Any Tips For Getting Better Miles?

Topic 13843 | Page 2

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G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Hey Paul. To confirm Errol and Brett's point; in this business there is no relationship an OTR driver has more important than your Driver Manager. Everyone else is a distant third. To the planner you are a truck number with a PTA. To your DM you are an integral moving part of their team. Their job is to keep you moving and support your efforts to make it happen. When you sit their utilization objectives are negatively affected. Working on your DM relationship is vitally important to your success and happiness on the road.

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.

Driver 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.
Truckin Along With Kearse's Comment
member avatar

Paul gathers information:

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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.

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Secret password for all your desires: COMMUNICATION

Some awesome advice right there. I said in another thread that when I upgraded other new solo drivers told me to expect 1500 mile average for the first few weeks.

My first week I got 2300 miles. My max has been 2900 now. I average 2500 or so. When I'm going home I get more the week prior like he wants me to have a big check for home time.

I hadn't talked to my FM the first two weeks on the road so I called him one day and was like "hi. I'm so new I thought u would be checking on me. How am I doing?" He said "great! I've been busy with not so great drivers so call or message me if you need me."

Every once in awhile I message "any complaints about me?" he once said "no... but thw day w as still young". I sometimes send him emails of funny pics to make him smile... like when I was assigned a door at a shipper and there was a TRAIN in the middle of the parking lot blocking me from the door. Hahahha

He knows that if I'm at a customer for 2 hours that I'm willing to do the 8 in the sleeper later instead of taking a full 10 hour. This often helps us both.. he gets the load assigned and I get rolling sooner.

Eroll once told me to be a "no problem driver". There have been times when the customer had my load 10 hours early and he'd message me... my response is usually "I'm 20 min away." He loves hearing this.

What is really cool is that he somehow knows when I need time between my loads. Not sure how he knows. But twice I was exhausted and ran out my 14. He gave me extra time automatically then asked if that was ok.

I admit there were a couple times I was annoyed cause it see.ed like as soon as I hit depart I got the next load. It was like "come on already I gotta pee and eat!" Then I realized other drivers were sitting and waiting cause they are more difficult. Want to be picky.. show up at the appointment time instead of hours before. Refuse to take the 8 in the sleeper if it man's getting the load.

Idk if this helps since we get the same amount of hours... but I know I'm getting more than some rookies in the same fleet and I think it is cause I'm more flexible. I prefer to drive at night... but if he needs a load delivered at 1500 so be it.

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.

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.

Fm:

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.

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

murderspolywog's Comment
member avatar

You got some great advise here Paul. I will say in the last month I have been right about 2200 to 2600 per week so you are right about average for this time of year. Also Denver has been terrible for reeffer for as long as I have been driving. When I was on a dedicated account that went there most of the time I would bounce back 800 miles empty because there was no reeffer freight.

Pianoman's Comment
member avatar

Thanks for the advice everyone. My experience with my first dispatcher wasn't bad by any means, and I was really sorry to see her go, but she really didn't seem to have anything to do with getting me loads. Maybe that's part of why she was laid off. I'll try communicating more with my new dispatcher and see how it goes.thank-you-2.gif

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.
Pianoman's Comment
member avatar

Hey all, just wanted to follow up on this thread.

My new dispatcher got back from vacation last Monday. I haven't gotten a chance to talk to her yet other than via the Qualcomm and a couple load related phone calls, but I plan on going in and meeting her next time I'm home. So far I'm really impressed and I'm starting to understand what you guys were saying about how the driver/dispatcher relationship works. With my last dispatcher, it was normal for me to send her a message or two and not hear back for hours (or not hear back at all). And when I asked for a load, she might say she was working on it, but a day later I would still not have a load assignment (this happened almost every time). I chalked it up to her being busy and/or there not being freight. I found out I was wrong about the freight by calling the planners directly and getting my load assignments alot more quickly, but I still just figured my DM must be busy or I'm just supposed to call the planners.

After talking with you all on this thread, I decided to start fresh with my new dispatcher and give her a fair shot before going back to the way I was doing things before. It's only been a week, but there is a marked difference with this lady. I think she has answered every message I sent while she was in this week (usually within minutes), and she told us what her hours were so we could get in touch with her before she left for the day. I also asked her for a new load on the QC the day before I deliver, like usual. Every time she set me up that same day, again usually within minutes of my asking. I realize that a huge part of new load assignments has to do with how much freight is available (and freight is starting to pick up), but I've never had much of a problem with available freight here at Swift as long as I talk to the right people so I'm giving my dispatcher the credit for keeping me running this week. Oh, and she ran my socks off this week. She's run me so hard this week I've been more worried about getting enough sleep than about getting enough miles. Again, I realize there are good weeks and bad weeks, but I'm still impressed.

