Drive Teams Or Leave Current Company?

Topic 23535 | Page 1

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Adrian N.'s Comment
member avatar

Bobtail Member I currently drive for Danny Herman Trucking as a solo. I get ok miles but I'm not making enough money as the sole provider of my family to support my wife, and 2 kids. I need to bring home a minimum of $1000 a week just for us to scrape by, and I haven't been doing that consistently. I took 4 days home time in September and it killed me for 2 weeks financially. The week of, and after my home time really sucked! It seems the only way to make consistently good money as a solo driver is to never go home! I hate to do it but I'm thinking I might have to switch to team driving. I was recently with a trainer running teams for 2.5 weeks as a refresher and it was incredibly difficult. I really liked the guy and we got along really well, but it was still really hard sharing such a small space with another guy. The hardest part for me was sleeping in a moving, bouncing truck! Still if it means I'd earn enough to take care of my family I would be willing to sacrafice my comfort, sleep, and sanity. I've even thought maybe I should look at going with a different company like Crete etc. that pays more cpm. I would really hate to do that for several reasons. I've only been with DHT for 2 months and I don't want to start job hopping because I'm suffering from the grass is always greener syndrome. I'd hate to leave for another outfit that pays more cpm but I end up getting less miles than I get now, or end up working for a place I hate cause they treat me like crap, and end up hopping to yet another company.That would do nothing to better my situation! I also like DHT. They are far from perfect, and there are things I wish would change, but I really like the areas they operate in, and I get really nice long runs. Is it possible to make a lot more money running teams, or do I maybe just need to find a place that pays more than .40 cpm and hope I get the miles I get now, or more? Or should I just stay solo, and never see home, and hope I earn enough to pay the bills every month?! My family doesn't even have enough money to buy groceries this week or pay our bills! $600-800 a week for a family of 4 just isn't cutting it! I'm totally stressed out, and need to do something! Quick!

Bobtail:

"Bobtailing" means you are driving a tractor without a trailer attached.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

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

Keith A.'s Comment
member avatar

Switching companies won't fix the problem, it'll just throw more wrenches in the mix, there's the gap in paychecks, the spin up time to get your feet under you with new office personnel, new policies, new paperwork procedures.

I'd talk to your dispatcher and lay out the basics (in a responsible fashion) and see what sort of a game plan you might be able to draft with them, but it could be your only option is to not go home nearly as often for a while.

Other than that I can't say much but hopefully some more seasoned people will drop in

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.
Joseph L.'s Comment
member avatar

Adrian N. I feel for you. Right now we are basically getting by on my wife's salary because I am not making diddly as driver for CRST .30 cpm. My first check wasn't even $100. It would have been over a $100. But I had to take a small advance to get through a week I was sitting waiting for people to figure exactly where I was at and then getting me a trainer at the correct terminal. I have to say when I meet my trainer we hit it off, our attitudes and out look on life from politics, to religion, to music are pretty much what and what. I do remember walking towards the truck for the first time and getting butterflies. I started thinking there is no way I can be cramped up on that thing with another guy. Then when I saw where I was going to be sleeping the first few days, I remember thinking there is absolutely no way I can do this Then my trainer said we were going to Illinois and I was like well I haven't been to Illinois since 1977 so what the heck. CRST has a policy where for the first 3-5 days the trainer needs to be up front with the student driver. So for the first few days we shut down for ten hours and got a fairly decent night sleep. Then came the first time I had to sleep or try too when it was moving. For nearly 3 hours I would just start to fall asleep the truck would hit a bump and I was awake. I think my first night I got maybe a solid 3 hours of sleep. I think by the 4th night I adjusted. The 5th night I played sleep music on YouTube I picked one for an hour and was out within in the hour. I woke up thinking I had been a sleep for an hour and found out I had been a sleep for four hours. My trainer stopped for his 30 minute d.o.t break an hour later. I got something to drink used the rest room we hit the road and he had four or fives hours left to drive. I force myself back to sleep for two of those hours. It's tough by you can adjust to it.

