Stay With Roehl? Or Go Elsewhere???

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Giff's Comment
member avatar

I am approaching 75k miles of driving (OTR dry van) for Roehl. When I hit 75k, I will have met my contractual obligation with them, and will be free to go elsewhere without a financial penalty. It has been a very positive experience with Roehl in almost every respect. Excellent relationship with my FM. Good culture. I have learned a lot, and have traveled in almost every state east of Colorado. I really like my 2014 Cascadia.

I'm looking at other companies for 2 main reasons (below). I'm communicating this here and hoping for feedback from veteran drivers. I don't want to do something silly thinking the grass is greener elsewhere. I also hope others can benefit from my experience so far.

What am I looking for?

1. More money/miles After 7 months with Roehl I'm at .36 cpm. My next expected increase will be to .38 cpm at 12 months. I'm averaging 2100ish miles weekly. I'm hoping to get a better cpm, and weekly miles up closer to 2500. (I'm also getting $150 a month in tuition reimbursement from Roehl).

2. I want to cover all 48 states, plus Canada and Mexico if possible. For now, I like driving OTR because of the variety. I want to see as much of North America as possible. I carry my bicycle with me, and I've had the chance to do some fun exploring in a lot of cities. Roehl has been great, but almost all routes are east of Denver.

Here are the main pros/cons that I've experienced working for Roehl (these may not apply to someone else):

PROS 1. Excellent, positive culture. 2. A real, actual focus on safety as a priority ("park somewhere safe if conditions don't feel safe to drive"). 3. Nice equipment 4. Many terminals and drop-yards in the eastern half of the country. 5. Fairly consistent miles in OTR dry van (avg 2100 weekly) 6. Very flexible schedule options. Examples: 14/7, 7-4-7-3, 7/7. I mostly do 14-21 days out, with 3-4 days home. I just tell them how long I want to be out, and when I want to be home. They've done well at getting me home on time. 7. As a fairly large company, they have multiple job options (van, tanker, flatbed, OTR, regional , dedicated). 8. Electronic logs 9. Industry standard health benefits

CONS 1. Getting paid for detention time. Detention is paid at $10/hour after 2 hours. Even when I log detention time for a trip, it is often not paid. I have to contact my FM and get him to hassle Payroll to get the detention paid. My one big frustration at Roehl. Either they are actively avoiding paying detention time, or their systems/processes don't handle it well. I wonder if it's like this at all companies... 2. (for me) Minimal or no routes in the west. 3. Not sure if my pay rate is a con yet. I need to learn more about what other companies will pay for a 1st year driver.

I appreciate any feedback. I can highly recommend Roehl to any new drivers looking to get a start with a solid company.

Electronic Logs:

Electronic Onboard Recorder

Electronic Logbook

A device which records the amount of time a vehicle has been driven. If the vehicle is not being driven, the operator will manually input whether or not he/she is on duty or not.

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.

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

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.

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.

Dry Van:

A trailer or truck that that requires no special attention, such as refrigeration, that hauls regular palletted, boxed, or floor-loaded freight. The most common type of trailer in trucking.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

Drivers are often paid by the mile and it's given in cents per mile, or cpm.

Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

Hi, Giff. I have some opinions and maybe a different way of looking at some of your issues. First, a true fact: i am not you. So my opinions may or may not work for you.

On first look, if you compare the pros (9 on your list) and cons (3), pros win, so stick with Roehl. 😆

You mention you don't want to wait the 5 months for your CPM raise. Keep in mind, the raise is 2 CPM, or at your current miles of 2100, about $42. Yeah, that's the ol' "extra bag of groceries" per week. But considering the pros you have, might be worth the wait.

Here's some "Driver's Lounge" advice about detention pay - unauthorized and you don't know where you heard it. You get $10/hour. You must be On Duty to get paid, because if you're Off Duty, you aren't working! On the interstate , at 36 CPM, you make about $22/hour. So don't burn your duty time for waiting to get unloaded. Take a 30 minute. Save your clock for the road. (But you still should log some time for docking and paperwork.)

