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Creating Pivotal Change in the Transportation Industry

Learn about the steps that can be taken to create pivotal change in the trucking industry.

Episode 189: There are several components to consider while operating in the transportation industry to be successful. Fleets need to think about compliance, lowering operating costs, insurance rates, hiring practices, and employee retention.  

My guest today is Josh Hannaberry the Owner of PVTL Transportation Industry Solutions and the host of the Truck Focus Podcast.

Josh Hannaberry is the Owner of PVTL Transportation Industry Solutions and the host of the Truck Focus Podcast. In this episode, learn about the steps that can be taken to create pivotal change in the trucking industry.

Guest Website: PVTLindustry.com

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Transcript of Episode:

Jamie Irvine:

You’re listening to The Heavy-Duty Parts Report. I’m your host, Jamie Irvine. And this is the show where you get expert advice about heavy-duty parts that keeps trucks and trailers on the road longer while lowering cost-per-mile.

There are several components to consider when operating in the transportation industry. And if you really want to be successful, fleets they need to think about compliance. They need to think about lowering their total cost of operation. We talk about that on the show quite a bit. There’s also things like insurance rates and hiring best practices. We know that there’s a shortage in several different places in the trucking industry. So when you’re operating a fleet, you’re in the transportation industry, you gotta think about all of these things. My guest today is Josh Hannaberry. He’s the owner at PVTL Transportation Industry Solutions. And he’s a podcaster, the host of the Truck Focus Podcast. Josh, welcome to The Heavy-Duty Parts Report. So glad to have you here.

Josh Hannaberry:

Thanks, Jamie. Yeah, super excited. I’m just grateful for the opportunity, really like the content that you’re producing and the leadership in our industry. So this is awesome.

Jamie Irvine:

Thank you very much. And you know, it’s interesting because most of the time when I’m interviewing someone from a virtual interview like this, we’re quite a distance apart, but you and I are practically neighbors.

Josh Hannaberry:

When you first told me that I was like, no way, small world, but yeah, I think we’re maybe a good baseball throw away from each other, which is awesome.

Jamie Irvine:

So it’s good. Right? There’s some high-quality podcasters coming out of Alberta. That’s fantastic. So let’s, let’s get to what we’re here to talk about today. So let’s start with, what are the largest roadblocks for trucking fleets today right now in 2022?

Josh Hannaberry:

Yeah, absolutely. I call them good challenges because that way you can take a positive spin, but the biggest thing honestly, is the amount of demand. So we’re talking demand in freight, but you’re also talking demand in empty seats and the necessity to buy new equipment, which is most of us know, it’s very tough to do that right now. So when you have yeah, customers saying, Hey, I wanna give you more work. Carriers can get super excited. So they go and they go to the market and they’re like, Hey, I need to hire 10 more professional drivers. Crickets. And I think a big part of the challenge is the lack of clarity on how to actually pursue new clients, the old way of recruiting. Sometimes it can work if you got, let’s say a hundred thousand followers and you got tons of relationships.

But what I’m seeing a lot of times is people are just throwing stuff at the wall, spending a lot of money on ads, and it’s not attracting anyone because it’s not dedicated to the person they actually need. And then similarly, when they’re buying equipment, they need to buy the right equipment. But you can’t always go new right now because of the length of time it takes to get the product to you. So just, yeah, the skyrocketing rates or prices, I guess, for new equipment’s causing some challenges, but yeah, there’s some good challenges that carriers are facing, but I think it’s a good thing though, because it’s showing that people are still buying. Obviously our economy, people are still spending money. It’s just being smart with how you’re overcoming it and being strategic with it too.

Jamie Irvine:

All right. So let’s get into some of the strategy here and break this down. Let’s talk about compliance. First of all, what do we mean when we say compliance and what’s at stake if a fleet is not compliant.

