Opinion

Backhanders are a real and sad transport reality

I purposely left this subject of backhanders out my book Don’t Suck the Pencils because it is a very real yet difficult subject to handle as a business operator. 

No matter what business or industry sector you are involved in, this issue of backhanders is a very real and sad reality.

For me the basic foundation of any successful business is TRUST and RESPECT. 

Backhanders have no part in this basic business foundation. Backhanders are a very slippery pole that once you become involved, tarnishes your reputation as being a reputable small or medium-sized business operator.

For a number of years, I have sent some of my customers and suppliers cases of mangoes as a token of appreciation. 

The mangoes come from our farm so I picked and packed them myself. They are always a well received and appreciated. There is never any expectations on my part from this gesture of appreciation.  

For me, the best way to describe a backhander would be when the gift or consideration shifts from appreciation to expectation. From hard-earned experience, with expectations will always come the need for additional consideration and bigger expectations. 

When the foundation of the gesture shifts from appreciation to expectation it starts to compromise you’re personal and business Values. When this happens the business relationship begins to be compromised and trust and respect start to be eroded away.

I am yet to be convinced that when big business in this country makes political donations this is not a backhander. 

With the consideration of big donations will come big expectations that will indirectly impact on us a small business operators. 

I recall watching an interview with the Prime Minister at time sitting in his office in Canberra a few years back. Over his left shoulder was a large and obviously expensive model truck with trailers. On the side of the truck was the branding of a very large transport company. 

For this to be displayed in such a prominent position in the office of the Prime Minister, I asked myself at the time, what expectations came with this gesture and how have these expectations impacted on my business? 

Small to medium-sized operators in the road transport sector in particular are continually having to accommodate the demands of government legislation that impacts directly on our day-to-day operations. 

More often than not, this legislation appears to be designed to make the job harder for the smaller operator. When I managed the transport operation, I continually questioned the motivation behind most of the legislation as a small fleet operator. 

Those small operators who were involved in the industry a few years back when the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT) was in operation can testify to this political interference. 

Safety and remuneration do go hand in hand but when in this case with the RSRT, we would have seen Australia crippled by the stupidity of this legislation. Big considerations with big expectations that would have destroyed owner-drivers and small fleet operators. 

No real solution to this issue of backhanders apart from you staying true to those values which define who you are as an individual and a business operator. 

If you would like a copy of my book Don’t Suck the Pencils purchase it from my website kissbusiness.com.au or contact me on my email graham@kissbusiness.com.au or mobile 0458 743 500.

Author Graham Cotter has dedicated his life to helping business owners.

About the author:

Graham Cotter’s passion is for small business, especially the road transport sector, and the significant role it plays in the Australian economy. 

Having both managed and owned a small-fleet operation for a number of years, Townsville-based Cotter has witnessed first-hand the difficulties small-business operators face in the day-to-day aspect of running a transport business and has now dedicated his life to assisting other business owners.

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