“Think Like a Trucker”: A Cautionary Tale

During the summer, my family and another family rented an RV together and took a one-week trip from the Mid-Atlantic up to Maine and New Hampshire. Overall, the trip was a success: we visited a part of the country we’d never seen before, we saw some amazing sights, and we spent some quality time with good friends.

“A success” doesn’t necessarily mean “perfect,” though—and this trip definitely had its share of problems. None of them was bad enough to ruin our vacation, but all of them could have been avoided by a bit more research and planning.

In setting our itinerary, for example, we plotted a course that went through New York City on its way to New England. That’s all fine and dandy for travel by car … but not so good for travel in a vehicle that weighs 20,000 pounds and is about as nimble as a small mountain.

Our route also took us onto the Merritt Parkway in Connecticut. Again, because none of us had ever driven a truck or RV before, we didn’t realize that those classes of vehicles are prohibited on parkways. And because we were thinking like car drivers, it never occurred to us that bridge clearances might be a problem for a twelve-foot-tall RV. Fortunately, we were able to fix this mistake quickly and get off the parkway only one exit later!

As I said, our problem was that we were thinking like car drivers. If we’d been thinking like truckers (since the RV is basically a kind of truck), we would have had a very different perspective on our trip planning. We would have known to avoid dense city streets, parkways, and bridges with low clearances. (We also would’ve been more prepared for the whopping $700 fuel bill for our vacation!)

“Think like a trucker” is good advice for running a business, too. Rather than make decisions based only on what you already know, adopt a mindset that’s appropriate for the situation. Try to look at things from your customer’s point of view, for example. A shift in your perspective can yield insight into problems (and solutions) that you wouldn’t have noticed otherwise—and demonstrate to your clients both your ability to think outside the box and your willingness to be flexible to meet their needs.

If you don’t “think like a trucker,” you may find yourself stuck in the same old patterns. At best, they’ll limit your ability to serve your customers; at worst, they’ll keep you buried in the pack, well behind your competition.

So take the time to think through every situation carefully. Look at it from all angles, and make no off-the-cuff assumptions about what you think you need to know. True, you may already have a lot of relevant knowledge. But there’s always something new to learn—and what works for one client (or a car) might not work for another client (or an RV).


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