Need Advice, Or Maybe A Slap Upside The Head....

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Sambo's Comment
member avatar

I've been with my company for about a year now. It's had it's ups and downs, for sure.

I've never refused a load, I don't give my dm any grief, and I try to do the best job that I can. I've had a couple late loads, but most of them were due to either breakdown, or an appointment time that was just too tight. In all cases, if i knew that i was going to be late, i would start making phone calls to inform everyone.

Having said that, I've talked to my dm just to get an idea if he was happy with my performance, and from all accounts, he is. He tells me if he had a board full of drivers like me, things would be great. I don't say this to toot my own horn, I'm not like that.

My issue is that, over the last year, I've gone through 4 trucks.

1) 2013 volvo with about 440,000 miles on it. This was my training truck that I drove after I was done with my trainer. Drove it for about 4 months and it broke down on me. Regent system failed, turbo failed, and had some broken valve rods.

2) 2014 pro star, about 300,000 miles on it when i got it. Drove this truck for about 3.5 months and it broke down and had to be sent to the dealer due to an internal engine oil leak.

3) 2014 automatic volvo, about 225,000 miles on it when i got it. Drove this truck for about 3 months and the transmission started making a grinding sound when coming to a stop.

4)2015 volvo auto, about 175,000 miles on it when i got it. Drove this truck until now, and again, being sent to the dealer for an oil leak.

There have been other issues that they have had to fix on this last truck that didn't require it to be sent to the dealer.

I try to be easy on my trucks, I don't drive them aggressively. I'm assuming this is just normal mechanical wear and tear.

The issue I'm facing is, it seems like every time there is an issue, I end up sitting between 3 to 5 days, and usually they just roll me into another truck. I am starting to get weary though. When I started, things were fine. My runs were all about 1100 to 1500 miles, and even had some 2200 and 2300 miles in there. Lately the runs have been 800 to 1100 miles, and end up having to sit for a day or two until they find me a load.

I go anywhere and everywhere my dm asks me to go. Sometimes that means I head over to the east coast, where freight coming out is slow.

Basically, my paychecks have been suffering. I've had some good ones, upwards of $1000 take home for a week, but lately, I'm starting to see more $300-$400 paychecks coming in. I looked at my gross pay for the year a couple of weeks ago, and I was barely over $13,000. At this rate, I'll make less than $30,000 this year.

I know that trucking isn't going to make you rich, but I was expecting to be able to make at least $40,000-$50,000.

Here is my thing, I know that as drivers, we are supposed to not complain, not refuse loads, and try to make our dm happy. However, I've been reading on our facebook page where I see people who give their dm an ear full when things aren't working right, and they tell their dm that they won't drive in cali, in the mountains, and when it's winter, they want to stay in the southern states. Life for these people seems to be great. They are getting a lot of miles, making excellent paychecks.

I was talking to a guy here today at our phoenix terminal asking about how it is that we keep getting told they are not releasing any of the new trucks until they've gotten all the use out of the older trucks, yet, you see and hear about people driving new trucks all the time.

His response is that they tell their driver manager that if you want production, and I want miles, I need a new truck to do it. Basically telling me that I need to put my foot down with my dm and tell him what I need and want, otherwise, they are not going to look out for you, you basically have to look out for yourself.

This is counter intuitive to what I've read here on TT, and how I've tried to develop my relationship with my dm.

I'm not asking for them to give me the world, it just seems like every time a truck breaks down, they put you into another truck that has problems. Example, the truck they want to put me in now is going to be older than the one I have now and is sitting in Idaho. I'm just concerned that this is going to be a 2014 or older, high mileage truck that I'm going to have problems with in the near future.

What's worse,.i finally got a truck that had a fridge and had an inverter installed in it, so I can start cooking in the truck, and, this truck is old enough that it will not have any of those things and never will.

I'm not trying to be a prima Donna here, I'm just wondering if maybe I've been a bit too easy with my dm. Is it possible that maybe, from time to time, it isn't a bad thing to be a bit gruff with your dm, to keep them from walking on you? That is what I'm hearing. And yes, I know that terminal rats will talk, but I'm looking at several people who seem to dictate how and where they will run, and it seems to be working for them.

