Low bridges and restricted routes can lead to accidents and tickets and you would appreciate it if they would try to find somebody that is absolutely certain of the directions. At that point they will often times be relieved that the pressure is off of them and will gladly find somebody else to help you.
Now once you get someone on the phone that's certain, be aware that most of the time these people have other things on their mind and might accidentally say something wrong, like “left” instead of “right”. As they are giving you the directions, repeat them out loud as you are writing them. You can't begin to imagine how many times people will say, “OH, did I say left? I'm sorry, I meant right”. I'm telling you, this happens all the time. They're distracted, that's all.
Also try to get as many landmarks along the way as you can, especially at the turns. They might say something like, “take a left at the third light. There's a statue on the corner.” Not only is it easy to see the landmark coming pretty far up the road, but maybe it's actually at the fourth light and they were mistaken. No problem. People are much better with landmarks than they are at counting lights and estimating distances. They don't count lights on the way to work everyday, they look for landmarks. So chances are if you have landmarks at the corners you'll be alright.
Again, happens all the time.
Now once the person is finished with the directions, repeat the entire thing back to them. Say something like, “ok, so let me make sure I wrote this down correctly....” and repeat the entire thing. You will often catch even more mistakes this way and get some extra tips and landmarks along the way. Do NOT be concerned with the three minutes of their time you are taking up by being thorough.
If they make one simple mistake it can easily cost you fifteen to thirty minutes (yeah, and I've had worse than that) or even lead to a ticket, an accident, or you may not arrive until after they close for the day and you miss that day's load altogether. Take your time and be thorough. Believe me it's time well spent.
Lastly, confirm that it's ok for trucks to take the route they have given you. Remember, they don't drive a big rig to work, they drive a car. Low bridges and restricted routes are of no concern to them. Often times somebody can give you good directions for a car to take but they never really thought about whether or not a truck can safely take that route. Make sure you point this out to them.
Another great tool, and one that will soon be used by most every driver nationwide, is GPS. I highly suggest you get one. If you don't have a laptop or a GPS unit I highly recommend you buy an inexpensive laptop and get the GPS software for it. The large screen is far better than the smaller screens on stand-alone units and you will then have a full-blown computer with you for surfing the Internet, sending and receiving email, and a whole host of other activities you'll really enjoy.
We're going to get into the multimedia entertainment opportunities a little later on. But for now, a laptop and GPS are the best tool a trucker could ever have.
My rule of thumb for directions to a customer is, “two out of three”. Of the three different ways to get directions to a customer: phone, your company's directions, and GPS, I always made sure that at least two of them matched up perfectly. If two different sets of directions were the same you were almost guaranteed to have the proper ones. Not always of course, but short of the customer driving their building to you, this is about as good as it's gonna get.
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