Delivering To Grocery Stores

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PackRat's Comment
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Don't ever believe the saying "we're almost done", "you should be okay to drive it", "the check is in the mail", "to be perfectly honest", or "we get big trucks in here all the time".

midnight fox's Comment
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Hey Rob, I just wanted to chime in and say how much I appreciated all the detail you went into here with this. As someone who's aiming to start trucking soon, it was great to see someone running these routes, it made it feel all the more real for me because I grew up bouncing around all these same places. Even easier now to visualize me actually doing it. lol. Definitely going to keep Hy-Vee in mind as a possibility after I get a couple years in OTR!

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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I originally planned on waiting until 1 full year with PDI to post an update but I'm sitting here waiting on a load so I figured I'd get a start on it. Minneapolis and Sioux Falls have gotten a couple decent storms this weekend and that's primarily what's been left when it's my turn to pick. Thankfully I have 9 people below me so i had a few options for my route. Saturday my oldest child turned 4 so I wanted a super short route. Fortunately, I was able to take the last shorter route, 2 trailers totalling 160 miles and put in 9 hours. 5 of the drivers below me got stuck out overnight so they got to pick sundays routes first. The storm impacting minneapolis switched to rain so i went up there and got 13 1/2 hours. For Monday I seen Sioux Falls and Minneapolis were the last picks again due to snow storms. I took the only route not impacted by weather. 2 trailers in Des Moines metro only scheduled to drive 130 miles total. I only planned on getting 10 hours today but it's been much more lucrative for me. The warehouse was behind and my first trailer was 2 hours late getting done. I went and delivered that to a store 5 miles away and came back to grab my 2nd trailer which I waited for 1 more hour. I had all my stores delivered within 10 hours and have been at my backhaul for 2 hours so far and they haven't given me a dock (still 3 trucks ahead of me) I dont mind being paid to wait but going on 5 hours of sitting at various places and it being my Friday I'm just ready to go home lol. I called dispatch and they told me to sit and wait for it as this flour mill will be shutting down for 2 days due to the holiday. Anyways, this is my last paycheck of the year. I started January 21st so this is off 49 weeks. 0203862001577740803.jpg I wanted to know what my yearly total would be so I took the 85,074 and divided by the 49 weeks worked for a weekly average of $1736 which takes my bonus into account which both that I received were roughly 2k, with 1200 being take home quarterly. If my pay averaged $1736 for all 52 weeks I'd make just over $90,000! That's amazing because about half the year I only worked 4 days a week. This paycheck I shared is more than normal due to several factors. I worked extra 1 day, I got 8 hours holiday pay (at a pay rate based on previous 13 weeks paycheck divided by 40), got just under an hr of OT ($45 an hr) for clocking in at 11pm christmas night, and then sunday I clocked in before midnight so it's on this check instead of the next week. Vacation, holiday, personal days, funeral and jury duty are paid out at 13 week average rate. Additional income is if a stop was supposed to be on my truck but wasnt I get paid a little over $32 I believe. Healthy lifestyles was a bonus that I, and my wife each received $400 for using our benefits ($175 for physical, $50 for dental cleaning and eye exam each) etc. Octover 1st I was given 128 hours of paid time off. Those can be taken in 8 or 10 hour increments. On my work anniversary i will receive another 24 or 32 hours. This time must be used by end of September. You can cash some out but I'm not familiar with it. I only recently started contributing to my 401k again. I had to change my deductions due to money being tight. Also, the last 3 weeks of this year we haven't had to pay anything for our medical, dental and vision. Our policy is self funded and they had a surplus of money which got refunded to us by not withholding from our pay. I'm not sure what "gift gross up" is. I absolutely love my job and hope to stay here long term. I did not share this pay to brag, I want others to see real examples with proof of what's possible in this industry if you're willing to put in time and keep a clean record. OTR is a great way to enter this industry and many drivers are happy making a career of it. We all have different goals and lifestyles it's just a matter of finding what works best for you. TO ME, this job is what's perfect for me. The hours aren't the greatest but sometimes you gotta look at everything in the grand scheme.

I also want to add my pay could go up or down depending on what routes I end up taking or how long I wait at backhauls.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Banks's Comment
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That's awesome Rob and happy birthday to the little one. I'm glad you're loving your job and making great money while you're at it.