We'll see how things go from here, but I definitely have a more positive outlook after the way this week has gone. In fact, at this point I'm more concerned with proving myself to my new dispatcher than trying to understand where she fits into the equation. I'm kinda afraid I'm judging too quickly, but from what I can tell so far she's top notch, and if I can show her I'm top notch as well I will be a very happy truck driver indeed.

Thanks again for all your advice and I'll keep you all updated.

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.
Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

Hey that's great news Paul. It's amazing what a difference it makes when you're working with people who know what they're doing! You should almost never have to deal with anyone other than your dispatcher and the fact you're getting messages answered and loads sent quickly shows you have a dispatcher with experience, anyhow.

Keep in mind that dispatchers have no authority whatsoever at most major companies. They are a communicator, that's about it. They relay information between their drivers and various entities like customer service reps, load planners, and operations managers. They're a communication hub you could say. So you may every so often run into a situation where you need to be removed from a particular load or you need an unexpected day off or freight has been slow for too long and you want to try to pull some strings to make things happen - things like that. Sometimes your dispatcher simply won't have the authority to approve whatever request you're making so you'll have to go higher up the chain and talk with someone in operations. But this should be pretty rare, maybe a few times a year.

When you do come across a situation like this, make sure you communicate your intentions clearly to your dispatcher before making any calls over her head. You don't want her to misunderstand your intentions and think you're going over her head to complain about her or undermine her work.

For instance, one time I remember I had like 4 or 5 loads in a row where they were bouncing me around the Northeast. I asked dispatch after the third one to get me out of there, enough was enough. But they kept on coming in spite of the requests my dispatcher had made to the load planners. So I told him, "Look, Larry. I'm gonna call operations and see if they can get me out of here. I understand you did everything you could and I'm totally cool with that. I'll see if I can get someone to pull some strings."

Well I had been at the company for years and I knew the guys higher up. One phone call and before long I was headed to Texas and everything worked out great. But like I said this should be something that only happens a few times a year at the most. Operations isn't going to be your personal travel agent every time you want something, ya know what I mean? Otherwise we'd all just be running loads from Florida to Texas or Southern Cal to North Carolina. New Jersey wouldn't have a single truck in the state!

You have the right attitude - prove yourself to this dispatcher. Show her that when she assigns you a load she won't have to think about it again. You're a "set it and forget it" type of driver for her. Once it's in your hands she can trust you're going to make the appointments on time and you're going to quickly and thoroughly communicate any problems that may arise along the way, if any. But if you're on an assignment and she doesn't hear from you then she can expect everything to go smoothly.

Dispatchers spend most of their time putting out fires. They may have 50 drivers on their board but they spend half of their time on the 5 or 10 that are always running into problems. They're always late, they're suddenly sick every time they get assigned a load to the Northeast, their truck always mysteriously breaks down around one particular city (cuz they have family or friends there they secretly want to visit) - that sort of thing. If you can be a "set it and forget it" driver for her, you take the bad with the good without complaining, and you're easy to get along with you'll always be well taken care of.

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.
Pianoman's Comment
member avatar

It's amazing what a difference it makes when you're working with people who know what they're doing!

It really does! It's been nice this week to be able to trust my dispatcher to help keep me rolling instead of having to take care of everything myself. And I did run into a couple minors problems on loads this week, but because she's so prompt they got taken care of quickly before they became a big deal.

Keep in mind that dispatchers have no authority whatsoever at most major companies. They are a communicator, that's about it. They relay information between their drivers and various entities like customer service reps, load planners, and operations managers. They're a communication hub you could say.

Thanks, this is good to know! I will definitely keep this in mind.

If you can be a "set it and forget it" driver for her, you take the bad with the good without complaining, and you're easy to get along with you'll always be well taken care of.

That's my goal!

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.
Pianoman's Comment
member avatar

So I found out yesterday my dispatcher actually likes me to call the planners lol. She has been leaving the office at 13:00 lately so I figured she was already gone yesterday afternoon and just called the planners myself. Since I have almost zero luck getting anything accomplished via Qualcomm when my DM isn't in, I called dispatch to get some details straightened out and to my surprise ended up getting my DM. When I apologized for going over her head she said she actually wished all of her drivers would call the planners, and she thanked me for taking the initiative to call them myself.

Funny, that word keeps coming up on this forum.

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.
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