A Critical Piece In The Puzzle Of Success At Trucking

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Old School's Comment
member avatar

This is nothing new, I just wanted to reiterate something we've talked about plenty of times before. It never hurts to remind folks of how you make it to the top in this profession, and for those of you who are new in here, you may not have seen some of our older discussions on this subject.

We make a lot of choices and decisions as professional drivers. One of those decisions, or choices that we see new drivers literally loose sleep over, is "Which company is a good place to start out my career?" It seems that most of us think the most critical ingredient to our success is whose name is on the doors of our truck. I tell people all the time that it is not important whose name is on your truck, and I get a lot of blank stares as if I just made some moronic statement that had no basis in reality. After all, there are literally entire websites devoted to informing us which companies are good places to work and which ones will treat us like slaves. Where have I been all these years? Why haven't I noticed all the information on the web that is devoted to helping us make informed decisions when starting a career in trucking?

We've got some folks here in our forum that are very proud of the companies they work for, and rightfully so. Some of them are so proud that you would think they are on the payroll of the recruiting department! That is a good thing! It is great to take pride in your company, and in your work. I actually enjoy it immensely when I see a new driver being so thrilled with the company they have started out with. It is much more gratifying to see that, than to see someone so ignorantly bad mouthing their employer when that same employer happens to be a good solid source of contentment and consistently nice paychecks to a host of other drivers who simply cannot relate to the problems that the soured driver is enumerating.

Why is it that one driver passionately hates the trucking company that another driver is unequivocally devoted to? The answer to that question is so simple that most of us can't even recognize it when it is staring back at us in the mirror.

I very successfully started this career at Western Express, a trucking company that has been the subject of much online vilification. I had a great relationship with my dispatcher , and that one component is the subject of this discussion - the missing link to success as a professional truck driver. Your relationship with your dispatcher is key to your success. Now, let me explain this a little further...

Please note that I did not say I had a great dispatcher. What I said was that I had a great relationship with my dispatcher. So, what does a great relationship with your dispatcher look like? Remember this one all important thing about this business: all trucking companies are trying to do the same thing - they are all trying to move freight efficiently and profitably. There is precious little that differentiates one trucking company from the next one. They are all using basically the same trucks, running the same interstates, competing under the same regulations, and often times serving the same customers, while trying to make a profit. This all important relationship with your dispatcher is the one thing that can set you apart from the other drivers, it is the one thing that puts you at the head of the pack.

Here are some key ingredients to having a good relationship with your dispatcher:

1) You, the driver, are easy to get along with.

2) You, the driver, are willing to do whatever the dispatcher needs done.

3) You, the driver, understand that you don't always have "the big picture" of what your dispatcher is working on.

4) You, the driver, take responsibility for your own mistakes and shortcomings.

5) You, the driver, do whatever it takes to be efficient with your HOS (hours of service).

6) You, the driver, communicate effectively with your dispatcher.

I always put the onus on the driver, and not the dispatcher. Have you ever noticed how most of your disgruntled drivers are constantly complaining about their dispatchers? It usually takes them only a few short statements to make you realize that they could change the whole dynamics of their relationship with their dispatcher if they would simply put away their attitude, and be willing to cooperate with their dispatcher so that they could work as a team toward the company's goals. Instead they usually think they have got to badger their dispatcher into submission so that he gives in and does things the way the driver thinks it should be done. Whether we like it or not, drivers are at the bottom of the chain of command in this business, and once you recognize that you can make a lot more money by being cooperative. It is humbling being at the bottom, but recognizing that and embracing it will enable you to be much more productive. How so? Because a driver who is cooperative and easy to get along with, all while being super productive and efficient is the kind of driver that a dispatcher loves to have on his board, and he will do everything in his power to keep that driver busy.

Everybody wants to be turning a lot of miles, and they mistakenly think that is the responsibility of the company or the dispatcher. Top producing drivers have found the secret, the "holy grail" of trucking, and it is all in how you approach this all important relationship with your dispatcher. Make that relationship your priority, and you will find success.

Interstate:

Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).

BMI:

Body mass index (BMI)

BMI is a formula that uses weight and height to estimate body fat. For most people, BMI provides a reasonable estimate of body fat. The BMI's biggest weakness is that it doesn't consider individual factors such as bone or muscle mass. BMI may:

  • Underestimate body fat for older adults or other people with low muscle mass
  • Overestimate body fat for people who are very muscular and physically fit

It's quite common, especially for men, to fall into the "overweight" category if you happen to be stronger than average. If you're pretty strong but in good shape then pay no attention.

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.

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.

's Comment
member avatar

Great words of wisdom...creating great relationships with those whom you work...thanks for sharing, Old School! That kind of wisdom generally costs a pretty penny in "corporate America" yet we get it free here...just another example of how incredibly GREAT this site truly is!!!

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Amen to that! Of all the knowledge and advice that I took away from this forum before I embarked on this journey, that bit right there was a biggie. In any profession, this same advice holds true, but in THIS one, I truly believe it's the key to being really successful. In the short time I have been out here, I have heard the truck stop jockeys going on about how slow things are, how awful their dispatchers are, etc. I simply can't relate because I have been running my behind off. I have really tried to cultivate a good working relationship with my dispatcher. I don't give him any grief, and he gives me lots of money making opportunities!

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.
Sambo's Comment
member avatar

Well, when your dispatch calls you with a load, and you reply, "no, I don't go to california", or "no, I don't go to vegas", or, "no, I don't drive at night", eventually, you'll have to sit until the dispatcher finds something that you WANT to do. If that's the case, don't blame it on dispatch, the work is there, it's YOU that is what is making things slow.