Rob T.'s Comment
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Thank you Banks, it's hard to believe I'm coming up on one year. Yesterday while waiting on my load I started making small talk with my supervisor. He told me about my review coming up and was curious about that ticket I had received. Apparently he was told about it last week while putting my review together and the system still had it listed as "pending" so he updated it. I ended up sitting at that backhaul for just under 4 hours. I made it back to the yard with 7 minutes left on my 16 clock by using my extension. Dispatch told me if I ran out of time to pull over and they'd send another driver in a company car to bring the truck and load back. I had to finish up paperwork in the yard so it was a 17 hour day, 7 of which was spent sitting around waiting on loads. With my end of day paperwork I did it showed I delivered 2 trailers for a total of 141 miles, 4 stores, 1 LTL delivery and pickup a load of flour from the mill. I had to stop back at our yard to grab an empty trailer before going to the backhaul because I had to cleanup pallets at one of the stores. What I thought would only be a $300 day turned into a $510 day.

LTL:

Less Than Truckload

Refers to carriers that make a lot of smaller pickups and deliveries for multiple customers as opposed to hauling one big load of freight for one customer. This type of hauling is normally done by companies with terminals scattered throughout the country where freight is sorted before being moved on to its destination.

LTL carriers include:

  • FedEx Freight
  • Con-way
  • YRC Freight
  • UPS
  • Old Dominion
  • Estes
  • Yellow-Roadway
  • ABF Freight
  • R+L Carrier
Bobcat_Bob's Comment
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It's always nice when you make more than expected, unfortunately for me it seems to go the other way more often.

I heard on the radio McLean food service in Indianapolis is offering a $10k sign on bonus for new hires just incase you miss it.

Shows you how hard it is to get and keep drivers for food service as most of the companies offer a huge sign on bonus.

Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

It's always nice when you make more than expected, unfortunately for me it seems to go the other way more often.

I heard on the radio McLean food service in Indianapolis is offering a $10k sign on bonus for new hires just incase you miss it.

Shows you how hard it is to get and keep drivers for food service as most of the companies offer a huge sign on bonus.

Usually I end up making more than expected for the day due to waiting at a shipper , or in the case of tonight I got a call asking me to pickup a load I wasnt scheduled for. About an hour after I chose my run to minneapolis they called asking me to stop and pickup a load of orange juice in Hopkins (west side of Minneapolis) even though I'll be on the southeast side of town. Between needing to drive there (half hour each way) drop/hook I'll probably get an extra hour and half to 2 hours more than originally planned. I could have told them no with no repercussions but it helps dispatch out and gets me more hours so it benefits us both.

McLane has been offering 10k bonuses for a while here but still cant keep anybody. The work is brutal, and in my market they deliver to many gas stations and ALL Kum & Go gas stations in the state of Iowa. I couldn't imagine needing to get a 53' into some gas stations. Our grocery chain has alot of gas stations, but most are adjacent to our stores. Most times we leave their product at the store then they take it over themselves. The ones we deliver to have been built big enough to accommodate getting our trucks in. That's one benefit of driving for a private fleet company. They build our stores and take into consideration how much space we need to minimize any chances of damaging stuff. We do have some tight stores but for the most part they've built them to allow us a straight back or slight offset into the dock.

Shipper:

The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

One thing I absolutely love about being a relatively local driver is my family coming to meet me during my workday. I'm originally from Minneapolis so I've been able to snag a route up there and meetup with my brother and sister and their families for breakfast. More excitingly, my boys get so much enjoyment out of coming to see me at work. When I was doing food service maybe once a month they would come meet me for lunch and I'd let them sit in the truck and the look of joy on their face was awesome. On Saturday I grabbed a 2 trailer route. First one left by 1230 am for 1 stop in Cedar Falls Iowa (waterloo area) and 2nd trailer was supposed to be out of the gate by 6am. Due to bad roads I didnt get out of the gate until 620am. 2nd trailer was a West Des Moines store and the drug store in west des moines. I live only a few miles from these stores so anytime I can do them (usually Saturday if I get it) I have my wife bring the kids out to grab breakfast at the in store sit down restaurant or donuts. That particular store is a little farther away than the one we primarily shop at so our primary is " our Hy-Vee" and the one I deliver to is " daddy's work Hy-Vee" according to my 4 year old. I just love how excited they get, they will tell everybody in ear shot that their daddy drives a really big truck for Hy-Vee while we're walking around the store 🤣. The drug store is a little difficult to get lined up with the dock

