Fixing the Five Dollar Haircut (Or, Sometimes it’s better to do things right the first time.)

Fixing the Five Dollar Haircut  (Or, Sometimes it’s better to do things right the first time.)

Many of you have surely heard the story of the $5 haircut before, but in case some have not, I’ll try to recap it briefly here.

The story goes like this; there is a barber in a small town – let’s call him Barber Smith – who has had most of the town’s business for several years. The town grows, the highway in and out of town gets smoother, cars go faster, and some people drive the 20 miles to a larger community and a bigger selection of barbers and beauticians. But enough locals patronize Barber Smith. He has just enough business to keep him busy, and charges seven dollars for a trim.

One day, a new barber moved to town, and right across the street from Smith’s shop, the new barber – we’ll call him Barber Davis – rented a shop and put a sign in front offering “$5.00 haircuts” . . .

Predictably, many of Smith’s long-time customers strayed across the street to save $2.00 on a haircut. Not surprisingly, the quality of the cheap haircut turns out to be substandard, and as soon as people’s hair started to grow out they discovered it was uneven and spikey.

What do you do with a bad haircut? Even as it grows it continues to be a bad haircut.

Well, here is one answer; you go back to the last good barber who did a good job. Sure enough, a few of Smith’s customers returned to have things put right, and before long, Smith put up a new sign across from the cut-rate barber and his $5.00 haircut sign. The new sign says “We fix $5.00 haircuts.”

The moral is, sometimes the cheapest option is not the best choice.

Sometimes I feel like the older barber.

If a person or three wants to start a trucking company, they can call me up and I’ll help them do things right the first time. Or, you can start a business without a clue, do things wrong, forget to do things that are important and that can get you in hot water with the DOT, and next thing you know, your frugality starts to cost you money in ways you had not anticipated. Maybe the DOT shuts you down. Maybe there’s a wreck and everyone is convinced they are going to jail, because all those things they said they didn’t know about. . . they knew they needed to do that – they just didn’t know how.

There are big fines from the agency, or your business is threatened when the DOT assigns you a less-than-satisfactory safety rating and some of your customers won’t return your calls any more.

Some people call me in these circumstances – to come in and fix what was not done right the first time. A bit like fixing the five-dollar haircut.


There have been a lot of customers who have come to us here at DOT Compliance Help Inc. after having a bad experience with a so-called DOT Expert who turned out not to know so much.

I’ve been in the business since 1988, but that’s not the whole story.
I have a unique way of explaining and demonstrating things, and my customers know not only what the FMCSA wants them to do, they know what to do FIRST. They know which mistakes might land them in jail. And where to find a checklist of things to do. And how to prioritize their effort. In short, I explain to people how to do the things that are discussed in the FMCSR.

“I got this email about your seminar, but I found this other seminar that cost less. . . Now after going to that seminar I don’t think I understand anything more than I did before.” . . . this is something I have heard numerous times.

This one is even worse. “After I apparently failed my safety audit, the DOT Was talking about shutting me down, and I hired this guy that said he could get everything done for me for $XX.XX. . . he took my money and printed out a bunch of flyers and left them here and now he doesn’t answer his phone. And I’m shut down in 4 days.”

There are a few people that have worked for the DOT for some time, and they know one slice of the organization’s responsibilities. But they have never worked for a trucking company.

Motor carrier management people hear this when they talk “According to 391.27, you have to blah, blah, blah, blabity blah” . . .  it’s one thing to memorize the regulation, and another thing entirely to explain it in actionable terms.


So here’s my advice; let me help you understand the regulations, and how to get it right the first time. If you decide to go it alone, or purchase services from a cheaper source, or just take a guess, I’ll be here to help you later. But my favorite customers are those who contact me before things are done wrong and before the DOT starts to take action and before the lawyers have anything to sink their teeth into.

For instance, THE VERY FIRST THING YOU MIGHT DO is getting your DOT number and MC authority – it’s pretty simple but if you’ve never done it before, a lot of people pay a permit company a lot of money to do it and THEY ALWAYS DO IT WRONG.

If you ask me to get your DOT number for you, I will get it in 30 minutes and it won’t cost you a penny.

If you want me to help with the MC Authority, I’ll do the online filing for you for almost nothing and it will be done right the first time. If this isn’t done right – and the permit companies never do – it’s nearly impossible to fix and it can cause you problems for years.

So call us before the DOT calls you. I enjoy helping you do it right the first time.


About DOT Compliance Help Inc
Phone: 847-836-6063 web: e-mail DOT Compliance Help, Inc. is a full-service consulting firm specializing in the interpretation and execution of the regulations and guidelines set forth by the US Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. •Mission Statement• To assist our clients in establishing proper safety management controls in order to minimize accidents, injuries, and fatalities. The ultimate goals are safer roadways for the public and increased profits for our clients. Our core consulting competencies include FMCSA Assessments (mock audits), DOT compliance training (on-site and via webinar) and custom safety plans and policies. We also hold DOT compliance workshops and conferences all across the country. Utilizing a proprietary curriculum developed by our President, Mike England, our classes cover everything you need to know about the FMCSRs, how to survive your next DOT Compliance Review, and how Comprehensive safety Analysis (CSA 2010) will affect you.

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