Josh Hannaberry:

Yeah, absolutely. So when I think of compliance, I like to think of it as the rule of the game or the rules to the game. So if you’re gonna go play a hockey game or a basketball, football game, if you don’t know the rules, you don’t know what you’re doing. So it’s really easy to play out of bounds. It’s really easy to accidentally cheat. It’s very common in our industry. You hear people say, oh, I didn’t know I was supposed to know that. And I didn’t know I was supposed to comply with that. So compliance as a whole, it’s just a bunch of rules and it’s a culture. And once you have a culture that thrives within the rules set, you actually understand the boundaries that the regulations provide for you. Then you have the opportunity to win. So when carriers don’t, and we’ll speak a little bit specific to Alberta, but it applies basically across North America and even globally is if you’re caught, not following rules, like caught could be a bunch of different things. So from a driver’s perspective, that could be roadside, you’re way overloaded. You’re really heavy and each road has a weight limit. Okay, well that could be a ticket. You’re also told to park. So you’re called, it’s called being placed out of service. That hurts the carrier, that hurts the driver. That’s one scenario, but the worst case scenario is insurance will be void. So if you get into a really bad collision, non-compliance, sorry we’re not gonna cover you. That’s part of it. Part of it too, is it’s called your safety fitness certificate here in Alberta and different provinces where it’s basically your authority to be on the road. And the province will revoke that from you, they’ll say, no, you’re not operating within these boundaries.

Jamie Irvine:

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. So, you know, I never ran a fleet myself, but I had a contracting business and there was a lot of safety because we were working at height and I always looked at it. You know, some of my competitors would complain about these regulations and I always looked at it like, look, if I know what the rules are, then there’s also some latitude within them. And this can be actually used as a competitive advantage so that customers can actually appreciate how you are, you know, diligent with compliance. So I would assume with commercial fleets, it could be very much the same thing. You might actually have access to customers you wouldn’t otherwise get because of having a good record and being compliant.

Josh Hannaberry:

Yeah, you’re absolutely right. And part of that, like CORE is really popular here but yeah, more and more retailers are encouraged to pay attention to the status of someone’s safety fitness certificate, their carrier profile, it’s called a risk rating. And if someone has a terrible risk rating, because they have so many collisions and violations, retailers don’t want them moving their product, it’s pretty straightforward. So you’re absolutely right. If carriers understand the rules, comply with the rules, then they have a good culture. So that’s part of it. But part of it too, is your professional drivers are the faith to your business. And when a professional driver is confident in who they work for, they don’t feel pressure. They don’t feel like there’s a whip, cracking them against the back every single day, they treat your customers so much better. You build a relationship together. They can say, Hey, I’m calling you in advance. Where do you want this piece of whatever you’re delivering? So, yeah, there’s a lot of advantages to complying with the law.

Jamie Irvine:

So at The Heavy-Duty Parts Report, we’re always talking about parts. We’re talking about maintenance, best practices. There’s a lot of regulations around keeping commercial equipment safe and in good working order. And of course that touches both maintenance and repairs and replacement parts. So from your perspective, what has been the things that have really helped fleets lower their total cost of operation? Let’s just say in the last couple years.

Josh Hannaberry:

Yeah. Honestly, the biggest thing is doing a deep dive into your internal processes. And I’m sure you’ve heard this quote lots in your space too, but I always hear, “we’ve always done it that way, I can’t change this” and they’re literally repeating the definition of insanity, and as the world moves forward, and if you’re an archaic anchor and your ship’s not going anywhere per se, it’s really tough to kind of keep with the time. So taking a look at the process, listening to people that are actually doing the process is important. So the best you can eliminate paperwork. So there’s certain parts of paperwork that is required still, but there’s a lot that’s not, but also integrating the right technologies. So that way you don’t get app overload. And I think a big area for fleets carriers, even suppliers that may have commercial vehicles in their organizations is again, really listening to the people that are using the applications and are completing the processes. Because if you just sat at the water cooler and listen to what people complained about, that’s your moneymaker right there. And it’s all low hanging fruit. You just have to be willing to pay attention.

Jamie Irvine:

Yeah. There’s nothing more frustrating for a repair technician than when they know the solution, but nobody will listen to them.

Josh Hannaberry:

Well, yeah. And then you’re starting to build a culture too, of ‘just’, and when something happens, they’re like, I don’t know, I’m just a tech, I don’t know. I’m just a driver and it’s like, there’s no retention in that. There’s no longevity in that thinking. And really do you expect that person to stay for 40 years and work a great career if they think, oh, I’m just this spec in this big piece. No. So by listening and actually saying, Hey, so and so that’s a great idea. How do we fix this? That person instantly is gonna take some ownership, but there’s also excitement there. And that’s addictive because other colleagues are gonna be like, well, I have good ideas too. Like, I can help you save money too. And then yeah. It’s just a domino effect from there.

