Trucking Business Services

Trip Sheet Central (TSC) is a truck-business management suite designed specifically for Truck Carrier Operations. It is ideal for lease and owner-operators, fleet-owners and company drivers.

Whether you're looking for a simple do-it-yourself book-keeping solution, or a full-service accounting service, we can customize a package to meet your bookkeeping, fuel tax reporting, business consulting, coaching and mentoring needs.

Bookkeeping / Fuel Tax Reporting

Our bookkeeping services keep your financials current to help you review how your business is performing, and make sound business decisions.

TSC will organize and maintain your:

  • Trucking Trip Sheets
  • Income/Expense Statements
  • Profit/Loss Statements
  • Accounting Statements
  • Quarterly IFTA Tax Reporting
  • IRP Mileage Reports
  • Other Custom reports
  • General book-keeping
  • Fleet/Equipment Maintenance Records

If you need to setup your own trucking business or add to your MC Authority checkout TSC Authority

Call us today for a free business analysis: (800) 644-2040

8 Key Reasons Why Many Trucking Businesses Fail

Trip Sheet Central provides professional bookkeeping services, and IFTA (Fuel) Tax reporting for small to medium-sized truck fleets, business owners, lease/owner-operators and independent truck drivers.

Request a FREE quote, or complete and return this Quick Survey for a FREE consultation.

314-266-8450 / info@tripsheetcentral.com

  1. Lack of planning

    Running a trucking business is just like running any other type of business, but with many different regulations to work with; and a very unique type of client-base.

    It's not enough just to hold a CDL; --as a business owner you need careful planning, and help from various professionals to build a good foundation

  2. Poor Management

    Enlist the services of a professional management team, or a bookkeeping service to help you keep the numbers straight.

    This is one of the weakest points in many small businesses, including trucking. If you don't know where the money goes, or how much is coming in--you are less likely to manage the business well.

  3. Low cash-flow

    Cash-flow issues tend to be a combination of several factors such as: not enough customers or business, low-paying freight, high costs of operations, too many unpaid invoices, etc.

    Identify strategies to improve or manage your business' cash flow, or get help from a business manangement service.

  4. No collection strategy

    Whether your small trucking business is sailing smoothly, treading water or moving against a strong tide during these tough economic times, having a reliable collection strategy is key to maintaining enough cash flow to remain profitable.

    Learn more about this here

  5. Low paying freight – no knowledge of market rates

    No business can thrive for long when costs of operation are higher than incoming revenue
    Check your profit/loss statements, cash-flow or income/expense statements to review whether your business is profitable. Are the numbers what you would like to see?

    Consider paying a freight/load service to get better paying freight, or adjust your quotes. Also make sure you are getting paid all fuel and weight surcharges on every load

  6. Failure to stay compliant – resulting in fines and being shut down by DOT

    If you practice staying compliant and encourage safe driving from your drivers, you are more likely to avoid all the headaches that come with being non-compliant.

    Have a written safety plan, procedures for staying legal, and provide regular training/refresher courses to drivers. Avoid business shortcuts --there are none

  7. Partner with the wrong people

    Business partnerships tend to ruin friendships; --avoid them
    If you must enter a partnership, make sure you have an operating agreement, properly documented business documents, and an exit strategy.

    If it's not on paper, maybe it's not for real -just sayin'

  8. No professional help

    Let's face it- how many business owners are also accountants, safety managers, marketing gurus, etc? Not many.

    As a business owner, one of your top jobs is finding and hiring the right people for the job, or getting a service meet the needs you cannot do well on your own.

    Seek advice from the right places – double-check any business advice.

What’s the Code?

Detroit Diesel

Fault Codes for Detroit Diesel Series 60 Engines

Have you ever wondered what those engine codes mean when you have a check-engine light on in your truck?

Well, wonder no more because the following codes are supplied as a trouble-shooting guide for mechanics. These codes are not for the faint-of-heart, and you should always have your truck serviced by a qualified professional

