They say trucking is a lifestyle, not just a job .. so why not get the most out of that lifestyle and truly enjoy it!
I'm going to share here my journey from being a noob to being a noob with a year experience leasing a truck and being on Schneider choice.
Who I am, how it came to be, why I made the decisions I did, what it's like and yes the numbers.. along with updates from this point forward.
Why did I get into trucking?
I'm the kind of person where I'd go crazy being stuck somewhere doing the same things.. seeing the same things all the time.
Most people work around where they live and that's their life.. that's their experience. The same old scenery and things to do.
For people that like that hey good for them... me I want to experience more in life.. I want to see more, do more and have to freedom to do so.
An OTR driver pretty much has the entire country to their disposal.
I find to fascinating to see and experience new things and places.
How many people get to say they've seen most all of the country?
So there was that aspect.. plus now a days jobs in general suck. In trucking there are good jobs out there and in general it's not that difficult to get started in the industry.
I'm 26, no kids or wife. I got a house in Tennessee near Knoxville. Figured it's a good area to get a job and be able to get home being a truck driver. Also it's cheap to live there and no state income tax.
Made the choice of paying for my own trucking school because I didn't want to risk it being locked in someplace by contract for a year and them mistreating me or not making any money.
It was a little difficult for me landing a job at first and I started somewhere that had trashy pay.
Gave them 6-7 months and left.
I then went to Crete as a reefer Shaffer driver. They paid me .43 practical mile with my less than a year experience and for what it was I did well there. They gave me miles and always got me home on time.
However I wasn't happy....
The reefer lifestyle was sucking the life out of me mainly due to flipflopping sleep schedules all the time.
I always felt once I got one year of experience in that a lot more would open up to me and when I reached my one year it did and I was ready for something better.
As much as I enjoyed OTR I was really tempted by LTL, you know being one of those linehaul drivers that just goes from terminal to terminal doing drop and hooks. Seeing these union jobs that pay for everything that you do, give you a pension, pay for your health care.. sleep in hotels and not a truck. Pay higher than any OTR job would offer. Every time I met an LTL driver they've all been very happy but the main reason they were happy was because of the money. It was tempting but I decided against it mainly because of the lifestyle. Where as the Schneider program offered me everything that I was looking for and gave me the choice and freedom my heart desires.
How does the Schneider choice program set itself far apart from everywhere else?
While yes an O/O can lease on here I leased a truck from Schneider finance so I will go into details about that.
First the program itself..
You work off of a load board.. paid by percentage and are in complete control of everything you do and where you go. You set your own schedule and have no dispatcher telling you what to do.
If you want to only do drop and hooks.. you can do that.
If you want to only drive a certain area.. you can do that.
If you only want loads with huge open window appointments.. you can do that.
If you only want to do short or long longs... you can do that.
And there's thousands of loads to where you have soo many choices.
This is a video of how it pretty much works
Pay is 65% of linehaul + FSC and extras which is usually like extra stops.
That might sound low but 65% is the same you get with Landstar if you don't have your own trailer.
However Schneider pays all the tolls expect the Florida turnpike (but who goes there) and the I-80 in Ohio and Indiana. Everything else is covered.
You don't pay for transflo or your qualcomm.
When you click on a load it usually takes just a few seconds and it's assigned to you and gets sent to your truck. There is no waiting around for confirmation or brokers or phone calls.. none of that. Point and click then taada it's yours and the load info gets sent your truck.
Rates are just like anywhere else.. there's cheap freight here and very good freight. Of course you don't have to take cheap freight, I know I don't.
A few good recent loads I did
OH to IN 200 miles $738
IN to PA 380 miles $1658
Both those loads are drop were drop and hook at both ends.
PA 136 miles multi-stop $816
Now not all my loads are that good all the time but that's just an example of a few I did recently to show there is good freight here. A higher % doesn't always mean a higher rate you're getting.
Oh yeah fuel discount.. that changes but it's ranged from .22 to .45 cents off the cash price at Pilot/ Flying J.
Learning the system, the load board and getting the most out of it takes time.
Basics of course is that rates suck out of Florida and New England BUT you can find high paying freight into those regions. Since I have been here (5 months) I have yet to go into New England.
The closer you get to New England the more difficult rate wise it is to escape.
Generally I've come to learn anything east Pittsburgh, PA down to Richmond, VA is a black hole.. as in it's difficult to get good rates out of that region but not impossible.
Since I've been here every time I've been to the Northeast (no further to NY, PA, NJ) I managed to escape for $1.40+ all miles. However a few times I waited over a week before I left that region because I refuse to take cheap freight out. In those circumstances I ran within the region which does pay well until I found something good enough to get me out.
Another thing that really makes the overall lifestyle wonderful here is the amount of Operating Centers and drop lots there are here.
Here's one example of how that plays an awesome factor in how you can run.
