Any Tips For Getting Better Miles?

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Pianoman's Comment
member avatar

I want to delve into how frustrated I am right now and just vent, but that probably wouldn't really solve anything. So I'll just keep it simple.

I'm pulling reefer otr for Swift, been solo for two and a half months, and I'm averaging 2500 miles a week (according to the Swift portal). No accidents or late deliveries. My DM just got fired a couple weeks ago (is that bad luck?? Lol) and my new DM went on vacation as soon as I was assigned to her. I think she should be back on Monday.

I know my miles aren't horrible by any means, but I want to know any tips you all might have to try to boost that number a little. I'm also a little frustrated with just how complicated it is just to get on the road again sometimes. I usually just call the planners directly and they give me something pretty quickly, but it gets frustrating quickly when my DM (or whoever is acting as my DM at the moment) tells me they're working on getting me a load. Is it appropriate to go ahead and call the planners even if they say that? I don't want to make them angry or pester anybody there, but frankly if I don't ask and pester, I sit.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

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.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

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.

Pianoman's Comment
member avatar

The other problem I have is that sometimes the only way to even get in touch with the planners is to get transferred all over the country for 30 minutes before I can even talk to a planner in the right terminal!

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.

David's Comment
member avatar

I always went to the planners to see if they had anything.. Was quicker then dealing with my DM. though I never called, If I was at or within 20min of a terminal , I'd stop in and go to the planner desk. Always seemed to get me out the door..

always stay current on your ETA/PTA as that will affect your Mi........ 2500 is actaully really good for a solo driver. is there room for more? yeah sure, you can get up to 3000 if you run hard but it comes down to how you set your self up. If you over estimate that PTA, then you might have to wait a bit... just my 2 cents.. I ran Swift back in 2012 I have a little experience with them.. Loved my Blue Volvo though... got lucky and the truck I chose after testing out from my trainer was do to be turned in to Phoenix, 4th day I got a NEW truck... was awesome... I put 120k on it before I quit.

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.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

Yeah, those really aren't bad miles, especially for this time of year. Things should begin to pick up a bit over the next couple months and you should be up closer to 3,000 miles per week once things are in full swing.

I'd be careful about bypassing your dispatcher , especially one that doesn't know you well. She may misinterpret your attempts as a way to belittle her or make her look bad. Knowing what the other is thinking and how they operate is the value of having a long-standing working relationship with a good dispatcher. So I would give her an opportunity to keep you moving. Let her know that you're looking for 3,000 miles per week and anything less isn't enough. That's obviously no guarantee that you're going to get those kind of miles but you have to give her an opportunity to make that happen.

And make sure you mention that 3,000 mile number over the Qualcomm a couple of times so the fact that you've made a very specific request for a weekly mileage goal is clearly understood and there's proof of it. Then after a short time if your miles aren't coming close to that you can let her know you're going to make some calls to try to get your mileage up there a bit more.

Qualcomm:

Omnitracs (a.k.a. Qualcomm) is a satellite-based messaging system with built-in GPS capabilities built by Qualcomm. It has a small computer screen and keyboard and is tied into the truck’s computer. It allows trucking companies to track where the driver is at, monitor the truck, and send and receive messages with the driver – similar to email.

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

Pianoman's Comment
member avatar

I always went to the planners to see if they had anything.. Was quicker then dealing with my DM. though I never called, If I was at or within 20min of a terminal , I'd stop in and go to the planner desk. Always seemed to get me out the door..

Thanks David. I'll give this a try, since I like talking to people directly anyways. I did this for the last load I was assigned since I was at the SLC terminal--I got to meet the weekend planner that plans alot of my loads. I don't think this will work unless I'm in Salt Lake though since I think all the refrigerated planners work there.

My trainers taught me to put my PTA for 1-2 hours after my delivery, which usually seems to be ok since I usually still being unloaded by then.

.. Loved my Blue Volvo though... got lucky and the truck I chose after testing out from my trainer was do to be turned in to Phoenix, 4th day I got a NEW truck... was awesome... I put 120k on it before I quit.

Nice!!

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.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Yeah, those really aren't bad miles, especially for this time of year. Things should begin to pick up a bit over the next couple months and you should be up closer to 3,000 miles per week once things are in full swing.

.

Ok, that's good to know! smile.gif

I'd be careful about bypassing your dispatcher , especially one that doesn't know you well. She may misinterpret your attempts as a way to belittle her or make her look bad. Knowing what the other is thinking and how they operate is the value of having a long-standing working relationship with a good dispatcher. So I would give her an opportunity to keep you moving. Let her know that you're looking for 3,000 miles per week and anything less isn't enough. That's obviously no guarantee that you're going to get those kind of miles but you have to give her an opportunity to make that happen.

I guess this will be something I'll have to address with my dispatcher once she gets back from vacation. I got used to doing my own thing with my first dispatcher, but it seems that's not how things typically work. The problem is that every time any dispatcher (regardless of whether it's my dispatcher or not) tells me they're working on getting me a load, nothing happens. From what I understand at this point, they simply email the planners that so and so needs a load, and then they just wait. Obviously the dispatchers have a gazillion other things to do, so once they email the dispatcher, their job is done and it's the planners responsibility to send me a preplan.

