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4th March 1924, Page 24
4th March 1924
Page 24
Page 24, 4th March 1924 — THE HAULIERS' INQUIRE WITHIN.
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

The Fundamental Principles of a Simple but Effective System of Records, Book-keeping, etc., in Connection with a Small Provincial Bus Undertaking.

SO FAR as I personally was concerned, the rise in the price of 'petrol a couple of weeks ago came as a very real relief. It gave me the opportunity of taking a breath or two before going on to the next items in the programme of our friend the bus owner. He wants now, if you please, information about a suitable system of book-keeping to enable him to keep track of his accounts !

This is a tall order. All the book-keeping systems hitherto published have been designed for use' by large concerns, owning many vehicles and running, comparatively, a large number of services. The books recommended are so complicated, necessarily so, I admit, as to call for a staff. of clerks to keep them. Now my present correspondent has not a large fleet and, at present, he cannot afford a large clerical staff for keeping notes of his income and expenditure. Later on, no doubt, he will have the large fleet and he will have scores of clerks to do his accounts. We are dealing, however, in this matter, with things as they are, and his requirements are, I take it, such as will be covered by a simple system which will need little more than his own personal supervision for a few minutes a day, together with regular entries by the drivers and conductors of their day's work.

The items of expense are all those comprised in that earlier article in which I discussed the calculation of fares.

Sifting Out the Items.

Now, many of these expenses go on from month to month without alteration. Interest on capital cost, depreciation of buildings, rates and taxes and similar items are all, practically, unvarying from year's and to year's end. The proportional amounts representing expenditure in coonection with such items for any given period, less or more than a year, are obtainable by simple division or multiplication of the annual amounts. I shall have to deal with these items, of course, in outlining a complete system of book-keeping, and I will do so later on. There is no hurry for that part of the work at present. Urgency exists mainly in respect of current items of expenditure, which must be recorded daily and kept most accurately.

I find on looking back that I have already, on what might be termed three major occasions and several minor ones, dealt fully with methods of accountancy suitable for haulage contractors who are in a small way of business. Apparently, the need for these articles recurs at fairly regular intervals. In the first series, which was written in compliance with a request from several readers, I outlined a more or less orthodox, if simplified, method embodying drivers' daily reports and one comprehensively ruled account book. The second was devised in the hope of persuading readers to keep track of their own costs. I wrote it because it was apparent that the majority of those who wrote to me or discussed their business with me in any way, not only had not the least idea of their own actual costs, but. were never likely to have that information, because they had no notion of how to collect it and of how to record it.

I wrote that series, therefore, to show them how easy it was, really, to record and collate this information, and, by way of encouragement, made use, for i several weeks, of some of my space n The Commercial Motor as tabulated account forms. I also circulated further copies of these forms amongst those who chose to ask for them. I called the forms

B40 Log Sheets, and each of them was so set out as to, provide simple means whereby a haulier could, by daily entry, form weekly records of the running costs of four lorries, in respect of fuel, lubricants and maintenance.

I got a certain response to this effort, but not so much as I had hoped, and it became apparent to me, after some months of trial, that even that system, simple as it was, and with the work already half done on the forms provided, was not simple enough for the majority of small hauliers.

Unsuitable and Suitable Accounting Systems.

In the third series, therefore, I went one step further on the road to simplicity and almost eliminated books altogether. Fuel, lubricants and maintenance costs were, in that method, collated merely by retaining the receipts for money spent and filing them each on a separate spike file according to the item. That is to say, there was a file for fuel bills, one for oil and grease bills, and one for sundries, or maintenance, and the various receipts were filed accordingly. A small notebook for making additions, in order to arrive at the totals of 'the various invoices, was the only book required in addition to the bank pass book which I used in a specific and simple way to ensure that expenditure on such things as tyres and the alloeation of money for renewals were not forgotten. I have good grounds for belief that this system proved to be very helpful indeed to many small hauliers. Unfortunately, none of these three systems is suitable for our present purpose,of keeping the accounts of a proprietor of one or more bus services. A good system, however, can be compiled by a combination of the first and second of them, supplemented by Certain features designed to fulfil the specific requirements of a bus owner, as distinct from those of the haulage contractor or motor coach proprietor. . This system will embody daily report sheets compiled by both drivers and conductors, weekly logs entered up from these reports and a summary taken once every three or six months of all the weekly logs.

The driver's daily report will be, at one and the same time, his time sheet and a record of the mileage covered by the bus in his charge whilst he is driving it. It will show the amount of fuel and oil. used, as well as the items which have had to be taken from stores for use on the bus. It will embody space in which he an record any incidents in connection with the running of the vehicle, including such complaints as may be called for owing to failure, or inipending failure, of some of its parts. It will show as a check with which conductors the driver has been working during the day. The conductor's report sheet will be on similar lines to that-of the driver, in respect of mileage covered, inasmuch as it will show upon what route he has been working and how many times that route has been covered. The conductor, too, will be expected to make a note of any little defects which come under his notice and which he may think call for attention by the garage staff. Such things as bodywork, signalling bell, seats, and details of that kind come under the eye of the conductor and not of the driver. These things, of course, are in themselves no part of the book-keening; they are, however, essential items on the drivers' and conductors' reports and must be dealt with at the same time.

I propose in one or two subsequent articles to delve into all of these matters in closer detail.