Successful Trucking And Standing Out In The Crowd

Topic 6114 | Page 1

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Leedoshuffler's Comment
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My Father always has told me, "Successful people tend to do what others aren't willing to do".

I am in the preliminary stages of starting my trucking career. I've been going thru the High Road Online training program, doing research about fuel saving and money saving tips for the road, doing lots of reading on this site and researching various companies.

I plan on taking the exams for the CDL permit in Colorado, paying for and taking my own DOT exam/physical, and getting several endorsements in the process before I attend one of the company sponsored training programs.

My question is aimed towards some of the successful veterans of the road out there.

What are the things that successful truckers do (the above and beyond stuff that most others aren't willing to do) that make them more money and more prosperous?

Any help or advice would be much appreciated. :)

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.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

Company Sponsored Training:

A Company-Sponsored Training Program is a school that is owned and operated by a trucking company.

The schooling often requires little or no money up front. Instead of paying up-front tuition you will sign an agreement to work for the company for a specified amount of time after graduation, usually around a year, at a slightly lower rate of pay in order to pay for the training.

If you choose to quit working for the company before your year is up, they will normally require you to pay back a prorated amount of money for the schooling. The amount you pay back will be comparable to what you would have paid if you went to an independently owned school.

Company-sponsored training can be an excellent way to get your career underway if you can't afford the tuition up front for private schooling.

Old School's Comment
member avatar
My Father always has told me, "Successful people tend to do what others aren't willing to do".

Welcome aboard Newbie Trucker! Your Dad gave you some stellar advice.

Let's break the answer to your question down into some specifics based on the foundation your Dad already laid for you. Once you get involved in this industry you will soon discover why Truck Drivers are looked down on by so many people in our culture. Many, if not most, of them that you will encounter at your company's terminals, or at the truck stops and cafes across our great country are sloppy, unkempt, smelly, loud mouthed misfits. It is disturbing to me, and I don't want to come across as arrogant, or seeming to think I'm above my fellow peers, but if we want to be respected as professional drivers we have got to give the motoring public some type of a consistent image that deserves respect. So, one thing you can do to stand out is be different! Don't settle for the status quo for truck drivers. This should not be too hard since the bar has already been set so disturbingly low. When we consider this part of the answer to your question in relation to what your Dad said, we can determine to take care of our self while living on the road, and not be so lazy as to let ourselves begin to look and smell more like a homeless bum rather than a professional who has a great career. A successful truck driver who stands out in the crowd tends to do the things necessary to take care of his appearance when others aren't willing to.

You will also encounter the typical truck driver personality that is convinced the only way you are going to get any respect in this industry is if you can force your company, or your dispatcher , into compliance with your superior knowledge of how things are supposed to be done. This truck driver mentality is often demonstrated with angry threats to the dispatcher like "If you can't get me a better load than that I will just take this load and park it on the side of the highway and let you deal with how to get it there", or "I don't really care that this load has to be delivered in the morning, I told you two weeks ago I needed to be home today, and I'm taking this load home right now - if you don't like it you should have listened to my warning two weeks ago. I'm going home with this truck and load right now, just like I told you I would do - if you don't like that then now you know how I feel about you getting to go home every night to your family while you are running my butt all over the country." A successful truck driver who stands out in the crowd tends to do the things that are necessary to get along with his dispatcher in a professional give and take form of a relationship. He doesn't allow himself to get walked on, but he does it in such a way that his dispatcher recognizes in him a team player who is willing to go the extra mile when called upon, and in appreciation of that fact the dispatcher will often reward him with special favors or more favorable loads.

Don't be a moaner and groaner, always show up to work with a positive attitude. Remember that you signed up for this type of work, and it requires some crazy hours and alterations to regular sleep patterns. If you get a load down in Louisiana that picks up on a Tuesday night and it has to be in Connecticut on a Thursday morning then you will have to drive it Tuesday night and Wednesday night to get it there on time within the limits of the H.O.S. rules. Don't take the attitude which says "I don't like to drive at night, so I will wait till Wednesday morning to start running this load." You will be late. A successful truck driver who stands out in the crowd tends to do the things that are necessary to get his loads delivered on time. If that means waking up at 2 a.m. to start his day so that everything will work out in a timely manner, then so be it. He's a truck driver, that's what they do. Far too many of them are unwilling to make the sacrifices that it takes to stand out in the crowd.

Those are some basic things to get you thinking in the right direction on this. Some of this you can do right from the start with your rookie self, and some of them you will develop with time as you learn more how to manage your job so that you have time to run your loads safely and legally. Your relationship with your dispatcher is key to your success. That person is your lifeline to success in this career. If you can be the type of driver who doesn't need to be babysat , and coddled with kid gloves so you don't go ballistic on them, you will advance your career by simply taking care of your business. Your dispatcher will recognize in you that mentality of a professional driver and therefore you will be treated like one. That is why so many of the "bull in the china cabinet" personality truck drivers never get anywhere with their approach to trucking - they are constantly frustrated and placing the blame on their company. If they could only see in the mirror more clearly, they might come to realize how much grief they have caused themselves, with all their futile job hopping, and endless finger pointing.

Just take care of your business, quietly and calmly and you will make a name for yourself with your dispatcher. In trucking you will probably never even know the person who signs your paycheck, but if you can present yourself day after day as dependable and trustworthy to your dispatcher you will stand out.

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.
Rolling Thunder's Comment
member avatar

Well, how do you follow that?

