Owners and Drivers - Can't We All Just Get Along?
Regular visitors to Expediters Online's "Open Forum" will no doubt recognize the author of this article: "Wild Bill" Hosler is a regular contributor to that section, keeping the other drivers entertained with his unique brand of humor and wisdom.
Bill has some thoughts on the expediting owner/driver relationship.
Marriage is generally considered to be a union between a man and a woman who will work together toward a common goal. If successful, they will both prosper - sprirtually and financially. If they aren't successful, it can lead to bad feelings and financial turmoil.
The relationships between a truck owner and his drivers are the same way. The owner/driver relationship can be a great success for all those involved; everyone makes money and they become great friends. Or it can lead to financial ruin and hurt feelings on both sides.
Over the years of being a driver, here are some things I've noticed that help the relationship between the driver and the owner.
Communication: Like any successful marriage, communication between the partners is vital. Both sides must be able to express their feelings about a given subject. If a person has a suggestion about a given subject, he or she should pass it on to the other person.
Many times a good idea can possibly prevent something bad happening in the future. Both sides should also be willing to accept and receive constructive criticism.
Autonomy: Adam Smith once said "The goverment that leads least, leads best." I know it would be difficult to buy a $100,000.00 truck and give it to two people you don't know well and pray that they do a good job without destroying your truck. But as in a marriage, trust must play a part.
Many owners have a tendency to "micromanage" their truck while the drivers are on the road. I have seen some teams who must take loads that will make them lose money just because their owner has told them they must accept every load offered, no matter the circumstance. They weren't even allowed to go home unless a load took them there.
Not only does this cause bad feelings and animosity between both parties, it can also be illegal. If you lease your truck to someone, give them a 1099 form at the end of the year; they are independent contractors, not employees.
Bottom line: If you don't trust the guy/gal you have driving your truck they shouldn't be driving it. "Seat warmers" lead to nothing but heartache.
Some of the most successful owners I have either known or worked for have had the philosophy, "Treat the truck as if it was your own; not only will you make money, but I will make money."
If a driver is worth his CDL, he won't need to be led around by the hand. He will just go out and do his job. If he does it well, both sides will prosper.
Be willing to help with suggestions and answer questions if need be. Not only can autonomy be more profitable and easier on your blood pressure, but it can also help in driver retention and easier recruiting.
Drivers have some responsibities in this marriage also.
Responsibility: Drivers have to realize that the owner of the truck has quite a bit on the line when he puts you in that truck. Sometimes their very house is the collateral they had put up to buy that truck. Picture going to Vegas and putting everything you own one roll of the dice. It is the same way. He is betting his future on your performance.
You have to treat that truck you are driving as if it were your name on the title and your house on the block. Professionalism should be your main goal.
That means staying out, not going home every week, accepting loads when you would rather sit in the truckstop and flirt with the waitress, showering regularly and putting on clean clothes. If you keep this frame of mind, not only will you be helping out your owner, you will be helping yourself at the same time.
Maintenance: I had one owner who used to praise my codriver and I because we took care of the truck. I was told that they used to get calls nearly every night with questions like "My headlight is burnt out, what do I do?"
I don't think I need to be Mr. Obvious to tell you that the better maintained your truck is, the more time you can be in service taking runs.
If you see that a light is burnt out, buy another one and keep the receipt When you get home you can get reinbursed by your owner. Unless it is a major breakdown (oil changes, lights..etc), I just get a receipt and take care of it when I get home.
It is all part of the drivers responsibility. If you want to be treated like a professional driver you must learn to act like one.
It all boils down to: Your relationship with your driver/owner is your future. Remember you are all on the same side with the same goals. Treat each other with the respect and professionalism that you feel you deserve.