The Teaming Saga

Topic 20838 | Page 2

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Big T's Comment
member avatar

You're right that once your pulling decent miles and a decent rate it is hard to justify teaming.

Teaming can/usually is difficult. Especially if you are forced to team. That is why I started with the caveats that I did.

Big T. Thank you for helping illustrate another point. (This is in no way a dig.)

The numbers Big T uses show the bottom end of the scale.

Once he and his teammate are established they should get offered one of the coast to coast team accounts *Don't forget to ask.

Getting established and earning a positive rep is easy even in the big carriers, (Just looking at employee #s Swift has gone through 10k drivers since I started in Dec. I'm a 401xxx, I've seen 41xxxx recently) It doesn't take long to rise out of the newbie herd if you're doing things right.

Back to the numbers, I get .52c mi running regional. My average miles per week are 22-23. Do the math. Dedicated teams should be pulling in the 60+c bracket.

Once you start pulling decent miles as a solo it gets harder to justify the hassle of running team.

Yes you can make more team driving, but is the 200 a month worth it?

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.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
To say teams cannot make more money is wrong though.

To say that teams will make more money is also wrong though. There are no guarantees for anything. You simply can not pull more miles as a team driver than you can as a solo driver. As a solo driver I always averaged 3,000 - 3,200 miles per week. As a team driver your paychecks won't be for any more miles than that.

The problem is that running 3,000+ miles per week consistently takes a tremendous amount of ambition, great time management skills, and some street smarts in order to keep things moving forward out there. For a team to get 6,000+ miles per week you need two drivers with that level of ambition and skill to keep up that pace consistently and they have to get their sleep while the truck is rolling.

You have two drivers that can get sick, or burn out, or start getting lazy with time, or make mistakes that lead to accidents or late appointments or a loss of miles.

And you have to get along cooped up in a box 24/7/365 with another human being. That is the hardest part about teaming right there.

I think to go into teaming because you think you're going to make more money is very shortsighted. Chances are very slim that one year from now you'll have brought home more money as a team driver than you would have as a solo driver. Chances are also very slim that you'll be teaming with the same person.

Personally I would never, ever recommend that anyone start team driving because they think they'll make more money. In the long run it's highly unlikely. There are a lot of factors to consider and a lot of variables working against you.

Teaming is best suited for husbands and wives. It's not that you'll never find good teams outside of husband and wife teams, but I'll bet it's almost never, and I'm certain that most of those don't last long.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Old School's Comment
member avatar

Hey Big T, I am in no way trying to discourage you, nor am I trying to be confrontational. My point in jumping into this conversation was simply that we cater to complete newbies in here, and they all come into this business with a ton of misconceptions. One of those is simply that they think if they do team driving they will make more money. And I think it is really a false conception for a complete rookie to come in to this business believing that. You gave us the math, and you seem to be doing it for the same reason - to make more money. I am sure that a good solid team could squeeze out a little more money, but there is a cost to teaming, and it isn't a financial one. It is a psychological one, that I am not willing to deal with. Most carriers need good teams as part of their operation, and I hope you and your friend can manage it.

I am going to disagree with a few things you said just for clarity for those who are trying to follow what you are doing with the hopes that they too can be team drivers as rookies just to make some more money.

You keep stressing this point about it not being a "forced team situation." Well, what difference does that make? I mean, a team is a team right? And it actually is forced, it is just not forced upon you - two people got together, decided they could make some more money, and so they forced an agreement together and now they are a team. It still has all the same dynamics - team driving just has issues. It doesn't really matter how you start it. I've seen couples who were long time husbands and wives fighting like cats and dogs after trying to team together. Teams easily break up, and you've even started your team experience with a plan to break up at certain times of the year. That is not a great way to establish yourselves as a reliable team to the folks who are looking for a team that they can count on.

