Your dispatch gives you your load heading South and sends you on your way. Just before you get to the door they call you back and tell you they also have your back-haul ready. You take the load and are beaming as you walk back to your truck. Your mind is already planning out your week, where you’re going to stop, when you will arrive, and how long it will take to get to your pick up point. You start making plans in your head to go out with your spouse after the trip because not only will you make good money, but know that you will be back home on Friday night, something that hasn’t happened for a long time.
As you drive your load to the sunny South you start wondering if everything will stay the same. Your normal routine for loads is to call in to dispatch when empty, but you think that if you do they may send you somewhere else changing all the plans you made upon your return. Will they be mad if you don’t call in? Will you be mad if they change your dispatch? You spend the next thousand miles wondering how to handle the situation. You begin to stress yourself out!
It’s a driver’s dream to get their back-haul before they even leave on their outbound trip. You have an idea what you will be picking up, it helps you trip plan for the whole week, and saves time calling dispatch and other issues that often delay drivers. With this in mind many drivers go through the problem suggested in the story above of not wanting to call into dispatch once they have their load. They are afraid that dispatch will change the plans and mess up their whole week. Dispatch has a tendency to do that! So how should you handle this situation?
First congratulate yourself on the fact that you are a reliable driver in the eyes of dispatch that they feel confident enough to give you your back-haul before leaving on your outbound trip. Many carriers won’t do that because of the variables that come with trucking such breakdowns, delays, and other factors that can change the load plan. They won’t even give a load assignment to drivers that don’t have the reliability that many drivers should have.
If this situation has happened to you then the correct answer is you should call in to your dispatch when empty from your first load to make sure nothing has changed since giving you the load assignment. This allows dispatchers a way to change things should something go wrong with the load plans. A lot can happen during a trip and often it is another driver’s load problems that cause that change. Dispatch may have had everyone planned out for the week and then someone broke down on the highway and was out of commission. Another driver may have been held up at a customer and will now miss their pickup so drivers need to be moved around. Always check in before going for your next load, things may have changed.
Where most drivers go wrong is in thinking that if dispatch changes their return load it is a reflection on them. It is not a reflection on you, but to really understand it you have to put it in perspective. Dispatch’s job is to keep all the trucks moving and your job is to keep your truck moving. By being a team player and checking in at certain points of the trip you are proving reliability, team thinking, and dependability. Things change in trucking on an hourly basis so be a team player and check in even if you have received your outbound load.
About the Author
Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years. He is an author of the books Driven to Drive and Running By The Mile, consultant, podcast host, and speaker. TTSAO also known as the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario has certified member schools in the truck training vocation ensuring quality entry level drivers enter the transportation industry. To learn more about the TTSAO or to find a certified school in your area visit www.ttsao.com