I did a weekend load from the Charlotte, NC area to Chicago. It was a live unload Monday morning at 9am.
Now normally that would mean somehow finding a place to park near Chicago and going through terrible traffic in the morning. However Schneider has an OC in Chicago.. so I drove in Sunday night, parked and was 3 miles away from the customer in the morning.
Which again speaks to the lifestyle benefits here.
When you come from reefer like me to being able to run drop and hook, open window appointment freight... oh man what a difference and how wonderful it is.
If I wanna haul butt and get it there ASAP I can, if I wanna stop and check out this cool place to eat I've never been before I can.
Scheduling yourself, having open window appointments, drop and hooks, many places to park.. it really is great. If I wanna go explore someplace new or go visit family.. I can pretty much anytime I want.
Here for me it is the ultimate OTR lifestyle.
Now it isn't perfect here as no place is...
Some negatives are.. too many 10+ year old trailers.
They have a lot of new trailers but there's old ones too and a lot of times they have issues... by far the main thing that pisses me off the most. The problem with a lot of these trailers is that the tandems won't slide because they're beat up and broken. Getting to a customer that demands the tandems being slid when they won't does not make for a fun time.
Another thing is they aren't as organized as I'd hope to be. Plus they don't have enough people answering the phones to where I sit on hold for long periods of time when I do need to speak to somebody especially on nights and weekends.
Sometimes but not often a customer will not have an empty when you do a drop and hook, this too isn't fun but you learn as time goes on. As in for example I know if I do a drop on weekends or at night it's the greatest risk that customer won't have an empty for me. When this happen I usually call and ask if I can bobtail to my next preload which only works about 1/4 of the time... when I can't Schneider sends me somewhere else to get an empty.
Overall the positive outweighs the negative by far though and again I realize no place is perfect.
(part 2 below)
Picking my own freight baby! My journey to & of being on Schneider choice, the Adventure & Numbers!
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Before I came here I these Schneider threads for months and also asked many questions.
I saw other drivers pay, saw the load board etc etc.
It's a big commitment to leave a job and go sign a lease for a truck to do something new.
If you look around there really isn't any unhappy Schneider choice drivers nor ones saying they're going broke and in the trucking industry that's saying A LOT! Yeah we including myself might complain about minor things but overall everybody agrees this is a pretty good gig. Seeing all the happy drivers here and seeing for sure I can make money here was the key in giving me the confidence to pull the trigger to come here.
Where else can someone go where they'll lease you a truck.. and you work off a load board picking your own freight, paid on percentage and have endless drop and hook freight??? Nowhere.. it's second to none.
The closest to this program there is you'll find is Landstar but there are differences in that.. the main ones are they won't help you get a truck like Schneider and two while yes there's a load board you're dealing with brokers and speaking to people vs here loads are yours once you click on "assign" and lastly there's a lot more live load/unload freight with set appointment times there vs here.
Not saying Landstar is bad but it's simply different and for some better suiting for them.
As far as trucks go Schneider finance pretty easily will accept you, the main thing they care about in knowing is your living expenses. Credit really doesn't matter to them but if you have a million dollar mortgage and have 7 kids then they won't accept you..
As far as picking a truck.. new vs used.. nice vs basic.. that's different for everybody.
For me a new truck was the way to go. I wanted a warranty and less headaches.. as simple as that.
Yes payments are higher but there's greater risk/reward in a used truck that I didn't want to get involved with.
Money isn't everything.. comfort and peace of mind held a huge factor with me.
Being I spend a lot of time in my truck and want to enjoy it so I went with spending a little more money upfront for a Kenworth which for me is a lot nicer and more comfortable than any other truck I've ever been in.
As far as the numbers go here any new Freightshaker or Kenworth will run you in the $700 range per week for just the truck.
Used trucks are less BUT Schneider makes you pay a larger amount per week into a maintenance account.
As far as fixed costs go new vs used here there isn't that much of a difference.
Schneider does offer a one year lease but only on new and used Cascadias. The purpose of the one year lease is to "see how you like it". Schneider finance wants you to do well and be happy, they won't try to suck you into a longer term lease. Again that's your choice.
After your year is up they won't do another one year lease for you.. 3 years seems to be the norm from what I've seen.
Up front costs are as follows (as of recent)
Used Freightliners are zero down
New Freightliners are $1k down
Those pretty much are company spec trucks as in plain but without the governor.
Used Kenworths are $2k down
New Kenworths are $5k down
They are loaded, 13 speed, refrigerator, APU, power everything etc etc.
When you lease onto Schneider with a new truck they give you a $1,400 bonus into your maintenance account.
So for example the down payment on a new Freightliner pretty much washes out.
$3k of the $5k I put down for my Kenworth is a security deposit which is doubled and returned to me at the end of the term. Or in other words if I walk away after my term I have $6k coming to me along with whatever money is left in my escrow and maintenance accounts.