0775406001578347940.jpg the red line is the path I take to hit the outdoor loading dock (black x) which is a scissor lift. I set myself up to site side it in which is a pain due to tree limbs hanging over. Sometimes I nail it perfect on my first try, other times I need to pull up a couple times and try again. In order to hit it your tandems must be all the way forward and with how close it is to the building I'd much rather pull up or GOAL to get a better view than put my trailer inside. My first time there I planned on entering off Ashworth and pulling in for a straight back but realized it wouldn't work when I got there. The place is usually pretty busy as I get there around 930-10am on a Saturday morning. I figure its safer doing it the way I outlined in the pic than not having the room to get around the lot.

0756922001578348487.jpg the downside about doing it the way I do is there is an entrance from a residential area, and the drive thru exit from drive thru pharmacy. Thankfully the bank next door is no longer open so there is less traffic to deal with.

For monday we received a text saying they needed 14 drivers to take the day off. I was planning on taking a short route due to needing to take care of something so I put my name in. I was #15 in seniority that wanted it off so I had to work. Thankfully i was able to get a 232 mile route with a stop in Iowa City and Coralville. I clocked in at midnight and clocked out at 730am. 7 1/2 hour day is going to suck for the paycheck but the wife was happy. I could have taken my 1 hour paid break but I just wanted to get home. Unfortunately I been dealing with a cold and sinuses draining for a couple days and she wanted me to call in sick. The way I see it I'll be miserable at home or at work, may as well save the sick day pay since I feel safe to drive. I'm off tomorrow so I'll be taking some Nyquil tonight and hope it clears up soon cuz this sucks!

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".

Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

Figure I'd share my experience I had today. There was nasty winter weather that was going to affect eastern Iowa and Kansas City. You guessed it, that's where I had to choose from. I seen a couple in SE Iowa still available and there was 1 in particular I thought I could do without any issues. I ended up taking a 2am depart for a store in Ottumwa, and 2 stores in Burlington IA.

0349417001578777926.jpg i was going to bump my start time back to 5am so I'd be closer to daylight but looking at the forecast it looked like the snow was going to end around 2am and be clear until around 8am so I felt I could get in and be on my way back before it picked up. I was able to do 45-50 all the way to Mount Pleasant (30ish miles from Burlington) then it started to rain. The temp was 35 in Mount Pleasant, within a half hour it dropped to 25. The worse feeling is knowing you have no business being on the road but there literally is no where to pull off. A couple trucks had parked on the shoulder, in my opinion you're better off just continuing on than being a sitting duck. Traffic had slowed to 5 mph and I was only 5 miles from town. Going around those curves having my steering wheel turned a quarter to the left it's still trying to pull me down into the bottom of the curve to the right. I ended up making it safely but it was perhaps one of the most nerve wracking experiences I've had so far. The first store in Burlington wasnt too bad, parking lot was real icy but took it slow and bumped the dock. They took all but 6 pallets (Ottumwa had 2 already off, other Burlington store had 4) and they even helped me unload. When I had gotten my paperwork in the morning other drivers were warning me about the 2nd store in Burlington. I've never been to those stores before but they warned me getting to the 2nd one is VERY hilly. I asked for the store staffs advice at first one on getting to 2nd store with the least hills and they all gave me different routes. I thanked them all and used google street view to "drive" different ways to get there. I found one that I was overweight for a couple blocks but felt it was safer. The route I took had more hills but not as steep. It also turned out to be a main drag through town so it wasnt icy at all. I really lucked out with that. I made it back to the Mount Pleasant Pilot with 20 minutes before I needed my break. I spent that looking at the forecast debating if I was going to take the same way I came down (us highways 163/63/34) or take 218 up to I80 near Iowa City. I opted to take I80 to avoid the 2nd round of weather coming. I'm sure glad I did, 40 miles north and it was clear sailing. I80 must have been real nasty this morning as well, atleast 5 trucks rolled over, dozen more in the ditch plus atleast 20 cars. A 361 mile route ended up being 14 hours, but I'm safe and that's all I, and my company care about. Of course a senior driver seen my trailer looking all nasty when I got back and rubbed it in my face that he got 20 miles north to Ames and had dry pavement and cruise set to 70 all day going to Minnesota. JERK!

