A Panel of senior fleet executives presented their experience with the TCA's benchmarking program, also known as the 20 Group. The program allows the comparison of financial expense statements, enabling group members to drill down for best practices, and measure their performance against their peers.
The overall objective of the 20 Group program is to improve carrier profitability.
All of the panelists agreed that once the commitment is made to share information in a 20 Group, the contributors have a powerful tool for improvement. Moreover, they said, they typically come away from the meetings with at least one new idea.
The concept of 20 Groups comes from the car and truck dealership industry, where facilitating companies that specialize in the process administer the groups.
In the retail automotive case, these groups are limited to 20 dealerships, hence the name, and the members have to report their financials in a standardized format. The administrator of the 20 Group then aggregates the group's numbers so that members' individual performance can be scored against the group as a whole.
Basically, this is the process used by the TCA 20 Groups.
Motor Carrier Service of Northwood, Ohio, got involved in the TCA benchmarking program four years ago, said the company's Keith Tuttle, “because we found companies involved in benchmarking were the well run, bigger fleets. We wanted better ideas on how to run our business, but we also wanted to look at comparative results.”
“My advice is to find a group that's smaller in size, because you'll find it may be the owner or president of the companies you'll be dealing with,” said John Kaburick of Earl L Henderson Trucking, Salem, Illinois. “They have good hands-on experience and the interaction can be very beneficial.”
Lance Craig, Craig Transportation, Perrysburg, Ohio, said the benching program “is a great tool to see how far to drill down into your organization to bring costs in line with benchmarks. It's quite a realization to discover all the things you need to keep your eyes on. And it's great when embarking on a new venture.”
By way of example, he noted that his company had been an all owner operator operation, but over the past several years has been growing its company fleet. The benchmarking program helped him look at various business implications before getting in to the new venture.
Dave Van Wyk, Sheldon, Iowa, gets the company's operations and safety people to attend the 20 Group meetings. “The real value is not just meeting presidents, but the meetings serve as a venue for the staff to meet their peers in other truck companies,” he said. “We're always looking for ideas, and we get them in these ‘best idea’ sessions.”
The panelists concurred that involvement in a TCA 20 Group requires an investment in time and resources, “but it's worth it because it helps you get a better look at your business.”