Delivering To Grocery Stores

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Rob T.'s Comment
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Susan we periodically will haul freight outside our normal delivery area and then bring back product but most times they contract it out to O/O to do those long runs. The O/O also pull our trailers but they don't have our name on trucks. I'm not sure what our guys were doing that far away but that's a nice long run. Some of the O/O will go out to NY or TX.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
G-Town's Comment
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This is really good Rob.

I know how much time it takes to write posts like this; the investment on your part is appreciated and quite valuable to someone trying to understand Grocery Delivery.

It’s one of the few areas of trucking that remain constant during an economic slowdown. We must eat.

As you know my Walmart Dedicated job is very similar to what you are doing for Hyvee. Like you, I thoroughly enjoy the Grocery gig. Same challenges,...same satisfaction.

Good luck with this...seems like you have found a great niche’.

Safe travels.

Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

Wednesday I didn't get called in but ill still make the extra $2 an hr. For Thursday they needed 2 routes covered so once again I volunteered. I started at 1230am and took a 1 store load out to Coralville Iowa, then picked up 2 pallets in Newton and I believe 5 pallets in Altoona. The store was took about an hour and half to unload 15 pallets because everything went out in the sales floor so i had alot more walking. The downside about delivering in the wee hours of the morning is the night stockers are there so often times I need to move things out of the way and be sure I'm putting my stuff out of their way. 0133672001559934268.jpg it should have been an early day only 212 miles however I sat for 2 hours at each backhaul and put in just under 12 hours.

Friday I took a 1 store load to Fitchburg (Madison) Wisconsin, then picked up 7 pallets in a small town of Luana iowa. I started at 10pm and made it to Fitchburg about 3am. When we bid on our route it tells us a "departure time". We are allowed to clock in no more than 1 hour before our depart and can not leave more than a half hour early. I try to clock in that 1 hour early as it gives me plenty of time to pretrip and get any potential issues resolved, and I leave that half hour early when possible so i have time to stop for restroom break or stretch legs as needed without being late. The drive to Wisconsin wasnt too bad but the way to the backhaul wasnt the greatest. 114 miles on 2 lane country roads doing 55 mph, then another 70 miles afterwards to get to US 20 near Waterloo where I could do 65 mph. I sat for about an hour and half at that backhaul and made it back to the yard with 13 minutes of drive time left on my 11. I ended up going over my 14 a little over an hour which was ok because I'm eligible for the 16 hour rule. The Downside is now I have to be more mindful what routes I take the rest of my work week as I don't have the 16 available and I don't want to layover even though my hotel room will be paid for and I'll be reimbursed up to $15 for a meal.

0829044001559935096.jpg this trip was 601 miles. The docks I've had to hit have been pretty easy, nothing really worth sharing. The coralville store did require me to back in off a residential street but I had plenty of room and no traffic was around.

We received a text saying they're short 13! Drivers for Saturday. That means there are more loads for me to pick from. Although the guys working their day off have seniority over me they will pick after the guys who are regularly scheduled. The reason we're short drivers is due to vacation time mainly. I was told expect to be able to work an extra day until labor day due to vacations, then once the weather gets bad out it'll pick up again. The nice thing is we're never forced to work our day off, or forced to take the day off if there's not enough work. Due to not having my 16 hour available I ended up taking a roughly 420 mile 2 store load to Rochester MN without any backhauls for tomorrow (Saturday). I planned to go to Kansas City but the only load down there without a backhaul got taken by the guy above me. I will be clocking in 10 and a half hours after I ended my previous day. I've done this route many times and can usually make it back into Iowa before needing my 8 hour break. Usually results in about 10 to 11 hours unless I volunteer to do extra stuff after I get back.

Last night i only got about 4 1/2 hours of sleep. My commute is 30 minutes each way, then with it being a nice day we took the kids to the park, showered and went out for dinner and 5 hours was all that was left for sleep.

Army 's Comment
member avatar

Rob T,

Great post and very informative. I think your last sentence says it best,

"My commute is 30 minutes each way, then with it being a nice day we took the kids to the park, showered and went out for dinner and 5 hours was all that was left for sleep."

It takes a lot to do what you do, and taking the time to post this is appreciated by many.

