Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Preferred Path

I like to update my goals on a regular basis.  When doing so, I look to the past successes and failures.  I've had many of both.  Looking back, the mistakes stand out the most.  If I were to do it all over again these are the things I would do:

1. Find a trucking school that is thorough and fairly priced.  You should pay for it yourself instead of selling yourself into bondage at a trucking company to pay it off.

2. Soak up as much knowledge as you can during your first year as a company driver.  Learn about everything from the mechanics of the truck to the way the trucking company services customers and dispatches the fleet.

3.  Stay safe throughout all of this.  You can recover from a nasty DAC report, but accidents and tickets will stay with you for a few years so keep a clean safe record.

4.  Assuming you are young and around your 20's start investing at least one to two thousand bucks a year into a Roth IRA at Vanguard.  They have very small fees and if you keep doing this, in ten years, you will be on your way to a comfy retirement.  Even if you are in your 40's or later, make sure you put something into retirement.

5.  Become an owner/operator as soon as you possibly can.  Don't wait.  Usually after your first year you can buy a truck and lease onto an owner/operator only fleet.

6.  Don't pay off your equipment early.  Instead, make your monthly payments and put regular payments into retirement.  You can always take the money back out in an emergency, but it would be better if you left it in there and used credit cards instead.  Its then important that these cards get paid off ASAP.  Just don't touch your retirement!  Compounding interest is the 8th wonder of the world.

7.  Set aside some money for repairs.  Probably about 10 cents a mile should do it.

8.  Maintenance Maintenance Maintenance!!!!    Be sure to know everything you can about all the fluids, greasing applications, filters, coolants, tire inflation, engine torque range, etc, etc.  Get to know that truck inside and out!

9.  Buy a trailer.  Trailers have almost no maintenance and bring in up to 10% revenue.  Its a no-brainer and they can be sold after a few years of use to recoup some of the cost of the equipment.

10.  Don't work for cheap.  When you're new, you will be taken advantage of, but you can still weed out bad freight and make good choices.

11.  Limit your risk.  Don't accept loads that require a lot of deadhead with a guarantee of being paid something if the load falls through.  Don't book a load that picks up at the last minute on a Friday or on the weekend without a guarantee of detention, layover pay, or truck ordered not used.

12.  Get everything in writing from the customer, broker, or agent.  Email is the best way to get this information quickly and in a format that's easy to store.

13.  Don't be lazy about load securement.  Go ahead and spend the few extra minutes or half hour making sure that the freight is secure.

14.  Be safe when working around the truck and trailer.  Take extra time keep away from danger in the loading and unloading environment.

15.  Keep in constant communication with the shippers and receivers because lack thereof will only result in anger and confusion.

16.  Keep your eyes on the prize and don't let yourself be dissuaded from your course.  This pertains to safety, reliability, and how you run your business in general.

17.  Be a professional even if no one considers or expects you to be one.  Conduct yourself with a calm responsible composure. Negotiate obstacles with finesse and with all the info you can gather about the situation.  Don't rush to judgement and make a rash decision.  Think through your day and be the voice of rationality instead of the screaming driver who is only annoying those around them.

18.  Have fun whenever you can.  Find a local attraction wherever you go that you might not ever be able to go to on a normal basis and spend a little money enjoying the sights that the country has to offer.

19.  Always conduct yourself in a manner that lends to the accomplishment of your goals.  If your point of view doesn't get you to your goal, you need to adjust your course and correct your position.

20.  Be the person that people go to in order to get the job done right.  Remember that you can be replaced and you need to be the example of what "to do" instead of what "not to do".

4 comments:

Belledog said...

Wonderful post, Ed.

Ed said...

Thanks Belledog.

Scott said...

Some good tips here...especially about getting a trailer. Does the same go for van trailers when leased on with a company? With so much drop/hook freight, are guys with their own trailer having to sit or deadhead longer and still work out better?

Ed said...

Scott it depends on the customer. The percentage is better if you have your own trailer, but if you are doing a lot of drop and hook, then having your own trailer wont help you. My opinion is that having the extra percentage means you don't have to work as hard and that when you work with your own trailer, you are making more money per mile. A solo that wants to be home often can run drop and hook with two or three customers whereas that same solo that doesn't need to be home as often can have their own trailer and make more money. Its not as easy a question to answer as it seems. It all depends on the driver's needs and the available customers.