Hey NASCAR!!!!! Question??? You where Company driver or alliance???? And why your miles where low??? Did you refuse loads a lot???? Just asking!!!!!
Is Stevens Really The Best Training Company?
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Here comes one of those long winded posts. Hopefully it will help maybe's, newbies and veterans understand how to 'game' the system to your advantage.
Low miles are a common complaint. Unfortunately, most of us never learn how to sidestep that issue, and often we are at the mercy of luck. But often luck is improved by the little things we do.
Drivers (Like NASCAR) can be excellent workers with great attitudes, but fall victim to the throws of trucking.
Understand how the dispatch system works.
Logic does not have anything to do with dispatch. I say this with sincerety, no tongue in cheek.
Amost all trucking is driven by reaction, not proaction. Do something, then react to the results. The force of moving freight is reaction to what we did last and what's transpired since. There are a few companies that are proactive, FedX and UPS are two examples.
But common carriers, especially OTR carriers are largely driven by reaction.
Let me give you an example:
A customer tenders a load to us that picks up in Salinas and delivers in St Louis. The original plan says pick up on tuesday and deliver on monday morning at 0300...five days to cover about 2,100 miles. We accept and the game begins.
The knows we are emptying out 200 trucks on monday and tuesday in SoCal. Another 100 trucks in NCal. We accept 300 loads.
This load is planned on truck 12345. They empty out in Commerce on monday morning at 0900. The idea is the driver starts his day at 0700, and will have plenty of time to go to the final, empty out and deadhead up to Salinas for a tuesday pick.
Unfortunately, the final takes 4 hours to unload, there's an accident on I-5 going over the grapevine and the driver runs out of hours in Buttonwillow, where he spends the night.
Next morning, he leaves but can't get to the shipper until 2 hours after his appt, which we all know is bogus in the produce world, but it gives the shipper reason to set you back 8 hours. The truth often is the product is late coming in from the field. In the meantime, the buyer has changed the order and more time is lost.
None the less, the truck doesn't get out of there until wednesday mid day.
At this point, there is nothing anyone can do but track the truck and while it's mathmatically possible to make the load, you're on the edge.
Now I know the load planner should take into account the driver's hours, but there just isn't time to cover everything and somewhere along I-80 in Nevada, the DM realizes the truck doesn't have enough hours to make it work. He's close on his 70. Mathmatically, he has enough hours coming back, but there is one day in the middle where he's gaining only 3 hrs back and while he gets 12 back midnight sunday/monday, it doesn't do a whole lot of good. The planner may have seen he'll have enough hours, but no one planned on his begin waylayed in Commerce, Salinas, etc.
Now he's running late, but there's other trucks more critical running later, so the repower people throw him to the back of the priority list since there's still time. I, for one, will usually ignore this truck too, hoping we can get him into Wyoming before repowering so he isn't doing a round trip right back into Cali.
On any one night, an operations person has three times more trucks to repower than time to do it, much less available trucks to repower to.
So you see, it's all reactionary. OHMYGOSH! 12345 IS RUNNING LATE!
Now a solution may be to hold the buyer and the produce shed's feet to the fire, but reality is there are dozens of trucks laying around hoping for loads and competition dictates they can get away with this.
If the economy ever improves this may change, but right now capacity exceeds demand by BIG numbers.
So now this poor driver gets repowered in Ft Bridger with a load going to...? You guessed it...Cheyenne. It's thursday and he delivers on friday, sits the rest of the day and is sent to Lexington...the meat patch, where he sits until sunday evening to get his load.
So the week ends up with 1800 miles or so.
Pretty darn sad!
So what could the driver have done?
First, talk with the load planners in SoCal to see if he can get a load out of Brawley instead of going to the veggie patch. Brawly usually doesn't have as long a wait for a load to be ready.
Maybe he can get a Kraft load or a Heinz load out of Ontario or San Diego.
Failing that, ask for a Whole Foods load out of Salinas to the PNW. Your next load out of there would be quick and to someplace like Cedar Falls or Hannibal. Those shippers are usually quicker so you won't be running behind. Those areas don't have a derth of trucks to repower you to, so you'll likely keep your load.
If you still end up on that St Louis load, recognize you're going to get repowered. Be proactive and figure out the best place to do this.
I'd start looking at Salt Lake. This is a crossroads area and you might get a Ft Worth load or a PNW load, instead of waiting until you're up in Wyoming where you're almost guaranteed a Cheyenne load...and the meat patch.
Other things you can do is look for a repower long before you get to California in the first place. Too many drivers call and let me know, "I'll be shutting down in Kingman, do you need any loads repowered?"
Well that's great, but what comes out of Cali for the most part? PRODUCE!
Often the load have already passed you by. Remember, freight moves in waves. There isn't a lot of loads passing Kingman on Saturday night.
Think back in Amarillo, hoping for a repower in Albuquerque or Gallup.
