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Dedicated route possibility, for a beginner: how uncommon?

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Ithel's Comment
member avatar

I'd been in conversation with a trucking company near me, Online Transport, about a dedicated run , home daily, at Toyota, in Georgetown/Lexington, KY. That position requires 6-months OTR experience. They haul Lexus parts. I was more or less resigned to slog through another tax season (I own a tax prep office) with the intent of pursuing a traditional OTR path in May, when the recruiter I spoke with asked how far I was from another town.... five miles away. "Well, we do have a dedicated route there that might fit, once you get your CDL through our training." Apparently, this is hauling plastics in the KY/TN/IN area, home nightly or near-nightly, paid on an hourly basis. The hourly rate he mentioned would represent an annual compensation roughly double the average annual profit of my business, plus medical benefits.

Being away from my 15yr old daughter and sweet wife weeks at a time has been, easily, the greatest barrier to my thinking about this sharp turn in career choice.

I feel I would be a fool not to take this risk, as I am uncertain the chance would be there in May. Obviously, though, many old and contradictory adages come to mind. Things like, it's always greener on the other side... And, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush... My wife, being a wiser and better woman than I have any right to expect, handed me her Bible today and said to read Proverbs 12. And I came across this: "Better to be a nobody and have a servant than to appear to be a somebody and have no food." I had to laugh, because that's how it feels right now. There's a certain pride in saying I own my business and have lived off my own labors and efforts and client-care for nine years....yet had to top off my credit card to get us through December/January.

I have agonized over this decision. Everything I've ever done in my life I've taken very seriously. I don't commit quickly, but once I do, I stick to it sometimes to a fault. In our family conversations on the matter, my daughter has laughed several times, observing, "And so the pendulum swings..." She and my wife are supportive no matter what I choose. They even gave me a very nice insulated coffee mug for Christmas to take on the road. I felt Monday that opening the office this season was the only intelligent choice. I've invested so much life into it, often way way outside my comfort zone. I genuinely care for my clients, most particularly for the score or so elderly shut-ins I make house-calls to. Everyone knows me as the tax guy, with all the unstated and probably untrue assumptions about my mental acuity. On the other hand, 1500 business-related phone calls a year has really worn this pretty intensely private person out. Monday night, I couldn't sleep, just heart pounding and crazed thoughts all night, to the extent I finally got up at 4 and sent Online the more detailed list of references they had requested. They've now emailed me and want to talk about setting up the training.

So here I am, planning to call either Online tomorrow morning to see how solid that offer is... or my tax software provider to purchase this year's $900 installment.

So my question is this: if I'm planning to take the driving plunge anyway (and thus would have to shut my office down next year for certain), is this an unusual enough opportunity that I'd be wise to jump on it now? Or are these sorts of dedicated, regional/local routes common enough that I am likely to come across another one if I wait? This one wasn't listed on their webpage, for instance.

Thanks again for any insights you might offer. Apologies again for over-sharing. I know at least a few of you have owned a business and might have an idea what's racing around in my head right now. And all of you have made pretty significant career turns to get where you are. So, yeah, give me something to be sleepless over tonight.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

Dedicated Route:

A driver or carrier who transports cargo between regular, prescribed routes. Normally it means a driver will be dedicated to working for one particular customer like Walmart or Home Depot and they will only haul freight for that customer. You'll often hear drivers say something like, "I'm on the Walmart dedicated account."

Dedicated Run:

A driver or carrier who transports cargo between regular, prescribed routes. Normally it means a driver will be dedicated to working for one particular customer like Walmart or Home Depot and they will only haul freight for that customer. You'll often hear drivers say something like, "I'm on the Walmart dedicated account."

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

Big Scott's Comment
member avatar

I don't know the answer to your question, but I see there trucks at my customers hauling plastic parts for cars and trucks. They are probably a solid company. There has been steady growth in the plastic auto parts in the past few years. Good luck to you.

Cold War Surplus's Comment
member avatar

So many points of interest in Ithel's post. Here's how I break it down.

