Communication Is The Underutilized Tool In Your Arsenal.

Topic 12923 | Page 1

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Brian M.'s Comment
member avatar

Occasionally people ask me how I am able to consistently get the miles I have fortunately been able to achieve week after week. We all perform the same job yet some just don't seem to achieve the same results. Granted as a rookie their are so many other factors that will come into play. Over time those skills will come to you and become second nature. If they don't your career will most likely be short lived.

So what gives you the best advantage and opportunities after you achieve driving perfection. Communication! This little gem seems to a long way in ones career. Of course there is certainly a right and wrong way of being able to communicate with others.

The object of effectively communicating can be tricky at times. The first thing you should remember is not to let negative emotions get in between you and what you are trying to reflect. So many times while at the truck stops or terminals I hear drivers talking about how they told off their fleet manager or the receiver. Then usually I ask them how long they've been at the truck stop only to find out they've been there for a day or two. My reply "kinda stinks huh" in turn they tell me yeah my fleet manager told me there are no loads right now. Mind you we both work for the same company, I just arrived and my fleet manager already has me on a preplan out of there.

Second, stay in contact tell them your status as your going along " Hey JW I am a couple hours away from my 90 we sure are making good time" or " JW this window looks pretty tight would you please take another look at it". Here I informed him of my concern and left the ball in his court without just telling him I'm going to be late.

A big mistake some people make is perhaps communicating to much. Listen your fleet managers time is just as important as yours, remember he may have 100 people on his board. If everyone bombarded him with messages all day he wouldn't get much done. So how much you contact him in short is a balancing act keep them informed but by no means pester them. I've waited 4 or 5 hours before he got back to me. I try not to contact my fleet manager in the morning. We all know how annoying it can be when everyone is trying to do our jobs when everybody is pulling you into different directions. Of course if it's an emergency that theory goes right out the window.

I get frustrated at times, we all do. There are times I want to just read people the riot act. When I find myself in that situation I have found that it's better for me to just chill for a while. Sometimes it takes me a day to calm down. After I gain my composure I carefully craft my concerns. A trick I found that works for me is to write down what I was going to say in the heat of the moment and compare it what I ultimately said. Sometimes I just say to myself wow I was going to say that.

Many of these tips apply to when you are trying to verbally communicate as well. Problems happen all to often because we have to be able to think about what we will say quicker.

In my past profession I had to give speeches quite often. Many of these speeches had a question and answer portion at the end. At first it was almost comical how these Q&A portions went. Why? I wasn't prepared for some of the questions that were presented to me. Even though I knew the answer somehow it at times sounded argumentative or like I didn't know what the heck I was talking about.

The solution for me was to have a canned greeting when I go into the shippers and receivers always talking with a positive attitude. Taking note of what types of questions that are occasionally asked while at the window and having a positive answer to give them in return. Most places have the same questions it's easy to have canned responses with a positive vibe that comes across. Even if they are having a miserable day, they will respond better when you have the answer in a more confident way.

Well I have bloviated way too much I'm sure so be positive and communicate.

Shipper:

The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

Fleet Manager:

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.
Nomad Novelist's Comment
member avatar

So much gold in this post. Thanks! Favorites:

"The first thing you should remember is not to let negative emotions get in between you and what you are trying to reflect."

"Second, stay in contact tell them your status as your going along " Hey JW I am a couple hours away from my 90 we sure are making good time" or " JW this window looks pretty tight would you please take another look at it". Here I informed him of my concern and left the ball in his court without just telling him I'm going to be late."

"A big mistake some people make is perhaps communicating to much."

"I try not to contact my fleet manager in the morning."

[BTW, you meant "too" a few times when you spelled "to."] Not being a ****. I hate it when people correct my grammar, but you strike me as a stand-up guy who wants to come off as eloquently as possible. Your writing is solid. Thanks again.

Fleet Manager:

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

Occasionally people ask me how I am able to consistently get the miles I have fortunately been able to achieve week after week. We all perform the same job yet some just don't seem to achieve the same results. Granted as a rookie their are so many other factors that will come into play. Over time those skills will come to you and become second nature. If they don't your career will most likely be short lived.

So what gives you the best advantage and opportunities after you achieve driving perfection. Communication! This little gem seems to a long way in ones career. Of course there is certainly a right and wrong way of being able to communicate with others.

The object of effectively communicating can be tricky at times. The first thing you should remember is not to let negative emotions get in between you and what you are trying to reflect. So many times while at the truck stops or terminals I hear drivers talking about how they told off their fleet manager or the receiver. Then usually I ask them how long they've been at the truck stop only to find out they've been there for a day or two. My reply "kinda stinks huh" in turn they tell me yeah my fleet manager told me there are no loads right now. Mind you we both work for the same company, I just arrived and my fleet manager already has me on a preplan out of there.