I once spent four weeks between Tucson and El Paso. I never saw a dock, but I ran my butt off doing repowers.
Does this require hard work? You bet!
Does it require luck? Many times.
But the driver being proactive is better than hanging around hoping for the best.
Remember, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and hoping for a different result.
One more thing. If you send in a repower request with "too much time on load" as the reason, we will not likely see it. Your DM will, but you have to work with him/her to make it work. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
I have several drivers that will call me in the late afternoon/early evening and tell me they have hours to run and miles left on their load to swap. Think about it...if I call you to do a repower and I'm offering 329 miles (or less) for you to give up an 800 mile load, you'll likey try and expand my vocabulary with all kinds of new words!
Now if I call you with 600 miles for an 800 mile load, and it moves you in a direction you prefer (say from El Paso to Ft Worth), you're more inclined to accept the load.
Too many drivers run the legs off their loads, then want to be repowered.
Won't happen most of the time.
Learn the planners and develop a relationship with them. As they get to know you, they'll work with you more. They'll look for you each day to see if they can put a load on you. Because they know a load on you is often a load that will deliver trouble free.
We have far too many drivers that are prima donnas, or just plain lousy. You've probably seen me post some of the stories.
Well there are a lot more that often are worse.
One more thing.
It takes time to develop a reputation and relationships. Take time to accomplish this.
The rule of thumb we use inside of operations is a Grad student can run 500 miles per day safely. If we see 600 miles left to run and one day to do it in, we try and repower that driver.
Can he/she do it? Maybe. But we can't take a chance unless we know them.
A driver 50 miles from final, but out of hours because they stopped 6 times along the way that day, and poked along doesn't make the operations guy (me) look good when I failed to repower them.
Hope this gives you and insight on how to make things work better and get more miles.
It's not perfect, but it's a start.
What Emuls said is too true. I've been ping ponging repowers for three weeks between Phoenix and FTW. Just yesterday I broke free of the ping pong with a repower to Robert, LA. Ill then work my way to 40 or 80 in hopes of getting caught in another repower ping pong loop.
To me, I live off those who pull over often, trip plan poorly or those just bad luck and pick up late or get hung up somewhere.
If I pick up multi drop produce in same small area like Yuma or Salinas I will goto all the picks and check in. First to call me I go get loaded, regardless of which pick it is. Some places drag ### more than others. You have to work the system to your advantage.
Also if you don't have crap for hours or are low, take a day off and turn into a reset, that way you aren't meeting me for a repower cause you only have five hours that day. Ill smile and take your load and give you my load with four drops over three days. Sometimes it can't be helped, more than not it can.
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Can't say that they are the best training company; in my honest opinion, Millis Transfer out of Wisconsin is the better.. Training pay during their website is $500-600/week, they run good equipment, good benefits, and have 3 locations in which you can train at [even one in Georgia]. Their pay range is higher than what I've seen at most training and non-training companies. -- starts out at .37cpm once trained. Check out their website for more details.. Call and talk to a School representative, before ya dart off to Stevens!
As far as Stevens goes, I've heard there newbies can get stuck out 6 months at a time, and in fact, have talked to a few that hadn't seen home in 4 months.. and they were newbies and that wasn't by choice.. Training companies philosophy seems to be.. "If this is a new career for you and you're used to staying home or going to work and coming home every day, and then you come driving a truck, that if they send you close to home, that you'd go home and never come back on the road" Thus they simply don't send you home!
I'm sure the pay is better but I will be willing to bet that Stevens equipment is much nicer than millis.
As far as staying out 4 months at a time against their wishes, i call bs on that. I was out for months at a time but that was becquse i wanted (needed) to. In fact stevens would say that its way past time for me to take time off.
It is not uncommon for me to hear newbies complain they haven't been home for X amount of time, but when I talk with them further to figure out how to help them get home, I find two common issues: First and formost, the driver hasn't made their wished known. Often times we're talking about persons that have endured long periods of unemployment before choosing a trucking career. They can't afford, and their afraid to 'rock the boat' with a new employer, so they may complain, but they haven't made their wishes known to their DM or counselor.
The second issue it their DM is new(er) and not keeping keeping an eye on this issue. Most of the 'older' DMs are former drivers. Most of the newer DMs have never seen the inside of a truck. Therefore, they don't know the issues first hand of what an OTR driver experiences.
I have had conversations with some of these new DMs and now find I need to train them as well!
If a driver makes his wishes known, as he's been instructed (verbal, QC), they'll get home reasonably, in most cases.
Each driver's screen prominately displays how many days they've been out and how many days before they'e due home. Most of the load planners do watch this and try and route them closer to home. It is up to the DM to finally get the driver home by watching for the proper load or working with the planners.
No where in the management of Stevens, is there an underlying tone or expression to keep drivers away from home. That is simply NOT true.
This is one area that I have no complaint at all about the way that I was treated at Stevens. They ALWAYS got me home on or before the scheduled date.Corporal_Clegg Thanks this.
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