Getting Started After Being Retired For 15 Years

Topic 20449 | Page 2

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Brett Aquila's Comment
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The fact that you're not going to be doing anything until spring is indeed the #1 factor in not getting much of a response.

Beyond that, though, every aspect of this industry is about productivity. About getting work done. No one gets paid to put in time, like you see in so many hourly jobs and so many other industries. In trucking, almost no one gets paid for their time. Even the recruiters get paid on some sort of a commission basis. They need to get drivers in the seats now. So with each of them having a gigantic pile of candidates in front of them, they're all going to hone in on the ones they think they have the best chance of landing quickly. And in fact, that's exactly what the companies need. There's so much turnover that they'll have a steady stream of drivers leaving the company, so they need a steady stream coming in.

The Moderators here, myself included, feel that people spend entirely too much time researching companies and not nearly enough time preparing themselves for this career. Major trucking companies all operate very similarly, and you can be successful at any of them. We feel that sticking to the basics when choosing a company is all that's necessary and helpful:

  • Types of freight they haul
  • Home time opportunities
  • Pay and Benefits

That's 95% of all that matters right there. Then each company will have a few unique policies or perks that may or may not appeal to you. But there is no "diamond in the rough" that most people spend months of their lives hunting down. Everyone thinks they're going to find some inside scoop, some silver bullet that's going to make one company rise above the rest. I can assure you that doesn't exist.

The other thing that most people underestimate is how long it's going to take to become proficient at this job. It's not as simple as driving around in a bigger car picking up and dropping off things. The logbook rules are somewhat complex and tricky. It takes a while to really get a grasp on managing your time. There are also a lot of tricks to the trade, like learning to get freight loaded or unloaded ahead of schedule, avoiding the worst traffic in major cities, and lobbying for more freight from dispatch. It also takes quite a long time, maybe 3 - 6 months minimum, before you'll be able to prove yourself to be a safe, reliable driver who deserves the best freight and miles available to the fleet.

So because of the complexities of learning this job, it's best to focus on preparing yourself to manage your time, to manage your life on the road, to prepare yourself mentally for the challenges, and to have some insights into what lies ahead. The better prepared you are the faster you'll adapt, the more miles you'll be getting, the more money you'll be making, the fewer mistakes you'll make, and the more you'll enjoy your job.

It doesn't matter who you work for, these processes are always the same for everyone and it's always challenging and clumsy those first 3 - 6 months especially, but really your entire first year.

You're military, so here's an analogy you'll understand. Think about someone who is brand spanking new to physical fitness and they're way, way out of shape. Would you recommend that they spend months and months of their time researching every type of exercise imaginable? Should they create spreadsheets containing 50 different options and then categorize and sort dozens of aspects of each?

Same with nutrition. Should they spend months and months studying dozens of types of nutritional options and programs available, making spreadsheets, and ranking and sorting dozens of aspects of each one?

Heck no! Someone who is way, way out of shape and just getting started in fitness should simply start with some basic, light exercising and some simple, smart food choices. That's it. Stick to the basics and get the ball rolling. As you go your fitness level will slowly improve, you'll adjust to the new way of living, you'll learn even more as you progress, and eventually you'll get to a point where you're at a high level and the tiny details will matter.

It's the same with new drivers. Stick to the basics of home time, pay & benefits, and types of freight you want to haul. That will give you a few companies to choose from. Talk to each of them, see who offers you an opportunity, and pick the one you're most comfortable with.

But 95% of your time leading up to the start of your career should be spent preparing yourself, not worrying too much about which company you choose. If there were two or three "best of the best" companies we'd tell you who they are and we'd all be working for those two or three. But go down our list of moderators and experienced drivers and you'll see they work for all different companies hauling all different types of freight with varying amounts of home time and they're all happy where they're at. Why? Because the company they chose fits their basic needs and they went in there and did a spectacular job. Now they have the best equipment, the best freight, consistently great miles, and they're treated great.

So that's our approach to getting your career started. Choose a major company from the handful that fit your criteria and spend a ton of time learning and preparing yourself for a great start to this career. Once you're able to consistently perform at the highest level you'll make great money and be treated really well no matter what company you're with.

Logbook:

A written or electronic record of a driver's duty status which must be maintained at all times. The driver records the amount of time spent driving, on-duty not driving, in the sleeper berth, or off duty. The enforcement of the Hours Of Service Rules (HOS) are based upon the entries put in a driver's logbook.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

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.

Chris B.'s Comment
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Interesting conversation. I find, thru my reading, the turnover rate across the board to be somewhere around 75%. In fact one of the "selling points" from more than one recruiter has been their "lower than industry average" turnover rate. Like it's recruiter "code speak" for drivers like it here... Uh huh. There simply has to be a common thread for such high turnover and I think - from an outsiders POV - that one of the major reasons is the lifestyle this entails. I use the word "lifestyle" as an all encompassing term to include work ethic, self discipline and the like. Remember, I am 55 and have a different work mindset than a great many of today's workforce. I remember my biggest transition when I retired 15 years ago was the mindset of my co-workers I worked with. I was dumbfounded to say the least. I'm old school. For this very reason, I will be successful in this endeavor. I take great "enjoyment" in various YouTube channels out there. Some of these people simply leave me speechless. Remember, enjoyment has many connotations.

I'm not foolish enough to think that there is a diamond in anyone's rough out there. I have certain parameters I'm operating within. FWIW, home time isn't too important to me as I tend to think I will pretty much live out of the truck for a while. This suits me. Having said this, I do have a geographical area I want to be "based" out of so I am nearer to my adult children. What I haul doesn't matter too much but I don't see covered wagons or reefer in my future. Pay and bennies is important but I also realize that for the first year, it's going to suck. On the order of 10 bucks an hour. I think the focus of the first year or so - as you say - is to learn the ins and outs of the industry and the keys to becoming known as one of the go to guys with who ever I work for. I'm fortunate that I have my mil retirement and zero debt so it shouldn't suck so much. My biggest determinants are assigned equipment in that it is well maintained and equipped and at least 2500 miles a week. I like APU's and auto transmissions. I am doing my best eliminating companies who operate in the NE. I prefer not having to load or unload my trailer as well. Tanker appeals to me in this regard but I'm only now beginning research in this facet of the industry. Team operation after training is out of the question. I believe experienced highly regarded drivers are those a company will want to keep at great cost. There are more needs than drivers to fill them as you say - revolving door(s).

Your analogy of physical conditioning and diet is right on the money on so many levels.

Covered Wagon:

A flatbed with specially fitted side plates and curved ribs supporting a tarp covering, commonly referred to as a "side kit". Named for the resemblance to horse-drawn covered wagons.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

APU:

Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

APU's:

Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
There simply has to be a common thread for such high turnover and I think - from an outsiders POV - that one of the major reasons is the lifestyle this entails. I use the word "lifestyle" as an all encompassing term to include work ethic, self discipline and the like.

That's exactly right. First of all, people very much underestimate the amount of hard work, nerve under pressure, ambition, and discipline this job takes. It's a complete lifestyle change and there's an overwhelming amount to learn.

Not only that, but trucking has always had a bad reputation and a very lowly status in our society. So an extraordinary job that requires extraordinary people tends to get a lot of sub-par performers that show up thinking it's going to be a walk in the park. There should be a lot more people who are intelligent, adventurous, and highly motivated to fill these jobs but there aren't a whole lot of those types that come around this industry. There certainly are some, but not nearly enough.

Listen to some of my podcasts if you haven't already. You'll enjoy them. I talk a lot about the problems that people face in this industry and how to go about getting your career off to a great start:

TruckingTruth Podcasts

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

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

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