MY ALLERGY TO CHEAP FREIGHT!!!!
Now, many of you are sitting, laughing, wondering how cheap freight can make you sick. Let me tell you, then let me tell you how to save you from the ails of cheap freight.
First of all, all you company drivers at mega-companies, thanks so much for being okay with your company slitting my throat daily! If you weren't okay with it, you would leave that company and say hello to mom & pop companies. Secondly, anyone that can get a message to old Bob Peterson at Melton, tell him his "we'll haul anything for $1" program a few years ago KILLED the trucking industry, for he is one of the HUGE reasons flatbedding rates have gone so low! Tandem's drivers have mentioned they don't get paid to tarp, and many companies think that even owner operators should get $50 or less. Do me a favor if this is your perspective. Do the job yourself. Tarp the loads for your drivers for free or dirt cheap. You'll learn a whole new respect for it.
What do you consider cheap freight? A lot of people will say $1 is a cheap, a few less will say $1.50. Most people actually, honestly believe $2.00 a mile is good. My bottom line when looking for a load is $2.50. That is my bottom line, unless in a bad area like MT, WY, ID, etc, and no good freight to bounce for. We will bounce 500 miles or more, as long as all miles equal up to a $2.50 a mile line haul (now, that's good paying freight). Even in Montana I scored $2.50 a mile freight. No deadhead. Now, to get out of a bad area, we may have to slit our throat on not getting anything for a deadhead, but loaded miles WILL be $2.50 a mile or more, or we won't touch it.
How does cheap freight make me sick? It makes it where it takes me longer to find our next load, for I have to turn down loads for a minimal 6-8 hours. This makes me stressed, and since Lou feeds off me, then makes him stressed. Then the stress turns to frustration, and we are at each other's throats. Now, the allergy has turned into a bruised ego on his part, and a bruised ego on mine. By the end of all this, I now have a migraine, and he's chosen to go to bed, because he swears PMS is easier on his nerves than cheap freight. I finally found a load, but the stress stays in place, because now we have to make sure all goes well in between the broker and the office, and on occasion it goes wrong. So, then the migraine deepens. Finally, we load tomorrow morning. Take headache medicine, give up, and cuddle up with Lou to go to bed. Eventually, the stress of load finding on top of the fact that the countless hours spent has now put me behind on everything I'm doing, makes the snowball effect start happening with the stress. I catch up on one project, and it's time to find a load again. Now, I'll never get caught up. Now, I've got a cold because it was the only way my body could exert all the stress. This cold lasts for a month for the stress only drops minimally throughout each week. (I'm now without a cold thankfully.)
How can you do away with cheap freight??? As a company driver or lease driver, GET AWAY FROM THE MEGA COMPANIES!!! THEY ARE THE REASONS CHEAP FREIGHT EXISTS!!!! As an owner-operator, you can negotiate, and you can say no. Everyone says no, no one loads the freight, the freight rate will go up (I've seen this). I won't look for freight on Mondays or Fridays, nor the days before or after a holiday weekend. Mondays and days after holiday weekends, drivers have been sitting all weekend, they're desperate to move, and the desperation shows in the rates they're willing to agree to. Fridays and the day before holiday weekends, drivers are frantic at the thought of sitting all weekend and not making any money, so are desperate the same as Mondays/days after holiday weekends. Watch the rates on the boards, you will find I'm right. Also, try to obtain your own customer base. If you're hooked to a company (leased on), learn real quick who's in charge of clearing new customers, and make him/her like you. This way, they won't turn down everyone you send their way. Ways to find new customers include calling businesses you would like to haul for, give them a brief, oral overview of your experience over the phone, and asking if they would mind sending over a media kit or receiving one and handling yourself correctly and professionally at the shippers/receivers:
1. Dress nicely (this doesn't have to be a suit and tie. If you're a dry van, car hauler, bedbugger, reefer hauler, etc-wear a polo, khakis, and nice shoes. If you're a heavy hauler, bull hauler, grain hauler, flatbedder, or specialized mover-clean, non-holy denim and a clean, non-stained, non-holy, non-expletive shirt will do.
2. Comb your hair, brush your teeth, shower, and wear deodorant. Shippers and receivers won't want to see you again if you are unkempt.
3. Keep your trash in trash receptacles or in your garbage bag in the truck while loading/unloading. We were at a shipper the other day where I could hear the employees bad mouthing drivers because they had made their parking lot look like a dumpster.
4. Have your truck clean, smelling good, and sounding good. No one wants to hear a squealing belt or pulley, or smell a nasty truck.
5. Come in social and friendly. We actually bring donuts when we can. A $6.00 thing of donuts goes a long way in being remembered by them (just make sure you leave one for yourself........I forgot to last time for Lou).
6. If you flatbed, keep your shirt on while strapping, chaining, padding, tarping, and bungeeing. Your tarp should look like a present that's been professionally gift wrapped, not like a blanket hanging over a corpse. One place remembers Lou just for his tarping.
Bottom line, if you don't want to be seen as a cheap, dime a dozen, driver, don't haul cheap freight. For, if you do haul cheap freight, expect to be treated with the respect and dignity a cheap driver would.