Tips and Tricks of the Trade
If you're fresh in the industry, here are some fresh ideas
Ten Tips, Tricks, and Best Practices
- 1. Do a good pre-trip inspection.
You never know when you will be asked, "Did you do a pre-trip?" And if it's a DOT officer, you want to know if you looked good at the inspection date, the lights, the tires, the pins, fifth wheel, lights, and even the valve stem covers. I'm picky about them and keep plenty extra in my side pocket door.
- 2. Become Friends with your Dispatcher.
Dispatchers are your lifelines to loads, which in turn, equals miles, and miles directly affect your paycheck. Get to know them, get to know what they like. Pay your dispatcher compliments.
- 3. Never refuse a load.
Refusing a load can leave a bad image of you and your work ethic. By not refusing a load, you show the company that you are valuable and dedicated and will help the company when needed. Besides, you just never know what kind of load is waiting for you when you get where you’re going.
- 4. Be aware of your trailer 24/7.
If it leaves the road or goes outside of the line, you aren't driving safely. That trailer is a weapon that could get you and others injured or killed.
- 5. Look back at your truck after parking.
Always turn around and look at your truck when leaving it. I can't tell you how many times I have seen flashing lights and blinkers left on in the parking lot.
- 6. When you see the spot you want, pay attention to the tire path.
Many times the truck that just pulled out will have a perfect path to back into. Aim your tire for that path. You will be surprised at how close you can get, and how much you will improve your accuracy by paying attention to the path your wheels are taking. But don't forget to G.O.A.L. (Get Out And Look).
- 7. Don't swerve to miss that animal.
We love animals as much as anyone, but it’s not worth risking your life or other people’s lives to swerve 80,000 pounds around the road to avoid an animal. It's sad but you will eventually run over a beautiful living creature. Grip the wheel tight, keep the truck straight, and slow down—that’s all you can do.
- 8. Post-trip inspections are important too.
Doing this when you shut down at night, might save you time tomorrow. I've found bad tires and fluid leaks many times.
- 9. Love your Safety Department.
Recognize that your Safety Department is always looking out for your best interest. The Safety Department, unfortunately, is viewed as a police officer: when you need an officer, you love them; when they tell you that you did something wrong, they’re horrible people. Always remember that your Safety Department has nothing to gain by your loss or failure. Your continued success and compliance is what they are most concerned with.
- 10. Be Prompt and on time.
Your timeliness will set the tone with you and your carrier, so be on time always. It’s always better to be an hour early than one minute late. Call ahead—advance your pickup with the customer, advance your drop with the receiver. It could mean the difference in you getting to your next load 12 hours early and another load on your paycheck this week. It could also bring you the critical loads that pay more. Run the truck like you were the owner.