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.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

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

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Remember with a team driver you will be splitting the miles. It will increase your pay some but probably not as much as you would like. I don't know how many miles you're running now or your cpm but a good team running 9.5 to 10 or so hours a shift should be able to top 7k miles a week when everything works well and you're getting the long loads.

Living with another person in a walk in closet is tough. I've been lucky for a while with a good trainer then a good first co-driver. My co moved on to greener pastures and now I'm high and dry.

Good luck to you whatever path you take, Stay safe.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

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

Big Scott (CFI Driver and's Comment
member avatar

Well, I have been out here for almost 18 months with CFI. Thanks to per diem , I take home $1000 most weeks. I am the sole provider in my house with a wife and two dogs. Depending on the cost of living where you are will determine ones needs. From what you say it sounds like you don't have recent experience driving why is that? From my understanding DHT starts you in one area until you prove yourself, then slowly expands your geographic area. I would stay there for a while. All of your reasoning for staying put are correct.

Now a word about home time. It will be the same everywhere. Short pay for two to three weeks. You need to plan for that if you want to go home.

Talk with your fleet manager , make him your friend. It takes time to prove oneself out here to get consistent miles.

My personal feelings on family. Until your kids are 18 they need a mother and father present in their lives. If your kids are young you may need to do some other kind of work until they are grown. Good luck.

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.

Per Diem:

Getting paid per diem means getting a portion of your salary paid to you without taxes taken out. It's technically classified as a meal and expense reimbursement.

Truck drivers and others who travel for a living get large tax deductions for meal expenses. The Government set up per diem pay as a way to reimburse some of the taxes you pay with each paycheck instead of making you wait until tax filing season.

Getting per diem pay means a driver will get a larger paycheck each week but a smaller tax return at tax time.

We have a ton of information on our wiki page on per diem pay

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

Running team is not likely going to earn you more money. If it did it would be very little difference. That's one of the many misnomers in this industry. You're still under the same logbook rules individually so you can't turn any more miles than you could as a solo driver and you're going to split the miles.

Bringing home $1,000/week is a tall order for anyone, let alone someone who just started at a new company. You'd have to be making top wage and turning as many miles as anyone in the fleet. That just doesn't happen straight out of the gate, and it's not going to happen at all if you're making less than about 44 cpm. Even then, you have to take time off with the family on a reasonable schedule which is in fact going to make things even more difficult.

If you're in a situation where you must bring home a minimum of $1,000/week then maybe attack that from the other side a little bit. Try to find a way to reduce expenses at home or have your wife find work if she isn't working already, that sort of thing.

What do you make per mile and what is "ok miles," because you're going to need to turn 3,200 miles per week at almost any wage if you're hoping to make that much and get home from time to time.

Sticking with a company for the long run is the best way to make top wage and land the best jobs within the company. Whether or not Danny Herman pays enough per mile for you to have the hope of making that much is another concern.

Logbook:

A written or electronic record of a driver's duty status which must be maintained at all times. The driver records the amount of time spent driving, on-duty not driving, in the sleeper berth, or off duty. The enforcement of the Hours Of Service Rules (HOS) are based upon the entries put in a driver's logbook.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

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

Adrian N.'s Comment
member avatar

From what you say it sounds like you don't have recent experience driving why is that?

I did almost 2 years OTR from 2001-2003 and my first wife wanted me to be home more so I took the first local job offer that came along and that was driving a concrete mixer. I did that for a lot of years and also had jobs driving a class b truck as well as a city bus. My wife is in the last year of nursing school, and it's so demanding it would be impossible for to work and go to school so I decided to get back into driving a semi so hopefully I'd be able to support her and the 2 kids. I was looking at either going back to OTR or working in the oil fields. The problem I ran into was getting hired when the last time I drove a big rig was 2003. Almost every company wants at least a year of recent class A experience. When DHT said they would hire me and put me through a 2-3 week refresher I jumped on it. I had company's in the oil fields willing to hire me also but something just didn't feel right about it. I was afraid I might be setting myself up for a failure if I went to the oil fields.

