know-how and Sara’s marketing expertise to take their mate’s business needs and build a program to handle the day-to-day scheduling and accounting.

 

"Sam came up with a basic system that would do it all from one step and then import into their accounting program – so really it all started from just helping some mates out and that was it."

TIME SAVER

 

Sara and Sam went back to running their stockfeed business, while in the background news of their time-saving program spread by word of mouth.

 

"Another transport company here in New Zealand saw it and were running their business using a diary with a highlighter and pen and they said, ‘hey, we want that’," Sara recalls.

 

"So we replicated the software and they started using it."

 

It wasn’t long before another company approached the couple, but this time they figured it must be a product the industry really needs.

 

"A few years later another company enquired about it so we thought, ‘there’s a bit of an opportunity here’."

 

"Sam and I did a bit of research to see what other programs were out there and there’s a lot of fantastic programs that do amazing things but there is actually nothing specifically for the rural transporters.

 

"So we saw an opportunity and thought, ‘right let’s do this!’"

 

In 2014 an early cloud-based version of the program officially became MyTrucking, an endeavour that all started with Sam and Sara helping out a mate.

 

"We redeveloped the software and put it into the cloud in April 2014, that’s when MyTrucking really came about," Sara says.

 

APPLICATION EXPANSION

 

A move into the Australian market was inevitable after rapid success in New Zealand.

 

"An accountant in Australia was looking for ad-on solutions for their transport clients and they found us," Sara explains.

 

"From there it’s grown through word of mouth, which has been fantastic for us.

 

"That’s how the whole business has grown and in this industry everyone seems to know everyone."

 

The aim for MyTrucking in Australia, Sara says, is to offer small to medium fleets a time-saving system that allows them to focus on driving rather than burdensome administration.

 

"There are so many small to medium transport companies that are still run on paper which is still a great system, but we can make things run more efficiently.

 

"It saves a lot of that admin paperwork as well as phone calls and if you add all that up it saves a lot of time and money."

 

The basic principle from the beginning for the MyTrucking team has been to provide a single-entry solution, which means you enter a job when you get it and it flows right through the invoicing.

 

"There are a lot of programs out there but they’re all quite complex and you need a lot of training to get up to speed.

 

"Whereas ours has replicated the good old diary or spreadsheet, and really the spreadsheet and the diary aren’t broken … we’re just making it easier and making them run more efficiently," Sara says.

 

The mobile app is constantly being improved and updated to offer more features, but Sara says the real benefit lies in the portability of the entire system for operators.

 

"If you’re out of the office and running all your drivers and other trucks from your truck, you can add jobs and simply make changes and update the mobile app for drivers as you need.

 

"It saves a phone call to drivers and it helps the smaller guys who don’t necessarily have an allocator in the office at all times.

 

"You can even ring directly from the mobile app, so you’re not trying to find phone numbers, you or a driver can call from the app and all the contact details for jobs are in there."

 

Record keeping is kept simple with the program, something Sara and Sam intended to achieve from the start, adding to time-savings but also freeing up the mounds of paper records you typically find at a transport company.

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SINGLE ENTRY

 

The software is compatible on Android and iOS devices and the company is a Xero and MYOB partner, so from initially entering the job on whatever system you choose right through to accounting, it remains single-entry.

 

"You’ve got all that information there in one place and one thing people really love is the history," Sara says.

 

"As soon as you click the job you instantly see all your previous jobs and so you might not have done a job for a client for years but straight away there is the last pricing exactly as it was.

 

"The big thing is the time savings, it’s cost-effective, you know there’s not folders of paperwork and you can login anywhere on holidays or anywhere and check what’s going on and check what’s happening."

 

Nowadays MyTrucking is used by 180 businesses across Australia and New Zealand, meaning Sara and Sam had to enlist the help of some committed support and tech staff along the way.

 

"It started with Sam and I and one developer and we were doing everything and anything and now we have three more in our support team and three full-time developers.

 

"We have an office here on the farm and I’ve got a young family so the key is having a great team around us," Sara says.

 

"We want to be the leading transport management program across New Zealand and Australia, that’s where we want to end up."

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IN OPERATION

 

Goondiwindi-based Carpendale Commodities & Transport, an 18,000 acre grain farm with commodities and transport arms, took on the MyTrucking software in July 2017 and they now swear by it.

 

Owner//Driver caught up with two of the company’s drivers during the recent grain harvest, who rolled up in two of Carpendale’s double road train Mack Super-Liners.

 

Drivers Ashley Wade and Dave Grey were both pretty stoked about the MyTrucking app simplifying their job, which means more time behind the wheel and less time messing around with a pen and paper.

 

"We get receipt printouts at jobs and we used to have to then re-write half of them, now we just take a photo with the app and it’s sorted," Ashley says.

 

Back at the Carpendale office, logistics coordinator Nathan Jorgensen reckons MyTrucking has halved the administration workload, which frees up time to build the transport operation.

 

"It’s cut the workload by 50 percent around the office, especially at harvest time," Nathan says.

 

"When we enter a job, the information pre-fills a lot of the time, and it isn’t double handled."

 

The big benefit for Carpendale and its drivers, Nathan says, is having everything in one place within the app, from the address of a farm through to contact details.

 

"On the logistics side it’s just as good as the invoicing, it’s a huge time saving and because contact details and farm details are all there, it saves so much time and mistakes."

 

"I can also do things remotely, which saves everybody time."

 

Sara and Sam set out to offer the best service in the game, something Carpendale Transport can confirm they certainly live up to.

 

"The service has been great, I can’t fault them," Nathan says.

