The practice of industry benchmarking — comparing your company’s performance to industry averages or leaders — is not new. Long before it had a name, good business people knew to keep an eye on the competition. But today’s digital environment means that the amount of detailed information available through Big Data can make it far easier for companies to see how they stack up in multiple areas, offering more opportunities to grow or optimize profit margins.
This is especially true for small and medium trucking companies dealing with the driver shortage, implementing new government regulations, fulfilling short delivery times and facing competition for good-paying freight. Benchmarking provides a framework for improvement by showing where the company stands in relation to its competitors.
Having that information is just a first step, though. Companies that successfully use industry benchmarking to improve their business are adept at more than analyzing the numbers. They look for the story behind the data, and one piece of information doesn’t tell the whole story.
Suppose a fleet manager sees that their drivers are making far more fuel stops than other companies of similar size. The initial thought may be that the fleet has an issue with fuel efficiency. But it could be that drivers are in the habit of stopping to fuel up when they reach half fuel capacity as a precaution, creating multiple stops along the route. So they take a look at fuel volume — is their company actually buying more fuel or just making more stops?
If it’s a matter of fuel efficiency, the fleet can investigate and invest in driver training, new equipment or increased maintenance checks. If stops are so frequent that they affect productivity, a conversation with drivers about why they are making those decisions can lead to an agreement that resolves the problem.
Finding clues in the numbers
For a number of years there have been indexes and services that measure key performance indicators in the trucking industry. Some are released annually, some monthly or quarterly.
Now that so much information is available, trucking, like many other industries, is trying to incorporate Big Data into its business practices and finding (like other industries) that the sheer volume of numbers, charts and graphs can be overwhelming.
The recently released Carrier TrendSourceSM from EFS – a WEX Company was designed for fleets to easily spot trends that are relevant to their unique business. It offers a real-time look at purchase activities and trends, so they can track month to month, week to week, even day to day, and react quickly. It keeps track of seven different performance indexes, gathered from its large and wide-ranging customer base, that can be examined as industry-wide trends or broken down by company size, so a five-truck business can see how it fares in relation to other small fleets. And it is available to all EFS fleet customers.
Now more than ever, trucking companies of all sizes must be nimble in responding to the market. Using big data effectively is a huge competitive advantage, and will eventually be as much a part of trucking business practices as trading tips with colleagues at industry shows and reading trade magazines and newsletters.
Learn more about Carrier TrendSource at www.efsllc.com