Thanks Chris

Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

Thanks Gtown and Army. I really love this job and see myself doing it long term. Although we are technically a different company we still follow direction from the parent company corporate office and all part of the same benefit plan. I think the way we have it setup with 3 different warehouses in different areas of the state is very beneficial to the company. The 2 Hyvee warehouses are in relatively rural areas and the drivers I've talked to have told me for local work in their area they have 2 options: Drive for us, or drive a cement truck. I heard from one of our guys they get paid less than we do due to cost of living. A couple benefits I can think of is reducing layovers by shuttling trailers to a closer yard, like I mentioned we run produce to Kearney and Grand island NE and Cherokee delivers our loads to Marshall MN. they have access to many more drivers by spreading out like that, but also if a natural disaster were to strike a facility it would be a large blow however the other 2 warehouses would be able to pick up the slack until a replacement option is in place. Our competitor, Fareway, has one massive warehouse that all of their product comes out of in Boone, just west of Ames. If they were to get hit by something it would be absolutely devastating. They would likely need to work something out with a grocery chain elsewhere to help them get through it. According to my trainer before Rainbow Foods in the twin cities shut down completely their drivers had gone on strike and Rainbow had decided the union was demanding too much. In turn PDI stepped up and ran loads to all their stores. guys were allowed to run a load, grab another and make it as far as they could before running out of hours and stopping for their 10 hours. Coincidentally after Rainbow closed we moved into that market a couple years later. I believe we have opened 10 stores in minneapolis metro in the last 3 years and atleast 2 more opening by the end of the year.

This job has the work/life challenges that most drivers deal with, however my days off we make sure to be together as a family. With my kids being so young (3,2, 8 months) working weekends isn't too big of a deal. It actually works better for us. I don't have as much traffic or vendors to deal with, and we can go out and do stuff during the week with less crowds. Once the kids are in school it's possible I'll likely view it different.

I'm typing today's update as I take my hour break. I clocked in at 1230am and left the yard at 1:15am. A trailer light burned out literally as I was doing my pretrip so i got that replaced prior to leaving. I made it to my first Rochester MN store at 430am. They only took 8 pallets and everything stayed in the coolers on dock so I was in and out pretty quick. The second Rochester store was more difficult to get in to.

0166184001560000512.jpg in order for the dock plate to get inside the trailer I need to hug the wall. You can tell the yellow pole and building have been hit before, I'm unsure if it's our drivers or vendors. I'm always afraid of ripping my doors off at this store because I need to clear the pole while avoid trailer next to me and the dock is at an angle.

0994414001560000665.jpg atleast I have plenty of space in front, but the power pole unfortunately prevents a super easy straight back. I spent a total of 2 hours here. I needed to put all meat products out on the floor which was on the other side of the store but the dairy stayed in the coolers in back. After I unloaded I needed to cleanup the backroom. That meant grabbing the stacks of empty pallets, wrapping the stacks of empty bread trays and any plastic bags being recycled. This store also had a few bales of cardboard for recycling. There was alot more here than usual to cleanup because lately the driver doing this store has needed to pick up backhauls. That is one reason I cleanup at stores if I don't have a backhaul regardless if I'm told to. They only have so much space in the back room and if they run out of space the empty pallets I need to pickup get set outside by the loading dock. It takes alot more time to load them and makes the store look less desirable. This is just a look at how my company does things to help show people considering a career options they have after they ideally get 1 year of OTR experience. Hauling 3rd party freight I don't believe is common for these jobs, we just do it because we have all the connections already. Far too often people think OTR is the only option if you want to drive and that turns many people away due to being away from family for such long periods. One thing to keep in mind is with us bidding daily in the winter time I get longer routes. Most drivers ahead of me took shorter days, or ran the opposite direction of storms.

Anyways, today is about 420 miles and by the time I'm done it will end up being about a 12 hour day.

0133761001560001602.jpg

I'll post my next 2 days then I'll probably discontinue the thread as nothing changes except where I go. If I happen to have a tricky loading dock I'll probably post it just to help show one of the many reasons it's best to start OTR to get better at backing.

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.

Rob T.'s Comment
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Today I clocked in at 1130pm, after roughly 11 hours off duty. I took a 2 store load to Robbinsdale and Brooklyn Park, both suburbs of Minneapolis.

0219442001560121750.jpg the mileage was about 520 and was just over 12 hours. For some reason today I was more tired than usual so after I finished my last store at 615am I decided I'd take off for a flying J south of minneapolis (north field i35 MM 69) and take a nap there. I originally thought of just taking my hour break at the store but figured it would be better to get out of town before traffic started picking up even though its Sunday. I made it to flying J with 20 minutes before I needed my 30 minute break. I couldn't sleep due to idiots cruising around the lot with their Jake brake on high so i went in and got a coffee and took off after my 30. I started getting tired south of Clear Lake/ Mason City so i pulled into the large rest area in Dows (i35 MM 159) and parked as far from building as possible and napped for my other 30 minute break. It was much needed and I felt a ton better.

