Drive-a-way company, driver turnover

Discussion in 'Experienced Truckers' Advice' started by hitchhiker301, Dec 20, 2006.

  1. hitchhiker301

    hitchhiker301 Bobtail Member

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    Can you earn big money working for one of these drive-away companies?

    Why do Drive-a-way companies have such a high turnover?

    One consistent, and ever continuing issue within the drive-a-way industry is driver turnover. In fact, this driver turnover issue seems to have been an accepted part of the industry for years, and as of today it is still a major problem. But, it's more of a problem for the drivers who go to work for these companies. It doesn't seem to be a problem for the drive-a-way companies themselves, even though they have the highest turnover rates in the industry.

    There are a lot of consultants out there who will offer to investigate the causes of driver turnover in a company, and provide some suggestions toward a solution.

    They often suggest that, one good thing to do, if you really want to decease driver turnover, is to always ask the driver, when a driver quits, why they are leaving. If a company does not ask a driver "why?" Then the company probably already knows why drivers are quitting their company and doesn't really care.

    I have worked for several drive-a-way companies and I am convinced, that most, if not all, drive-a-way companies do already know the reasons for high driver turnover within their industry, they are just not willing to do anything about it, because it not a real problem for them. In fact, if driver turnover was really a problem for them at all, how do they continue to go on operating the same way year after year, while losing driver, after driver?

    They do.... as they are quick to point out, retain a hand full of drivers from one year to the next. But, what they don't tell you is that, many times these drivers stay longer, because they are close friends with, or related to someone within the company, and they are treated a little better than other drivers. They also use them to recruit new drivers, and even pay them to do so.

    For example.....drive-a-way companies do realize that they are shorting drivers on their actual miles on practically every trip, when they go by PC Miler miles to pay them, they realize doing that can cost them drivers, but it seems to be worth it. They realize that expecting a driver to drive 500 to 600 miles a day, and then expecting them find a cheap motel within that area where they are forced to stop driving, can cost them drivers. They realize that shorting drivers on expense money, which causes drivers to have to use the money in their own checking accounts (money they have set aside to pay bills), this can cost them drivers. They realize that rushing drivers to fax in... ever increasing amounts of paperwork, so the company can collect quicker, while they are.......constantly getting slower and slower in paying their drivers, this especially can cost them drivers. They realize that not paying experienced Class "A" CDL drivers any more than non-experienced NON-CDL drivers, who drive faster, smaller trucks, and have fewer problems, this too, can cost them drivers. They realize that leaving drivers in the dark without the information they need, for hours on end, can cost them drivers. They realize that dispatchers are actually answering the drivers phone line only about half the time, and this can cost them drivers. They realize that giving the drivers wrong pick up and delivery directions over 50% of the time can cost them drivers. They realize that when a driver gets a "don't bother me attitude", when a driver has to call in after hours or on a week-end with a problem, that this attitude can cost them drivers. They realize that consistently delaying the sending a driver the fax he needs, can cause a driver to have to drive through rush hour traffic in a city like Chicago, New York, or Atlanta, when it could have been avoided, and that can cost them drivers.

    These companies realize that not offering any benefits, no vacation, or holiday pay. They realize that no bonuses, no pay for drivers waiting for hours in bus stations, or going through airport security, or waiting on and riding in dirty taxis, driven by drivers who can hardly speak English, and more often than not, try to overcharge you. They know drivers are sometimes having to sit on crowded planes and buses next to people who are sneezing and coughing. Or, having to listen to a child screaming the whole trip, while you are trying to catch a little sleep. And then, sometimes waiting for up to an hour for your luggage to arrive, sometimes finding that items have been taken from luggage by baggage handlers or TSA agents. Items the airlines will not pay you for, items you know you will never see again. These companies realize that drivers are living in the constant fear that he or she, will be held responsible for paying for any previous damage to a truck which the driver may have missed while having to pick up a truck in the rain, in the dark, and that can cost them drivers. But, I'm not sure if they realize that most drivers also, live in constant fear that they may not get paid all of what they have worked hard to earn because of one arbitrary rule, or another that the company has imposed.

    They may not realize.... that the best dispatchers are the ones that allow their driver to vent his frustrations and not to take the venting process personally. One thing we all know.... driver or not, is all drivers will need a time to vent about what is bothering them. The drivers that work breifly for these companies, almost always feel as if they are in an adversarial relationship with these companies, rather that a cooperative one. Because most of these companies are always trying to get you to do something for less than it is worth, so they can keep more of the money
    .
    Drive-a-way companies already know all the reasons why drivers quit them, because they have heard the reasons hundreds of times. But, they don't change....why?

