YOUR CARRIER IS NOT YOUR ENEMY

I learned an important lesson a few years ago:

The axis of the Universe does NOT run through the top of my head. 

I am not the Sun and everything and everyone does not revolve around me. As a commercial driver, I am an integral part of the supply chain. It could be said that I am an important part of the chain. However, I am not the MOST important part of the chain. I share equal responsibility with the carrier, the shippers, and the receivers. 

It took me more than 10 years to come to this realization, and it has helped me to become more profitable and less stressed. In the last 4 years, I have CHOSEN not to have an adversarial relationship with my carrier. They are not my enemy. They are my partner. We assist one another in serving the ones who ARE the most important part of the chain: THE CUSTOMERS.

I've heard it all; all the conspiracy theories on what X carrier does "to" the drivers, how they "don't care about the drivers", they're "only in it for the money." Once I learned not to be such a narcissistic jerk, I came to understand that most carriers do, in fact, care about their drivers and yes, they are "in it for the money." SO. AM. I.

Trucking is not my hobby. It isn't something I do to fill my spare time. It is my livelihood. It is the method by which my wife and children have food and shelter. For me, it is ALL about the money; the more the better. I am in this business to make as much money I can in the shortest amount of time possible.

So how did I come to hold this new outlook? It was a very slow process. It started nearly 15 years ago when I had an operations manager look me in the face and tell me that the sun and moon didn't revolve around me. I'm paraphrasing his words because they aren't necessarily fit for public broadcast. It was more like, "Son, let me explain to you why you're such an idiot." He began to teach me about the business, the profit and loss. It was then that my shift began. It didn't take immediately. I had to get fired from the next company I worked for, leave the industry for 2 years, come back as a company driver and then make my way to being an owner/operator to have all the pieces fall into place.

I've worked for most of the big carriers; Schneider, Werner, USXpress, Landair, Anderson Trucking Service, Landstar. I've worked for three small carriers. They were all different and they were all the same. They are in the business to move freight and serve customers.

Many drivers, including myself at one time, have the wrong attitude. We aren't focused on service. We're focused on self. We refuse to see the big picture. This business is turbulent. It isn't static. It is constantly moving and changing as the desires and needs of the consumers change. When I started in this business, there was no Amazon, no Ebay, no iPhones, no Walmart Supercenters. The market has evolved into something completely different with different needs. Transportation is now more important than it ever has been. The entire economy is dependent on the ability to move freight efficiently, quickly, and most importantly, SAFELY. Add to that the shift over the last 20 years of government intrusion into the market and we have a greater responsibility than ever.

I've recently leased on with Landstar. Before I ever got here I was warned, "Watch the agents. They'll screw you." In 45 days, I have found that to be totally unfounded. See, they can only "screw me" if I allow it. It is MY JOB to verify their information, document it sufficiently, and be ready to respond if an issue or discrepancy arises. Have I found an agent so far I may not haul for again. Maybe. Some do a better job than others. Just because they don't do things exactly to my satisfaction doesn't mean they are out to harm me. Maybe they're just lazy or having a bad day. The one agent in question just seemed disorganized. I don't like that. It makes me nervous. BUT, their loads pay really good, so I'm likely to let it go for the right price. After all, I'm in it for the money. 

Here is my challenge to you:

Take your carrier at their word. Communicate PROPERLY with them. Document EVERYTHING - every load number, every mile, every expense. Look at your relationship as a partnership. Share equal responsibility with them in serving the customer. Give good ETA's. Always deliver on time or early, and let the know. BE SEEN as something good. Don't let them only see you when something has gone wrong. Let them catch you doing something right. 

You as a driver are not the beginning, the middle, and end of everything. You are an integral part, but you're not the only part, and you're not the most important part. 

A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events and outcomes. It is a catalyst and it sparks extraordinary results.

Wade Boggs

Posted on June 11, 2014 and filed under Trucking.