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

I know alot of those considering a career enjoy taking a look into the day to day life truck drivers go through, as do fellow drivers so I'll take you all on a ride along with me for a couple more weeks, possibly more. I will also include a bit about my schedule when I'm not working to help show that local doesnt necessarily mean more time at home. *all times are approximate*

We had 10 drivers too many and 4 of the guys below me took the day off which cut into how many routes I had to pick from. I've been accustomed to Saturdays and sundays having 450-600 mile runs available for me to pick from. That wasnt the case for today. I ended up taking a 1am depart time for a 3 trailer load that was relatively local. The other choices I had were a couple 250ish mile cedar rapids routes that would get me 9 hours or a 653 mile 7 stop load that would likely be out overnight. Here is a map of how my day went.

0911419001582393095.jpg

Our warehouse is in Ankeny which is where I needed to return to grab my next load.

I went to bed last night at 530pm but was unable to fall asleep right away. My boys were outside my bedroom playing big bad wolf trying to huff and puff and blow my door down rofl-3.gif I ended up falling asleep sometime around 630pm and woke up at 11pm. Clocked in at midnight and by the time I got hooked up and pretripped I left the yard at 12:40am.

Arrived at West Des Moines #4 (we number stores if city has multiples) at 1:05 and departed at 2:35. I arrived back at PDI in Ankeny at 3:00am. Even though my trailer was only 3/4 full it took so long due to walking so far across the sales floor to put meat and dairy in their coolers. First leg of route was 42 miles.

My next trailer was scheduled to leave at 330am, I left at 335am. We are given a 15 minute grace period for departing however it isnt held against us if we have a multi trailer day or if we are in the shop getting equipment fixed. I arrived at my stop in Newton at 415 and finished unloading at 510. I got to Grinnel at 540 and departed at 605. This trailer was also loaded about 3/4 and the coolers I needed were nearby the dock minimizing time it took me to unload. It took me more time to gather empty pallets I was going to take back than actually unloading. I got back to PDI at 705am. This leg of my route was 105 miles.

The last trailer was only 8 pallets headed for our Des Moines fulfillment center in Urbandale. Like most stores, we have online grocery shopping. They have a special facility that they handle that which is setup similiar to a grocery store except it's not open to the public. Here is where all the online orders are taken care of for the Des Moines metro. We also have fulfillment centers in Omaha, Kansas City, and Minneapolis markets. stores that aren't serviced by them are taken care of in store similiar to what Walmart does. I departed at the scheduled time of 730 and arrived at 755 and finished unloading at 825. I was unable to drive any more without taking a 30 minute break so I limped the truck out of the dock so others could use it and took my hour break. I got back to PDI at 955. This last leg of my day was only 29 miles. By the time I finished doing my inspections and paperwork i clocked out at 1030am. It was a much shorter day than I like but it will give me more time at home today. As of this writing I am unsure of where I am going tomorrow. I hope i can get a 450-550 mile route. After I got done with work I had to do some errands. I've gotten myself in the habit of going to the YMCA to exercise every day after work regardless of how tired I am. Even if I only go and walk 30 minutes on the treadmill atleast I'm making an attempt to go. I will be leaving here around 1pm today. I'll go home, shower and then take the kids to the park after naps. By the time we get home it'll probably be around 430 when I'll eat a light dinner. By 530 or 6 pm I'll need to be crawling into bed as I try to start my day 11pm or midnight. Total miles of 176 with 5 stops spread out over 3 trailers. Time spent on Driveline was 4:00 and On-duty was 5:15. Total paid hours for the day 10:30.

It was my first time going to Grinnel but thanks to google maps satellite view I was able to navigate it with no issues. I had been to Newton only once, but that was to deliver a pallet of bananas that the Hy-Vee produce truck misdelivered to a different store. I was going to drive past Newton that day so I told the store that it was left at I'd drop it off on my way back. The only issue I had was at the Fulfillment center

0746391001582395799.jpg I came down Colby from the right and typically I'd pull around the building and be set up for a pretty straight back. This time as I approached I seen they had cones blocking off that path. Knowing how much traffic is by the McDonalds entrance I knew I wouldn't be able to enter there. I took the entrance I normally would but cut down through the pretty empty lot towards McDonalds. I came up to the dock and did a U-turn to set myself up for a 90 degree back between the building and a pepsi truck in the dock next to me. It wasnt the way I'd normally do it but it worked out well.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

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