The other thing I have to disagree with is the way you did your math. You assumed that all things are equal! That is the biggest mistake anyone can make in this industry. In a performance based business there is nothing equal - nada! I am in a very small fleet, and that truth becomes more obvious to me because of that. There are always going to be a few drivers out here who really distinguish themselves - they are those top tier drivers we like to encourage people to be. My dispatcher tells me that out of every fifteen drivers he has on his board, that there will usually be two, maybe three drivers who really "get it" and understand how to turn the top miles, making the top money. We have a huge disparity of total monies made on our fleet among our drivers. Those top two or three are earning around 70,000 dollars, while most of the others think they are busting their tails, and earning around 35,000 - 40,000 dollars. Why so? Those top guys get called on, or depended on a lot more heavily than the others. It is a simple but efficient formula for success at this career. The movers and shakers get the lion's share of the work. Everyone in that office knows those guys, and knows they can be counted on no matter what. There is a lot that goes into being at the top of the food chain in this business, and you can't change that dynamic by just thinking you can put it in your favor by choosing to be a team.

You say that at your company team trucks get priority, and you talk as if solo drivers have to sit and wait all the time for their loads, but I find myself begging for a chance to sit and wait. All of those things that you claim are problems for solo drivers, but simply go away for team drivers, are handled regularly and efficiently by the top drivers with their time management skills and their communications with dispatch and planners. Knowing how this business works, and keeping yourself in the proper flow of the freight are all things that a person learns to do with experience. Choosing to be a team doesn't bypass all the issues that are involved in trucking, experience and some road savvy is the way you deal with those things.

I am glad you want to team. Like I said, teams are needed badly for certain things. But I would never put together a team just because I did some math and thought I saw a path to more income, it just doesn't work like that. Being proficient at this is the secret to making money, and any good solid solo driver can do just that without having to put up with the issues involved in teaming.

Dispatcher:

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

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.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
My dispatcher tells me that out of every fifteen drivers he has on his board, that there will usually be two, maybe three drivers who really "get it" and understand how to turn the top miles, making the top money.

To demonstrate how rare Top Tier Drivers really are I always love to quote a driver I met many years ago. He said:

My dad has owned about 6 trucks at a time from the time I was born and he said he's never once had 6 really good drivers at the same time.

There really is a group of Top Tier Drivers, about the upper 5% - 10% of the drivers in this industry, who clearly stand out above the rest. And to be honest, I think 10% is overly generous. Those Top Tier Drivers really do get the lion's share of the miles and they get the attention when they need it for special favors or working through challenging situations.

Those drivers can count on 3,000+ miles per week solo, or 6,000+ running team, if you can find two Top Tier Drivers to run team together.

People are always the most unpredictable variable, and running team doubles the number of people required to be successful. It also increases the complexity of the situation considerably.

You say that at your company team trucks get priority

Team trucks get the priority when it comes to assigning team-level freight. I don't recall the exact numbers, but the overwhelming percentage of freight in trucking travels less than 600 miles. CRST is a rare company because they are predominantly teams. But most companies that have both team and solo drivers have probably 80% - 90% of their fleet running solo.

I agree with Old School that the most important things we'd like to stress are:

  • Do not go into teaming because you think you'll make more money
  • Team driving is something very few people enjoy and the relationship is incredibly difficult to maintain

For anyone new coming into the industry, you'll get a taste of team driving when you go on the road with your trainer. So you'll get to see what it's like before you have to make any decisions.

Doubles:

Refers to pulling two trailers at the same time, otherwise known as "pups" or "pup trailers" because they're only about 28 feet long. However there are some states that allow doubles that are each 48 feet in length.

Dispatcher:

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Big T's Comment
member avatar

Maybe I need to clear up some things.

First, my intent for the original post was not to recommend team driving, but to hopefully show how to work as a successful team.

Second, yes we teamed up with the plan of separating during the summer. When asked if I was willing to run a team I explained my concern regarding my need/desire to have my son with me during the summer. This is why I had not been willing to team originally. I then found a codriver with the same needs.

Third, everyone is correct. A productive solo driver can make as much as a team. Especially if the team is not a solid team.

Fourth, setting up a successful team is very challenging. Being confined to a space smaller than a jail cell 24/7/365 will try the best of relationships. Teaming has resulted in more than a few divorces.

Finally, the distinction about forced teaming is because I do not work at a company that requires teaming. If I could not find a suitable partner then I could stay solo.

Ducky's Comment
member avatar

Big T, I look forward to reading your posts. As you can see by my status, I team. Well, I did. I accepted a solo position that's a better fit for me just today. But I don't regret teaming at all...I rather enjoyed it.

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