LAS VEGAS – High diesel prices, rising insurance rates, and costly adjustments to new hours of service rules are putting pressure on the bottom line of many trucking operators— that’s why many fleets are increasingly seeking advice for the business side of their operations, according to one industry consultant.

“[Trucking] is a capital intensive business and a lot of fleets we’re talking to are hauling a lot of freight but not making any money,” Richard Bell, president of CPA and consulting firm Bell & Company, told Fleet Owner here at The Truck Show. “In many cases, they are too deep in the ditch to see what’s wrong. They are great on the operations side but not on the business side – that’s where they need help.”

Bell said his average client operates from 25 to 100 trucks and he’s seeing many more look for outside help not only for managing their business, but also to understand complex tax laws.

“I started out solely as a tax and CPA firm, but found that many smaller operators needed a lot of help to get the whole business side straightened out so they could be profitable,” Bell explained. “Many didn’t understand depreciation and per diem rules, others didn’t finance their trucks right, and others were running the wrong lanes with the wrong rate structures. And with fuel and other trucking costs so high now, small mistakes of a few pennies here or there can really add up down the road.”

He said he’s also seeing more owner-operators searching out such business help for the same reasons – they know how to operate trucks, but getting a handle on all the business requirements to make operating a truck profitable is proving increasingly difficult.

“It’s costly and competitive out there, despite all the available freight,” Bell explained. “That’s why many trucking operators seem to be looking for all the help they could get.”