#2: going west. If you have a good relationship with your DM occasionally ask if you can get out west. I grew up in California, but live in Memphis now. You bet I wanted to visit Cali again, but it never happened. Oh, well!

If you think Roehl is playing you for your CPM, you're thinking wrong. Companies don't play games with their drivers. Your authority for pay rates, or at least the starting point, is your Driver Manager.

Finally, my favorite argument about switching companies just to switch companies: you'll be back at the end of the line for seniority.

Interstate:

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

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.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

Drivers are often paid by the mile and it's given in cents per mile, or cpm.

Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

Oh, yeah. I just remembered, there's a guy in the forum who highly recommends Roehl! He says it's a solid company.

smile.gif

Rainy 's Comment
member avatar

I am approaching 75k miles of driving (OTR dry van) for Roehl. When I hit 75k, I will have met my contractual obligation with them, and will be free to go elsewhere without a financial penalty. It has been a very positive experience with Roehl in almost every respect. Excellent relationship with my FM. Good culture. I have learned a lot, and have traveled in almost every state east of Colorado. I really like my 2014 Cascadia.

I'm looking at other companies for 2 main reasons (below). I'm communicating this here and hoping for feedback from veteran drivers. I don't want to do something silly thinking the grass is greener elsewhere. I also hope others can benefit from my experience so far.

What am I looking for?

1. More money/miles After 7 months with Roehl I'm at .36 cpm. My next expected increase will be to .38 cpm at 12 months. I'm averaging 2100ish miles weekly. I'm hoping to get a better cpm, and weekly miles up closer to 2500. (I'm also getting $150 a month in tuition reimbursement from Roehl).

2. I want to cover all 48 states, plus Canada and Mexico if possible. For now, I like driving OTR because of the variety. I want to see as much of North America as possible. I carry my bicycle with me, and I've had the chance to do some fun exploring in a lot of cities. Roehl has been great, but almost all routes are east of Denver.

Here are the main pros/cons that I've experienced working for Roehl (these may not apply to someone else):

PROS 1. Excellent, positive culture. 2. A real, actual focus on safety as a priority ("park somewhere safe if conditions don't feel safe to drive"). 3. Nice equipment 4. Many terminals and drop-yards in the eastern half of the country. 5. Fairly consistent miles in OTR dry van (avg 2100 weekly) 6. Very flexible schedule options. Examples: 14/7, 7-4-7-3, 7/7. I mostly do 14-21 days out, with 3-4 days home. I just tell them how long I want to be out, and when I want to be home. They've done well at getting me home on time. 7. As a fairly large company, they have multiple job options (van, tanker, flatbed, OTR, regional , dedicated). 8. Electronic logs 9. Industry standard health benefits

CONS 1. Getting paid for detention time. Detention is paid at $10/hour after 2 hours. Even when I log detention time for a trip, it is often not paid. I have to contact my FM and get him to hassle Payroll to get the detention paid. My one big frustration at Roehl. Either they are actively avoiding paying detention time, or their systems/processes don't handle it well. I wonder if it's like this at all companies... 2. (for me) Minimal or no routes in the west. 3. Not sure if my pay rate is a con yet. I need to learn more about what other companies will pay for a 1st year driver.

I appreciate any feedback. I can highly recommend Roehl to any new drivers looking to get a start with a solid company.

Really cool to hear the good experiences. Since I've gotten my year in I had a fleeting thought of changing companies as well.

The home time you have is much desired, and the good relationship with your FM could help you with increased miles. Have you talked to him? Are you actively trying to run in your loads early or call your customers to see if you can bump up the appt?

I'm guessing they are not running you west so that home time is easier.

As far as detention my company tells us "detention is paid when the customer pays". Sounds simple but having worked in the managerial field I can tell you that could possibly be six months. My average detention is paid in two months.

