What did you learn at UMA EXPO that you will put in place in 2023?

A big draw to the UMA Motorcoach EXPO, in addition to networking and learning about new products, is the opportunity to spend time with industry experts to gain insights that will save or make them money.

It’s why Cary Martin, owner of Little Rock Coaches in Little Rock, Arkansas, brought several members of his leadership team to the four-day conference, held earlier this month in Orlando, Florida.

It was a great way to bring those leaders — which included his sales supervisor, shop foreman and operations manager — quickly up to speed on the industry. 

“They saw how Arkansas is part of a national picture and network. My shop foreman met other operations managers and other mechanics. He was amazed when he attended the Maintenance Interchange and heard all of the knowledge in the room. He was able to walk away with answers to questions that he had. Previously, he didn’t know where to turn for some of those answers. The Maintenance Interchange is fantastic for that.”

Bus & Motorcoach News asked Martin and others about what insights they gained at the UMA EXPO that they will put in place in 2023. Here’s what they had to say: 

“I took a lot of notes about things to double check in the seminar Electronic Logging Devices — Are they working for us? taught by Dan Tomlinson, with Lancer Insurance Company. I want to ensure we’re doing everything correctly and are ready if the Department of Transportation (DOT) comes in and asks for our records. I learned some new stuff, and a lot of it was good reminders. And I liked, toward the end, when there was just chatter among the operators about stuff, what works for them and what doesn’t; what products they are using, and how they are taking ELD to the next level. For some, ELD isn’t just a driver maintenance system. It’s a driver management system.”

Caroline Ravazzolo
Great Canadian Holidays & Coaches Trailways
Cambridge, Ontario, Canada

“I’ve heard about the fuel tax credit, but Tracy Fickett, who taught Meet Your New Friend … The U.S. Tax Code, explained it so well. I haven’t done it all these years because it didn’t seem like it was that easy. I thought it had to go through my accountant, but it doesn’t; it’s just a form you fill out. You get 17 cents off every gallon, and you get 24.3 cents off every gallon for school trips. We’re doing way more school trips, so we can now get a big check coming back to us. She explained in a way that was a little clearer than what I had heard before.”

** “Form 8849 can be prepared and sent in quarterly by company staff or your tax preparer or companies may file at year end on Form 4136 included with the income tax filing for the company,” Tracey Fickett added.

Mechelle Haines
JAG Motorcoach
Gladwin, Michigan 

“I attended the session Everything You Wanted to Know About Transporting Military but Were Afraid to Ask, taught by Donna Johnson, a U.S. Department of Transportation Bus Program Manager. “I learned more about the travel officers in the military branches and how they function with agents, how that whole system works together, and the inner workings of the government contracting process. This insight will help me when bidding on military contracts in the future. I think it will lead to more opportunities for military work. We do military work already, but now that I understand how some pieces fit together, it will help me in the future.”

Cary Martin
Little Rock Coaches
Little Rock, Arkansas

“I attended the session, Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse Requirements, Part 2, led by Brian Price, with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). I go to an FMCSA session every time I come to EXPO because there are so many rules with FMCSA. I like to go and listen to make sure that I haven’t overlooked something and become complacent. So, I treat it like a refresher class, because it’s good to hear the information again, so I don’t miss something. Another reason I like to go to the FMCSA sessions is that I like to hear other people’s questions, so if I ever come across that scenario in the future, I’ve heard the answer. I love that part, as well.” 

Kimberly Stange
Compass Coach
Grand Rapids, Michigan 

“I went to the finance-focused session, Who’s your banker?, led by Dave Johnson, with Motor Coach Industries (MCI), to polish up on the latest and greatest in coach financing, because we are seeking expansion. And to complete the expansion, we’re going to need more funding. His advice was to make friends with everyone in finance to find the best deal.”

Louis Sanders
Motor Coach Family of Brands
New Orleans, Louisiana

“I attended some great marketing seminars that were valuable sessions. One was Great Employees Work for Great Employers!, led by UMA Board Member Paige Balsinger, with All Around Charters. She mentioned that she always refers to all her employees as her teammates because everyone is a valuable part of her team, regardless of their role. When she introduces someone, she doesn’t say, ‘This is my driver or one of my wash group personnel.’ She says, ‘This is my teammate.’ I’m going to think a little bit more about the terminology I use when referring to my employees. We do call ourselves a team, and we do use that terminology regularly in our office. But I like the idea of using the same reference, whether it’s a teammate or something else, for all of my employees, regardless of what they do, because they all are important to our success.”

Alison Sherman
Klein Transportation
Douglassville, Pennsylvania

“I took part in the daylong Maintenance Interchange, coordinated by Kevin Whitworth. I learned something new about Preventive Maintenance Schedules (PMS). I learned how all the major companies have changed from doing PMS every 12,000 miles to about every 7,000 miles. I will implement that in my PMS program to reduce breakdowns and save money. Overall, EXPO was one of the best conferences I’ve been to, education-wise.”

Fitzgerald Wright
Wright’s Charters
Mobile, Alabama

“I took my operations manager to What Does Your Balance Sheet Actually Say About You?, led by Jim McCann, with Spader Business Management, because I wanted him to understand what I’m looking at as a member of a Spader 20 group. I wanted him to understand what it takes to move on to the next level. You have to understand the structure of your company to be able to know what changes you need to make, so you don’t get stuck at a plateau. If you don’t understand how your operation is structured, then you don’t know which way to grow your company. He loved it. Jim has a way of explaining business strategies.”

Robert Saucedo
Carreras Tours
Ontario, California

Read more EXPO coverage here. 

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