George & Wendy Show

Wendy Parker

Trucking 101

| May 21, 2014

just_say_no_to_cheap_freight

Someone once said, “Any day spent without learning something is a wasted day.” (I probably murdered the actual quote, but it went something like that.)

We headed out from Aurora, Colo., toward Kansas City after taking our time and waiting for a load that didn’t weigh a gazillion pounds and pay dirt and rocks. I’m gonna put it right out there and say shame on the agents and brokers who have the nerve to list 44,000-lb. loads for less than a dollar a mile with a .46 fuel surcharge. You gotta be kidding me. After figuring the math on two or three of them, I was ready to call and cuss them all out. Seriously guys? Alcohol is almost pure profit, you can’t afford to pay a driver a living wage to haul it? I hope your loads sit. We sure ain’t gonna haul ‘em.

Thing is, they will only sit until someone desperate to get out of Golden, Colo., will take them, or they’ll be brokered out to the crooks who pay their drivers .25 a mile.

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We waited it out, which is really hard for me. I haven’t developed the nerves it takes to play these monkey games. I’m still panicky when the truck isn’t rolling. I’m getting better, but it’s hard for me to break the habit of having to move to survive. We found a good-paying load to K.C. that weighed 9,000 lbs., which is more like it. Again, the freedom to be able to do so is awesome, and as soon as I get a little more hip to this deal, we’re going to rock it. It’s a numbers game, and numbers haven’t always been my friend. I can do nurse math, but fuel mileage/pay math is a whole other animal for me.

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So I’m having what I like to call “Truck College” on a daily basis. I’m learning a lot out here — you’d think after two years I’d be pretty well-schooled, but I’ve found the more I learn about this business, the more I have to learn. That being said, I do know one thing, you can put all the regulations in place you want, but until the driver training issue is addressed, none of it will matter. You can’t regulate people into knowing how to do their job properly, and drivers with six weeks’ experience on the road don’t have a damn thing to teach anyone, which is something the aforementioned .25-a-mile bastards don’t seem to care about or get at all. You can’t put someone with no experience in a truck with someone who has no experience and expect them to do anything but screw up.

Even a dummy like me who has trouble doing truck math can see that.

  • joseph bielucki

    Fuel alone is cost per gallon divided by mpg. Here in the Northeast it costs about .70 cents per mile just for fuel, that’s all miles deadheading to load etc. Those agents are making money believe me I have my own authority and I see the rates, you would be sick! Keep learning and asking seasoned bco’s questions. I have a great Landstar agent I use when my direct freight is slow, she owns a couple trucks and she knows what it costs to operate, build those type of relations and you will find better loads.

  • Jimmy

    Good luck but just figuring the cost of fuel for the load will make you go under. The magic number is cost per mile for the truck to operate ie insur, fuel, tags, permit

  • joseph bielucki

    You are correct Jimmy, really you have to figure your time is worth something and what you pay yourself. I use fuel cost to illustrate the largest variable before you even get to fixed costs and paying yourself. Getting a ballpark per mile number is necessary. Miles change and the longer runs some costs go down but fuel remains and that was my point I didn’t make too well I guess.

  • Jimmy

    How about let me know what that magic number really is if anyone knows!!

  • George Symons Jr

    build y a little spread sheet with the fixed costs and the variable costs built in…. you can break tags, permits, insurance, down into a monthly average cost. Truck maintenance items and tires can also be put into a monthly cost average. Fuel can be set in a per mile basis as well as your time (wages(including applicable taxes and insurances), and per diem). The ultimate goal is to make enough money to not only make a profit but be profitable(accrue money and net worth to expand and/or improve).

  • hamdy73

    You will make between 70c -1.30$ per mile it, depends how cheap you running

  • A308

    Guys I completed my 26 years military and started looking for another job after retirement. I like trucks but OMG I was astounded to see the pay. Wow, OTR drivers get average of $40,000/year. But they work 168 hours a week. That is about $4/hour. Geez that is less than the kids at McDonalds. The fast food workers had banded together and they are pushing for $15/hr they had over 100,000 workers do a big march last week. What are the truckers doing ? You guys could shut the entire country down for 4 weeks and boom get the pay changed. European truckers have worked for hourly pay for 60 years and average pay their is about $70,000/year for rookies senior drivers get over $100,000 a year and great benefits and their guys work about 5 days a week. What is wrong with the American drivers your not dumb or you couldn’t do what you do, you’re not scared or you couldn’t get out on the road like you do so……..stop letting cargo companies put you against each other and band together. It seems it is to the benefit of the company to keep drivers ignorant and fighting among themselves. The only way to make money trucking and be happy is if you are a husband/wife team that enjoys traveling and expensive showers/food. LOL I don’t like hearing from the old truckers but those guys haven’t been keeping up with the politics/pay or trucking would be one of the better paid jobs because it is by far one of the hardest ones. Come on guys the fast food kids are banding together you guys should do the same you definitely have all of the cards. But you have allowed the companies to get you down so low financially that you are in a constant state of fear of starving or missing a bill and you will continue that way till you get the back bone to band together and stop all hauling for 4 weeks. Until then you will have a 100% turn over rate and be gone from your family’s for months at a time then home for 3 days then be gone again. Don’t forget we are in one of the worst economies in history and companies still cannot get drivers. That should speak volumes !!! Wake up drivers you have all of the cards play them.

  • A308

    You sound smart. I agree with you. Truckers are being manipulated to fight among themselves for loads. They should band together and strike for 4 weeks that would get attention. This is the worst economy in years and companies cannot get drivers that should speak volumes, astounding. Average pay for drivers is $40,000/year yet OTR drivers are on a truck 168 hours a week. So…..$4/hour less than Mcdonalds. The fast food workers are together had a 100,000 person march last week. Truckers need to do it too. The drivers have huge liability if they have a wreck fast food workers don’t have any liability. European drivers have been paid for 60 years with good benefits. If you run the actual numbers their rookies pull about $75,000 a year and senior guys are $100,000 a year. Hmmmmmm………they had huge strikes in the 30s and 40s but you see it worked. Arguing with freight brokers, company managers is a waste of time drivers can have Obama do complaining for them if they shut the country down for a few weeks. I bet, he will be telling companies to charge more and the public will be glad to pay after a month eating beanie weanies.

  • Steve Ralston

    Your ignorance is definitely bliss.

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