Jamie Irvine:

Yeah. I’ve definitely seen that kind of in a worst-case scenario too, where you have new people being recruited and then the people who are there are like, don’t even try, like, there’s no point, just come and do what you’re told. And like, that’s a worst-case scenario because not only are you, you know, you’ve got that problem with existing employees, but then you’re stifling innovation from, from people who have a different perspective who are coming into the organization. That’s no good at all.

Josh Hannaberry:

Yeah, you’re right. And I think that’s a real test of just the culture within any organization. So if you’re a carrier and yeah, I could talk in the weeds on this topic quite heavily just because I find it fascinating. But yeah, if I have time cool, but there’s literally a video game study on that exact model. And it’s why people are addicted to video games. And the example literally was of a guy. So there’s a guy and a typical male married man with kids life. They go to work after they eat an okay breakfast. They live their day at work. It’s mediocre. They go home, maybe a mediocre dinner, maybe some engaging conversation, maybe not, with the family. As seven o’clock at night hits, they sit on the couch and they start playing video games.

What’s the first thing that they hear? It’s live environment and they’re good at it. Great headshot. Oh great jumpshot. Oh, great tackle. So they start getting all this validation that what they’re doing is good. Why do you think they become addicted to it? That’s a culture. So if you can adapt that culture in your place of work, where you are listening to ideas and when new people come on, they’re like, wow, your people are engaged and you’re welcoming me to be engaged. Like there’s a lot there. And that’s a huge part that our industry collectively needs too.

Jamie Irvine:

We’re gonna take a quick break. We’ll be right back. Don’t have a heavy-duty part number and need to look up a part? Go to parts.diesellaptops.com or download the app on Apple or Android to create your free account. Looking for high-quality fuel injection for heavy-duty applications? Having one supplier for fuel injection allows you to better serve customers by providing them with a complete line, which increases your sales and profitability. Learn more at ambacinternational.com/aftermarket. We’re back from our break. And before the break, we were kind of going into a few different directions, but really talking about what it takes to be successful with commercial fleets. And we were talking about compliance and we were talking about lowering total cost of operation and the culture of your not only the drivers, but also your repair technicians and parts people. So insurance is a big subject right now. Sometimes in the news you hear about these nuclear verdicts with over $10 million. Where’s the biggest opportunity for a fleet to lower their insurance costs while at the same time, making sure that they’re safe and they’re compliant?

Josh Hannaberry:

Yeah. And this is also a really good question because I think a lot of times people overcomplicate it and when you’re dissecting an insurance policy, that’s one conversation. But I like to keep it really simple. So you kind of ask yourself three questions. First, most of us in Canada, we work well, in stateside you’re gonna work with a brokerage. You’re not necessarily working directly with the insurance provider. So when you’re working with a brokerage, you always have to ask the question, are they doing what’s best for me? Or are they doing what’s best for themselves? Because a lot of times when people are in business, they’re gonna do what’s best for their business. So if a carrier really believes, yes, this brokerage, we have great relationship. They’re asking me questions about my business. From there, you have some confidence to say, what’s my risk because a lot of times risk can be found and then it can be fixed or you can prepare for it.

A lot of times, if you don’t know, you just don’t know which goes back to our initial part of the conversation. So once you understand your risk, you gotta know a plan and stick with your plan. Right? A common thing that you’ll see is if you’re a tractor trailer hauler, so say you’re, you just do van hauling and you have a fleet of 50 trucks and they only do 40 foot dry vans. Behind the bunk you’re often gonna see load bars and then low and behold, you see a truck, same model, same everything with load bars, hauling a flat deck of random components. That’s a completely different risk flat deck work than dry van work. And you can always guess that just based off of what’s behind them. So if they have a bunch of chains, you know, that they normally haul a bunch of stuff. So when you understand what is my risks and staying in my lane, following my plan, you can really help. But again, it always goes back to your broker and building that strong relationship with them.

Jamie Irvine:

Yeah, that’s great advice. And you’re absolutely right. There’s such a range in the trucking industry of different vocations. So there’s lots of different things to consider when looking at your insurance. So I was just down at the Annual Meeting for HDA Truck Pride in Orlando, Florida, and you know, beyond things like part shortages and inflationary costs and putting price pressure on fleets, one of the big subjects was retention and training of people. You know, you can do everything right with your equipment, but if you don’t have people to operate it and you don’t have people in your business to help you, you’re not gonna get very far. So what’s the fastest way to improve retention of key positions, let’s say drivers or technicians, what’s the fastest way to make a measurable improvement on retention, keeping people from quitting?