  • These codes are for your reference only. Detroit Diesel Series 60 Engines only
  • Please note: Codes 43, 44, and 45 are critical codes and if they are shown, the Stop Engine Light will come on which causes the engine protections to engage and your engine may shut down.
  • All other codes will cause the Check Engine Light to come on which will not engage the engine protections and will allow the engine to continue running.
  • If any of these codes are shown, please contact the nearest Detroit Diesel service center.
Flash CodeDescription
11VSG Sensor Input Voltage Low
12VSG Sensor Input Voltage High
13Coolant level Sensor (CLS) Voltage Low
14Oil or Coolant Temperature Sensor (OTS or CTS) Voltage High
15Oil or Coolant Temperature Sensor (OTS or CTS) Voltage Low
16Coolant Level Sensor (CLS) Voltage High
17Bypass or Throttle, Valve Position Sensor Input Voltage High
18Bypass or Throttle, Valve Position Sensor Input Voltage Low
21Throttle Position Sensor (TPS) Voltage High
22Throttle Position Sensor (TPS) Voltage Low
23Fuel Temperature Sensor (FTS) Voltage High
24Fuel Temperature Sensor (FTS) Voltage Low
25No Codes
26Auxiliary Engine Shutdown #1 or #2 Input Active
27Air Inlet or Intake Air, Temperature Sensor Input Volage High
28Air Inlet or Intake Air, Temperature Sensor Input Volage Low
31Engine Brake Output Open Circuit or Short to Ground
32CEL or SEL Short to Battery or Open Circuit
33Turbo Boost Sensor (TBS) Voltage High
34Turbo Boost Sensor (TBS) Voltage Low
35Oil Pressure Sensor (OPS) Voltage High
36Oil Pressure Sensor (OPS) Voltage Low
37Fuel Pressure Sensor (FPS) Voltage High
38Fuel Pressure Sensor (FPS) Voltage Low
41Timing Reference Sensor (TRS)
42Synchronous Reference Sensor (SRS)
43Low Coolant
44Oil or Coolant High Temperature
45Low Oil Pressure
46Low Battery Voltage
47Fuel, Air Inlet, or Turbo Boost Pressure High
48Fuel or Air Inlet Pressure Low
51EEPROM Error
52ECM - Analog to Digital Failure
53EEPROM Non-Volatile Memory Failure
54Vehicle Speed Sensor Fault
55J1939 Data Link Failure
56J1587 Data Link Failure
57J1922 Data Link Failure
61Injector Response Time Too Long
62Auxiliary Output Short ot Battery or Open Circuit or Mech Fault
63PWM Drive Short to Battery or Open Circuit
64Turbo Speed Sensor Input Fault
65Throttle Valve Position Input Fault
66Engine Knock Sensor Input Fault
67Coolant or Air Inlet Pressure Sensor Input Voltage High
68Idle Validation Switch Open Circuit or Short to Ground
71Injector Response Time Too Short
72Vehicle Overspeed
73Gas Valve Position Input Fault or ESS Fault
74Optimized Idle Safety Look Short to Ground
75ECM Battery Voltage High
76Engine Overspeed with Engine Brake
77Fuel Temperature High
81Dual Fuel BOI or Exhaust Temperature Voltage High
82Dual Fuel BOI or Exhaust Temperature Voltage Low
83Exhaust Temperature or External Pump Pressure High
85Engine Overspeed
86External Pump Pressure Sensor Input Voltage High
87External Pump Pressure Sensor Input Voltage Low

Trucker Tools of the Trade

Trucker Tools of the Trade

Have you ever sat looking out your office window (also known as the windshield or windscreen in your truck cab) and seen a rookie driver walk across the shipper's yard dressed in flip-flops and disheveled hair, and thought to yourself: ".. now how do you figure that image will present to the shipping clerk on the other side?"

Appearances are everything. It pays to prepare yourself to meet your customer. Whether you're a truck driver, a one truck operation, mega-fleet operation, dispatcher or back-office staffer. In the trucking business, it is especially more important because the sale doesn't end when you pick up the load, it begins when you pick it up -or at the very least: your sales relationship starts there.

Owner-operators and small truck-business owners have to compete with the multi-million dollar trucking outfits with scores of back office personnel, marketing teams, dispatchers, etc. You have a tight budget, so your best bet is to compete and excel at the nuances of marketing that don't cost a lot of money -like personality, good manners, appearance, courtesy, etc. Even a smile on your face, and body language can create or leave a good first impression on your customer. It pays to be nice to the people who make it happen. (It's good on your heart too!)

The Tools

The following is a short list of tools that I found useful in my years of trucking, and that went a long way in giving me peace of mind "..down the open road".
There are many more tools to discuss, but we'll leave that for another day.

Spiritual Strength

Every person needs something they believe in. The statement may be very subjective, but it reflects my thoughts (and views) on personal transcendence -a higher calling, and service to others. Whether you profess a christian faith, or islam, or budhist, or any religion, -you could benefit from being at peace in your mind about your beliefs and what drives you forward.

Family

Maintaining good relations with family and friends may contribute to a sense of well-being and let you focus on your business activities. It may also work to your advantage to have your family help you take care of the things you cannot attend to while you're on the road away from home. For me, I found my wife to be a great resource in planning and keeping track of important activities that needed to be done. She also took care of the business mail that arrived while I was away.