Second, stay in contact tell them your status as your going along " Hey JW I am a couple hours away from my 90 we sure are making good time" or " JW this window looks pretty tight would you please take another look at it". Here I informed him of my concern and left the ball in his court without just telling him I'm going to be late.

A big mistake some people make is perhaps communicating to much. Listen your fleet managers time is just as important as yours, remember he may have 100 people on his board. If everyone bombarded him with messages all day he wouldn't get much done. So how much you contact him in short is a balancing act keep them informed but by no means pester them. I've waited 4 or 5 hours before he got back to me. I try not to contact my fleet manager in the morning. We all know how annoying it can be when everyone is trying to do our jobs when everybody is pulling you into different directions. Of course if it's an emergency that theory goes right out the window.

I get frustrated at times, we all do. There are times I want to just read people the riot act. When I find myself in that situation I have found that it's better for me to just chill for a while. Sometimes it takes me a day to calm down. After I gain my composure I carefully craft my concerns. A trick I found that works for me is to write down what I was going to say in the heat of the moment and compare it what I ultimately said. Sometimes I just say to myself wow I was going to say that.

Many of these tips apply to when you are trying to verbally communicate as well. Problems happen all to often because we have to be able to think about what we will say quicker.

In my past profession I had to give speeches quite often. Many of these speeches had a question and answer portion at the end. At first it was almost comical how these Q&A portions went. Why? I wasn't prepared for some of the questions that were presented to me. Even though I knew the answer somehow it at times sounded argumentative or like I didn't know what the heck I was talking about.

The solution for me was to have a canned greeting when I go into the shippers and receivers always talking with a positive attitude. Taking note of what types of questions that are occasionally asked while at the window and having a positive answer to give them in return. Most places have the same questions it's easy to have canned responses with a positive vibe that comes across. Even if they are having a miserable day, they will respond better when you have the answer in a more confident way.

Well I have bloviated way too much I'm sure so be positive and communicate.

Once the driving skills and trip planning skills have been mastered the art of communication can either make or break a driver. Good post, really good!

Shipper:

The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

Fleet Manager:

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.
Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

That was fantastic Brian and I wholeheartedly agree. Good communication and a good solid working relationship with a decent dispatcher is critical to your happiness and success out there.

It's incredibly difficult to teach people how to be successful in this industry because there are so many nuances to it and it certainly takes some people skills. Turning more miles isn't simply about driving more hours. You have to be given the miles in the first place and you have to know how to manage your time effectively to pull it off.

Sometimes you'll have to be able to talk your way into being loaded or unloaded ahead of schedule if you want to squeeze in all the miles you legally can. Sometimes you might have to persuade dispatch that you've had too many short runs lately so it's time for some sweet miles to make up for it.

Regardless of how good you are it takes time to prove yourself and earn your company's trust. It also takes time to build a working relationship with dispatch so you two compliment each other well instead of working against each other all the time. I've seen many, many drivers that did a great job behind the wheel but their people skills or their lack of creative time management kept them from getting the miles they wanted.

The driving part isn't the toughest part of being a top tier driver in this industry. Learning how the industry works, learning how your company operates, developing the people skills it takes to get along well with everyone, and developing fantastic time management skills are what really set the most savvy veterans apart from the rest.

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.
Old School's Comment
member avatar

Kudos Brian - Two thumbs up from me! Great post with a lot of the essentials for success in it.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

I re-read your post again Brian, and again must compliment you on your insight into the underlying essence of success in trucking. Assuming that we all can safely operate a CMV , communication and attitude definitely separate the "haves" and the "have-nots". I view my job as being part of a team, myself and my DM. I gave my DMs respect and a professional attitude from day one. Still do, and they in turn treat me with the same level of respect and professionalism. I think one of the most important points of your post is for a new driver to realize that the respect that we all want is earned, and not something owed to us by our employer. Effective communication coupled with the "right" attitude will (usually) get a driver the respect they deserve, and a much better opportunity for quality miles, less down time and consistent home time.

CMV:

Commercial Motor Vehicle

A CMV is a vehicle that is used as part of a business, is involved in interstate commerce, and may fit any of these descriptions:

  • Weighs 10,001 pounds or more
  • Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more
  • Is designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) not for compensation
  • Is designed or used to transport 9 or more passengers (including the driver) for compensation
  • Is transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placards

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.
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