My opinion is not to worry about whether you could make four CPM more at another company and talk to your FM about what you want. Ask for western loads and more miles. Ask.if there is something you can do to speed up the detention process. Do they require a signature from the customer on the BOL for times and seals? Is there a stamp you could use to insure they get the required information with a bright red ink so they can't miss it during processing?

The variety you seek and higher miles might come with changing divisions within the company. Why not talk to other drivers and see what miles they are getting at the company. If you don't like it as a dry van change to flatbed or change back if it isn't for you. Like you said the grass isn't always greener.

Electronic Logs:

Electronic Onboard Recorder

Electronic Logbook

A device which records the amount of time a vehicle has been driven. If the vehicle is not being driven, the operator will manually input whether or not he/she is on duty or not.

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.

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

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.

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.

Dry Van:

A trailer or truck that that requires no special attention, such as refrigeration, that hauls regular palletted, boxed, or floor-loaded freight. The most common type of trailer in trucking.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

Drivers are often paid by the mile and it's given in cents per mile, or cpm.

Isaac H.'s Comment
member avatar

Have you tried to do a dedicated account?

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

The advice and thoughts from the others above was fantastic.

Giff, I see no reason you couldn't find what you're looking for right there at Roehl. You'll continue to get raises, but the biggest thing is you're only turning 2,100 miles a week. That's really low for OTR work. You should be closer to 2,700 - 3,200 per week. I would make that a focus right away and start talking to your dispatcher and the operations manager about what it's going to take to average closer to 2,800 miles per week or better. You'll immediately start seeing significantly fatter paychecks.

Like everyone mentioned above, hit your dispatcher up for some West Coast runs. You may not get a lot of them or you may have to stay out on the road an extra week in order to make the turn and get back home in time but you can certainly work that out with them.

Detention pay - forget about it. Truckers make money when those wheels are turning. Would it be nice to get paid for taking a nap or reading a book? I'd take it. But again, you're only turning like 2,100 miles per week. Getting ten lousy bucks an hour sitting around isn't going to get you anywhere. Forget about the detention pay and focus on getting those miles closer to 3,000 per week.

From my experience I would say you'll be better off sticking with Roehl for now and starting a tough campaign with them to get your miles up. But of course that requires that you're handling all of the little details it takes to turn big miles each week. You have to be making all of your appointments on time, managing your clock well, trying to get appointment times moved up so you can get in and out more quickly, taking every load they give you without refusing any, and getting along with dispatch and the dock workers at the customers. If you don't handle yourself like a pro and do your job at the highest level you'll never turn the big miles the top drivers are turning.

I would say a great strategy would be to stick with Roehl until at least the one year mark. Between now and then focus hard on campaigning for more miles and at the same time really improving your driving and time management skills. By the end of that first year with the company your goal should be to average closer to 2,800 miles per week and to learn a lot more about how your company operates on the inside. Get to know more people in operations and how operations works in the first place.

If you can do your job at that level, they're feeding you those kind of miles, and you're happy with the company I can assure you there's very little chance of going to another company and improving your situation. Once you have great equipment, great miles, and respectable pay (which you do) then there's really nowhere to go but backwards. And remember, it really is a very big deal to have to start over at the bottom with a new company. It will take you 3 - 6 months to really prove yourself so you'll consistently see big miles and work well with your dispatcher. You might make the move to a company hoping to make more money but wind up losing quite a bit in the process of starting over and working your way up.

If you hit the one year mark and you're still itching to try something else then give your company one last shot. Make sure you talk it over with them first so they have the opportunity to give you what you're looking for. If you tell them professionally that you're pretty happy but considering leaving, you might be surprised how 'all of a sudden' a great opportunity pops up on a dedicated division you knew nothing about or another two cents per mile gets thrown your way.

Turnover is a massive problem these companies face. They would love to keep you, believe me. So keep working on getting more miles and learning more about the opportunities available right where you're at.

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.

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.
Rainy 's Comment
member avatar

Brett just said "professionally" and cordially. Big statement there.

