What Exactly Happens at a Private Fleet Conference?
I just returned from the National Private Truck Council (NPTC) annual conference in Cincinnati. Each year, the largest trucking private fleets come together and talk about how to better their individual business models and continue to look for ways to add value to their parent companies. Retailers, manufactures, food distributors, and many trucking industry vendors are in attendance. This year’s show was another record breaker, with over 1,200 attendees.
Private fleets represent three-fourths of the trucks on the road today. This is a huge segment of the trucking industry. Many of these fleets have very large parent companies. Their primary goal is servicing the parent company and delivering their products to the customer. Many of these companies will augment their outbound and inbound transportation with “for hire” carriers and use their fleets in the areas that require consistent service, regular runs, or specific handling needs. These fleets are clean, professional, and have the lowest driver turnover in the business. Generally, these are more desirable trucking jobs than other trucking segments.
So what goes on at the NPTC conference? Well, here is a little insight into the agenda.
Awards Programs. As you can imagine, there are quite a few professional awards. Some awards include Driver of the Year, Safety Awards, and many Executive Awards. I personally had the privilege of presenting the C.H. Robinson/NPTC Excellence in Backhauling Award. This year’s winner was Ashley Distribution (Ashley Furniture’s fleet).
Educational Sessions. There are numerous workshops and educational sessions—something for everyone. A big honor is the becoming a Certified Transportation Professional (CTP). This is a pretty rigorous class that covers all aspects of the private fleet operations. The week-long class had over 70 graduates this year. This is a well-respected certification in the private fleet world. Other topics include employment and driver strategies, maintenance and safety, new technologies, the government and legal landscape, and analytical coaching. The most interesting part of the sessions is the fact that all the people presenting and teaching the material are all members. These are very engaged individuals who are genuinely interested in helping better one another and the private fleet industry as a whole.
Benchmarking Study. A big value of being part of the NPTC is to participate in the annual benchmarking study. Participating members complete a comprehensive survey on the various aspects of their business and how the fleet is performing. The data is compiled and shared amongst those who participate in the study. General areas covered in the benchmarking survey include equipment trends; trailers; empty miles; utilization figures; and maintenance, labor, cost, and safety trends. It is a very comprehensive study that really helps you understand the complexity involved in managing a sizable fleet.
Exhibit Hall/Receptions. Most all trucking conferences include time for vendors to exhibit and additional time for socializing and building relationships; NPTC is no different. Software and telematics providers continue to dominate the show floor as electronic logging devices (ELDs) become more common. There are so many new technologies to help carriers monitor elogs, equipment performance, and fleet optimization. The list of exhibits has grown each year—it is easily as big as any of the for-hire trucking conferences with a lot of foot traffic each day.
So what was my big takeaway this year at the NPTC conference? It really dawned on me that the private fleet industry has morphed into a complex business. The constant need to provide value to the parent company, the intense data involved, and always striving for better results are all considerations that private fleets face today; not to mention the equipment that gets more and more sophisticated. Today, more so than ever before, private fleet executives need to have a great deal of knowledge across many areas of the business.
If you work for a fleet, I highly recommend checking out the National Private Truck Council and their series of conferences. The engagement level of the members is clearly visible as they continue to grow their organization. For more on the conference or becoming a member of the NPTC, visit www.NPTC.org.