    The national driver turnover rate appears to be an average of 121% and it's increasing. Drive-a-way company, driver turnover rates can be up to 300 percent a year, some may be twice that. Most freight hauling companies spend over $8,000 to replace each lost driver, (drive-a-way companies spend practically nothing) $8,000.00 is now surely more since most reports were completed several years ago.

    Driver replacement cost is usually a burden of the trucking company, however, drive-a-way companies have no such cost. They have no training programs. They just send a driver out there and it's "sink or swim." Most drive-a-way companies even require the new driver to pay for his or her pre-employment drug test and dealer tag. Also, it also costs the average freight driver more than $100,000 in lost wages and benefits over his working lifespan if he quits several jobs in that time. A drive-a-way driver has no benefits, so he doesn't worry about losing any benefits if he quits. Drivers who change jobs 8 to 10 times in his years of driving will probably lose not only medical insurance, drive-a-way companies offer no insurance, or no 401k, (drive-a-way companies offer no vacation) The average freight driver will be unemployed for months, go a couple of years without medical insurance and lose 84 months of 401k eligibility, if he quits. A drive-a-way driver had no benefits to begin with, and likely never will have while working for any drive-a-way company.

    One other area to consider, in determining why drivers leave, appears obvious to everyone... except company management. Management just doesn't like to listen to drivers! The driver/dispatcher relationship is very often a major problem. But, the driver only can complain to the dispatcher.... who is the problem! Management doesn't want to be bothered. But, if management would only encourage a closer personable and trusting relationship between the driver and the dispatcher, it would help retain drivers. Fact is... most carriers admit that some of their dispatchers are better for driver retention than others, but fail to reward them for it.... in any way.

    Why don't more drive-a-way company bosses repect their drivers' input and suggestions? In my opinion it's....because they have been getting along, making money doing business the same way for years, and no piss ant little driver is going to tell them how to run their business. Why would a drive-a-way company keep a dispatcher that is constantly costing them drivers? Because... very often, in small companies, the dispatchers are related to the owners of the company. Any dispatcher with the attitude, "I don't have time for this, or, it's not the way we do things here" is one that most carriers can not afford to keep. So, how do drive-a-way companies get away with it? Simple, because they have nothing invested in their drivers, and probably never will have. Very often the founders of these drive-a-way companies, are already wealthy. Many owner have turned their businesses over to someone else to run. Quite often, family members. Sometimes the person who runs the operation just doesn't really care how many drivers come and go.. Some even seem to have contempt for the drivers. The attitude may be.... "They have no repect for any driver who is dumb enough to work for them."

    I have found that most times, in small companies, drivers will try to tell management about problems they are having, only to find, it is management themselves who have the bad attitude. So, it's no wonder the dispatchers are difficult to deal with. If a driver threatens to quit because he feels he is being treated unfairly, the drive-a-way companies' way of thinking seems to be.."Go ahead let them quit..., if we can't cheat um, we don't need um." When a driver quits.....they just hire another unsuspecting driver. No problem. It costs them nothing, so they could care less.

    How long will this continue? It will continue as long as there are thousands of drivers available who are uninformed as to how these companies operate, and the policy continues that allows companies to easily check into the background of drivers, but drivers cannot easily find out about a company until he or she goes to work for them.

    In the end, for me.... I like driving but, working for these companies was the most frustrating and stressful driving I have ever done. I hardly made a living and....all of them ripped me off or tried to, in one way or another. I might add, I was lucky.. many drivers got hurt much worse.

    NOTE:
    Since I posted this above message Spirit Miller N.E. (a drive-a-way company) shorted my pay by about $600.00 right at Christmas time. Then they closed their office and went home to enjoy the Holidays. So, I no longer work for this company for whom I gave my best. They showed me time and time again, how little they care about the drivers who keep them in business. I would not recommend that anyone even consider working for one of these drive-a-way companies. If you do, keep in mind.... it's not a matter of whether they will rip you off or not, it's a matter of when. For me, it was at a time when I needed my money the most, and that hurts. I don't want to see the same thing happen to another driver.
     