Relationships can get very stressful especially when conducted on a long-distance basis as is the case with most truck drivers and owner-operators, so making sure that loose ends are tied and you have a solid family support system will work very well for you. Remember that negative energy from broken relationships can draw tremendous amounts of energy that would otherwise be focused on your business. Take care of those loose ends in your relationships and start experiencing a new positive energy within you -definitely good for business.

Laptop

Now some more exciting stuff..
You need a good, solid reliable laptop computer to manage your business with. In this day and age, pencil and paper are no longer good enough to manage a business as complex as trucking.

As of this writing, a reliable laptop computer configured for business use will cost between $500 and $1000. Essential things to have on your laptop are:

  • Wi-Fi (wireless) internet capability
  • Long battery life, or extra battery
  • Well padded laptop bag for storage. Laptops are very susceptible to shock and vibration, and no warranty covers defects caused by shock and vibration. You certainly want peace of mind that your data will not be corrupted from a broken hard-drive.
  • A bright, glare resistant screen. The screen size does not matter, just choose one that you feel comfortable with and that won't cause you to strain your eyes while using it. Most laptops come with screen sizes of between 15" - 17". The larger the screen, the more pricey the laptop. Personally, a 15.4" wide screen works very well for me.

Other essentials for your laptop would include the accessories that help you work better, like a laser/optical mouse, mouse pad, USB headset/microphone if you use VOIP telephony services (e.g. Skype, Google Voice, etc.)

Printer/Scanner

This is a must-have item in your truck. It is necessary for you to be able to scan all your shipping paperwork, print directions, pre-plans from your dispatcher, print faxes received online, etc.

Printing business papers or faxing at the truck-stops and travel centers is very expensive. It costs between $2 and $5 per transaction and these charges can easily add up to a significant amount every month. Remember that keeping your operating costs in check will save you money and improve the overall bottom line for your business.

These days, most shippers and brokers accept electronic copies of documents for proof of delivery (POD) or billing purposes. Electronic transmission of paperwork also guarantees that you won't lose paperwork in the mail, and let's you keep the original documents for your records. By sending documents electronically, you are also able to maintain the same electronic copies for easy reference or remote retrieval.

Hi-Speed/Wi-Fi Internet Access

This is how you stay connected to the business world online.

A High-speed internet connection plan will let you manage your business better by allowing you access to online load-boards, shipper/customer databases, online faxing, or even real-time access to your business tools and data as is possible with Trip Sheet Central (TSC).

Choose a plan that does not limit you to a certain usage per month because overage charges can get very expensive.
A good plan these days costs between $50 and $90 a month -a small price for a business to stay on the cutting edge and compete on the same level with other companies using sophisticated technology platforms.

Cell Phone

Communication by cellphone is still the top method drivers use to do business with the home terminal/office, shippers/receivers, brokers, and stay in touch with family and friends. A cellphone can also be used to communicate emergency information or get directions if you have a GPS enabled phone.

With that said, you shouldn't have to pay premium for good service. Shop for the best carrier rates and coverage coast to coast. The last thing you want is for your cellphone to register "no-service" as soon as you lose sight of the town lights on your west-coast mirrors! I don't have a preference for which cellphone carrier to recomend, but I would go with one that is available nationwide, includes long-distance, does not charge roaming charges and the service can be possibly bundled with high speed internet service.

Business Website/Email

A website presence opens opportunities to tell business partners and customers all about your company. It provides an inexpensive marketing avenue for your services. Almost gone are the days when you had to print brochures and pamphlets about your business and mail them to a limited geographic area.

At the earliest opportunity in your business, you should include plans to setup a website and email addresses. At a minimum, your website should contain information on how to contact you, your location and services, and possibly ways for your customers to interact or provide feedback to you.

A professional looking website may also help you score high "first impression" points with potential customers who look you up on the web.

Additionally, be sure to add your company's website on all stationary, invoices, bills of lading, and all public and customer-facing documents. That will help put your business name upfront and center, and invite customers to learn more about your business online.

Trip Sheet Central (TSC) - A truck-business management suite

Trip Sheet Central (TSC) is a web-based truck-business management suite used to keep track of trucking business records, trip sheets, income and expenses, shippers and receivers, accounting statements and IFTA tax information. It is designed for truck owner-operators, truck fleet-owners and company drivers.

TSC analyses truck business profitability, cost-per-mile, creates real-time profit-loss statements, cash-flow, operating expense statements, invoices, driver settlement reports and many more business statements.

