Being A Company Driver

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Old School's Comment
member avatar
Running otr , staying out the whole year, I bet we could hit 250k.

Matt, how do you come up with that calculation? I am well acquainted with the means and averages in trucking. I honestly have not come across any drivers earning that kind of money.

At what mileage (CPM) rate would you be working?

Had you thrown a more realistic number out I would never have commented on this. If you'd said you thought you could pull down 180,000 dollars per year as a team, I might have let it go. Realistically I think even that's a stretch, but possible if everything goes great all year. There's always hindering factors in trucking. I don't have to list them for you. I'm sure you are well aware of them.

A rock-solid team can run about 300,000 (plus or minus a little) miles in a year. I'll let you do the math. Is Prime paying a rate so high that you can produce 250,000 dollars from 300,000 miles? I just don't see how you came up with your hypothetical number. The only reason we're questioning it is because it confuses people when they see this kind of stuff.

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.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

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

Matt M.'s Comment
member avatar

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I just felt like the earnings at Prime Inc in a lease as opposed to company truck had been misrepresented according to my personal experience.

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Based on your personal experience as a lease driver?

Based on my personal experience as a company driver at Prime and what I have seen myself regarding lease. There is, as I stated earlier, a team that runs the exact same route as us on different days of the week that runs lease.

I know for a fact that they make more than we do. I have seen it with my own two eyes.

If no one has shown you a tax return then what you are presenting is conjecture.

I still agree with most of your assessments on leasing, but there is an opportunity to earn more leasing at this company. It requires being efficient, and is more work than being a company driver, but it does exist. It is not enough to get me to switch.

I also think we might out earn them this year, due to a jack-knife accident they had earlier in the year. I will not pretend to know the costs involved between the deductible, increased premiums, downtime, and loaner truck.

My wife jack-knifed our truck last year (same place they did), and Prime had us drop the trailer at a repair shop, and load into Springfield, we lost about two days of revenue swapping trucks, and were right back at it.

Matt M.'s Comment
member avatar

Old School, my wife and I earned 150k last year on our dedicated route , running 4300 miles a week. That includes per diem , and is obviously before taxes and insurance, etc...

We work about 40 hours a week, and are off about twice as many days as the average otr truck driver.

I have absolutely no desire to stay out all year and forego hometime, but with Prime's bonus structure and maintaining high 5k mileage weeks it could absolutely be done. There is more to life than driving though.

Essentially the truck earns 50 cpm for the first 3,000 miles of the week, then 70 cpm for miles over 3,000. There is also considerable bonus pays regarding fuel, safety, on time delivery, etc... I broke down a team paycheck for Errol not too long ago when he was asking how teaming at Prime was for a friend.

Dedicated Route:

A driver or carrier who transports cargo between regular, prescribed routes. Normally it means a driver will be dedicated to working for one particular customer like Walmart or Home Depot and they will only haul freight for that customer. You'll often hear drivers say something like, "I'm on the Walmart dedicated account."

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.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

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

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

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

Matt M.'s Comment
member avatar

Found that post, here is the pertinent part:

Breakdown of my weekly pay: - Base rate of $0.25 for all miles truck moves - additional stop beyond 01/90 $10 ea - wellness bonus $0.005 all miles (for my sick pay being capped at 48 hours) - service bonus $0.01 for all miles over 4k (on time delivery for preceding 12 weeks I think) - safety bonus $0.01 for all miles over 4k (same as service just not hitting stuff) - team bonus $0.25 to the truck for miles over 3k, $0.30 for miles over 4k. This gets split between drivers. - fuel bonus was $92.00 but this varies (a little, around that every week) - hazmat pays $50.00 per trip, did not have this bonus this week - travel allowance is $0.05 for all miles

I must be tired, I forgot about the graduated team bonus that happened this year. It's 25 cpm to the truck for miles over 3k, and 30 cpm to the truck for miles over 4k. So base rate is really 50 cpm for first 3k, 75 cpm for 3 to 4k, and 80 cpm for over 4k. Split between drivers and that does not include the 5 cpm per diem each driver received.

HAZMAT:

Hazardous Materials

Explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Large amounts of especially hazardous cargo are required to be placarded under HAZMAT regulations

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

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

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
there is an opportunity to earn more leasing at this company. It requires being efficient, and is more work than being a company driver, but it does exist. It is not enough to get me to switch.

Whether you're a business owner or an employee, you must consider how much you're making for the time you're putting in, the financial risk you're taking, and the responsibilities you have.

Compare these two:

A company driver makes $75,000/year but takes no financial risk, is free from the burden of running a business, and averages 3,000 miles per week. He gets 3 paid vacations a year and the company pays for half of his benefits.

A lease driver makes $85,000 in profits but takes on a lot of financial risks, has the additional burdens of running the business, and averages 3,400 miles per week. He gets no paid vacations per year and the company covers none of his benefits.

Who is better off? The answer is the company driver. The lease driver simply isn't getting a worthwhile compensation for the additional financial risk, burdens of running a business, and miles he's turning. That's the basic concept people cannot understand about going into business. You would be better off running as a company driver and then getting a part-time job at McDonald's to make the additional $10,000.

If you do more work, have more responsibilities, and take more risks you must get a worthwhile return on it all. Making a few thousand more per year is not worth it, and many lease drivers and owner-operators don't make more money than company drivers. Many of them work for months and wind up in debt.

If no one has shown you a tax return then what you are presenting is conjecture

I've been in this industry for 26 years, 13 of them as a business owner, 15 as a driver (with some overlap). If I had been wrong all these years you can be sure people would be lining up to show me their tax returns. There's nothing a proud owner-operator would love more than to prove me wrong. If they could do it, they would.

I'm not guessing, and I'm not in the business of being wrong.

