The trucking business is a specialty trade, there is nothing ordinary or common about it although on the surface it may
appear so. The ordinary individual perceives a trucking business as something anyone can successfully accomplished, and to
some extent that's true; but in the broadest sense it very much is not true-allow me to explain. Many "want to be"
truck drivers have gone to the expense of getting a CDL (commercial drivers license), only to get in trucking and realize
they are not a good fit for trucking or trucking is not a good fit for them. Either way they eventually chalk it up to a lesson
learned and retreat to the ordinary comforts of a job that doesn't require the kind of commitment and life's sacrifice
as does trucking. If you are considering trucking I think the following might serve as sage advice.
The Uniqueness of Trucking
Although from the outside looking in most people would make the mistake of
thinking of Trucking as something anybody can do, this is one of the reasons so many get into trucking and fail miserably.
And while those that do succeed at it may look ordinary from the outside there are some very unique things going on inside
that make the Trucker a real success. I want to talk about this a little here as you may be considering getting a CDL in Trucking
, and branching out further into the Trucking waters, such as becoming an owner operator O/O.
people look at crucial decision making and split second analysis as being traits only associated with top leaders in large
corporate structured business or an all star perennial athlete. The successful trucker has trained himself to make split second
analysis about the general outlay of a town city or community and the roads. And while having many traffic signs which the
Trucker has trained himself to interpret when they'll apply, and when they won't, as sometimes is the case.Trucking
is serious business for the true trucker. The over the road (otr) drivers learn to feed off of the adventure, and variety
that comes the job.
The trucker also has to train his instinct in the general movement of the
traffic, he usually can, (with some degree of accuracy) determine when there may be a problem and how he can avoid either
an accidents, delays, and other obstacles that may prevent a smooth and timely delivery. We're talking the "successful"
trucker, the one that has learn to survive and master the art of trucking; which doesn't always mean he's making a
lot of money, but those that make a lot of money have to master the trucking business, which includes the job and understanding
the trucking market.
The trucker has also learn to master the tools of his trade such as
his Motor Carriers Map. Many do quite well in their communication skills using the CB, while still others like myself depend
on mapping programs, the Motor Carrier Map, directions from the shipper receiver "which may not always be accurate",
and still others, to some extent rely on an instinct in their overall trucking operation that can't quite be described
adequately here in words. Not to mention the successful Trucker also has become a business minded person and something of
an expert planner, which in it's own right is quite an accomplishment.
Many of the things I've
mentioned here can't be taught as a matter training for a CDL: it takes time, and dedication, and a love for the job.
All these things can and should be learned at the company stage; "before" you start considering becoming an driver
owner operator, or owning your own truck.
I could go on and on about how the Trucker has adapted
himself to the business, the equipment, and the overall conduct of the business that make them truly unique people; and while
the rest of the world may not think so, if you've been trucking for any length of time, the trucker began to establish
a relationship with the overall elements that make each component of the trucking business a success.
Why is the uniqueness of Trucking important to the business and Start Up in particular?
As I've mention in
previous chapters on marketing yourself, you must at all times understand your business as it relates to your skill in that
business from the very start. A common mistake in trucking is that many truckers that do master all the elements of successful
trucking fail to see themselves as truly being in business for themselves from the
first day in trucking; consequently they'll miss many opportunities to learn and grow and achieve more and ultimately
earn more money in the trucking business.
While on the other hand many start into the trucking
business (even as myself): start into it plowing through such a shroud of mystery, that it becomes very easy to become mislead
and overwhelmed by so much miss information or false information, that is perpetrated on this industry by those willing to
make an unjust gain off of your willingness to work harder and be more responsible.even trucker in the business have been
guilty of painting one side of the picture. Recently in a trucking forum a lease owner encouraged another driver tho lease
with a company only quoting on behalf of a good week: the truth is the commercial trucking business is up and down, good weeks
and bad weeks. A good business person should never be satisfied with half the equation and to the extent this occurs the potential
for failure can increase.
Now don't let what I just said scare you off from the opportunity
of fulfilling your rightful place as a successful trucker, willing to go out there and make this thing happen; but let it
be an encouragement to you to have a hunger and a thirst for the right information, and the best way to accomplish what you're
after which is hopefully to earn more money-since you're doing what you enjoy.
I can never
underscore timing enough, but I'll simply say this, if the market is dead or weak for what ever it is you want to go in
business for, "IT"S NOT THE RIGHT TIME". However, if the market demand is good for what you do, and God gives
you and open door of opportunity to do it, GO THROUGH THE DOOR. Don't depend on others that may have had a bad experience.
Gather all the information as fast as you can about the details, although my philosophy is that you should always be gathering
the right information so when the time is right you already know what to do.
Assessing your tolerance
for risk is part of the equation, but don't get so freaked out about it that you allow it to paralyze you, starting a
trucking business is like any other risk; usually if you've done your homework and you've worked hard at gathering
all the information you can about trucking, the market, and all the specifics about how to really make the kind of money that
makes it all worth you while: the benefits far outweigh the risk. Remember, there's no substitute for knowing your job,
so make sure that part comes first.