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.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

And I apologize for the length and scope of this thread, just a tad frustrated right now, because I've done everything I can to be a good driver for my dm , and it doesn't seem to be working for me.

I'm just trying to figure out if maybe there is something I need to change.

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.
G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Sambo wrote about a suggestion a fellow driver gave him:

His response is that they tell their driver manager that if you want production, and I want miles, I need a new truck to do it. Basically telling me that I need to put my foot down with my dm and tell him what I need and want, otherwise, they are not going to look out for you, you basically have to look out for yourself.

Ask him how that heavy-handed approach worked out for him? Although in principal I agree with him, but not his approach. You have one year of experience, and although you have risen on the driver totem pole, you are in no position to be demanding anything. None of us are.

There are two problems here; the mileage reduction and of course the breakdowns. I don't think they are related...but they might be. Not sure.

Here is what I suggest:

Request a one-on-one sit down meeting with your DM. If that's not possible then, request a phone call so that it's just the two of you on the phone. Explain your situation clearly and calmly; the mileage reduction and "4 trucks in a year" issue. Both of these things are costing you money. Ask him what can be done to reduce your down time and rebound back to the bigger runs because you are at a point in your career at (Knight?) where you are able to take on more consistent work, longer runs, etc. Let him answer you. Then ask it a different way if need be; "how can I get in line for a new truck, or at least one with lower mileage?" Reiterate what can you do better so they are confident in giving you the longer runs? Make him aware of the situation, your desire to improve it, and ask how it can be solved. Try to avoid the emotionally charged, angry discussion and "putting your foot down". I am sure your DM is also frustrated. If you are sitting you are not making them any money either. Keep in mind relationships are built "brick by brick", and they take time. One year isn't that long. You may need to revisit this and periodically follow-up with your DM. Professional persistence overcomes resistance.

If you need to write down your thoughts to organize them (similar to what you did here), that's okay. Make an orderly outline of everything you believe is pertinent and refer to it during the discussion.

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.
Sambo's Comment
member avatar

Thanks, and like I said, I'm really not expecting a "new" truck, just frustrated with the breakdowns and the down time between loads, and it gets even more annoying when you read about people getting these really great miles and great runs because they have told their dm that they won't run in certain areas, so, they get to cherry pick their work, and they still make awesome miles, and get really great fuel bonuses too.

My thoughts were, if you get in good with your dm and do a good job, that is when you get the special perks from your dm. And don't get me wrong, I'm not asking for special perks, I just want to be worked just like every other driver, but what I'm finding is the people who set down rules with their dm, and dictate where and how they will work, seem to be faring much better than those who simply let their dm run the show.

I guess I'm tires of hearing people brag about all the sunny southeast runs they get in the winter, and how they are making 3000+ miles each week, hitting fuel bonus every time, while you have others who will go out of their way to accommodate their dm, but are getting less than 2000 miles each week and couldn't hit the fuel bonus to save their lives.

Maybe I just need to stop reading these posts from other people lol.

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.
G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Okay Sambo,...you asked for a "slap in the head",...stop focusing on other people and their aledged gravy runs and rigid requirements. Likely an embellishment of the actual truth. It's distracting you...

Focus on yourself and your situation; make a plan and stick to it. The grass is always greener on the other side until you are standing there. You invested a year of your life at Knight. Work through this...

Good luck!

Sambo's Comment
member avatar

"Ouch" but yeah, I probably needed that. I'm just dealing with some frustrations, but like normal, I'll get upset and then be over it in 15 minutes.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

"Ouch" but yeah, I probably needed that. I'm just dealing with some frustrations, but like normal, I'll get upset and then be over it in 15 minutes.

Your 15 minutes is up!

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

Man, you've been out there a year and haven't figured out that truckers are as good at lying as they are complaining? Come on, man! Don't believe that garbage. And on Facebook, of all places?? omg.

No one is cherry picking loads. No one is going where they want, and not going if they don't want. It's a pile of baloney. The same CB Rambos who are running their mouths on channel 19 set down the mic and pick up their laptop and run their mouths on Facebook. Same people.