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.

Steve L.'s Comment
member avatar

If your wife is in the last year of nursing school, your problem sounds temporary. But, I understand your concerns.

I agree 100% with Brett on this. I’ve been driving almost four years. OTR , first with Schneider and now a smaller company on southeast regional. $1,000/week take home is pretty common for me, but it takes a lot (I’m dry van). Even then, I have to be very flexible on home time to get that.

I hope this helps.

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.

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.
Old School's Comment
member avatar

Adrian, I have always considered the best approach to trucking is to have a long term plan and commitment. There are thousands of drivers out here who have been complaining about their pay for years, and all they ever do about it is switch companies. It makes no sense to me. I started my career making 27 cents per mile. I made right at fifty thousand dollars my rookie year. Here's how that happened: I learned how to keep myself moving in a profitable way. I never relied on the company to pay me enough or "give" me enough miles. I learned very early on how to empty myself out at the proper times of day so that I could easily get a good load. I learned how to communicate effectively with accurate ETA's and PTA's that would enable the planners to keep me moving. Much of our success comes from managing our own truck in such a way that it is easy for the company to keep us moving.

I've heard drivers complaining vehemently about having to sit over the weekend with no load. Then after a little conversation I find out they sent in their empty call at about 1600 Friday afternoon. Duhhh! No wonder no one was able to set up a load for them. My dispatcher quickly learned that I was going to do everything in my power to empty out on Fridays at 0700 or earlier if possible. They would hook me up every weekend with nice long loads that would keep me busy all weekend. There are all kinds of little tricks that a professional driver learns to consistently do so that he can keep turning the big miles. My dispatcher and I were having this little discussion the other day, where he claimed I was the easiest driver he has ever worked with. He said this to me, "You instinctively know what needs to take place so that you can keep getting the best loads."

The pressure of your bills has you looking into other options. You are even considering teaming with someone. I have never considered teaming to be a very practical option. I'd be miserable doing it, and it certainly doesn't guarantee any better pay. If I am under the kind of pressure you are talking about I look at what I am doing now, and I start asking myself, "What can I do to make this work better?" That is how Top Tier Drivers operate. They know their success lies squarely on their shoulders, and they do what it takes to improve their performance. I have never taken the attitude that I need to find a company that pays better so that I can make more money. I think if you make a move it needs to be a good five to seven cents per mile to make it worth your while. Otherwise you can improve your own situation just by learning the little tricks that can keep you moving better. In a performance based business like trucking we are the ones who are responsible for our outcome. We don't count on our dispatcher, or our rate of pay, or even our company's name or reputation. We look to ourselves to figure out how to succeed at this stuff, and in so doing we forge a relationship with our company that causes them to take notice of a driver who is doing what it takes to make things happen out here. Any company that finds a driver like that will do whatever they can to keep them on board and moving a ton of freight, therefore earning a decent paycheck.

You've barely gotten started at Danny Herman, I sure don't think that is the time to bail. You are going to have to focus on how much this career is based on performance. Look at your records of miles each week, and try to figure out why they are not where you want them to be. If yoiu can't figure it out, have a professional discussion with your dispatcher. Tell them what you need to be able to survive, and ask them, "What types of things can I be doing to get to that level?" If they can't answer your question then talk to a terminal manager or someone else higher up in the chain. They want guys who want to make more money, because those are the guys who can figure out how to make it happen.

You are right where so many people spend their whole career in trucking. You're at the point of questioning everything about your choice of company and constantly looking for a better company that will pay better. It is a miserable way to spend a career, when just making an honest effort at understanding how to make things happen in your favor out here on the road will make a huge difference in your outcome.

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.

EPU:

Electric Auxiliary Power Units

Electric APUs have started gaining acceptance. These electric APUs use battery packs instead of the diesel engine on traditional APUs as a source of power. The APU's battery pack is charged when the truck is in motion. When the truck is idle, the stored energy in the battery pack is then used to power an air conditioner, heater, and other devices

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