Game: Backing Tips From Trainers

Topic 19819 | Page 1

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Rainy D.'s Comment
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For all you trainers out there...

What are some backing tips and advice you can give to newbies?

Backing is the scariest and most challenging part of this job for a new driver. What do you tell your students?

G-Town's Comment
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Hey Rainy...

Keep in mind my training effort is focused on introducing new drivers to the Walmart account; getting to know the "lay-of-the-land", how to get things done, process, procedure, and efficiently getting into and out of the stores (etc.).

Although many have experience driving, the backing skills are typically lacking and rather obvious at the first delivery. I always start by helping them with the setup, which includes GOALing before setting up, not after. Four-ways on, I stop, pull the plugs, exit the truck and ask every new person: "okay, tell me how to setup for bumping the third door from the wall at this dock". I all but force them to think about what they are going to do, visualize it before being committed and describing it or even waling me through it (not always safe or possible). You and I both know, 9 times out of ten, if the setup is "pooched", the back will be an exercise in frustration and at times embarrassment. If they cannot describe how-to setup to your liking, then that's where and how you start the teaching process emphasizing one size does not fit all, every situation is a little bit different.

Granted, most of the time the store docks are not congested, however SAMs and the vendors we back haul from are usually busy and many times offer the best learning experience. Google Elmsford NY SAMs as an example, I always try to get a run to that location with a student, especially if they are over-confident. What I have found most new drivers don't stop and think through the setup, in a rush, and too busy "worrying" about backing up.

As a good starting point...that's my approach. Funny thing about this, it will seriously test your "game" as well.

Good luck!

Unholychaos's Comment
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I always start by helping them with the setup, which includes GOALing before setting up, not after... I all but force them to think about what they are going to do, visualize it before being committed

I pretty much did the exact same thing when I helped out on a Home Depot account for a month. I had to drop my loaded trailer, grab the empty from the dock, move and drop it, regrab the loaded, dock it, grab the empty and FINALLY move on. Once I arrived at the store and checked in, I would take the time to survey the area, figuring out where I can safely move the empty to where I'll be able to leave the lot and also making sure it's out of the way of where I'd need to maneuver. And of course I had to mind the pallets of junk scattered everywhere, which was another hassle, but it at least made it interesting.

And rainy, I'm not a trainer, but I'm still a rookie so I still remember things my trainer taught me.

Use all the space you can. Just because you're not lined up, doesn't mean you have to immediately pull up. Back up close to the dock so you can have that much more room to wiggle.

Think like a snake. This actually came from a trainer from Hogan who gave me a few tips while at a small paper place in Clinton IA. If you need to move to the right a little bit, pull forward and right, cut back to the left to straighten it out, then get back under it. Imagine a slithering snake (I'm horrible at explaining things by the way, I'd be a terrible trainer).

Go slow. Simple, effective, and easily forgotten by the so called professionals out there. What's the point in save a few extra seconds? You'll be able to have a lot more time to make small adjustments and have more time to think about what your next turn of the wheel will be.

Don't sweat it. This is more of a mental thing. Don't get so worked up over taking longer than the guy before you or the guy waiting behind you. YOU are the one driving, not them. As long as you don't hit anything and the dock plate goes down or you're in between the lines, chalk it up as another victory!

When in doubt, ask for help. Yes, there are alot of A holes who would like nothing better than to see you hit their precious long nose Pete, but there are nice guys who will help you. If they see you struggling and offer to help, by all means, take it! If you're trying to back in next to someone and you see that they're still in the drivers seat, get out and ask for a spot cause you "don't want to hit their truck." Dont be afraid to admit defeat.

Again, not a trainer, but I know the struggles. Still dealing with them myself, but not sweating it really helps calm the initial nerves.

Every day brings a new challenge, just take it 1 mile, 1 back 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.
A D's Comment
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Great tips, keep them coming.

Thanks for the idea Rainy D.

G-Town's Comment
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Part of G-town's initial reply to Rainy

I always start by helping them with the setup, which includes GOALing before setting up, not after... I all but force them to think about what they are going to do, visualize it before being committed

Unholychaos' reply:

I pretty much did the exact same thing when I helped out on a Home Depot account for a month. I had to drop my loaded trailer, grab the empty from the dock, move and drop it, regrab the loaded, dock it, grab the empty and FINALLY move on. Once I arrived at the store and checked in, I would take the time to survey the area, figuring out where I can safely move the empty to where I'll be able to leave the lot and also making sure it's out of the way of where I'd need to maneuver. And of course I had to mind the pallets of junk scattered everywhere, which was another hassle, but it at least made it interesting.

Music to my ears...UHC thanks for sharing that!

What you described is a great work habit when faced with unfamiliar territory and complicated/congested dock areas. Basically sounds like 50% of every Walmart I deliver to. Especially fun when planted right next to a Home Depot or Lowes. On a Saturday morning a circus of objects and obstructions, some in motion.

Really solid, professional approach to your work at Home Depot, notes like this should be in every rookie driver's tool kit.

Rainy D.'s Comment
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I always like Errol's Google Earth shots of the customer to plan ahead before you go in.

And look 10 ft beyond the tires to know where you are headed

When you get bowed, straighten the tired and pull straight up, not turn all crazy directions.

John S.'s Comment
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Couple of simple tips from my trainer that helped me enormously:

1. As the corner of trailer is about to enter the alley, stop and check if the trailer is lined up straight or almost (+/- 5-10 deg) going in the hole. If not do a short pull up and correct and dont worry about the tractor being straight. Trailer is more important. 2. Do very short pull-ups, like 5-6 feet to straighten the tractor out. The short pull-ups dont change the position of the trailer much and 3-4 short pull-ups can straghten even an almost jacknifed tractor while hardly changing the position of the trailer.

But it's the really tough backing situations when out solo that will teach you the most. We have a couple of clients where we go where there's a wall about 70 feet from the loading dock. So if you execute your maneuver perfectly, you end up with the trailer bumping the dock and the tractor at about 30deg angle inches from the wall. Zero pull up room. Took me over an hour the first time I went there. Almost cried, and swore, a lot.

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