Now what is true is that some drivers are getting 3,000 miles per week, and if you can handle that type of mileage then you should be too. If you are doing your job at the highest level, then the company is failing to give you the equipment and the freight you need to make a great living.

Now you've mentioned being late with some loads. That's a big time deal-breaker right there if it's your fault. If the truck breaks down or the weather shuts everyone down then no problem. But if you're oversleeping or you're planning your runs poorly or whatever, that's going to be a huge mileage killer. The fact that you've been there a year and you're not making any progress with miles or with equipment does indeed make me wonder if you're not quite letting on with the number of failures that were your fault. Because by this point you know how the game is played, dispatch knows very well what you're capable of as a driver, and it's pretty uncommon for a great driver with a year in at a company to be struggling.

However, saying that, there are some dispatchers that don't do a good job of keeping their drivers running or balancing out the freight. And there are some that will take advantage of a driver who is too much of a pushover.

For me, if I was having trouble getting miles and I knew I was performing consistently at the highest level I would simply say,

"Listen, you know I'm performing at the highest level and I've put in my time here to prove myself. There's no reason on Earth that anyone should be getting more miles than I am. Now I love working for this company and I don't want to go anywhere. I want to stay right where I'm at and make an awesome living. I'm doing everything I can possibly do, we both know I can handle 3,000 miles a week, so why am I not getting the miles the other drivers are getting?

Like I said, I don't want to go anywhere, but if I can't make a great living here like I can somewhere else then you guys are going to leave me no choice. I can't give up hundreds of dollars every week just to work here. I have to make money. Now what do we have to do to get my miles up around 3,000 per week and get this train rollin?

Speak to not only your dispatcher , but your dispatcher's boss, and maybe higher. Go to the operations manager or terminal manager if you have to and lay out your points one at a time like you did here. Spell it out just like that, and put the ball in their court. Make it very clear that you're ready to run as hard as the Feds will allow, but they have to do their job and put the miles on you. Don't get mad at them and show a bad attitude, but let them know that they're letting you down because they're not doing their job, which is to keep their best drivers rolling with top miles and great equipment.

What worries me is that you said some of the loads were late because " an appointment time that was just too tight."

What does that mean? Were you legally able to make the run? Why didn't you get it there on time? You don't need to answer that for me. You already know the answers, and that's all that matters. Maybe it was your fault, maybe it wasn't, there's no way for me to know, and I don't need to know.

But that is the key question in this whole thing. Are you really performing at the highest level? Because that's what it's going to take to get 3,000 miles a week. You can't be late sometimes. Not even once in a while. Not if you want those kind of miles.

If you perform the best you can expect the best miles and the best equipment. If you're falling short you can expect your miles and your equipment to fall short.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Big T's Comment
member avatar

You have had the discussion with your DM regarding whether or not he is happy with your performance, but have you had the specific discussion regarding the equipment and miles?

When I drove for Gordon, my first truck was one of their paddle shift trucks that they were in the process of selling off to some Russian company. I had a two week stretch where I was in the shop more than I was on the highway. This was only a couple months after starting with them so I did not really have any leg to stand on as far as "demanding" new equipment or even having a long record of service times to go off of. I just simply explained to him the issue and asked if there was anything I could do or he could do. It is not in their interest to have a truck in the shop, especially when it is at the dealership because my truck never seemed to break down near the terminal. It took another week, but he had a little newer of a truck that was not breaking down all the time.

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.
Steve L.'s Comment
member avatar

I say you stick to the business end of the problem and leave the emotions out of it. If you're making $30k and need to be at $40k, ask your DM how you can get there. Also, did they advertise higher average miles than they're giving you?

I had a similar situation about a year into my first company. We came up with a plan and I got the miles I needed to make the money. The trade off was less home time. At the two year mark I went to a new company and glad I did. Making the same money and home weekly. But I NEVER gave my company a hard time about it and left on good terms. I also made sure I did my research on the new company.

The issue isn't the trucks and it isn't that other companies are perfect. The issue is the annual pay (which I'm not sure I understand how short that is from your expectations).

I say ask them how to get where you want to be.

Good luck.

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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