Josh Hannaberry:

Yeah. And that’s a great question. And I’m glad that that was a hot topic down at your event too, because it has to be in front of mind. And honestly, I’m a huge believer in focusing on the who and less focusing on the what. And I’ve seen that time and time again, where a company is a good culture that retains employees, it’s because that person is known by name. They’re not a number and it’s not job task orientated relationship, it’s person orientated relationship. So when you really focus from a company standpoint is who’s your people. Then you can actually see what their strengths are. And when people are living in their strengths, they’re making a good income providing for their family. It’s less likely that they’re gonna leave unless like the ultimate offer comes their way. So that’s a big part, but I also talk all the time about leading with empathy over tyranny. And I made the joke earlier about the literally a whip to the back type mentality. And far too often in trucking, in transportation, you have instant hierarchies where someone’s a dispatcher and they feel like they’re over a professional driver. And when you again, level the playing field as people and you lead with empathy and you say, Hmm, what is that person actually up against? They feel heard, they feel understood. You can build some collective efforts to solve problems. It’s the same thing. People are less likely to leave. That’s from my experience anyway.

Jamie Irvine:

Yeah, I totally agree with you. Okay. So for all of our American listeners, we’re gonna talk some Canadian hockey here. Look at the difference between the back to back Stanley cup, winning Pittsburgh Penguins with their superstar, Sidney Crosby versus the Edmonton Oilers with their superstar, Connor McDavid, you know, what’s the difference, right? The Oilers haven’t won, the Penguins did well. The Penguins didn’t just have one superstar on their teams called, you know, his name is Sidney Crosby. They had some really, really great talent around him. And then they had some amazing depth players. So their organization top to bottom was reliant on the whole team, not just one person, whereas the Edmonton Oilers, they have yet to fully build out their roster. And as of yet, we’ll see in this year’s playoffs, they haven’t won a championship. I kind of think it’s the same with business. It’s like, yes, there is a hierarchy. Yes, there are certain positions that are higher value than others, but you still need everybody there engaged, doing the job that they’re supposed to do in order for the entire company to be successful. Is that what you’re saying?

Josh Hannaberry:

Absolutely. That’s probably the best analogy I’ve actually heard. So yes, absolutely.

Jamie Irvine:

You can borrow that one, just give me a credit a couple times and then it’s yours.

Josh Hannaberry:

No, I’ll definitely drop that because it’s painting a good picture in people’s minds of okay, I get it. But yeah, you’re absolutely right. And that’s, it’s not hard to do though. Like it takes time and takes effort, but it’s not an impossible task. It’s just like an eliminating, “we’ve always done it this way” type bullish attitude, for sure. That’s a good analogy.

Jamie Irvine:

I’ll challenge you a little bit on how hard it is. Let’s just say that it’s not complicated. Doesn’t mean it’s easy, but it’s not complicated. Like this is some basic stuff about human nature, treating people the right way. Um, you know, the nature of, of organizational excellence and success. So, you know, you start to put things in the right place and then it has a positive feedback loop, uh, in the truest sense of the expression.

Josh Hannaberry:

Yes. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. I like that.

Jamie Irvine:

All right, Josh, take us out. What is one thing you want people to remember from today’s conversation?

Josh Hannaberry:

Honestly, obviously we’re in the realm transportation and our industry needs people. We need professionals. And I think the more that we can reflect on what do I bring to the table and then build cultures of people that actually are thriving in that environment, our industry won’t lose the people like we’re losing, but we’re gonna retain and gain new people because they’re gonna tell their friends and families per se. So I think just, yeah, keeping that friend in mind and that yeah, ultimately our industry is the backbone of our nations. We keep things moving and the comforts that our society really enjoy, it exists because of our industry. So what you’re doing each day, you can be proud of.

Jamie Irvine:

100%. You’ve been listening to The Heavy-Duty Parts Report. I’m your host, Jamie Irvine. We’ve been talking with Josh Hannaberry, the owner at PVTL Transportation Industry Solutions. And don’t forget to check out his podcast, The Truck Focus Podcast, go over to PVTLindustry.com. Links are in the show notes. Josh, thanks for being on The Heavy-Duty Parts Report. So glad we could finally get together.

Josh Hannaberry:

Agreed. Yeah. Thanks Jamie. You’re doing great work. Really appreciate it.

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