  2. drive55cat

    drive55cat Medium Load Member

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    You shure know a lot about driveaway's, I worked for one for two and a half years. They will never care about drivers as long as there are people coming in to drive. There are some things you did not mention, maybe because your driving co. was different. The one I worked with, not for, because I was a sub-contractor, simalar to leased onto but yet different. As a sub you pay all your own expenses, including drug test and health tests. They build up a thousand dollar bond from your pay to payoff any claims you may incur. They pay a small stipend fuel allowance, originally about 33% but kept decreasing. That's why I left, the fuel when I started was about 1.16 per gal but the fuel allowance not only did not increase but was cut. I said I was not going to keep coming in the office to beg for money for fuel, and even though they liked me they would not increase the fuel allowance. There were no bennies offered or available. No training, just one saftey meeting per year. We ran New England, Boston, New York City, Long Island and points to the south and west. Some of the good points were, you don't have an appointment, you just have to show up that day. You were towing a small car or truck behind your delivery truck, so you had a ride home. You did not need to log the ride home because a car is not a commercial vehicle. There was no forced dispatch. You did not have to ask for a day off, if you wanted to work you call in to ask for work the next day. Company provided tags. More miles than it is possible to physically perform made available to preferred drivers. Those were the guys who just did what they said they would do.
    Our dispatcher gave the trucks to the guys who moved trucks. You had to develop a relationship with them but they were not that bad. The company was not good because the major part of the work you did was for the parent company which I will not name at this point, they bought the driveaway company and they did not give a rat's butt about drivers. drive55cat
     
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  3. lookingup

    lookingup Medium Load Member

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    you guys should make a list of Driveaway companies or are all the companies the same?
     
  4. sleepinbeauty

    sleepinbeauty Light Load Member

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    Feb 18, 2007
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    plz excuse my ignorance guys but....drive - a - way companies?:mmeek: Sorry I am unfamiliar with this term. Would someone mind enlightening me? And is this an American thing or nationwide? Canadian here, should that make any difference. Thanx.
     
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  5. DanJ

    DanJ Light Load Member

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    Driveaway is basically vehicle re-location. Could be decked trucks from the factory to a crane that needs to be taken across the country to a school bus going to the next state. Basically you deliver the vehicle and find your own way to the next pick-up (or home). I'm on a driveaway yahoogroup and it sounds very interesting reading the various reports that some of the guys file.
     
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  6. sleepinbeauty

    sleepinbeauty Light Load Member

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    thanx for the info.....another silly one..question that is.

    Why would anyone want to work for a company where you find your own way home? doesn't that just create more expense, instead of income? I'm sorry I don't think I'm getting it.
     
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  7. hitchhiker301

    hitchhiker301 Bobtail Member

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    Ocala. Florida
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    To answer your question sleepinbeauty. In my opinion, most people, whom I have met...that go to work for these companies do so because they don't know what they are getting into. As do most recruiters, they make the job sound great, so new drivers think, "what the heck, I'll give it a try." For most, the problems begin immediately. I won't go into all the problems new driver encounter, but I will say they are endless. The most frustrating thing for me was...realizing very quickly that most if not all the problems could have been avoided, had the powers that be.... been willing to give drivers all the information we needed. One big problem was, and still is... inaccurate "pick-up" and "drop off" directions. At first, I would fax the company corrected directions, but, they never bothered to change anything, they continued to give drivers the wrong directions.

    There were dozens of examples of complete lack of consideration for the drivers. After a while, I got the feeling I was working for a bunch of idiots, who as someone said, "just didn't give a rat's *** if their information was correct or not. In fact, sometimes I got the feeling....that one dispatcher in particular (who married into the business) , had nothing but contempt for drivers. I sometimes felt she was enjoying frustrating us.

    To sum it up, the inefficiency of company management, and the dispatchers they continued to use, continually cost drivers time and money. Many like myself, continued to work because we had hopes that things would get better and perhaps we could contribute to making improvements. But, eventually, I realized that a jack*** is never going to become a race horse. I soon learned that they had no intention of changing anything, in fact, it actually got worse. They began shorting my pay, breaking their word concerning reimbursement for tip expenses, and so on. If anything at all went wrong, it was the driver's fault. The company would charge the driver...sometimes even for towing bills... when a truck broke down on a driver. They sent out a monthly "newsletter" telling drivers all the new rules, etc. Basically, it generally complained about the job the drivers were doing... or it informed us of some arbitrary new requirment we were going to have to start doing if we wanted to get paid. It seemed to me that the letters always had a "negative" tone.