I've been starting to hear things like this now, drivers who say "I don't drive at night" or things like that. Yes, if there is a reason, like you don't see as well at night, or some other circumstance, but I'd it's simply because you just don't want to, well, you may have to sit a bit more than others.

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.
G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Great post Old School.

Although it's nothing new for us, perhaps an entirely new perspective for many newbies on "what" defines success in this business. Beyond safe operation, nothing is more important for a driver than to build and maintain the relationship with their driver manager and/or dispatcher. If you took a survey of successful drivers on this forum, a common theme is likely the existence of a solid relationship with their driver management. It's number one on my list.

Interestingly enough, while I was road training, my mentor drilled into my head the importance of the driver manager and how to develop a solid relationship with him or her. When we would visit the terminal , everyone behind the window knew my mentor, everyone. Most of the time we were invited in, behind the locked door. Think about that for a moment...apply that to how you are greeted at your terminal or when you speak to your DM or dispatcher. Fast forward to the present, everything the he emphasized regarding this topic, turned out to be true...to a "T". I consider myself fortunate that he focused a portion of the training on relationship building skills. I never forgot any of it...and it was years ago.

Please underscore the words that Old School wrote,...live by them. Consider it Reference Material.

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.

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.

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.
Tractor Man's Comment
member avatar

Another "Classic" post by Old School. Thanks for your wisdom!

smile.gif

LDRSHIP's Comment
member avatar

Loved the post. Made me laugh when you mentioned that some of us love our companies so much you would think we were being paid by recruiting. On that note, did I mention my truck number, lol. I am ecstatic over my choice. I know this week Murphy has been kicking my teeth in every single day. Hopefully I am just paying in advance for some very productive, stress free weeks. Right now I am working my hardest to build a positive relationship with my DM. She already busted her tail this week to make sure I got detention pay over the damaged goods. So when she asked if I was willing to go home late tomorrow and leave out Sunday evening, I said yes. I was trying to drive until late Saturday so I could leave out Monday, but I understand it is meet in the middle kinda thing. As long as I take care of my Dispatcher , she will take care of me. In the end, we both walk away with a smile.

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.
Fatsquatch 's Comment
member avatar

Having that good relationship with your dispatcher can pay off in other ways besides miles too.

I live just outside of Seattle, and a couple years ago Washington switched to an all mail-in voting system. Which is fine, since I've always done absentee ballots anyway. Except the state didn't start mailing ballots out until 2 days after I left, and my regular home time isn't scheduled until the 17th.

But, this isn't actually a problem, because I've built a good relationship with my dispatcher. I put the bug in his ear over a week ago that I'd appreciate it if he could get me back through the house for a day so I could get my ballot filled out and mailed before the deadline, and he's been working me closer and closer since. He was out yesterday, but first thing this morning he pulled the preplan his pinch hitter put on me yesterday and got me a load to drop at the terminal tonight. And from what he said, I was on his mind all day yesterday, because he wanted to make sure he took care of me.

I am going to contradict OS just a smidge here though, and say that the onus isn't necessarily 100% on the driver, because there are some crappy fleet managers out there who think their drivers should just shut up and do what they're told. But for every 1 of those, there are probably at least 50 drivers who think the universe revolves around them and treat their dispatchers like dirt. Don't be that guy. A little give-and-take goes a LONG way, even if it means you sometimes get stuck doing something you don't want to.

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.

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.

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
I am going to contradict OS just a smidge here though, and say that the onus isn't necessarily 100% on the driver, because there are some crappy fleet managers out there who think their drivers should just shut up and do what they're told

In 15 years of driving for a variety of companies I can honestly say I only had one 'bad dispatcher'. It was for about a month when I first started at one of the major companies. Turns out the guy hated his job, hated his boss, and had given up on the whole thing altogether, and it showed. He left the company, we were all moved to other dispatchers, and life was good.

And here's another interesting thought. A good friend of mine who was a waitress told me she always got the biggest tips from the biggest jerks. She said the bigger the jerk the nicer she was to them and almost without fail they'd leave her a great tip. Her theory was that almost no one is ever nice to them so when someone finally is they really appreciate it. They don't show it, being jerks and all, but they rewarded her for it nonetheless. The point being, even if you have a jerk for a dispatcher you can get great miles, big favors, and great home time by handling the relationship the right way on your end.

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.

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.
Ernie S. (AKA Old Salty D's Comment
member avatar

I am going to add to this discussion (I know I have been absent a lot lately).

When I returned to Prime in Feb, I requested and was put back on the same board I was on the last time. Here we call them Fleet Manager's (FM), same basic job, just a different title. There are 2 other drivers I know on the same board as I am and they are always complaining because they don't get any really good loads like I do. One of the drivers will not go to certain parts of the country, has a very long list of places they will not go to, and the list goes on. The reason is what has been talked about all through this topic, having a great relationship with dispatch. You put too many restrictions on your dispatch, and you get the left overs for runs. The choice is yours as to how you are being treated, not the other way around.

I needed to get out to Oregon to see my Mom & one of my sisters. Prime did not have to do what they did, but put me down for home time so I could spend some time there. Once I was ready to go, I was sent to Medford Oregon to pickup a load that went across country to just outside Philly. My FM did not have to do what he did for me, but because I always come through for him, he took care of me when I needed a favor.

I was asked earlier today about what my plans are for the upcoming holiday season, so I let him know what the game plan is so he knows who he can count on to cover the runs during the holidays. It's all about communication and working together, not demanding that you get your way.

Ernie

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.

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.
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