All your business critical information is organized in one place, and securely accessible from wherever your busy schedule takes you -on the road, at the truck-stop, in your office, at home or from any internet connected computer.

More information on what TSC can do for you is available at:
https://www.tripsheetcentral.com/learn-more-about-trip-sheet-central/

Load Boards

Over the last few years internet freight load boards have become the primary source of freight loads for many owner-operators. Load boards work by allowing brokers and shippers to post available freight, and interested parties bid for them.
Trucking companies also post available equipment and interested shippers and brokers bid to contract the equipment to haul their freight.

As a small business trucking company, using these load boards can supplement your available freight business by ensuring you do not have to run huge dead-head miles.

There is no need to subscribe to all available load boards since most shippers and brokers post freight to all boards. Choose the load board that has the features you need, like credit monitoring, performance reports, fraud prevention, payment histories on demand, etc. Internet load boards cost between $35 and $70 a month depending on options chosen.

Equipment Service Contracts

Inevitably when running high maintenance equipment like semi tractors and trailers, break-downs will occur. It's not a matter of if, it's a question of when. You need to be prepared to handle these situations so they don't turn into emergencies and show stoppers for your business.

I recommend setting up a couple of strategies:

  1. Service contracts or accounts with vendors who provide service nationwide and are accessible 24 hours day or night:

    This is necessary to give you peace of mind that when your truck breaks down in the middle of nowhere you can obtain reliable service from vendors who are familiar with your equipment types.
    A simple plan may include towing services, tires services and preventive maintenance.

    Contrary to popular belief that vehicle dealerships cost more than other repair facilities, I found that maintaining active accounts with a combination of my truck manufacturer dealerships and several major truck-stop chains was actually very cost effective. If you have a small fleet you could try keeping the same type and model to reduce the number of accounts you have to maintain, and also benefit from volume discounts on parts and service.

  2. Equipment maintenance escrow fund:

    Even with a fabulous service contract or account you still have to pay for the service. So put some money away into an escrow-like account which you can draw when needed. Use the money for maintenance costs only and replenish withdrawn funds as soon as possible.
    A good amount to save is 10 cents for every mile traveled, loaded or empty, for each tractor and trailer unit. This works!

Fuel Card or Money Card

Fuel cards and money cards are a great way to keep track of trucking expenses if they have detailed reporting features that you can access online or in your monthly statement. These statements can help you meet record keeping requirements mandated by the FMCSA.

Perhaps an even bigger benefit is that your back-office support person can make funds from paid invoices available by depositing into the accounts that support your fuel/money cards. Most establishments now take debit cards, so you don't have to carry large amounts of cash.

TIP: Use your debit/fuel/money card only when you have full control or the person swiping the card is in full view during the transaction. This can help prevent identity theft from dishonest establishment employees. If you feel the financial transasction will be compromised, pay cash or avoid the establishment altogether.

Always reconcile your expenses as quickly as possible into your business-management software, preferably on a daily basis.

Credit Union or Bank Account

Take the time to open a small business banking account to simplify your record keeping and life. Shop around for the best deal. Small business banking varies in fees and features.

The costs of a business account are far less than the benefits to your business. Fees are partly tax deductible as an expense.

Keep in mind that your business may grow. Opening a business account with a bank earlier can help with required financing in the future.

Remember to run your business as a business and do not mix personal funds with business funds.

See our in-depth report on how to start a trucking business for more information.

Proper Permits and Licenses

Imagine having to stop at the port of entry for every state you travel through to obtain a trip permit for that state.

I'm thinking of long lines, long wait times, commercial vehicle inspection, driver inspection, confusing paperwork, and the list goes on.. -Urgh

Now imagine watching the green light and the single chirp on your pre-pass in-cab device, followed by the green by-pass signal from the DOT's weigh-in-motion telling you to 'keep on rollin' -Sweet!

As a truck-business owner, you could benefit greatly by obtaining all the state-specific permits in advance.
Licenses like IRP, IFTA and UCR cover 48 states in USA and 10 of the 13 Canadian provinces.

Benefits of an IFTA, IRP or UCR include

  • A single fuel tax license and one set of decals that authorizes your vehicles to travel in all member jurisdictions
  • A single fuel tax report that details your operations in each of the member jurisdictions
  • Ability to credit the fuel tax overpayment for one jurisdiction against the tax liability for another jurisdiction, which reduces or possibly eliminates a payment
  • Ability to remit one check, or receive one refund from the base jurisdiction
  • Audit conducted by the auditors from your base jurisdiction, instead of potentially 58 US and Canadian jurisdictions

Staying in Good Books with the DOT

Seal of the US Department of Transportation

In order to maintain good standing with state and federal regulations, Department of Transportation (DOT) Safety and Compliance investigators routinely audit carriers' safety practices within the first 18 months of operation. They ask questions, look at paperwork and inspect vehicles to verify compliance with the state and federal regulations that apply to the carrier's situation.