1. Your tax business. This is an ASSET. You've spent years of your life building a professional reputation and a client list. It seems wasteful to walk away from it for a plan B which may or may not work out for you. I would suggest keeping it alive by either bringing on an apprentice or bringing on a partner. Find someone starting out in tax preparation and have them do the data-entry and lower-level tasks then review the final product. Your clients still get your great skills, a trainee gets valuable experience and you still get a percentage of the fees for part-time training and supervision.

The other option is to find another small tax preparation firm and offer a partnership where you bring your client list, they do the work and pay you a smaller percentage as a, "finder's fee" for bringing them new clients. There's a lot of options in-between these two suggestions where you can monetize your asset and still have it available if things don't work out with driving.

2. Strictly speaking, this isn't driving a dedicated route. It's local to regional delivery. Yes, it's just plastic, but enough plastic can be be heavy and large parts can be cumbersome and difficult to unload. Food delivery pays well too, but the constant strain of unloading always catches up with the driver eventually. Back injuries are common in that type of work, so there's high turnover. One company puts new drivers on delivery routes for the Dollar Store. There's plenty of work in local delivery even for an inexperienced driver so their offer is not that rare.

3. You're looking at 3 weeks of training, a week of orientation and another 3-4 weeks with a trainer before they'll turn you loose with a truck. Do your think that job will still be there two months from now? I know nothing about the company, but it seems strange that they would be talking about a specific driving position before you even get your CDL. I don't think they would hold it for you while you train - there's too much risk of you washing out for one reason or another and them having to start from square one with a new driver. Is this company-paid training where you would be obligated to work for them for a certain period after your training is done? It sounds like they just want another driver and showed you something shiny to get you on-board.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

Dedicated Route:

A driver or carrier who transports cargo between regular, prescribed routes. Normally it means a driver will be dedicated to working for one particular customer like Walmart or Home Depot and they will only haul freight for that customer. You'll often hear drivers say something like, "I'm on the Walmart dedicated account."

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

EPU:

Electric Auxiliary Power Units

Electric APUs have started gaining acceptance. These electric APUs use battery packs instead of the diesel engine on traditional APUs as a source of power. The APU's battery pack is charged when the truck is in motion. When the truck is idle, the stored energy in the battery pack is then used to power an air conditioner, heater, and other devices

Farmerbob1's Comment
member avatar

Regional or local driving work is possible for a new driver, but uncommon. Most training companies want 6 months OTR , post-training experience before they take you off OTR driving. Most non-training companies want six months or even a year experience driving before they even hire you.

There are exceptions, but if you do decide to take the plunge, go in with your eyes open. Expect up to two or even three months straight away from home before your first home time (initial training.) After that, expect one weekend per month for six months to a year.

Once you get a year into the business, the opportunities really start to open up. If you learn quickly, work hard, and get recognized by your DM as a go-getter, you could be offered regional or local work faster with the training company. I was offered a position on the Perdue account at Stevens at six months. I turned it down because I like OTR. I, however, do not have a wife and child.

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.
G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Ithel I would press the company you are considering to specify details of how they intend to road-train once you have your CDL. Although with a valid Class A CDL are legally authorized to operate a tractor & trailer, you are not yet ready to run solo. CDL school teaches a student just barely enough to pass the tests, that's it and typically not much more. Beyond training I'd also request details of the job you are considering.

Although by definition "Dedicated" only means you are driving for a single customer account, this could be local, or regional , or long-haul, or possibly a combination. We have driver examples on this forum of all three Dedicated scenarios. Not clear if this is a Dedicated assignment or not. The caution I would recommend here; based on your description you might be delivering to multiple customers (3,4,5, 6, who knows) on a single dispatch and possibly in very close quarters requiring tight backing and maneuvering your truck in places not designed for a 70' long vehicle. I run Dedicated for Walmart delivering to multiple retail stores on a single dispatch including frequent backhauls. Although I have seen rookies perform on the account, they usually struggle mightily for the first few months many times due to developing skills, unfamiliarity with the account, compounded with a lack of practical experience. Many do not last and transfer to OTR for additional experience.

Before you take a leap-of-faith here, I strongly recommend you get more information so you know exactly what to expect day one with this company and can make an informed decision.

Good luck!