The first store, Robbinsdale is still a pretty new store. So much so that in Google satellite view was not complete in it which made it a little more difficult to spot the loading dock.

0256005001560122371.jpgI came down the road on the top and hooked a right into 36th. Looking at the satellite view I believed the loading dock was where the black x is (which it was) but I noticed a loading dock where the red x is so I pulled in. As soon as I was there I noticed on the door it said "PRODUCE DELIVERY ONLY" because it went directly into the produce cooler. I went around the back of the store onto France and went over to the black X. I was able to swing in then get mostly straight to back in

0026721001560122563.jpg everything here (along with the other Minneapolis stores I've been to) went on the sales floor as they had staff coming In to stock the shelves. That's the other reason being on time is important. The stores schedule staff to put a truck away and if we show up late that's money they're wasting on staff to stand around.

The Brooklyn Park store was also easy to hit the dock.

0807529001560123784.jpg looking at the satellite view I could tell there were 2 different docks. I ended up pulling in towards the loop to go inside and see what door would be easier for what I had. I was told the one by the loop, next to the brown compactor. Turns out I should have taken the one facing other way (94th ave) next to the trailer staged in the door. It would have saved me a little time but it all worked out ok. Everything here also went on the sales floor. What I really liked about this store was on the dock door it had directions for us. Meat goes in cooler, dairy on floor, kitchen goes in dairy cooler except Tuesdays etc. It was a nice thought but they have since changed it and everything goes on floor. What stuck out to me though at the bottom it said PDI Drivers thank you, we appreciate all you guys do. If you have any questions, or suggestions on making your job easier please don't hesitate to address it. I don't expect to be thanked or told I'm appreciated for doing my job but it's always nice to hear. I have heard it much more in the 4 months I've been here than the year and a half I did foodservice, from customers and management. Management is genuine when they say it. On memorial day our management and upper management were all at work. They felt if we were working no reason they shouldn't be. Everywhere else I've worked management was spread very thin on holidays. Not going to lie, it SUCKS waking up at 10pm to get ready for work but atleast I'm usually done unloading and headed back by the time everyone starts waking up. I wake up 2 hours before my depart time. 30 mins to get up and dressed, 30 to drive to work, atleast 30 for hooking up to trailer and pretrip then try to get out of the gate 30 minutes before depart time. If I have a choice I prefer going north as i grew up in Minneapolis area so I'm familiar with how to get around without needing navigation too much. I don't like going out west unless its Sioux City or Sioux Falls because there's no hours if I run to Omaha. Out east to Davenport isn't much better. I Also have only gone south towards Kansas city 3 times and that was enough for me. The last time I was there it was 5am and traffic was VERY heavy. I've been wanting to take a load to KC on a Saturday or Sunday so I can get familiar with those areas without as much traffic out and about but they've all been gone by the time it's my turn to pick a route.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
PackRat's Comment
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Great post with exceptional well-written details, Rob.

Rob T.'s Comment
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Thanks Packrat! Today I had a 1 store run to Iowa City, then 2 contract stops in Newton. 0427103001560190041.jpg 250 miles and put in 10 hours. I clocked in at 1am for a 2am depart time. My load wasnt ready yet so i went out to hook up to my trailer in the door and pretrip both. We receive an automated text message when our load is finished, which came through at 1:58. Since I'd already done my pretrip except the rear of trailer I did that as I closed my doors and ended up leaving the yard at 2:20, 20 minutes late no fault of my own. Mondays and fridays are our heaviest days so it's normal for the loads on those days to be ready around when you're supposed to be out of the gate especially if you have a 2 or 3depart time as that's when they have alot leaving. Fridays I believe we have 84 loads and mondays around 78. The store is one I've been to a couple times so i didn't need to search for anyone for Instruction and the dock is pretty easy. Well, normally it is but today i had to do it differently.

