This is part one in a multi-part series on choosing a truck driving company and being happy and successful in the industry. I will be adding a new part each day or two for the next week or two so stay tuned!
As you are likely aware, there are easily tens of thousands of trucking companies nationwide. There are some as small as one truck and some that have tens of thousands of trucks. There are local, regional , and over the road companies, and some that are a combination of two or even all three. There are tanker, flat bed, reefer , dry van , dump, and a multitude of other types of trucks you can drive. There are companies that specialize in one type of truck, and some that have a combination of several different types.
So with all of these choices presented to you, how do you know where to go next with your career? To tell you the truth, it's not that hard. Here are some of the key points we will be focusing on in this series that will help you choose the trucking company you would like to work for. Once you can answer these questions you will be able to narrow your choices down to a much smaller pool of trucking companies and then you can pick the one that seems right for you.
Let's start this series by debunking a few myths and giving you some generalizations and insights into all trucking companies, the trucking industry in general, and you as a driver and what you can do to put yourself in the best position to be happy and successful. Without understanding these factors, all of the rest of the above questions will not help you be happy and successful at any company you choose.
Let me make one important generalization first. There is no such thing as the "perfect company" or the "best company to work for". To be more precise, you could label a company "the perfect company for me" or "the best company for me", but there are no "best trucking companies" or "perfect trucking companies" for everyone. At times I have worked at companies that I would not have recommended to other drivers, but I absolutely loved working there! I really had it made! And then at other times, some of the best trucking companies I have ever worked for were just a nightmare for a small percentage of the other drivers. Why? There are a number of reasons for this.
For starters, trucking companies and the trucking industry itself is very dynamic and the competition is fierce - both within your own company and between the companies themselves.
Trucking companies, especially the larger ones, are often times comprised of many different divisions that all must work together, but at times by nature must work against each other. For example, many companies have dispatchers and load planners. The load planners will generally decide, with some input from the dispatchers, which trucks get assigned to which loads. The dispatcher's main job is to handle all communication with their drivers and convey information to the load planners about the driver. The dispatcher can "campaign" for certain loads for certain drivers. Maybe one driver has had 4 straight runs in the northeast, so he/she can let the load planner know that it's time to give that driver a run to a different region. Or maybe a certain driver has been running really hard and isn't feeling well, but can still handle a short run for the day. The dispatcher can let the load planner know this. As you can see from this example, the two divisions - dispatchers and load planners - must work together for the good of everyone.
On the other hand, you have the logbook department. Man, I cringe just saying "logbook department". It's like the principal's office of the trucking world. You never just go there to say "hi" or see whassup. You go there knowing bad things are about to happen to you!
Anyhow, the drivers, dispatchers, and possibly the load planners - depending on the structure of the company - are mostly looking to get as many miles as possible. For some of them, that means cheating the logbook at times - many times for some drivers (innocent look on this writer's face). So the logbook department by nature must keep the dispatchers and drivers in check. Even though the more miles you run the more money you'll make, you still have to abide by the Federal Hours of Service Rules and so the logbook department must at times work against what the drivers and dispatchers would like to do.
Most drivers get paid by the mile. So the more miles you run, the more money you make. Often times, dispatchers and load planners may get paid bonuses or commissions based on the number of miles their drivers are getting, or at least the efficiency at which their drivers are executing their loads. Things like on-time service and deadhead (empty) miles factor heavily into their final rating. So everyone is looking to make all the money they can make by generating the best statistics for themselves.
Well, this naturally breeds competition within a company. Dispatchers are jockeying for the best loads for their drivers and the load planners are trying to run things as efficiently as possible. In the meantime, drivers are pushing their dispatchers for the best loads they can get. Well, there are only so many "desirable" loads to go around - so who gets the best ones? It depends on a number of factors:
So as you can see from these few examples, competition, cooperation, and politics can play heavily into your success and happiness as a truck driver in any company. The next topic I will cover will discuss what the driver can do to help his/her chances of finding success and happiness within any company you may be working for, including how you will be affected by the people you surround yourself with, how important it is to get to know the right people, and the proper attitude and expectations a driver should have.
Any and all comments are very welcome and appreciated! If you'll tell us what you think, we can improve our site and the content we produce for you! Thanks!
A written or electronic record of a driver's duty status which must be maintained at all times. The driver records the amount of time spent driving, on-duty not driving, in the sleeper berth, or off duty. The enforcement of the Hours Of Service Rules (HOS) are based upon the entries put in a driver's logbook.
To drive with an empty trailer. After delivering your load you will deadhead to a shipper to pick up your next load.
Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.
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.
The CSA is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiative to improve large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities that are related to commercial motor vehicle
The FMCSA was established within the Department of Transportation on January 1, 2000. Their primary mission is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries.
What Does The FMCSA Do?
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.
A refrigerated trailer.
Operating While Intoxicated
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.
by Brett Aquila
There are many advantages to working for a large trucking company. Part IV of our popular blog series covers a ton of them!
by Brett Aquila
Part 5 in a very popular blog series about how to choose the best trucking company. Compares large companies to small ones.
by Brett Aquila
Part 6 in a very popular series about choosing a truck driving job. Here we cover dry van and refrigerated trucking companies.
by Brett Aquila
In this popular blog series on choosing a truck driving job, we discuss who you should talk to, and what questions you should ask.
it's far easier than you might imagine to get the safety records of trucking companies, and these records have a big effect on a company's drivers.
by Ranting Warrior
Its funny how much getting started in trucking is so similar to getting started in the military. It takes much thought and soul searching for both.
by Tanya Bons
Pre-hire letters are a very important step when beginning your truck driving career. We'll cover what they are, why they're important, and how to get em.
by Brett Aquila
With all of the negativity surrounding the trucking industry, how do you choose the right company to work for and what do companies look for in a driver?
by Brett Aquila
Isolation from loved ones may be the hardest part of trucking. Sadly, returning home may not end that isolation. It may just reveal the worst consequences.
by Brett Aquila
Recruiters in the trucking industry are a valuable resource, but drivers make one big mistake when speaking with recruiters. Here's what it is...
Click Anywhere To Close