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Michael A.'s Comment
member avatar

I don't think a dedicated account for a new driver I'd unusual. I'm currently training with Werner and they have lots of dedicated runs for newbs and actually encourage it for their solo drivers. This account you're being offered sounds like a decent run and you shouldn't hesitate to do it if that's what you want.

Dedicated Run:

A driver or carrier who transports cargo between regular, prescribed routes. Normally it means a driver will be dedicated to working for one particular customer like Walmart or Home Depot and they will only haul freight for that customer. You'll often hear drivers say something like, "I'm on the Walmart dedicated account."

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Michael A wrote:

I don't think a dedicated account for a new driver I'd unusual. I'm currently training with Werner and they have lots of dedicated runs for newbs and actually encourage it for their solo drivers. This account you're being offered sounds like a decent run and you shouldn't hesitate to do it if that's what you want.

Okay, based on what? The limited information he currently has. Sorry Michael, I respectfully disagree with your opinion.

The operative word in your response is "training". The OP may or may not know how his prospective employer intends to road-train him. Until he can establish a definitive answer to that question and where/how he will be making deliveries he needs to exercise some caution with this.

Yes, some Dedicated Accounts are great for entry level drivers fresh off their trainer's truck. Others best attempted after a few months of experience. I have been running Walmart Dedicated for over four years and at times train drivers on the account for 2-3 days...it's very difficult for a novice driver to adjust. Although they will except drivers with only road-training experience on the account, it has become the exception for the very reasons I previously mentioned. Dollar General or other Dollar account? Under no circumstances would I recommend these for a rookie.

Most Dedicated accounts have Service Level Agreements (SLA) in place that define how the contracted carrier is paid and evaluated. The SLA is usually very demanding and doesn't compensate for high failure rates.

Dedicated Run:

A driver or carrier who transports cargo between regular, prescribed routes. Normally it means a driver will be dedicated to working for one particular customer like Walmart or Home Depot and they will only haul freight for that customer. You'll often hear drivers say something like, "I'm on the Walmart dedicated account."

Cwc's Comment
member avatar

I'm with G-town, being new and wanting lots of hometime and add into that mix an hourly rate... smells kinda fishy. Be sure and throughly investigate.

I could be wrong, it happens all the time and I hope everything is what they say it is. But just the same find out a lot more than what you currently know.

Michael A.'s Comment
member avatar

Michael A wrote:

double-quotes-start.png

I don't think a dedicated account for a new driver I'd unusual. I'm currently training with Werner and they have lots of dedicated runs for newbs and actually encourage it for their solo drivers. This account you're being offered sounds like a decent run and you shouldn't hesitate to do it if that's what you want.

double-quotes-end.png

Okay, based on what? The limited information he currently has. Sorry Michael, I respectfully disagree with your opinion.

The operative word in your response is "training". The OP may or may not know how his prospective employer intends to road-train him. Until he can establish a definitive answer to that question and where/how he will be making deliveries he needs to exercise some caution with this.

Yes, some Dedicated Accounts are great for entry level drivers fresh off their trainer's truck. Others best attempted after a few months of experience. I have been running Walmart Dedicated for over four years and at times train drivers on the account for 2-3 days...it's very difficult for a novice driver to adjust. Although they will except drivers with only road-training experience on the account, it has become the exception for the very reasons I previously mentioned. Dollar General or other Dollar account? Under no circumstances would I recommend these for a rookie.

Most Dedicated accounts have Service Level Agreements (SLA) in place that define how the contracted carrier is paid and evaluated. The SLA is usually very demanding and doesn't compensate for high failure rates.

Well of course he should do his own research, I wasn't suggesting to just jump right in, that would be dumb. Also I was not talking about the dollar accounts and I am aware many dedicated positions require experience.

Dedicated Run:

A driver or carrier who transports cargo between regular, prescribed routes. Normally it means a driver will be dedicated to working for one particular customer like Walmart or Home Depot and they will only haul freight for that customer. You'll often hear drivers say something like, "I'm on the Walmart dedicated account."

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

I agree that would be dumb.

Michael A wrote:

This account you're being offered sounds like a decent run and you shouldn't hesitate to do it if that's what you want.

You did write this to the OP? ^^^

How is this telling him "not" to jump in?

Realize my reply was for the good of the whole and the OP clarifying the information you provided.

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