What's Normal For A Small Fleet?

Topic 30283 | Page 1

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Chris M.'s Comment
member avatar

Can anyone tell me their experience with working for smaller fleets? Really what I'm interested in is;

1. Do they care more about the drivers than the large mega fleets? 2. Do they let their drivers fix stuff on the trucks? (even if they have their own in house service) 3. Do they tell their drivers to keep going even if the driver is concerned about the truck (no fault codes) or will they treat a driver concern (like a smell or sound) just like a fault code and provide roadside assistance or some kind of help for the driver?

Really would like to know what ya'll have experienced here.

Thanks

Chris

Old School's Comment
member avatar

Hey Chris, welcome to our forum!

Help us out just a little bit please. Are you a driver, or are you just trying to learn about the trucking industry? Your questions lead me to some assumptions, but I don't like to go on assumptions. I want to get you some accurate information, but it sure would help if we had some more information on why you have these concerns.

Moe's Comment
member avatar

Your questions are rather generalized. It really depends upon the fleet, the company and the policies of said company. Some companies are so small (think 1 or 3 trucks) that the drivers are expected to be jack of all trades (ie driver, sometime mechanic, know the routes to take with 0 support from their employer etc) and then there are some companies that don't want drivers touching the trucks.

It all depends. As someone who had a rougher start in trucking, id reccomend staying away from smaller companies (aka mom and pop shops) to start, they typically aren't set up well for newbies (this from personal experience) id def reccomend getting on with a larger carrier and taking CDL training with them (think SWIFT, Werner etc) find more info below

Paid CDL Training Programs

Can anyone tell me their experience with working for smaller fleets? Really what I'm interested in is;

1. Do they care more about the drivers than the large mega fleets? 2. Do they let their drivers fix stuff on the trucks? (even if they have their own in house service) 3. Do they tell their drivers to keep going even if the driver is concerned about the truck (no fault codes) or will they treat a driver concern (like a smell or sound) just like a fault code and provide roadside assistance or some kind of help for the driver?

Really would like to know what ya'll have experienced here.

Thanks

Chris

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.
Chris M.'s Comment
member avatar

Hi Old School, I updated my profile. I guess I'd be considered a rookie team driver. I am looking to may switch to a smaller fleet but am trying to find out if it's for me. I like working on my own truck and my current company says not to. Heard smaller fleets are a bit more flexible. I have a mechanical tech diploma and still like getting my hands dirty. :)

Chris M.'s Comment
member avatar

Hey Chris, welcome to our forum!

Help us out just a little bit please. Are you a driver, or are you just trying to learn about the trucking industry? Your questions lead me to some assumptions, but I don't like to go on assumptions. I want to get you some accurate information, but it sure would help if we had some more information on why you have these concerns.

Hi, sorry, I'm a driver for a larger fleet. Thinking of switching to smaller one. I like working with my hands and am thinking of becoming an owner operator eventually (kinda learning what it takes)...

Thanks

Chris

Owner Operator:

An owner-operator is a driver who either owns or leases the truck they are driving. A self-employed driver.

Old School's Comment
member avatar

Thanks Chris!

I thought you were a driver. When you asked...

Do they care more about the drivers than the large mega fleets?

I suspected you were a driver. That's the kind of talk you hear from drivers. I have never felt like my company didn't care about me, but we sure do hear a lot of drivers going on about that kind of stuff.

Here's some raw truth about trucking. Profits in trucking are very small. When we look into the operating ratios of the trucking industry we find them to be near 97%. That means 97 percent of the money taken in goes toward paying the bills. in other words, they make three cents on the dollar. Trucking is a tough business, and the best way to get ahead in trucking is to control expenses so they are kept as low as possible. Bigger fleets have an advantage due to what we call economies of scale. Their gross revenues are large enough that vendors are willing to negotiate prices with them to have their business. What that means is they get tires and fuel, insurance and any other thing that a trucking company has to pay for a lot cheaper than the smaller companies. That gives them powerful advantages.

Smaller fleets are almost always one major disaster away from bankruptcy. There is this mythical talk among drivers about how great it is to work for some company that "knows your name" and "treats you like family." It's a bunch of hogwash. I work for one of the largest trucking companies around.They know my name. I have a reputation there as a Top Tier Driver. You could say they care about me. Let me give you an example...

