It's a Team's Life
Finding your Fleet (Part II)
A recent post shared by a fellow expediter made some great points when it came to finding a small fleet to work for. We’ve decided to highlight her post and add to it, from a former driver and now owner’s, perspective.
“If you want to make $1500 each per driver, you have to accomplish that yourself. You are the maker of your paycheck. You have to learn how to make that happen and when you run percentage, trying for a set amount per week doesn’t always work. Sometimes it’s how the month ends.”
Running as a self-dispatching contractor like we do here, you create your own destiny because YOU are your dispatcher AND your engineer. You have to decide what load it worth what, what your minimums are, which areas are best, where to relocate, etc. Some teams will shoot for a weekly goal, or will run only a certain region of the states – it doesn’t matter how you get to your financial goals; all of these methods can work. You genuinely must figure out YOUR strengths and how you like to run as a team – what works for you both. We found that we can lose an entire week and still hit $30k+ in a month, but that comes with years of experience and being way beyond the “FOMO” phase. We run day to day, don’t plan too far out, and we love it that way because found that we hit our goals with minimal stress.
“As a team joining expediting, even if you have been team driving for 25 years - if you haven’t run percentage and expediting, it’s a different way of doing things. We ran 17 years in tractor trailer, by the mile, 20,000+ mile a month. Coming here was an adjustment. You don’t run constantly like when you’re running per mile as a team. It’s a ‘work smarter, not harder’ deal. Sure, you can run yourself to death running constantly in a big box company as a super team, making the same or less, (taking the quickest shower possible, eating only sandwiches or junk etc.) but that gets old, and that’s why most of you came here. Dispatching yourself is a game, it’s calculating trying to decide which load to take, and which load will put you where the ‘money load’ will be if it pops on the board. It’s aggravating and rewarding. You have to be open to learn new things and not be stuck in your ways.”
She’s right – coming from tractor trailer was a major adjustment. It was night and day to go from mileage-based pay to percentage. Switching that mentality took time but was so essential. If not, you will run your per mile rate down and work harder for less. You will no longer have to run 5,000+ miles a week as team to make a good paycheck, and instead you can work 3 days on 2 loads and make the same that you would on 2 cross country runs. You’re no longer booked out for the week, now you’re booking a load for today or tomorrow, never knowing where you’re going next after delivery, or how much you’ll make tomorrow. This can make transitioning tractor trailer teams very antsy, because they’re looking for miles, not at the end goal for the month. We like to say to give it at least 6 months before you give up on expediting, especially if you’re coming from tractor trailer.
“When you start out here, your company is not going to tell you how to pick loads, how to bid, or anything. Just that there is a load board, how to log in, and hit accept. If you try and do it on your own, without guidance, it will take a lot of trial and error. You will get frustrated. So, if the fleet you go to has mentors, or you meet a team that offers to help, take them up on it. Let them show you the ropes. There are rules that your company will follow to decide who wins a load, and you need to understand them. You need to understand when a mentor or fleet owners tells you certain areas are dead zones, that they are telling you to avoid headaches. There will be a time for you to go out west, but the first week you are out on the road is not one. Just remember, we are always learning new things, if you think you know everything already then you are one of the ones that has a lot to learn still.”
Coming out here with a know-it-all mentality will quickly humble you. We have been at this almost 8 years and still find some of our own ‘guidelines’ changing, because the landscape of our company is constantly changing, and we must change with it. That’s okay because the seasons don’t change – trucking overall has its busy and dead seasons, all of which we are already aware of and therefor plan for. However, it can be very hard for new teams without guidance to come out here and try to make it work. Not that it can’t be done however, you will learn what loads are worth their rates, and which aren’t. You will start to form a minimum to run into certain cities, due to the cost of tolls and/or relocating after delivery. You will learn which customers don’t care about detention, and will take their time to load you, putting your early morning delivery at risk, and therefore minimizing your chances for a next day load, so maybe you’ll charge double for that run. You will learn the seasons and you will start to be able to predict when the leaves are about to fall before they have even changed color. Be patient when you’re learning the landscape, absorb all that you can, and learn what works for YOU. We advise all of our new drivers to “Forget what you think you know, and don’t apply rules from a different side of the trucking industry to the world of expediting because you will only set yourself up for failure.”
“Don’t believe everything you hear. If someone tells you they make ‘this’ every week or month, ask for proof. If they don’t want to show you numbers, then it’s probably inflated. If an owner tells you to not talk to other drivers, then someone has something to hide. But also, not all drivers tell the truth, whether it’s to keep you from taking “their” loads, or to seem better than you. Take a lot of what you hear, especially on social media platforms, with a grain of salt. Some of us are honest and just want to help, while others don’t feel like they are anything unless they are making someone else feels small. You are not stupid for asking questions no matter how big or small, and if they tell you how stupid you are for not knowing they are just being bullies.”
This is a constant and sad reality of the world we live in – people lacking integrity and character. Expediting is a small industry; most of us know each other, and word spreads quickly, even the false rumors. Toxic fleet owners and lackluster dealerships are all well-known and constantly confirm the rumors. You can’t hide out here, and that’s the beauty of the double-edged sword that is expediting. This is why it’s important to get multiple opinions or outlooks in the industry, to weed out the nonsense. If someone gets intimated by you asking questions, walk away and move on, but don’t let it discourage you from continuing to ask questions. People who have been out here for a while think they know everything and become short sighted, forgetting that they were new at one point too. They are plenty of us out here willing to help and provide real guidance or give you our own opinions without being intimated. There is room for all of us to succeed and thrive in this industry.
Run Hard - Dream Big,