I also think we might out-earn them this year, due to a jack-knife accident they had earlier in the year. I will not pretend to know the costs involved between the deductible, increased premiums, downtime, and loaner truck.

If you want to assess the prospects of being in business, you must account for everything, not just the good times. Every business would make millions if it wasn't for all those darn expenses and setbacks! That's like saying your football team would have been undefeated Superbowl Champions if it wasn't for all of those turnovers, missed tackles, dropped passes, and bad play calls that made you lose half of your games and miss the playoffs. No kidding, every team can say that.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Old School, here is the actual calculation. Looking at it, even running the full year we would come up short (6,000 miles a week 52 weeks in a row is not realistic), but could get pretty dang close to $250k. I get paid $50 a week in extra stop pay, and $50 a week in hazmat most weeks, but running otr those would not be reliable, and I have excluded them from the calculation.

6,000 Mile Week
Base Rate $0.25 x 6000 = $1500
Wellness Bonus $0.005 x 6000 = $30
Service Bonus $0.01 x 2000 = $20
Safety Bonus $0.01 x 2000 = $20
Team Bonus $0.125 x 1000 + $0.15 x 2000 = $425
Fuel Bonus (low estimate) = $125
Travel Allowance $0.05 x 6000 = $300

Total pay per driver $2,420
Total for team $4,840

$4,840 x 52 weeks $251,680

Two people that hate life driving 312,000 miles in one year = priceless

I'm going to sleep, but if you bunch of skeptics don't believe this is how Prime teams get paid I'll be happy to post paychecks.

HAZMAT:

Hazardous Materials

Explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Large amounts of especially hazardous cargo are required to be placarded under HAZMAT regulations

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.
Old School's Comment
member avatar
if you bunch of skeptics don't believe this is how Prime teams get paid I'll be happy to post paychecks.

At no time have we questioned how "Prime teams get paid." What we have questioned is a team actually earning 250,000 dollars per year. You freely admit what your team is earning.

my wife and I earned 150k last year

That's great money, and it's a realistic believable number - Congratulations!

There is this factor in business known as the "return to means." It's a reality that isn't included in your calculations. I was a business owner for many years. I watched others who could "pencil out" millions of dollars, yet never actually produce those kinds of results.

People like to show potentials on paper then give some lofty high road excuse as to why they don't achieve those results themselves. Here's a typical example given by truckers. In fact, you've already used it earlier in this conversation.

There is more to life than driving though.

We are saying the same thing when we refer to means and averages. The truth is that you and your wife are earning 150K per year as a team. That's respectable and sustainable. Most teams running in such a way as you described in your calculations will burn out pretty fast, or at some point will encounter difficulties and hindrances that limit their ability to actually make 250K.

Brett makes an excellent point when he clarifies all this with these words...

If you want to assess the prospects of being in business, you must account for everything, not just the good times. Every business would make millions if it wasn't for all those darn expenses and setbacks!

At one point in your argument you said you could do this (earn 250K) running high 5,000 mile weeks.

with Prime's bonus structure and maintaining high 5k mileage weeks it could absolutely be done.

You're currently running 4,300 miles per week by your admission. I think you guys are doing great. I don't think you can realistically make 250K per year. Prime is paying some great money for teams. We appreciate you breaking it down for us.

It's one thing to produce an example on paper of your "earnings potential." It's entirely another thing to make that potential into reality. Matt, you're having this discussion with a bunch of experienced drivers. We know the realities of this career. We know the means and averages. There's a lot of people who claim "Bigfoot" exists, but all they ever give us is grainy photographs of something we're supposed to believe is evidence, and testimonies from outliers of normal society.

Here at Trucking Truth we like to deal with facts. You gave us some good facts when you told us you were earning 150K. Congratulations, I'm proud of you. You're doing a great job. When your team is making 250K we would love to hear the facts that show how you're doing it.

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.
Matt M.'s Comment
member avatar

I was thinking the threshold for $5,000 was going to be around 5,800 miles per week, and I was off a tiny bit. Tall order but that could probably be maintained year round.

We've run 6,000+ mile weeks for sustained periods back when we were OTR , but yes I freely admit that is pretty much out of reach for a year straight outside of a dedicated run.

A determined OTR team here could approach $250k a year though, we run very soft for a team at 4300 miles per week. It's not an outrageous number.

And you are absolutely right, it would require some luck. We had a bunch of downtime this August with AC issues with our truck putting us in Freightliner shops three different times, just as an example.

Dedicated Run:

A driver or carrier who transports cargo between regular, prescribed routes. Normally it means a driver will be dedicated to working for one particular customer like Walmart or Home Depot and they will only haul freight for that customer. You'll often hear drivers say something like, "I'm on the Walmart dedicated account."

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.

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.
Rob D.'s Comment
member avatar

In my role for sticking my nose in where it doesn't belong, these are my take aways from the conversation and from other threads on this forum.

1. While its possible to make around $100,000 per year, per person, as a driver in some capacity, it is not realistic. And running that hard may lead to burnout.

2. It is realistic to make $75,000 per year, per driver, after a couple of years without killing yourself. But it requires developing those top tier driver skills to manage your performance. The learning curve is steep on these skills and requires continuous development.

Old School runs hard, but said recently that he doesn't feel rushed.

3. Each driver will decide for himself or herself what's important. Either the most money at a intense pace or decent money at a more comfortable pace.

4. Regardless, there are minimum levels of performance that are required of each company. Those minimum performance levels are more challenging than many other jobs.

I state this not to be a "know it all" but to see if I am understanding what I am getting myself into.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Old School's Comment
member avatar
we run very soft for a team at 4300 miles per week.

It seems to me you are making great money. I agree with you on that. For the miles you're turning out, you are very well compensated.

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