How To Land The Best Truck Driving Jobs

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Old School's Comment
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Over the years I have witnessed many a newcomer to our forum ask these very common questions...

- Which is the best company to drive for?

- How does company "XYZ" treat their drivers?

- How many miles can I expect from company "XYZ"

They are very good questions, because we all certainly want to be working for a good company that treats us well in our jobs, all while keeping our wheels turning so that we are making some good solid money. We all want to get started off on the right foot and do well at this, and the trend of thinking that you will find among most internet active drivers or ex-drivers is that our success depends on whether or not our company treats it's drivers well, and "gives" them lots of miles.

The problem with this common thinking is that there is almost always a huge disparity of experience between drivers who happen to be employed by the same company. I started my career at Western Express, a company that many claim is a second chance company. Well, to be honest with you, they just happened to be the ones who gave me my "first chance." During my time there I got my education in how you succeed at trucking. The primary thing I learned was that success at this has little or nothing to do with your employer. I honestly would still be there today were it not for a very appealing opportunity that presented itself to me running a dedicated flat-bed account at Knight Transportation.

All trucking companies want their drivers to be turning lots of miles. Think about it - they make money the same way their drivers make money, by moving freight. The more miles their trucks are turning, the more they increase their revenues. It is such a simple formula. Why would a trucking company ever want their drivers to be sitting around doing nothing? The simplicity of it escapes the logic of most drivers.

That begs the question of why their is a disparity of experiences among drivers. While I was at Western Express, I very seldom found another driver who was happy with his situation there like I was. Let me tell you, I was very happy with that job. They kept me busy, I made some decent money despite their low starting wage, and I saw just about every corner of this great country. We've had a recent new member in here who keeps making a comment that goes something like this: "If you happen to get a dispatcher who doesn't like you then you are not going to do well at trucking." They have also made some remarks about their perceived ideas of our "ridiculous creed" here at trucking truth concerning not bad mouthing companies. The truth is that we have no such creed, and the reason we don't bad mouth these companies is because it makes absolutely no sense to bad mouth a company who has some very successful drivers there who have consistently outperformed their peers and have had great success there. How can we declare them a "bad company" when there are current drivers there who are enjoying great success? If we consider it logical to bad mouth them because they have some drivers who are doing poorly, then why don't we consider it logical to sing their praise because they also happen to have some drivers who are doing very well?

Continued...

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

The fact that this business is performance based is the most relevant issue to success at this. Unfortunately that reality escapes most driver's understanding of how to succeed at this. If you have a dispatcher who doesn't like you, then it is incumbent upon you to figure out how to rectify that situation. That is part of what being a top performer at this is all about. People think when we talk about performance we are just talking about a driver's endurance and ability to stay in the seat for lengthy periods of time. That is such a small part of how you succeed at this stuff. Here is a small list of important things that you will need to excel at if you want to be a top performer. These things can enable you to turn your present trucking job into one of the best trucking jobs ever...

  • Understanding how the whole process of getting good loads works at your company.
  • Being patient when you don't understand why something is happening that negatively effects you.
  • Being flexible with the demands of dispatch. They are generally looking out for your welfare, even if you don't comprehnd the big picture.
  • Being customer service oriented.
  • Being flexible and willing to do what ever it takes (within the law of course) to make things happen out here.
  • Understanding that everything does not revolve around you.
  • Understanding the rules and how to manage your time and your logs so that you can put yourself into position for the best loads.

Notice how each of those things start with the words "understanding" or "being?" That indicates that they are your responsibility. Moving freight is a team sport. There are a lot of players involved in this game. To reach your personal goals at this you need to be a star on the team, and there is not a star on any team who can maintain his level of play without continual steady support from his teammates. Driving truck is a very individual endeavor, but it requires a lot of folks in the background to keep you moving. If you cannot be the type of person who consistently conducts them self in a way that causes others to count on you and respect you, then you will have a tough time of this. You need the support of the players on this team that no one ever sees. You may be the only face the customers see, but if you can't garner the support of your teammates in the offices, you are doomed. It is not their job to keep you happy or satisfied, they can just as easily move on to support another driver who understands how this whole puzzle fits together. Their job is to move freight efficiently, and if you as a driver are clogging up the flow of their work then you will start getting passed over and those really nice loads which could be yours will go elsewhere.

