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Accounting for Road Transport

The road transport and logistics industry is a big part of the Australian economy and it includes road, rail, air and sea freight, together with warehousing and handling. The latest statistics suggest it is a $94 billion industry and it continues to grow with the rising population and economic activity. Some states forecast freight movement tonnages will increase at a greater rate than the population.

Road transport dominates the movement of freight around the country and it is a critical link in the increasingly complex chain that moves freight from ports and terminals and distributes it to warehouses and retail outlets. Success in road transport can be a 'long haul' and information technology and customer demands are driving a more integrated approach to logistics management with widespread use of real-time freight tracking through electronic monitoring and messaging systems installed in transport vehicles. The road freight industry has become more complex in recent years with the introduction of some sophisticated technology in trucks, loading systems and office systems and while the capital investment of a road freight business is probably at its highest levels, finance remains tight. 

In road freight, smaller operators have little influence over key costs such as fuel and labour or the price they are able to charge their customers. They are price-takers and even some of the large operators struggle to differentiate their services from those provided by a large number of owner/drivers and small operators who drive down price by engaging in price-led competition. It is a highly competitive industry and both customers and the broader community expect the highest standards of safety and efficiency. The competitiveness of the industry is reflected in low industry returns with average profitability of just 6.2%. It is a fine line between success and failure and road freight operators must measure and understand their costs. We genuinely believe that having an accountant who understands your industry can give you a serious competitive edge.

Industry particpants like interstate drivers, long haulage contractors, couriers and taxi truck operators all face issues like road congestion, fuel excise, maintenance costs and fluctuating fuel prices. While the industry spans a wide range of participants from one truck owner-drivers through to large national fleets, they all have to contend with long hours. Not only that, the pressure of deadlines means safety and fatigue remain big concerns as does increased regulation for all prime movers and trailers under the guidelines of the National Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Scheme. The industry is also not immune from staff turnover and rising operating costs. It's no surprise that bookkeeping and administration often don’t get the attention they deserve and while GST, BAS and tax payments often represent some of the largest financial obligations for a road transport business, many end up paying too much tax and incur fines for non-compliance.

Having an accountant who understands the mechanics of the road freight and logistics industry can give you an edge. Over the years we have attracted a number of road and freight transport clients who all have to deal with the usual small business compliance issues of GST, BAS, PAYG and superannuation. However, we believe you want more than just tax compliance services which is why we provide advice on cash flow management, finance and wealth creation.

THINKING OF STARTING A ROAD TRANSPORT BUSINESS?

Over the years we have mentored dozens of transport business owners through the various stages of their business life cycle - from start up right through to sale. We offer you experience, technical tax knowledge and most importantly, an intimate understanding of your industry.

We have built a reputation a business start-up specialists and road transport and logistics have become one of our niche industries. If you're looking to start a trucking business or buy into an existing trucking business, there are numerous issues to consider. You need to establish your business structure, complete tax and GST registrations, consider insurances, select an accounting software program and possibly explore your finance options. It can be a maze of issues but as accountants and business advisors we can assist you in all of these areas plus provide advice on the preparation of a business plan, marketing plan and a cash flow budget. If you're also contemplating employing staff we can assist you with human resource matters including payroll, WorkCover and superannuation guarantee obligations.

Over the past two decades our team of accountants have helped dozens of truckies, rail, air and sea freight business owners get their business off to a flying start. We offer you experience, technical tax knowledge, marketing expertise and most importantly, an intimate understanding of the trucking and logistics industry.

Starting a business is a bit like building a house that requires solid foundations. In a business sense these foundations include the right tax structure and accounting software, adequate and appropriate insurances together with a marketing plan and a lead generation website. Your choice of business structure is absolutely critical and there are a number of different options including sole trader, partnership, company and trust. When selecting the most appropriate structure for your business we always recommend you ‘start with the end in mind’ because Australian tax laws are complex and changing your business structure at some point in the future can trigger a capital gains tax event that could prove very costly.

Whenever we provide advice on business structures we always take into account:

  • Income Tax Minimisation
  • Maximize Asset Protection
  • Allow for the Admission of New Business Partners or Investors
  • Comply with all Legal Requirements in your Industry
  • The Risk Profile of Your Industry
  • Consider Future Entitlement to Discount Capital Gains Tax Concessions

As a consequence, we often find the business structure is a compromise based on the relative importance of each of these issues.

Another brick in your business foundations is your choice of accounting software. Poor record keeping is one of the biggest causes of business failure in this country and up to date, accurate financial records let you to make informed business decisions. The wrong choice of software can be catastrophic and too often we find business owners produce what we describe as ‘computerised shoebox’ records that cause frustration, waste time and create additional fees. This conflicts with our mission of helping you slash the time and cost associated with bookkeeping and GST compliance.

Here at More Than Numbers we want to be your accountants and business advisors, not an expensive bookkeeping service. We do more than ‘keep the score’ for our clients and when selecting the most appropriate accounting software for your business we always recommend you match your business needs with your level of accounting skill. You’ll find we support a range of different software options but we do have a preference for cloud based solutions like Xero because of their flexibility and the fact that you can access your financial data via the internet and invite your accountant or bookkeeper to view your accounts at the same time. This means you can get bookkeeping support and valuable advice in real-time. You can also log-in anytime, anywhere on your Mac, PC, tablet or smart phone to get a real-time view of your cash flow. Your data is automatically backed up and users have access to the latest version of your financial data plus you never need to worry about installing software or program updates.

