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How To Cut Through The Negativity And Choose The Right Trucking Company To Start Your Career

by Brett Aquila

When you begin researching trucking companies that hire inexperienced drivers, the first thing most people notice is how overwhelmingly negative the majority of the opinions are of pretty much every trucking company under the sun. It's incredibly frustrating and demoralizing. You're so excited about the prospects of starting a new life and a new career, but can't seem to find anyone with anything positive to say about the companies you're considering. But you know there's a lot of people that love driving big rigs for a living. So what's the scoop? How do you sort through all of the negativity, find some genuinely helpful opinions, and find the right company to work for? I'll show ya....

Is Trucking Really That Awful?

truckin.jpg

I've had a long list of people tell me that they had wanted to get into trucking for years but always shied away from it. Why? Because the opinions they read on the Internet about various trucking companies were all so negative that they figured trucking was a miserable place to be. Well, it can be at times no matter how well suited you are to the industry. Life on the road can be harsh, and the job is relentlessly challenging. But for those who don't have what it takes to make it in trucking, it's usually complete debacle right from day one. For them, the trucking industry was pure misery and they wind up out of trucking in no time. Unfortunately those types can't seem to get enough of the various trucking forums and make it their personal mission to convince everyone to stay away from trucking. But if you've already decided you want to get into trucking, you need to know how to choose a company, not just listen to people cry the blues. So how do you differentiate between companies and find information that's truly helpful?

What Factors Set Trucking Companies Apart?

The thing is, all trucking companies make money the same way - hauling as much freight as possible as safely and efficiently as possible, right? They all use the same highways, the same types of trucks, the same fuel, often times the same customers, and operate under the same laws. So there are very few ways for a trucking company to differentiate itself from the rest. And in fact, when you've been around the industry long enough and worked for a number of different companies, you realize that many aspects of the various companies are pretty much the same.

The main differences between companies lie in the type of freight they haul, their home time options for your area, and their pay & benefits. What you want to do first is figure out what type of freight you'd like to haul (dry van, flatbed, refrigerated, or tanker) and then how often you'd like to get home (daily, weekends, every few weeks). That will narrow it down to a select group of companies.

At that point you'll want to speak with several current drivers, face to face, from each of the companies you're considering. You want to hear how they feel about the company and find out more details about life on the inside. After gathering opinions from a company's current drivers, you then compare the pay & benefits that each company are offering and you'll come up with a list of the companies that seem to suit you the best.

So at this point you have maybe 3 or 4 companies at the top of your list, right? But as you've already found out from the anonymous knuckleheads online, every single company is lousy, they're all a scam, they're all out to abuse you, and you'll end up a slave that's broken and beaten down, right? That's what a lot of people would like you to believe it seems. So how do you choose?

Finding The Best Opportunity

The truth of the matter is actually pretty simple and encouraging...any of those companies at the top of your list are equally good opportunities for getting your career off to a great start. So far you've determined that each one hauls the freight you'd like to haul, gets you home on the schedule you wanted, and pays pretty well. But one of them has to be "the best company", right? Actually, no. You see, here's the part that everyone who is new to trucking fails to understand...the most important factor in determining the amount of happiness and success you find in trucking is you...not the company you work for.

What these companies all do in the very beginning is test you. A trial by fire you could say. Sometimes you'll sit around waiting on loads too long, sometimes you'll run so hard you can't remember your own name. Sometimes they'll send you into really tough places, sometimes they'll try to keep you out past your scheduled home time, and sometimes they'll just do whatever comes to mind to push your buttons a little bit. Why? Because trucking is a really tough way to make a living and they want to know if you're the type that can hack it or not. This is the stage where most people quit if they do not belong in trucking or they aren't committed to their company. They figure they're being abused or taken advantage of or whatever. But the truth of the matter is those people wouldn't have made it in trucking anyhow. They're simply not tough enough nor committed enough to make it out there, and you have to be both to make it in this industry. You have to be committed to getting the job done safely day in and day out to be a successful driver. Not many people have that in them.

Understanding A Company's Strategy

Trucking companies will weed out the weak, and at the same time determine which drivers are the hardest working, most reliable, and most resourceful. They want drivers who are committed to getting the job done safely no matter what it takes. Those drivers become the ones who get a ton of freight, fair treatment, enjoy the company they work for, and enjoy their trucking career. The rest wind up out of trucking and troll about in various trucking forums trying to save face by blaming their former company for their shortcomings and scaring people away from trucking.

That's one of the big reasons I say to speak with several current drivers from whatever company you're considering, and do it face to face. You want opinions coming from drivers who are out there getting the job done successfully day in and day out. You want them looking you in the eye when they speak to you. That in itself is a game changer. You do not want your opinions coming from some anonymous knuckleheads hiding behind some made up persona in a forum somewhere. You have no clue who they are or whether or not their opinion is of any value at all.

Understanding TruckingTruth's Advice

Now in this context, think about the key piece of advice I always give new drivers - stick with your first company for a full year no matter what. Why do I say that? Because it will take a couple of months to get through the training and then another 6 months or so of running solo to establish your reputation with dispatch. A company isn't going to bank their future on some unproven rookie. Would you? Heck no! They are going to push your buttons a little bit. They're going to test you. They're going to give you every opportunity to show what you're made of. If you can get the job done safely day in and day out, you're hard working, and you have a great attitude, they're going to reward you with great miles and fair treatment. You're a proven asset now and they rely on those drivers to keep the company afloat. The bottom line is simple...they'll keep loading the miles on you if they know you're going to help their business prosper.

Now you know why trucking forums are full of people bashing their former companies. Almost anyone can get a shot in the trucking industry, but many of them have no business being there in the first place. They wind up getting their asses handed to them. They've failed in their mission, they're embarrassed, and they try to save face by placing blame elsewhere.

Truck drivers and trucking companies make money the exact same way...by turning big miles safely and taking great care of the customers. If you're the type of driver that's willing and able to work hard and do what it takes to get the job done safely, then you're the type of driver these companies need. Most of the companies that hire new drivers have been in business for decades. They know what they're doing, and they know a true professional driver when they see one. Prove to them that you're a true pro. Show them that you're the type they can rely on to stay safe and take great care of their customers. If you're willing to pay your dues as a rookie, they'll rely on you heavily to help keep them in business. Every company has good miles available for their top-tier drivers or they wouldn't be in business. It's just a matter of proving your worth so you'll get your share of the available miles.

Dry Van:

A trailer or truck that that requires no special attention, such as refrigeration, that hauls regular palletted, boxed, or floor-loaded freight. The most common type of trailer in trucking.

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.

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

by Brett Aquila

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TruckingTruth was founded by Brett Aquila (that's me!), a 15 year truck driving veteran, in January 2007. After 15 years on the road I wanted to help people understand the trucking industry and everything that came with the career and lifestyle of an over the road trucker. We'll help you make the right choices and prepare for a great start to your trucking career.

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