    In my opinion...if you want to work for a winner, you must quit your association with a loser, and get with a company that cares about the drivers.

    Unfortunately, as I said....there are thousands of drivers who have no way of knowing what they are getting into, and will do exactly as I did. That's what keeps these companies going.

    I hope this answers your question...

    Good luck..
     
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  8. DanJ

    DanJ Light Load Member

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    I think hitchhiker describes 90% of the trucking companies out there LOL.

    I think it takes a certain type of person to do driveaway. From the reports I read on yahoogroups, they like the fact that you aren't doing the same thing over and over. A free spirit I suppose. (I get the same feeling about expeditors.) You get to drive some nice equipment, but you also can get some not so great equipment too. You get to see interesting and not so interesting places. You also have to be able to manage money and look for deals. You get paid more than a company driver would, but less than an owner operator.

    In most cases you have to pay for the fuel for the truck and your on road expenses. There are industry cards out there that get you discounts at some hotel chains. Some people have a small car hooked to the back that they drive back in. Or you search for cheap Greyhound or airfares if you are going longer distances. The trick is to be able to get a return delivery close to where your last drop was, but this is true for most of the trucking industry as well.

    As hitchhiker says above, you have to really do some homework, but this is true of any trucking job. The company always builds themselves up as better than the rest for the driver. Why would anyone want to do that job? Those who do probably wonder why anyone would want to drive the same truck all over the country, waiting on shippers/receivers.
     
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  9. sleepinbeauty

    sleepinbeauty Light Load Member

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    in a world all my own
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    thanx guys, this pretty much summed up that even had I known before what drive a way was............not a prayer I'd get into it!!!!

    yes you pretty much described 90% of trucking companies lol!!

    I'm resigned to the fact that once I can actually get into companies, trucking...it'll be less than great for a time......that's o.k I'll be using the company being my first as much as they're using me lol, it is possible to do a real good job, all the while keeping your tongue in cheek........women are famous for it! ####

    Again thanx much appreciated.
     
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  10. hitchhiker301

    hitchhiker301 Bobtail Member

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    Ocala. Florida
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    Dan..my question to you is.... how do I find the drive-a-way yahoogroup you are writing about?


    Dan, you are right on. There is some appeal regarding the drive-a-way business. I wanted to start one myself a while back but, couldn't really get the information required to do so. I think it would be great if a few drivers started a drive-a-way company that they atually worked for as well as owned and operated. My theory as to why people do this kind of driving is... that some of us get hooked on aggravation. Some people love challenges. The challenges involved in this type of driving, keep a driver constantly learning, planning, figuring, and evolving, with the idea that with enough experience.... he or she will eventually learn to head off problems before they occur. Only to one day realize that there are more potential problems than one can ever anticipate. Hundreds of them if fact. If one thrives in that type of environment......then this kind of driving is for you. I actually like the type of driving, it's the way the companies run the show..that I disagree with.
    I feel, most problems could be handled if we knew about them in advance. If there were a group co-operative effort, designed to educate new drivers, and permit everyone to share in the experiences... of seasoned drivers. Drive-a-way companies, throw drivers out there... knowing the problems they most likely to encounter, but they don't even help them at all. In fact, they often hinder them. I'm sure you know, there is a way to dispatch... which is best for the company and... there is a way to dispatch, in a way in which is best for the driver. Most drive-a-way companies dispatach in a way that makes the company the most money. Some companies will, dispatch a new driver on several short trips, one after another. Doing that keeps the drive-a-way company in good with the customer, which is best for the company....but it's not a money making proposition for a driver who has to deadhead on a bus or plane between those short trips.... for little or, no pay at all.

    I have even considered producing a DVD for new drivers who are joining the drive-a-way industry, but knowing the companies I have worked for....I doubt the companies would buy it for their drivers. Mainly because, I feel these companies are not interested in keeping quality drivers..because they know that experienced quality drivers won't take the abuse. No, they seem to be more interested in keeping applications from a large quantity of potential green drivers, so they can keep the driver pay to a constant....which they can continue to control.

    And... by the way.....thanks for the feedback Dan.... and Sleepinbeauty and any others who responded. I like the way you express yourself. You know, I like this site but, so often there are people who reply to posts with an attitude. Many of these guys have thousands of posts, but rarely reply with anything other than sarcasm, and rudeness. It seems they have to insult us... if they don't agree with us. Your response was informative, as well as friendly.

    Thank you,
     
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