To build a house you also need the right tools and when 'constructing' your business we have developed a number of tools including a start-up expense checklist broken down into various categories including: 
-  tools and equipment
-  professional advice and software
-  information technology costs – software and hardware
-  marketing and signage
-  vehicle costs

This checklist will help you identify all your potential establishment costs and these figures then feed through to our cash flow budget template and allow us to produce a projected profit and loss statement for your first year of trading. These reports can also tuck neatly into our business plan template that is designed to help you secure funding from external sources like a bank.

In transport and logistics your vehicles are your tools of the trade. Finance is critical and you need the right type of finance to suit your tax position. Through an affiliate partner we can assist you with your vehicle finance (chattel mortgage, CHP or lease) and even get you fleet pricing on new cars, utes and light commercial vans that could save you thousands of dollars.

In summary, if you're contemplating starting a freight business you don't need to reinvent the wheel as we have all the tools and resources to help you get off to a flying start. In fact, that’s just the beginning because as accountants we can do some financial modelling and prepare some ‘what if’ calculations based on different price points so you know your business’ best and worst case profit scenarios. Next, using industry benchmarks we can compare the performance of your business against your competitors so you understand what is working in the business and what areas need working on.

MARKETING YOUR TRUCKING OR FREIGHT BUSINESS

Like you, we operate in a very crowded and competitive industry. We recognise the fact that your marketing could be the difference between gloom and boom and while we have a small firm personality, we have big firm capabilities. One feature that distinguishes us from other accounting firms is our marketing expertise.

Most road transport and logistics operators rely on their reputation and referrals to grow their business. While these ingredients certainly remain important, in the digital age you need to shift your marketing focus online. Increasingly local searches like ‘Trucking Company Erina’ are driving traffic to your website which is often the first touch point with a potential new customer. As you know, in business, you only get one chance to make a good first impression and your website is your 'online shopfront' and silent sales person working 24/7 to promote your business.

Over the past few years we have worked with dozens of clients to help them create quality, affordable lead generation websites that are responsive to smart phones and tablets. We can help you plan and build your website, optimise it for Google and the other search engines plus assist you with your content creation including video production and digital publishing. If your website is missing features like lead magnets, calls to action or landing pages we'll help you build them plus we'll also introduce you to strategies like re-marketing and search engine optimization to drive more traffic to your website.

Your brand should resonate with your target market and we can assist you with the development of your business name, logo and slogan, your corporate brochure plus we can help you write blogs and newsletters. We can also help you harness the power of social media to win more referrals. If you aren’t using some of these marketing techniques your business probably won't reach its full profit potential.

Most importantly, we understand that business owners like you want more sales, more customers and more profit so we also give you access to one of the world’s most successful marketing programs, the ‘Business Growth System’. It contains more than 80 breakthrough marketing strategies supported by videos, templates, checklists and 2,500 pages of instructions. Access to this ‘vault’ of resources would normally cost you $500 per month, however, as a client of the firm you get unlimited FREE access. In addition, you also get access to the ‘Grow Your Business in 5 Days’ video training course that could have a massive impact on your future business growth. That's over $7,000 of valuable marketing tools you receive when you come on board as a client with us.

We will help you understand the four ways to grow a business plus identify the key profit drivers in your business. We can walk you through a number of profit improvement strategies and even quantify the profit improvement potential in your business. Our role is to make sure you know your numbers and don't leave any profit or tax savings on the table.

That’s really just the beginning because as accountants we can do some financial modelling and prepare some ‘what if’ calculations. This lets us project your business’ best and worst case profit scenarios. Next, using industry benchmarks we can compare the performance of your business against your competitors so you understand what is working in the business and what needs working on.

In summary, our business advisors offer trucking clients a range of tailored business solutions including: 
  • Start-Up Business Advice for your Transport and Logistics Business
  • Spreadsheets and Tools including a Start Up Expense Checklist
  • Advice and Establishment of Your Business Structure taking into account issues like Asset Protection, Tax Minimisation and Future Discount Capital Gains Tax Concessions
  • Business Registrations including ABN, TFN, GST, WorkCover etc.
  • Preparation of Business Plans, Cash Flow Forecasts and Profit Projections
  • Accounting Software Selection and Training – Bookkeeping, Invoicing & Payroll
  • Preparation of Finance Applications & Bank Submissions
  • Preparation and Analysis of Financial Statements
  • Bookkeeping and Payroll Services
  • Tax Planning Strategies
  • Industry Benchmarking and KPI Management
  • Advice and Assistance with Websites - Development, Content and SEO
  • Personal Financial Planning & Wealth Creation Strategies
  • Business & Risk Insurances including Income Protection and Life Insurance
  • Vehicle and Equipment Finance (Chattel Mortgage, Lease etc.)
  • Monitoring and Controlling Labour Costs
  • Recession and Survival Strategies
  • Business Succession Planning

We are so much more than just tax Accountants. We are business advisors and profit builders who genuinely care about the success of your transport or logistics business. Here at More Than Numbers we service the needs of a number of road, rail, air and sea freight operators and offer you strategies to grow your business, your profits and your wealth. Transport logistics have become a real niche within our accounting practice and if you’re looking to get your business off to a flying start or want to grow your existing business, contact us today.

We invite you to book a FREE, one hour introductory consultation to discuss your business needs. You'll get practical business, tax, marketing and financial advice designed to help you build your business and grow your wealth. To book a time, call us today on (02) 4389 7500 or complete your details in the box at the top of this page.

More Than Numbers - Build Your Business & Grow Your Wealth