I remember when I lost my first dispatcher at Western Express - he quit and went to another field. I was devastated, I considered him a big part of my success, we worked together so well. When I met my new dispatcher, he was not at all the type of person I would ever want to spend anytime with, and he and I would never have been friends under any circumstances. In short, we didn't care for each other. After just a few weeks of working together he called me one day to tell me that I had turned the most miles out of 1,500 drivers the previous month - I was driver of the month! He told me that he had no idea that I was that kind of a driver, but he was glad to have me on his board. You see, I had accomplished that under my other dispatcher, but now he was aware of what I could do. While he and I never really enjoyed each other's friendship, we did work together well because he wanted to move freight, and he supported me in a way that helped him look better to his managers.

Knowing how to be a top performer, or a "star" on the team, and yet understanding the importance of the whole team effort will go a long way toward your success at this business. You can have a great career doing this, but you have got to understand where your focus needs to be. Those who's focus is on the best company to work for as their way to success at this, find themselves continually disillusioned and changing jobs. What is really odd about that is that they keep moving to companies that have hallways of photographs of very satisfied "million plus mile drivers" on the wall, and they don't ever stop and ask themselves "how in the world did those drivers manage to hang in there at this sorry company for that long?"

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

BQ 's Comment
member avatar

Couldn't agree with this sentiment from Old School any more. Many of the same traits that make a successful truck driver are paramount to success in most aspects of life, regardless of career field. Anytime I come across someone whining about lack of said success and blaming everybody but themselves, I wonder what they are(n't) doing that contributes to said failures. You get out what you put in. Nothing in this life is free and the world doesn't owe you a thing.

Ryan R.'s Comment
member avatar

A guy I went to school with got fired from swift while making pennies after hitting a stop sign around a corner, and then got hired by another company (I wish I could remember the name... food based and starts with m) and is making 6 figures. If you look up the pay for a company like swift on Glassdoor, you can see its average pay is lower than many other companies around, and it's max pay is much lower as well. It also has a lower total review score than some other companies?

Annoyingly, the average and maximum salaries for drivers has gone down since the last time I checked it. I'm not even sure why so many people are willing to throw their lives away for a paltry 42k average with swift.

Anyway, Old School, you increase your odds of making decent money by working for a company that pays decent money. You increase your chances of having a company you like when you work for a company that has more overall positive reviews. You always want to gamble with the odds in your favor. All data indicates that it DOES matter.

Ryan R.'s Comment
member avatar

Let me put it this way: I agree that our choices can dramatically increase or decrease our chances for success in the industry. This includes what school we go to and what company we work for.

There is a psychological term known as self-serving bias. People like to blame their success on their abilities and efforts, and their failures on external factors out of their control. If you're not just a tool for big business, you're exhibiting self-serving bias very well.

Bud A.'s Comment
member avatar

A guy I went to school with got fired from swift while making pennies after hitting a stop sign around a corner, and then got hired by another company (I wish I could remember the name... food based and starts with m) and is making 6 figures. If you look up the pay for a company like swift on Glassdoor, you can see its average pay is lower than many other companies around, and it's max pay is much lower as well. It also has a lower total review score than some other companies?

Man, I wish you could remember the name of that company where your friend is making six figures, too! I might even be willing to run over a stop sign if that's one of the qualifications they're looking for! "Food based and starts with M" is a tantalizing start, but just glancing at the list of companies in the CMS scores listed on the FMCSA site, there are way more possibilities than I thought there would be. That's a lot of phone calls to make, but I'm sure I deserve a six figure salary as a truck driver, too, and if that guy in your training class can get a job like that, I'm sure I can too!

Glassdoor is obviously a key indicator. I mean, we have as many as 126 drivers (out of 15,000 -- or is it 20,000 at Swift? I can never remember) who have posted their salaries, and as many as 474 of those same drivers who have rated the company in a review there (although it is probably something less than 474, since the job titles don't all include "driver" in them). Some of those higher rated companies might have fewer reviews, but hey, they've got fewer drivers, right? I'm sure it's statistically accurate.

At least, it's comforting to believe that we can figure out who the best companies are based on quick google searches, rather than listening to people who have actually performed the job of truck driver for a year or two or more. What the hell do they know anyway, right? They obviously have no google-fu to figure this stuff out.

So what if they claim that salary may not be the top consideration when an experienced driver looks for a new job? That's crazy talk right there! Like home time, or benefits, or running lanes, or anything else is going to be more important than raw pay!! How f'ing ridiculous is that kind of thinking? They obviously are trapped in some kind of weird cult that this guy Brett has started.