There are several regulations that are so important that violating them causes an order to park your equipment until everything is fixed. In a nutshell, these regulations are concerned with:
  • Alcohol and controlled substances testing and using impaired drivers
  • Commercial drivers' licenses and drivers' physical fitness to drive
  • Proof of insurance
  • Equipment repair and inspection

New Entrant Safety Audit Busters

Unofficially known as the 16 Deadly Sins, these violations cause automatic failure of a new entrant safety audit

  1. Failing to implement an alcohol and/or controlled substances testing program.
  2. Using a driver known to have an alcohol content of 0.04 or greater to perform a safety-sensitive function.
  3. Using a driver who has refused to submit to an alcohol or controlled substances test.
  4. Using a driver known to have tested positive for a controlled substance.
  5. Failing to implement a random controlled substances and/or alcohol testing program
  6. Knowingly using a driver who does not possess a valid commercial driver's license.
  7. Knowingly allowing, requiring, permitting or authorizing an employee with a CDL which is suspended, revoked, or canceled by a State or who is disqualified to operate a commercial motor vehicle.
  8. Knowingly allowing, requiring, permitting or authorizing a driver to drive who is disqualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle.
  9. Operating a motor vehicle without having in effect the required minimum levels of financial responsibility coverage.
  10. Operating a passenger carrying vehicle without having in effect the required minimum levels of financial responsibility.
  11. Knowingly using a disqualified driver.
  12. Knowingly using a physically disqualified driver.
  13. Failing to require a driver to make a record of duty status.*
  14. Requiring or permitting the operation of a commercial motor vehicle declared “out-of-service” before repairs are made.
  15. Failing to correct out-of-service defects listed by driver in a driver vehicle inspection report before the vehicle is operated again.
  16. Using a commercial motor vehicle not periodically inspected.*

* Requires a violation of 51 percent or more examined records to trigger an automatic failure.

Start working on these issues early to avoid problems "down the road" in your trucking operations. A good rule of thumb is to educate drivers, dispatchers and the book-keeping people in your business to maintain good records, follow standard operating procedures and guidelines, as well as staying informed about current FMCSA and DOT changes in regulations.

If possible, us a good book-keeping system like Trip Sheet Central (Learn more) or similar product.

Hours-of-Service Regulations

The Hours-of-Service regulations (49 CFR Part 395) put limits in place for when and how long commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers may drive. These regulations are based on an exhaustive scientific review and are designed to ensure truck drivers get the necessary rest to perform safe operations. FMCSA also reviewed existing fatigue research and worked with organizations like the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies and the National Institute for Occupational Safety in setting these HOS rules.

The regulations are designed to continue the downward trend in truck fatalities and maintain motor carrier operational efficiencies. Although the HOS regulations are found in Part 395 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, many States have identical or similar regulations for intrastate traffic.

Read the most current HOS rules and regulations at the FMCSA website

Taking care of family -last?

That's an odd headline, but I figure it oughta catch anyone's attention fairly quickly.

As an owner operator, or independent truck business owner, you may fall into the category of small business owners that do not have big company benefits like health insurance or life insurance. Insurance of any kind these days is outrageously expensive, and even with the folks in congress talking about it all the time it is still a few years away from being useful to us right now when we need it.

I want to focus for now on life insurance. Driving a truck is much safer these days but there is still the odd chance that as a truck driver you could be involved in a fatal crash. Back when I was driving a truck, there are times I would be just so tired and yet I could not stop because I needed to cover more miles to make an on-time delivery. In many of those instances I dreaded falling asleep at the wheel and the thought of being in a crash often kept me awake. I thought of my wife and kids back home who depended entirely on me for the bread on the table, clothing, shelter, -you name it. I thought about buying life insurance and the one quote I got was so high I immediately shelved the idea.

Well, I'm now more informed about life insurance and the kind to buy. I'm not an expert on this, but I do know that Guaranteed Level Term Life Insurance can be purchased for less than a couple lunches a month. For instance, you can buy a $400,000 15-20yr guaranteed level term life insurance policy for about $30/month or a couple hundred/year depending on your age and health. This is a good buy, and peace of mind knowing that you're taking care of your family the last time you do. To get a free quote and see just how affordable it is go to Zander Insurance' website www.zanderins.com