I was at a customer yesterday and had two stops after that. Tight schedule. I asked security and they told me the first customer "is an all day affair getting unloaded" and I might as well take a nap and wait for the phone call. After a couple hours, I woke and spoke to the office clerk saying "hi. Im not trying to pressure you to put me in a door but dispatch is bugging me about an estimate time because of my later appointments. If you would please call me with an estimate that would really help me out. I promise you can take all day after that." .The response was "we are really backed up but you are the first driver who didn't yell at me today. Door 35. I'm gonna get you out ASAP". I got unloaded and drove away while the guys ahead of me were still sitting there.

I do this quite bit. Lol. Sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't. I asked my FM early on how I could improve and he basically said to shift at lower RPM and hold it there to increase my fuel bonus.

What kind of bonuses do they offer? Referral? Safe driving? On time delivery? Might not sound like much but I get between $50-$100 per week in bonuses. That's $200-$400 per month. ...my car payment!

SAP:

Substance Abuse Professional

The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

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.
Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
I got unloaded and drove away while the guys ahead of me were still sitting there.

I can confirm this is a common occurrence with savvy drivers out there. When you've been at this for a little while you learn a lot of little tricks. One of them is to get loaded or unloaded faster by being as sweet as pie to all of the employees at the customers that you're picking up from and delivering to. Be super friendly and pleasant. Then the key is to have a story to tell em. Come up with something that works. I always would say something like,

Hey man, I know you guys are super busy but I'm in a bit of a spot here. Dispatch has me setup on another load 50 miles from here that picks up in three hours. It's a 700 mile run that pays almost $300. If I miss that run I'll sit overnight and lose $300 from my check this week and there's no way to get that back. If you guys can get me out of here even a few minutes ahead of schedule that would be huge. If you can't I totally understand. But man, if you can it would make a huge difference in my paycheck this week and I'd really appreciate it. I'll be waiting in the truck while you do your thing. Thanks.

You won't believe how well that works. I couldn't begin to count the number of times I've gotten loaded or unloaded way ahead of schedule and even ahead of other trucks that arrived long before I did. If you can make that happen a couple of times a week you're talking about an additional 500 - 1000 paid miles you'll squeeze in that week.

Seriously, dress appropriately in clean clothing, smell nice, smile, and be friendly. That alone puts you ahead of 80% of the drivers out there. Learn to get loaded and unloaded early and keep lobbying dispatch for more miles every chance you get.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Giff, seems like a no-brainer.

Approaching my first year of experience I put some feelers out, took some road tests and got a couple of offers. Swift got wind of it, the terminal manager pulled me into his office and asked; "what can we do to keep you,". Long story short, we talked and made some positive adjustments...that was three years ago. I am still with Swift and happy. Totally true story. Reinforces the misnomer of getting lost in the numbers when working for a huge company. Completely untrue.

Talk to your direct supervisor, DM , dispatcher , let them know what's in your head. You'd be surprised at the potential outcome of that discussion. These companies relish in any driver eclipsing the one year mark. You are now in the elite group they can rely on...getting things done. Professionally leverage your performance.

By the way congratulations on making it this far,...Driver.

Good luck and safe travels.

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.
Mary H.'s Comment
member avatar

Giff,

If you're considering leaving Roehl for another of the large truckload carriers, I concur with all the others - don't do it. The grass isn't likely to be any greener. But, when you get over your wanderlust, consider some sort of "local" truck driving job to get away from some of those frustrations you speak of and make top earnings. However, if you are ever certain that you want to move on to another company, the sooner the better, for the same reason Errol gives. You'll be starting over at the bottom.

I worked for one of the largest truckload carriers many years ago and I still remember the frustration (rage) I felt at times because of some of the things you mentioned. If a company says they pay detention ($10 for each 30 minutes after two hours, according to their website), then it is not an "unreasonable expectation" to be paid just that, each and every time it happens. You are a company driver, waiting to get loaded/unloaded on the company's behalf and you should be paid just as they promised.

Should you choose to read a book, or watch tv, or take a nap, while the time passes is irrelevant. And, whether you log it on-duty or off is also irrelevant.

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.

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