I'm on medical leave right now. I'm having an issue with my vision that requires multiple surgeries and I have not been driving for the last eight months. They have kept me listed as an employee and are continuing to pay for my health insurance. They recently extended the time they will keep me in that status. It's costing them while I am being non-productive. Why would they do such a thing? They care about me. They want me back on the team. They are proving it every day. They are doing what they can to keep me on board.

Can you imagine a small fleet having the resources to do that?

I can understand you like working on trucks. That's great. Why don't you try being a truck mechanic? Maybe you just want to prepare yourself for being an owner operator. That's great too, but you have to realize that as an O/O, you become a small fleet yourself. Are you prepared for the expense of it all? Do you want to spend your nights and days being strapped for cash and working like a man with three full time jobs just to make it all work out right? That's the life of a small business owner. I know, I've been one for most of my life.

I honestly don't want to work somewhere that expects me or likes for me to work on my own truck. That probably means I am going to be driving some old relic that should have been abandoned a long time ago. You have your preferences, and I'll not question them, but I love driving for the large fleets. They take care of their trucks so that we can move freight efficiently. That's how I make money. If my truck is broken down I'm not doing so good. They keep their trucks for maybe three or four years and then get rid of them. That gives the driver some real advantages out here. I have always had nice clean trucks that serve me well. It's because I am driving for a company that keeps their rolling stock up to date and maintained well. Most small companies cannot afford to do that.

As a general rule you will be treated better and have better equipment while working for the large carriers. You are fairly new to all this, and you have no doubt heard the stories about these smaller companies that are great places to work. But ask yourself this question... How many drivers have you actually met and talked with who love the small company they are working for? Hearing stories about this or that is one thing, but actually meeting drivers who can verify these mysterious and wonderful things we hear about these great small trucking companies is another thing.

If there ever were a motivation for pushing a driver to keep going when they are experiencing a problem with their truck it would come from the smaller companies who are busting their nuts just to make payroll every week. Enjoy your time at that large carrier. Learn how to be productive and safe. Don't be so eager to jump into being an owner operator. Develop yourself as a driver. You are really new to this. There is a lot you can do to in your current situation to make better money. Check out these articles. I think you will find them interesting.

Confessions Of An Owner Operator

Show Me The Money

Why Small Trucking Companies Are Often A Disaster Waiting To Happen

Owner Operator:

An owner-operator is a driver who either owns or leases the truck they are driving. A self-employed driver.

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

Ozymandias's Comment
member avatar

Don’t do the small fleet. I’ve been there and done that. Not worth it. Old School hit the nail on the head when talking about profit margins. They will do just about anything to save a buck. Stuff won’t get fixed. You will paid on 1099 so they can avoid paying taxes and insurance on you. Trucks are old beat down and not well maintained. Not only are they on the cusp of bankruptcy, how quick do you think they will hand you an IOU for a paycheck if that will keep their business afloat?

I will never go back to a small company. Tbh, I would NEVER consider working for a company with less than 100 trucks and 20 years in the industry now. I don’t care how much they would claim I could make. I will stay where I have a new, well maintained truck and consistent freight and paychecks.

Just sayin’

p.s. if you prove yourself you are known within a company regardless of size. I could e-mail the president of the company I work for and get a reply that day or the beginning of the next business day if it was sent in the evening. Tbh, if I am at the terminal as long as he is not busy, I could have a sit down face to face chat with him. No issue.

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.

Chris M.'s Comment
member avatar

That's a lot to think about. Really appreciate it OldSchool and Ozymandias! I do like that consistency of loads and job security for sure... The trucks my company runs are pretty nice, mostly Freightliner and Volvo's. I just got really frustrated the other day because I could feel something was off with the drivetrain, a loud ticking noise when I got above 40, and some vibrations too. Immediately thought of the U-joint, and wanted to go under and take a look, but was told no by my "senior" partner. Told me to just call dispatch, they said keep going. Talked to the service guy when we got back to the depot and he said the u-joint needs to be replaced, but also said, "it's pretty bad, you're really lucky it didn't fail, could have been a bad situation". Kinda ticked me off you know? But I am sure, that's not common, maybe just a poor call (we all make em). Do appreciate your thoughts. Give me a different set of things to think about. Be safe and thank again!

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