What happened yesterday is a good example. I took hometime the last two days and set my PTA for today at 0600. Normally when I go on hometime, I call the planners the day before my PTA and bug them every couple hours til I get something (doesn't usually take more than one or two phone calls). I was going to do the same thing yesterday but I got a voicemail from my fill-in DM making sure my PTA was correct so she could get me a load. This was a first for me, so decided to just call her back and then sit back and wait. I never got a hold of her so I left the info with someone else who said they would email her. Sure enough I did get a preplan, but I noticed it only had me going 800 miles for the next 6 days. Normally, I'd go ahead and accept it or call in and ask for a preplanned t-call just to cover my butt, but this one was weird since it had a bunch of extra stops scattered throughout the week. So I called my fill-in DM and asked about some options, and mentioned I would accept it if there was nothing else. Just to be clear here, I've never rejected a preplan, so I have a good track record of trying to work things out with my dispatchers and just work with what I've got. She said she'd call customer service and see what she could do--then she'd call me back. I waited a couple hours til about 1700 (when there's a shift change) and called her back. She was still there surprisingly, and when she looked she saw the preplan had been reassigned since I never took any action on it. She seemed frustrated that they did that, so I offered to just call the planners directly since that usually works (and she was about done for the day). She transferred me over there, and that's when I spent a total of an hour (no exaggeration) on hold between that phone call and the call I made to them a few hours later.

I never did get a load or even an explanation (sometimes they just don't have loads outta Denver). This is why I'm leery to trust a dispatcher to get me a load when they say they're working on it. If I'd just called the planners early in the day like I usually do, I would at least have some idea of what's going on and at best have a load out this morning. But because I waited, I'm worse off than yesterday, considering it's the weekend and they usually plan loads at least a day in a advance too.

I'm not complaining (ok maybe I am ;p)--I just can't imagine there's not a better way to go about this. I never say any of this to my dispatchers or planners since they have plenty to do and have enough complainers calling in as it is. I'd like more, but I'm ok with 2500 miles a week. I just don't understand why it's such a hassle just to get work from the company I'm employed with.

And make sure you mention that 3,000 mile number over the Qualcomm a couple of times so the fact that you've made a very specific request for a weekly mileage goal is clearly understood and there's proof of it. Then after a short time if your miles aren't coming close to that you can let her know you're going to make some calls to try to get your mileage up there a bit more.

I'll definitely give this a shot, especially since they're always telling us to use the Qualcomm anyways.

Sorry if I'm coming across as whiny...lol. I guess my frustration has been bottled up a little since I try not to ever bring up my frustrations with the people I work for.

Qualcomm:

Omnitracs (a.k.a. Qualcomm) is a satellite-based messaging system with built-in GPS capabilities built by Qualcomm. It has a small computer screen and keyboard and is tied into the truck’s computer. It allows trucking companies to track where the driver is at, monitor the truck, and send and receive messages with the driver – similar to email.

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.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

First of all, phone calls to the company should be very rare. Dispatchers and load planners hate using the phone. They can get a lot more work done when communication is handled through Qualcomm. Try to reserve making phone calls only for "something must be done about this right now" type of circumstances and normally those calls will go to someone higher up the ladder that can pull some strings when dispatch and load planners can not.

Also, make sure you get your preplans through your regular dispatcher. If you leave yourself at the mercy of the night or weekend dispatchers then you're gonna be in a mess all the time. Make sure your main dispatcher sets you up so you almost never have to deal with night or weekend dispatch.

Qualcomm:

Omnitracs (a.k.a. Qualcomm) is a satellite-based messaging system with built-in GPS capabilities built by Qualcomm. It has a small computer screen and keyboard and is tied into the truck’s computer. It allows trucking companies to track where the driver is at, monitor the truck, and send and receive messages with the driver – similar to email.

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.
Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

Paul, your DM is more your "team" than the planner is. She's in the office, you're on the road. When you have "issues" both good ("I'll go to Fiber Masters in Byhalia any time! Love those loads!") and bad ("I'm really sick. Can I have a 24 hour break?") your DM's the one who can make that call.

Also when you have some coaching due, DMs do that job. That's when it's really important that your DM knows you're one of her best drivers. Been there, done that.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

So what I'm gathering is that I really need to have a conversation with my DM as soon as she's back in the office to find out how she prefers to handle getting new loads. During that same conversation I can communicate my mileage goals with her as well. That way we can have a plan in place for the kind of situation I had yesterday. I really need to focus on building a relationship with my dispatcher , then let everything else follow from there. This what you guys (Brett and Errol) are saying?

As far as that load yesterday, I called the Denver planner this morning (I'm not at my truck so calling is all I can do right now) and he told me what was going on. Apparently that load is the only one out of Denver right now (and he admitted it was pretty lousy), so we talked about some options. He went over and talked to csr about it right then and there, then called me back after 5 minutes with phone numbers for each customer in case I needed to reach them. He said csr would take care of rescheduling the ones that needed specific appointment times and that the others were first come first serve. Then he gave me his name and his direct line and told me to call him if I needed anything else.

I get what you guys are saying and it makes sense, but it's also weird to me that I rarely (if ever) get this much information and help getting the details of a load ironed out when talking with the dispatchers. Maybe I should bring this up to with my DM on Monday??

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.

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.
Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

Paul gathers information:

So what I'm gathering is that I really need to have a conversation with my DM as soon as she's back in the office to find out how she prefers to handle getting new loads.

Sort of. Think of a pitcher and a catcher talking. They both have preferences, and as long as they understand each other they're World Series material.

Maybe you like to drive through the night and sleep during the day. Your DM can set up your appointments to make that happen.

During that same conversation I can communicate my mileage goals with her as well.

We all have mileage goals. Let me guess (I'll cover up your title first) ... Maximum miles?

When I first started at Swift, my grandkids came to our place every other weekend. I told my DM the situation. So when I was asking for home time every two weeks instead of waiting 4-5 weeks, it was no big deal.

Secret password for all your desires: COMMUNICATION

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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