My fixed costs per week including everything.. tags, insurance, truck, maintenance account etc etc is $1,103 per week. $135 dollars of that is my fixed maintenance fund
If I want to buy the truck after 3 years it'll be $59,000 which I plan on doing regardless of if I keep the truck or not because based on the market I see I could flip it at that point for a profit.
As far as coverall cost.. yes I realize I'm paying a premium by leasing a truck through the company I'm working at. If you have the credit and a big down payment you can get a better deal elsewhere I'm sure.
If you compare me leasing my truck through Schneider and then buying it after 3 years.. vs me going through lonemountain for a Kenworth to buy I'm spending about $20k extra over 5 years by going through Schneider.
For the record the same type of Kenworth from Lonemountain is $14,000 down and $2575 a month for 60 months.
Everybody has different wants and needs for trucks but for someone not wanting a lot of risk, money up front and wanting to test the waters I suggest doing a one year lease on a new Freightliner here.
That $1103 I'm paying is if my truck is moving or not which appears a lot to digest and it is.. it's a commitment for sure. The key obviously is to run well and to good enough to afford time off which isn't as difficult as it might appear.
I'll share a few recent weeks to give an example:
7 days working.. 7 different loads picking up or delivering in the states of VA, PA, OH and IN.
2,098 all miles Revenue was $4,737.62 ($2.25 all miles) fuel used was about $800 that week so my revenue that week after fixed and fuel costs was a little over $2,800
Most recent week I worked 3.5 days out of the week 4 different loads in the states of OH and PA.
1101 all miles, Revenue was $2,534.08 ($2.30 all miles) fuel was about $440 so that week revenue after fixed and fuel costs was about $990.
Those are a couple of my recent weeks.. I had those "good loads" I posted about earlier in the thread. Have the proof if need be. I must say my numbers aren't easy to pull off. I spend a lot of time checking the load board.. as in every time the truck stops Monday-Friday. Real good loads go fast.. many times within seconds and there's only so much hot freight out there. That's not saying you can't do good on longer runs or by preplanning way ahead of time.
I have found only by doing shorter loads and checking the load board a lot can I pull off $2+ all miles at over 2000 miles a week. Short loads however require a lot more planning and a lot more can backfire.
I've seen drivers run solely the Northeast that live there that average $1.80 ish all miles.
Other drivers who go all over doing 3000+ miles a week $1.50-$1.60 all miles.
If you just wanna run run and don't care much about getting the best rate you can easily do so.
With open window drop and hook freight... there's no reason except for you to knock out whatever amount of work that you want to.
To give a conservative idea of a lifestyle you can choose and what that would look like here's an example:
You work 2,800 miles a week 3 weeks at $1.55 all miles and then take one full week off.
Fuel prices now are around $2.80 per gallon and lets say you get 7.5 MPG
2800 X $1.55 $4,340 in revenue.
- fuel $1,045
- fixed costs of $1,100
= $2,195 to you after fixed and fuel costs per week
After 3 weeks you've earned $6,585 before taxes now you take an entire week off..
so that's $6,585 - $1100 = $5,485
Which all in all comes to averaging $1,371 per week or $71,292 per year with taking 25% of the year off work!
What does the run of the mill company OTR driver earn? .40 and 115,000 miles a year? that's $46,000 and you certainly aren't getting that much time off.
Yes you pay higher taxes as an IC but you remember you can really rock out the per diem still.
Point of this was to give an example showing that even though $1,100 in fixed costs might sound scary you can make it work and still do well.. all with the freedom and choice to go and do whatever whenever you want pretty much.
These kinds of examples I ran over and over again in many different aspects and each time I've come to see I can easily earn more money and have more time off vs being a company driver. That in part was another huge reason why I came here.
As far as income goals I have...
When I'm out 7 days as long as I reach $2000 after fixed and fuel costs I'm content and that number hasn't been difficult to reach. My goal every full week is to do $2,500+ which is more difficult but not impossible as I've done so multiple times already.
I mainly run Mid-West and some Northeast but no New England.
Another goal of mine is go exploring the country and running different areas but by doing so I'd be taking a big pay cut which I've been putting off because I wanted to save more money first.
Before winters comes I am going to go to the west coast.. that for sure is going to happen even though rates suck over there.
All in all I am very happy here and there's no place I'd rather be.
I will continue to update my progress, share my adventures and my numbers.
Feel free to ask any questions...
And to all those other Schneider ICs on here.. THANK YOU. Without you I wouldn't be here.
Your sharings and answering of my many questions gave me what I needed to come here myself.
It's going to take me a couple days to read his last post. I fell asleep twice reading the first one. Can you boys teach mr long winded how to break his novels down. Remember bro it's all about the post count.
Don't be a dick.
The guy has taken a huge step, right or wrong.
You just got released off a ban - because some body . . . spoke up for you.
Wish the dude well, subscribe, and learn.
Or you'll find yourself off . . . in . . . the distance.
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