0890045001560190293.jpg Typically I'd pull into dock using the cut-a-way near the x, get straight and back it in. However, they had a roll off dumpster, catering van sitting back there and a trailer in the door closest to the road. I was about to pull in then at the last minute opted to use the parking lot Instead. I felt it was a much better way given that there were only 2 cars in that area as it was 4am. Had I been there much later with more cars and traffic I'd have slid tandems all the way forward and wiggled my way into the dock the way i usually do. This stores dock sits at an angle compared to the store which occasionally trips me up but the dock plate went in so I was happy. Everything went into coolers in the back however it took me 2 hours to unload because they were on the complete other side of the store. Due to night stockers doing their job they had pallets all over the back room so i walked across the sales floor to save a little time. It makes me happy I work the shift I do compared to the other shift that starts between 2pm and 8pm. Some of these stores would be nightmares getting in to. This will be the last day I make an entry for but will gladly answer any questions anyone has (including the future). One thing about Hyvee is they first started like 80 years ago. They started in these real small towns and bought out other stores. Many of these stores are still there and haven't been remodeled to make them larger. I delivered to one that only had 3 aisles. Here is one in Corning. A town of 1400 people

0865731001560191310.jpg I delivered here when the roads were icy and snow banks made it difficult to get in. I was heading north (up) and pulled directly Into the lot and whipped a u turn. The parking lot was empty otherwise I would have backed in off 148. The x is where I needed to deliver to which was a scissor lift outside, then the in store staff took the pallet to the sales floor. They have an extremely small backroom and couldn't store much there. Another small store is Bedford Iowa, a population of 1200 people.

0664777001560191633.jpg with this store to hit the dock i pulled straight in then whipped a u turn after realizing I didn't have enough space to use the cutaway in front of the dock. I had to pull back out towards parking lot and do a site side 90. The ground there has since sank a little since the store was built so they have wooden boards you back up onto that allows the trailer to sit level with the store. This one has a scissor lift Inside. When I delivered there I was the first truck in and 3 other trucks (produce, freezer, general merch) all showed up minutes after I set my brakes. They only took 2 pallets so I was done quickly but it was a challenge getting out with so many trucks scattered around the pretty empty parking lot. Unfortunately they had no where else they could sit except coming into lot. We also have one old store that the driver needs to pull pallets to the back end before going to this store. I haven't delivered it yet but they don't have a dock or scissor lift. Instead they feed you a roller ramp (think dollar general type) and you down stack the pallets send the roughly 400 cases into the store that way. I don't go to small stores often because the mile and stop guys make alot more delivering a bunch of small stores compared to 1 or 2 big stores. Most small ones are only getting a couple pallets but they're still making the same stop $$.

Tandems:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

Tandem:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Well i thought I'd be done posting but something happened today i thought worth mentioning. I ended up working extra today due to being short 10 drivers and figured if I was coming in to work may as well take a long route and make some $$. I took a 2 store load, 1 in Lincoln, and 1 in Grand Island NE with a backhaul in Crete NE total mileage 632.

0066613001560365557.jpg as you can tell i made it to Council Bluffs Iowa before needing to shut down. What caused me trouble was i80 near MM 54 in Iowa was shutdown for trailer fire and it took us on some back country roads which ate up 20 minutes. I also sat at my backhaul about 2 and a half hours. Google maps says from backhaul back to the yard was 3:30 IF I do the speed the limit the whole way. That's nearly impossible with how hilly it is and other traffic, plus 2 sections are down to 1 lane and 55 mph for 10 miles for construction. I had 4:01 on my 11 and could have utilized all of it if I used my 16 hour rule. That was cutting it too close for comfort as I needed to scale my load as well. If I go over my 14 I MUST make it back or im in violation and still can't go over 11 driving. It's a good thing I planned on stopping in council bluffs because I made it here with 31 minutes on my 14. I'll be sleeping in a hotel tonight, downside is something must be going on here because only room that didn't look like it'd be bed bug infested available was $169 that unfortunately isn't in our network of hotels so I have to pay out of pocket then get reimbursed, I'll also get $15 for my meal. I was on hold for a room at the Hilton across the street for $50 cheaper but they filled last room while I was on hold. Even though I do not work tomorrow I'm expected to head back in after my 10 hour break is up which will mean being ready to roll just after midnight. Brightside is I'll get some sleep today and should be home before the family wakes up and it's about 2 and half hours back.

Last weeks paycheck was 64 hours, with the $2 extra an hr I grossed $2050. Not bad for how little work it feels i do compared to the food service work. Most weeks are closer to $1500 for 50 hours of work.

Army 's Comment
member avatar

Nice check. Glad you are doing well with the job.

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