The cost of energy and fuel was by far the greatest leading concern of small transportation businesses during the second quarter of 2007, according to the latest Small Business Research Board (SBRB) study released today.
Owners of transportation businesses responding to the nationwide poll co-sponsored by International Profit Associates (IPA) said health care costs, the general state of the economy, cost of materials and finding quality employees were included among the top five concerns.
IPA, with more than 1,800 professionals, is the largest privately-held provider of management consulting services to small and medium-size businesses in North America. IPA is based in Buffalo Grove, IL.
The costs for energy and fuel were cited by 50% of the respondents as the top concern during the second quarter. The next closest concern, health care costs, was cited by 8.5% of the respondents as the single most significant concern.
The quarterly poll of small business owners and managers also measured their interest in expanding their operations over the next 12 to 24 months. A full one-third (33%) of the respondents said they intend to expand during this period. Of those respondents, 33% said they would expand at current locations and 21% said they would add locations. About 17% of the business owners said that customer service enhancements would be part of expansion programs.
The small business owners said improvements to existing automation and improvements in staff training would be the two leading methods for increasing productivity during the next 12 to 24 months. Adding automation or technology, adding staff and implementing or enhancing employee incentive programs ranked third through fifth.
"It is no surprise that the gyrating energy and fuel costs are the leading concern of the transportation companies. It appears that the uncertainty of future movements in energy and fuel prices is compelling the transportation companies to invest more in improving upon current operations and systems rather than investing in new assets," said Gregg M. Steinberg, President of IPA.
The SBRB Transportation Industry study also indicated that 47% of the respondents believe the economy will improve during the next 12 months and that nearly 56% believe their revenues will increase during the same period. Transportation companies intend to increase hiring. The survey results showed that nearly 49% will add employees with almost 28% maintaining current staff levels.