5 School Bus Facts

Did you know that:

  1.  It was in 1886 that a man named Wayne Works started to produce horse-drawn carriages called “school hacks”?   In 1914, when the automotive industry began to boom, Works saw an opportunity and motorized his carriages, creating the first vehicle specifically for school transportation.
  2. Before the 1920’s, school buses had cloth curtains instead of glass windows?
  3. School buses are yellow because the colour is especially visible in the early morning and evening light, exactly when children are using the buses and when visibility is lower?
  4. School buses have no seat belts because they have what is known as “passive protection”?  In the 1970’s, governments took a hard look at the design of the buses and decided that, in the best interests of children, it was better to remove the belts but reconfigure the overall design of the buses to make them safer.  The seats themselves have high padded backs and seats, and are a specific distance apart.  They are also designed to collapse at a certain rate in the event of a collision.  The bus windows have also been taken into consideration, with a size that will allow for easier evacuation.
  5. The yellow school bus is a very North American tradition?  Other countries use yellow buses as well, but there is a lot of variation due to differences in culture, laws and climate.  Take a look at some international school buses below:

This one is a Pickachu bus from Japan:

This one is from South Korea:

This one could actually be found in certain parts of the United States, where children need to get across frozen bodies of water to get to school:

This is from El Salvador:

And this water bus comes from the state of Bahia in Brazil:

 

Straight-up Advice on Getting Organized

No matter what kind of business you run, there are two elements that are key to any success, and yet often times these two things are the most overlooked and undervalued.  We’re talking about organization and communication, and they shouldn’t be taken lightly.  You can have the best business idea in the world, but if you don’t have these two things once your business is up and running, you’re going to nosedive fast.  We’re going to talk here about one way that organization and communication can work hand-in-hand to give your work a foundation.

The organization of your business needs to include a set of systems and routines that are used every day, by everyone all the way from Management to Maintenance.  These systems and routines are commonly called Standard Operating Procedures (or SOPs) and they act like a backbone for the day-to-day functioning of your business.  Once you have these SOPs in place, you need to communicate them to everyone involved.  Let’s take a look at the Why, How and Who of SOPs:

Why

  1.  SOPs create organization, organization creates clarity, clarity creates more space for focused, productive thinking;
  2. Employee satisfaction is higher because people know what they are doing and why.  There is an external, objective reference point that creates stability and can help guide decisions;
  3. Efficiency is enhanced because less time is wasted trying to find random solutions for problems that have already been identified and solved;
  4. Less time wasted = greater productivity = higher profits.  Sounds good to us.

How

  1. Study your current tasks in all departments, establish the most efficient routines for accomplishing them, and document everything;
  2. Implement these routines through direct communication and training;
  3. Ensure that all current employees are given sufficient time to absorb the information and keep up-to-date on their progress
  4. Create a training program for all new employees that is thorough and consistent, with everyone being exposed to the same information so that there are no gaps in knowledge.

Who

  1. Everyone in the company needs to participate in the actual use of the SOPs, including the Owner/President, etc.  If certain people skip over the SOPs, others will start to follow their lead and you won’t have the effect you want;
  2. Management or Human Resources creates the SOPs with input from employees with regard to specific tasks and how best to accomplish them;
  3. Remaining receptive to employee suggestions after SOPs have been implemented helps to ensure compliance and respect for the procedures because they then perceive themselves and their experience as integral to the functioning of the company.

Putting together a set of SOPs might feel a bit daunting, but the time you spend now in creating this framework will be more than recuperated later in terms of different efficiencies, clarity and employee satisfaction.  SOPs are a highly effective, practical tool for organization, and when they are communicated well and with consistency, they can add great value to your business in many different ways.

TPI and incremental change

In our last blog post, we talked about how maintaining small, positive changes over a period of time can bring about solid returns.  The idea of achieving a goal doesn’t seem overwhelming when we look at it this way, and we are more likely to maintain our progress as we are not being asked for monumental, superhuman efforts every single day.

As we also pointed out, it helps to discontinue certain small, negative behaviours that, over the long run, add up to fairly substantial impediments or growth-negaters.  For example, if you are chronically late to work everyday by ten minutes and don’t make up that time anywhere else, you will eventually lose a sizable chunk of time.  Over the course of three months, you’re looking at 12.5 hours.  That’s quite a bit.  On top of that, you are probably not starting your day off with a clear mind because you are rushed, stressed, and the space in your brain is taken up with a whole range of negative feelings because you are late.  There’s not much space left for healthy, productive, positive behaviours.  If you turn this around, however, and start arriving 10 minutes early, then you will be giving yourself the gift of an easily-found extra 12.5 hours over three months PLUS a mind that is less-stressed and calmer, more able to start the day successfully.

With these ideas in mind, a challenge you can set yourself involves two things:

  1.  Which behaviours, actions or improvements can you begin including in your day that might seem small but are actually important?  For example, I really don’t like looking at my bank balance on a regular basis (even when I’m doing okay) just because I dread finding out that I am in worse shape than I thought.  In the times that I have been able to get into the habit of checking my balance daily (ideally in the morning), I have been able to plan correctly and save myself from being overdrawn or slowly chewing away at my bank account through unnecessary transactions.  At times, I have been able to hold onto cash for emergencies that have arisen, or even invested it somewhere.  That is always a positive thing.
  2. The flip-side of this is what kinds of small, negative, perhaps lazy habits can you eliminate over a period of time in order to end up with a positive result?  A classic example is take-away coffee.  Going to your local coffee shop every morning on the way to work and getting a latte starts to add up.  Take-out coffee on its own can easily reach an extra $100/month, and in order to eliminate this cost, you just need to set up the habit of making enough coffee for yourself at home before you leave the house.  Setting up a new habit and breaking an old one can seem like a tall order at times, but if we actually give ourselves that time to get used to things, we will be successful (and, in this case, a little bit richer).

In both of these cases, finding different things to change involves seeing where you are already doing something well, and adding one more positive behaviour to it, or, seeing where you’re doing something that ends up being a negative and eliminating.  In both cases, it’s just a matter of taking some time and analyzing basic behaviours.

With TPI, there are also ways that our system can help you, in small, incremental amounts to achieve greater profit and success.  Once you are up and running with the system and have gotten used to the different basic functions, you can start branching out and taking a look at some different features.  Here are a couple that are entirely beneficial when implemented as regular, rapid routines.

  1.  Truck Model Profitability:  in the Sellers’ Account Settings, go to Profit and then Reports.  From there, you go to Inventory and then to Truck Model Profitability.  This report quickly tells you which models are selling the best and it is a quick visual snapshot that, if you look at it regularly, will help you direct your future purchases on a consistent basis.  
  2. Missed Sales:  a technical explanation of how to use this feature is on our support site, but essentially it is a handy way to track what kind of items you might want to start including in your inventory if there seems to be a demand for them.  Like the Truck Model Profitability feature, Missed Sales can be easily fit into a morning routine to help orient the days and your purchases.
  3. TPI is full of many different features, and most of them can be quick and easy to use.  Take a look at this blog post and this one, and you will have a handy set of twenty new ideas that can help you get where you want to go, faster.

Overall, using TPI is quick and easy, and even it’s most basic features will help you save time simply by being more organized and systematic.  Adding in any of the different features we have mentioned here will only increase your profitability as you maintain a closer relationship with what is actually happening and can make better decisions for the future.  We encourage you to implement features one by one, and you’ll start to see a difference in a very short period of time.