My advice would be to avoid getting trapped in anything to do with that. Sure, they talk about personal responsibility and having a good attitude and flexibility and willingness to go the extra mile and that kind of stuff, but I'm sure once you're inside they mention how you need to schedule a weekend training session with Old School or G-Town or Errol for only a few hundred dollars, and how you need to set up your introductory phone call to Rainy D., and then start twisting your arm to make the trip to upstate New York to worship at the temple of Brett.

Annoyingly, the average and maximum salaries for drivers has gone down since the last time I checked it. I'm not even sure why so many people are willing to throw their lives away for a paltry 42k average with swift.

I know, right? What a waste! Only $42,000!? Heck, I heard about a guy who ran over a stop sign while working for them and then turned around and got a job with another company that paid six figures! Why would anyone work for Swift? It makes no sense. I'm glad you pointed that out for everyone who might read this and think it's OK to go work for some loser company, just because 15,000 other drivers are making a living there. (Or is it 20,000? I always forget.)

Anyway, Old School, you increase your odds of making decent money by working for a company that pays decent money. You increase your chances of having a company you like when you work for a company that has more overall positive reviews. You always want to gamble with the odds in your favor. All data indicates that it DOES matter.

Yes, gambling is a very appropriate metaphor for starting a career in trucking. I mean, every day is a gamble, amirite? Thank goodness the Internet is here to help us find the perfect company to start our careers at! I don't know how any of those guys in the olden days ever did it without the perfect information available to all of us today for free from the Internet!

And yet, some people are trapped in a cult that tells new prospects to not believe everything they read on the Internet about trucking companies. That's f'ing ridiculous!! Just because they've actually driven a truck for a living for a year or two or more doesn't mean they know anything about how to succeed in the business. Thankfully, though, there are guys like you who are willing to share their superior understanding with the rest of us, and to show these clowns that actual experience is worthless in the face of the massive data available to someone with serious google-fu!

CSA:

Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)

The CSA is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiative to improve large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities that are related to commercial motor vehicle

FMCSA:

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

The FMCSA was established within the Department of Transportation on January 1, 2000. Their primary mission is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries.

What Does The FMCSA Do?

  • Commercial Drivers' Licenses
  • Data and Analysis
  • Regulatory Compliance and Enforcement
  • Research and Technology
  • Safety Assistance
  • Support and Information Sharing

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Let me put it this way: I agree that our choices can dramatically increase or decrease our chances for success in the industry. This includes what school we go to and what company we work for.

There is a psychological term known as self-serving bias. People like to blame their success on their abilities and efforts, and their failures on external factors out of their control. If you're not just a tool for big business, you're exhibiting self-serving bias very well.

Yes, this is it exactly!! Thank you for the follow up post!! "Self-serving bias" is such a crippling thing. You think you're successful when you're paying your bills, and running as many miles as you want in the lanes you want, and getting home when you want, and driving good equipment, and enjoying a great relationship with others in your company as part of a team that helps make our great country keep on rolling, when in reality you are completely deceived and don't realize that you could be making three times as much like this guy I heard about who ran over a stop sign while working for pennies at Swift but then turned around and got a job making six figures at a company whose name I can't recall right now but it started with M.

You are completely awesome, Ryan R.! I don't care what they say about you having no experience in the business. They're just jealous, I think, so I don't listen to them at all, and neither should you!! Thanks for making my day!!!!

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HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

First off, Old School awesome post. I pray that all who read your writings take your advise to heart. It will help to achieve a great deal in whatever they do. As for you Ryan, Get a grip man. I read your previous rantings and read where Old School stood up for you. Shame on you for spitting in his face.

Ryan R.'s Comment
member avatar

Bud,

I must admit, you're a fairly witty guy, but you're being a bit misleading. If you want to talk about sample sizes and getting information from the internet, Old School is also on the internet, and a sample size of: 1.

Those 474 reviews on swift on glassdoor? Much larger sample size. Would I base my decisions solely on glassdoor? No way, but I'd sure use it before just listening to one person on a forum that seems to have an agenda.

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.
Ryan R.'s Comment
member avatar

Kevin,

I stopped reading that thread. I didn't even know that he did stand up for me, as I left it so I wouldn't continue to inspire drama for Brett's sake.

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