Finally; what might constitute an unrealistic approach to starting up a Trucking Business
If you have not really mastered the stage of business you're in, and if you are making compromises to go in business that
well, let's just say are rash and do not sit well with your inner voice; (which by the way, you'll need to be in touch
with on a higher than usual basis) you're probably rushing in. Be careful, you could be expecting more from this than
you've prepared yourself for.That being said you will make mistakes and to a great extent you'll need to prepare yourself
to make mistake too. So as you can see there's a lot of self preparation in the process, but all of it contributes to
growth in the end. Here's and example of what I mean.
I ran Dry Van the whole time before
I got my own Operating Authority, but in my planning stage I decided to get a Curtain-side trailer, the way I figured it I
could run van and some flat bed loads. I did many country wide searches for Curtain-side trailers which landed me in Georgetown
Kentucky, some of you will recall when they had all those old curtain-side trailers sitting over there at the Honda Plant,
Well while even their best one may have been a good start for me, my inner voice in prayer of course just couldn't let
me do it, and to this day I don't regret that decision. But the next really decent looking Curtain-side I found was clear
out in Las Vegas, back when Pan Western was selling off their curtain sides, so my very first run with my brand new Authority
turned out to be a Power only move, as I caught one the Utility Tank runs out of Akron, IN all the way to Colorado oil fields.
Well long story short I bought the curtain-side, and got myself down to southern California to get
my first few runs, but seem like every time I said I had a Curtain-side the Broker said, "Ah No, my shipper won't
load that, then as I began to get runs, I found out how much loaders like to carelessly rip your curtains! I was devastated
and felt like the whole thing was just a shame. Not long after I got back to Southern California, same problems, only this
time the trailer being a 48' was too short and I had to breakdown two pallets of cooking oil and stack them on top of
the others, I thought I was going to die and I wanted too.
Finally I made it back one more time,
this time I had three loads cancel on me in one day, which landed me in Fontana, CA. I remembered getting some trailer work
there about a year before, so I knew there were a lot of trailer sales there. I think I prayed about two seconds before I
had a peace about getting what I felt I should of gotten in the first place, a Dry Van. So I met the old man at Utility Trailers,
"Carl" I never forget. I said I want a use trailer, he said okay, come and see what we got, he took me back there
where those brand new DX-4000 were, and said just take a look, so I reluctantly agreed. He open up the back doors, and after
letting the new smell and look of that brand new trailer hit me, he said these seven magic words and I was SOLDD with a double
D, "That's State Of The Art Equipment There!" I didn't want him to know I was putty in his hands, so I told
him I'd think about it and left. As I recall I even forgot to look at any used trailers, which probably told the old man
all he needed to know.
Well miraculously I scraped up the funds and got it, and you know the
rest of the story. If not, in short God bless me to accomplish more in trucking than I ever could have imagined. It reminds
me, a guy that said his son in little league hit a ground ball that was over thrown at every base, and his son jumped up and
down on home plate yelling Home Run, Home Run, Home Run!!! You see, it may not be pretty how you get around those bases but
the end result is the same.
Preparing Your Trucking Business for High Earning Trucking Stages of Development
It pains me to find people outside of trucking that buy a truck or trucks, put someone in them and expect to run a profitable
business. These are the kind of people that you find desperately seeking answers to questions that will only trigger 9,000
other questions. Why? They tried to ignore the Stages of Development in Trucking and jump right into the business and began to realize that trucking is just that, it really is trucking, which
means you have been in trucking long enough to form a relationship with the business, the equipment, and all the things it
takes to keep it running smooth, and then as a trucker knows it's still not all that smooth all the time.
also have to be a student of the business for a while and be responsible. Which reminds me of a guy I met one night just this last September/October time frame at
the Steel City TruckStop in Indiana, he couldn’t start his truck. I jump out the truck and first thing I said is “are
the cables tight? We checked them and they were all corroded. I went to the truck and got out my battery tester; turns out
two of his three batteries were dead and the third one was on its last leg. Now get this, the guy said he’d been trucking
some 45 years, he said he just hired on with the company a little while ago, I said but yeah, you know by now you can’t trust your maintenance to someone else, you were suppose to check it.
This not only speak to a lack of emphasis on an individuals part, but
from what I could see many Truckers PTI consist of checking the gauges upon start up. That’s a shame guys and gals. Anyway sorry I got off on that,
the main point is that you have to develop yourself in trucking by actually going through certain stages of development which
you can not ignore or just blow through, and to the extent you just casually meander through them it will come back to visit
you sooner or later.
I often joking say, I was still learning how to hit the dock when I start making over $4.00
a mile, but don’t let that fool ya’ I spent some serious time learning the ropes, before I ever ventured out into
other stages of trucking. So, if you’re reading this book, and if you’ve been praying about whether you should
take the next step in trucking and you haven’t completed the stage you’re in; consider this an answer to your