Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Fwd: Evernote:Why Truck Drivers Are Job Hoppers?

From Evernote:

Why Truck Drivers Are Job Hoppers?

The trucking industry is different in that there seems to be a shortage of drivers.  It has been that way for as long as I've been driving.  There was a slow down when the economy tanked a few years ago, but even then a driver could find a job if they wanted one.

There doesn't, however, seem to be a shortage of trucking companies.  That, combined with the shortage of drivers, has created a bittersweet situation for the OTR driver. 

No matter who a driver is working fo
r, there is always another company ready to steal them away. The advertising in the truck stops, radio and the back of trailers being pulled down the road is endless. As a result, drivers end up switching companies with the promise of greener grass when things start getting rough at the company they are at. The turnover rate for large truck load carriers range anywhere from 100 to 130%. The bitter irony of all this, is many OTR drivers end up with ten plus jobs to list for as many years, creating a resume that would scare off many potential local employers if and when they want to come off the road.

A big problem when a driver is choosing a company, is they end up driving for a company that has issues the driver didn't know they had and can't deal with.  There are many different types of freight hauled in many different ways to many different places.  By the same token there are many different drivers with different needs from a company.  Some drivers need to be home every week and don't want to be more than a thousand miles away.  Other drivers like longer runs and don't mind being out four to six weeks at a time. 

It is important that a driver know ALL of their needs as a driver and have a list of questions to ask the potential employer before switching jobs. The following is a list of questions a driver should know the answers to before accepting a job offer from a trucking company.  

  • What is your rate of pay for my experience? What rate does your driver pay top out?
As an experienced driver, I know what I am worth so it goes without saying these should be the first questions. The answers to the rest of these questions should justify the answer to this one.
  • What do you use to calculate the miles you pay your drivers?
There are several different programs that a company can use to calculate the miles they pay their drivers.  Most of them use Household Movers Guide.  This program has stolen thousands of miles from me through the years. Another program is Rand McNally.  This program is better than Household Movers Guide, but still comes second to the Practical Miles program.  The Practical Miles program is the closest to actual miles turned I have heard about to date.  Getting paid Practical Miles is worth at least two to three cents more per mile when compared to Household Movers Guide. 
  • How many miles do your drivers average per week? 
Most of the time they will tell you twenty-five hundred to three thousand for a solo driver and five to six thousand for a team. If it is lower than that and you need to make money I would keep looking.
  • What is your average length of haul?
For me, even if I ran solo I would need this number to be up over a thousand miles.  For OTR drivers it is very taxing to have an average length of haul less than this.  What ends up happening is the driver will spend all day getting unloaded and reloaded. (This is done for free of course.  Except for the deadhead miles or extra stops.)  Then, after the driver finally gets loaded, they end up having to run three or four hundred miles overnight so they can deliver the next morning and do it all over again.   This is great for a regional driver who gets home on the weekend to recoup but its murder on an OTR driver. 
  • What percentage of your loads are drop and hook?
The answer to this question could very well offset the low average length of haul question.  After all, its all about keeping the wheels turning and not spending all day on a dock.  I look for this number to be over seventy-five percent.
  • What speed are your trucks governed at?
My personal feelings about governors aside, reality is that most companies have them so we deal with them.  In my experience, the slower the governor is set the more money per mile a driver gets paid. Not always the case though because some companies hire students and get to lowball them in pay and speed.  It stands to reason that the slower the truck, the less miles the driver can average in a day and through the week resulting in a smaller check.  A difference of five miles per hour can add up to three hundred fifty miles in a week.  That's well over a hundred bucks.  Personally I won't work for a company with the governor set less than sixty-five miles per hour. 
  • What kind of truck will I be driving and how old are they?
We don't get paid while the truck is in the shop.   The newer the better. Also, if you are OTR this is your home.  Even more than the one you go to on your time off.  You will be spending five or six times more time in that truck than at your house.  Comfort is important to an OTR driver. 
  • Do you have APU's on your trucks?  If not, is there a no idling policy?
APU's are great because a driver gets a/c, heat and electric without idling their truck.  No one wants a driver to idle any more and this is a good alternative.  However, alot of companies haven't made the investment yet and still want the driver to freeze in the winter and sweat in the summer. If you are a solo driver you should probably ask these questions. 
  • What is your primary lane of travel?

Knowing the company's primary lane of travel is important because it can have a  considerable affect on how easy or hard your average day will be.  Some lanes are more preferred than others.   Our primary lanes are I-70 and I-80.  We run the other interstates, we just mostly run 70 and 80.  These are preferred over interstates such as I-95 because of the high volume of traffic, or I-77 because of the endless mountains and curves.
  • What is your primary customer base?

Again, knowing the company's primary customer base can profoundly affect how well your average day will go.  I already know I don't want to deliver to grocery warehouses because of the length of time spent on the dock and their general attitude towards truckers.
  • Do your trucks have prepass and ezpass?

Prepass allows a driver to bypass open scales a majority of the time and ezpass gets a driver through most toll roads without out of pocket expense or even stopping alot of times.  These items on the truck simply makes a driver's life easier.

There are many other questions a driver might want to ask the company, such as medical benefits, direct deposit and pet/rider policy.  But the list of questions in this article, in my experience, are the ones that drivers change companies over.

Some questions, however, the recruiter either cannot or will not answer truthfully. Such as, Do the fleet managers treat the drivers with respect, or do they talk down to them?  Is the payroll correct almost all the time? Will I get home on or before the date I request?  It's always a good idea to get the answers to your questions and then talk to three other drivers to get their opinion.

I hope this article helps drivers in their quest to find their best personal fit for a trucking company.  

Stephen Riser Sr.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing this information that you share on your blog. It was a big help for me that needs to learn about trucking. I hope that I can learn a lot about this so that I am prepared to word in a heavy hauling company,

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