You can see under my avatar when I started my journey. I knew nothing about trucking and Old School along with Brett and others (sorry, my memory is shot tonight) gave me advice and pointers along the way. Still do. I chose to stand out and handle every situation as a professional (it is hard to do at times) and that approach has worked great for me. Of course, a go getter work ethic helps as well.

Good luck and keep the good attitude.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Thank you very much Old School for your reply. It was thorough, informative, and helpful.

I can understand your view and have run across a few "Bull in a China Shop" types. I am a college educated person who has never minded getting my hands dirty. I have never thought that my education made me superior then the average joe....just more educated. I look at professions such as plumber, mechanic and electrician with the same respect that I would look at a doctor. (No respect for lawyers in general however....professional lying just never appealed to me....lol)

I definitely don't want to be your "average truck driver" and I believe I can apply the same intelligence and hard work to a truck driving job as I did my professional and personal endeavors. I have a short term (1-2 years) goal of learning the in's and out's of OTR trucking, then within 2-3 years becoming an owner operator , then another 2-3 years starting my own company.

Again, thanks!

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.

Owner Operator:

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

Daniel B.'s Comment
member avatar

I have a short term (1-2 years) goal of learning the in's and out's of OTR trucking, then within 2-3 years becoming an owner operator , then another 2-3 years starting my own company.

Should we start digging your grave now or later.

Listen man, just because you want to do this doesn't mean you'll thrive at it. Saying and doing are two very different things. Just look at the average student. All of them say "I want to run as hard as I can." But as soon as they get a 3,000 mile week they ask for a day off or they do other things that are completely counterproductive.

I've been out here for two years now, and I've just barely started learning the "behind the scenes". So think I would become an O/O right now would be foolish of me. It takes more than two years to learn an industry well enough to start a business in it.

You sound great. But please rethink your short term plan. If you're going to do it then at least get 5+ years in the industry. You'll fail at your first company within your first month if you'll start it with only 4 years. It's a lot more complex than you think and you really shoukd just take it a step at a time.

Good luck.

Old School, get the shovel. I'll get the tombstone.

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.

Owner Operator:

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

Leedoshuffler's Comment
member avatar

The advice is appreciated Daniel B.

I definitely can and I am willing to "re-think" my timelines, and I'm not offended at all that someone would make the suggestion. In fact, I'm glad that you did. I've found that realistic expectations are a wonderful thing. I'll continue to learn what I can from this website, other resources and other experienced truckers such as yourself. Between my military experiences (USMC) and running my own business I know I have the intelligence, toughness and work ethic to succeed at anything I choose to pursue.

I'll be hitting 50 this months but not dead yet. So, please don't bury me just yet ....lol.

Again, Thank you.

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.

Serah D.'s Comment
member avatar

The advice is appreciated Daniel B.

I definitely can and I am willing to "re-think" my timelines, and I'm not offended at all that someone would make the suggestion. In fact, I'm glad that you did. I've found that realistic expectations are a wonderful thing. I'll continue to learn what I can from this website, other resources and other experienced truckers such as yourself. Between my military experiences (USMC) and running my own business I know I have the intelligence, toughness and work ethic to succeed at anything I choose to pursue.

I'll be hitting 50 this months but not dead yet. So, please don't bury me just yet ....lol.

Again, Thank you.

Keep your dreams alive NewbieTrucker and you will make it!!! Good Luck.

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.

Steve L.'s Comment
member avatar

Having owned/operated my own businesses (not trucking) for the past 12 years, I offer the following;

Being an owner of any business is not as lucrative as it once was. There are tremendous regulations to comply with, payroll, accounts receivable/payable as well as sales and service. And then there's the big one, employees.

Your strong work ethic and education will take you a long way no matter what your career choice. Just don't be surprised if you find much of the "workforce" is not as motivated as you. I'm close to your age and believe we have more than one generation very comfortable with NOT working for a living.

I'm a business owner ready to hang it up for a steady paycheck as long as I show up, work hard and do what is asked of me. Good luck and never ever, EVER, give up on your dreams.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Woody's Comment
member avatar

Well once again I have to follow Old School who has already summed up exactly what I thought when I read the title of the thread LOL.

Attitude!

Attitude!

Attitude!

I am just now coming upon my first year in trucking but I can tell you I stood out very quickly to my DM. Why? Because of my attitude of course. I took every load he gave me with a sincere thank you. I delivered on time every time I could and when I couldn't he knew it was because I was assigned the load too late since another driver failed to get it done. I communicated well with him and everyone else in the company and if I saw an instance where I could go above and beyond I would. One example was we always seemed to have trouble finding empty trailers. I wasted one entire weekend chasing pipe dreams from other dispatchers about locations of empties. I finally hit a spot that had 12 trailers setting so I took the time to write down the number from each and every trailer and also made note of one that was on the lot and red tagged. I could have just grabbed my trailer and went on but felt the little time spent might help the company and other drivers. I can not tell you how many times my DM or other DM's that I had to speak to would say they wish they had more drivers like me.

Same thing when dealing with customers. These poor people get barked at all day long by drivers that think they are the only ones inconvenienced when they can't get loaded or unloaded quickly. They will get to you as quickly as they can and my experience told me that if there is a way they can get to someone quicker they will go to the driver that was polite, professional, and understanding.

Old School really hit the nail on the head, there is much more to being a true professional driver than just moving the truck from A to B.

Woody

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.

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.
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