 

"We’ve had that much help getting it all setup and the moment you have a question, you’ve got someone calling you to answer it."

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Dan Adler | Small Business Corner

The Beginner's Guide to Running Competitions

The Rule of thumb with competitions is unless you’re running ‘a game of skill’, you’ll need to apply for competition permits, that is unless you’re only letting Queenslander’s enter, then you can do a random draw. You’ll need to display your permit numbers on all advertising and direct people to your website for full terms and conditions. A game of skill on the other hand is when a competitor must do something challenging in order to win, not just a random winner picked from a barrel. Here’s a company you can use to register for competition permits: https://www.competitionpermits.com.au/  Also, another thing to remember is random winners need to be advertised in national newspapers – something to factor into your budgets.

 

Outside of the topic of permits, which can be a game changer for some competition organisers, here’s some other tips:

  • Games of skill can be things like:
    • Answer in 25 words or less…
    • Send a photo or upload a video in response to a challenge
    • Find the answer to a question or solve a riddle by directing them to your website or in-store for the clues
  • Remember to advertise the promotion / competition start and end dates, how and where they can enter, and what’s up for grabs (and the value of the prize pool)
  • If you have the lead time from competition start till end date too long you risk losing people’s interest
  • Keep people engaged in the lead up to the draw by offering smaller prizes that surprise and delight your audience
  • People feel they have a better chance of winning a competition with multiple small prizes in the draw compared to those with one super large prize
  • Celebrate the winners name and location online, and via social media, proving the competition was real – there are a lot of sceptics out there!
  • People are generally pretty lazy, so keep the competition mechanics simple or you risk it being a flop
  • Ensure you flag in the T&Cs whether you intend to keep their details on file for future marketing and promotions
  • Capture relevant information that you can use for future communications e.g. email, mobile, postcode
  • People who are really keen to win will be happy to give you helpful insights about where they first heard about you, or if they have been a customer of yours, or provide hints why they haven’t!
  • Ideally get people to enter online to capture their data, not via paper entries, or you risk a lot of data entering which can cost time and money
  • Make the prizes relevant to your audience’s desires, but more importantly align the prizes to your business and brand
  • Final tip – make people do something that’s linked to your business and brand in order to win, if not you risk just getting prize pigs entering who will not deliver any measurable return on your investment

 

If you need help with your competitions and promotions, feel free to contact me at next Thursday.

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Dan Adler | Small Business Corner

Outdoor advertising. Where do I begin?

All billboard companies will accept a booking if you call them direct. In fact, they’ll even get the artwork done for you if you need help with that too. If you spot the billboard you want to advertise on, look in the corner for the media company’s logo and make contact with them. I’m sure they’ll give you good advice whether this site is best suited to your business objectives.

 

At next Thursday, we love outdoor. It’s actually a challenging format to nail, so here’s a few tips.

  • With your creative, aim for a maximum of 7 elements, e.g. your logo is one element, your headline is another, etc. The wise old adage is, “less is more in outdoor”. Remember this, people will google your business (once they stop driving of course) rather than grabbing a pen and writing down your phone number, so there’s one thing you can leave off the artwork. Oh, they won’t scan your QR code either! Unless you’re a real estate agent, or selling tins of baby milk powder you, can forget about putting these in your ad. What they will love is a clever headline, quality design and a clever idea that demonstrates you respect and understand their world.
  • A good legibility test before you approve the artwork is print out an A4 proof and stick it on your wall. If you can’t read it three metres away from the wall, drivers approaching the sign won’t be able to unless they’re 30 metres away, which is not good enough.
  • As far as size goes, in general 6x3m billboards are the hard-working billboards that reach homes deep into the suburbs, the bigger billboards on the main routes inbound and outbound of the city increase in size to supersites approx. 12 x 3m, then you have the big bad boys called spectaculars which certainly get noticed, the media fees scale up as you can imagine.
  • Media fees change during the year as demand changes. So, keep this in mind when planning a booking in the busy Christmas period, the fees will be higher, and you’ll have to book it a long way out from installation to secure the site.
  • Mostly all sites outside of the cities are printed skins held onto the billboard frames by ropes. You’ll be charged for the printing and installation costs which is a trap for young players when budgeting to appear on multiple sites. One good thing with this is you get to keep the skins, meaning you can move them around to other billboards so long as they’re the same size. Digital billboards on the other hand don’t have any printing costs of course, so these save you money. However, the bit that sucks is you have to share the billboard with 6 other advertisers. Your billboard will be on screen for only 10 seconds…all the more reason to keep your message simple!
  • One cool thing with Digital billboards is their ability to change your message to suit the time of day, e.g. you could tailor your message to tradies at the break of dawn, mum & dads at school drop off times and socialites from dinner till late. It’s a bit of extra effort, and it’s slightly more for the artwork, but one things for sure, your audience will applaud you for being creative.
  • Another big difference with digital billboards is the media companies charge per weekly booking, vs printed ‘static’ billboards are up for what they call a lunar cycle – it’s close to a month, but not quite. Both styles can work to your advantage depending on if you want a quick in and out message burst or you’re wanting to be up longer.

 

If you need help with your creative, feel free to contact Dan at next Thursday.

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Gillian Bristow | Small Business Corner

Unfair Contract Terms and Transport Operators

Did you know laws have recently changed in Australia regarding contract laws?

We asked our legal expert, Gillian Bristow, everything you should know about unfair contract laws if you are involved in the transport.

If you've got questions about contract terms and contract legislation, make sure you visit the Truck Assist forums to share your thoughts.  We'll be sure to pass them on to Gillian!

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