Hauling Produce Can Be Lucrative, But is It For You?

You have possibly heard the saying, “That if you got it a truck brought it!” Nothing is truer in the world of food. Trucks bring us everything from vegetables to meat and much more. Other than the few foods that people grow themselves the rest come from various places across the country depending on the time of year. Truck drivers operating in the world of food transportation can have very lucrative careers but does that mean you as a new driver should jump into that area of the industry?

The produce industry can be a very demanding part of the industry. What draws people to it are the high rates that it can pay to those wishing to dip their toes into this complex area of the transportation. Many new drivers get a false sense of big money, exotic places, and gleaming trucks because thats what they see from those already in the industry. It is not uncommon for owner operators in the industry to be making upwards of four dollars per mile. Produce comes from exotic locations like Florida and California so that attracts those that don’t like the East Coast of the United States. So you may think that the food industry is for you, but I will caution you to do your homework before settling into this area.

From a driver standpoint those same benefits that draw a driver to Truck on highwaythis part of the industry can also make it a huge headache. The high rates we talked about are there for a reason. There is a lot of waiting time in this area of the industry depending on what you haul and I am not just talking about hours, but days in some cases. There are many additional expenses in food transportation from fuel for refrigeration units to off-loading expenses, equipment washouts, and other incidentals. As a driver you may not see the rates we are talking about as many independent owner operators work this area. Length of days away from home also are part of being in the produce industry and those interested should be aware home time can vary greatly.

Am I trying to deter you from a life in the food area of the transportation industry? Of course not, I am just warning you to do your homework and investigate this part of the industry rather than just jumping in to get a job. The industry can be very challenging as far as timelines, dealing with distribution personnel, and equipment issues. I always tell people if you are interested in driving in this area of the industry try and find a carrier that focuses their resources on food transportation. That way you will have better equipment and better options when issues arise.

The largest problem in this area is you the driver. Do you have what it takes to be in this part of the industry? Are you dedicated enough to take the necessary care required for this type of freight? Do you have the organizational judgment to be on time and meet tight restrictions on food entering our Country? Do you have the flexibility for life on the road? If you can handle those issues then you may be a good fit to be a driver in the food industry. Only you will know!
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

Consideration, Communication, and Commitment is the Success Secret for Team Driving

With all of our jobs becoming more demanding and time consuming plus the fact that labour is getting harder and harder to find, husbands and wives are working together more these days. This has been a staple of the transportation industry in regards to team driving for many years. How do teams cope in the confines of a small space such as the cab of a truck? Consideration, communication, and commitment will help you be successful as a team.

You’ll need commitment so you can work together to be on the same page with the goals you’ve set for yourselves. Is it a profitable truck, a profitable small business or a successful family that you’re looking for?

Communication will be a key ingredient between you in order to keep moving forward. Not just the big goals and problems but the small ones as well. Although you may have different responsibilities within the team you will have to let the other person know what is going on in the business.

Consideration for the other person will be of the utmost importance Blonde woman truck driverespecially when we are talking the confines of a truck cab. I remember the time my wife mentioned us going trucking together. Of course not having a trucking background she did not understand how team driving works. There are no weekends in most companies due to delivery schedules and you actually run shifts from driving and other duties, not to mention getting a break from one another can be a creative process in itself. But when she mentioned we would have to bring our two cats I decided this wasn’t going to work in a practical manner. I was the driver who always kept his truck in show condition and that kept me busy without cats leaving their mark. In other words be practical with the goals you are trying to attain. In my years of driving over the road I have seen many couples succeed at team operations and the secret seems to be good communication and they work together for the common goal.

So how do you keep things moving forward? One way is establish duties for each other and respect them. You may think that the main focus of having a team is to share the driving responsibilities, but there is much more to it than that. Anyone who has run their own business and a truck operation is most certainly a small business knows there are many administrative and physical duties that need attention. Get into business routines you can both live with. Maybe let your wife handle the paperwork side of things with the exception of your logbook and you handle truck maintenance. She can handle those duties while you load the truck at customer’s warehouses. Maybe she has a more calming voice than you do, that will certainly go along way with dispatch. Whatever duties you divide remember you are working for the team. The goal is to earn a decent living in a safe and effective manner. A truck in bad repair or bad administration habits will do nothing to move your business forward.

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

Truck Drivers Deliver the Goods This Time of Year!

In the past the word “turkeys” has been used as a slang word to demean the truck driver. We know that truckers have a job where all of the odds are against them such as fuel prices, weather, time lines and increasing regulations. So, we know we’re not turkeys because you have to perform extremely well to link all of those items together to get the job done. Since it’s October, turkeys will be a Truck on highwaymainstay on dinner plates across the country and in fact many of you will be hauling those turkeys to different markets all over the country to give families a reason to come together and celebrate the holiday season. While people are praying and being thankful for the meal, they should be thankful that you’re sitting at the table with them, safe and sound. With all of the craziness and unforeseen weather extremes being seen these days it is certainly a blessing to have you join them at the table. Not only are you part of the industry that hauled the turkey so it was available for families to prepare for this special time of the year, but you beat the odds, faced the conflicts, and joined them at the dinner table. Be proud about what you have done, you’re a professional driver and you know this industry doesn’t have room for turkeys. This is a big month for those of you hauling produce and meat. You’ll bring goods from every part of the country to give the general public the items they need to prepare that Thanksgiving meal.
If you’re having trouble feeling your importance, think about what those Thanksgiving dinners would look like if trucking was not part of the puzzle. Think about it, the table would be empty. The turkeys and hams would still be on the farm. Only half of the vegetables would be at the table because the farmers would have had to truck the vegetables in via a farm tractor.
Unless you grow most of your own vegetables, your table would be very empty. Never mind the impact on our regular day to day lives, but in October we have two major celebrations in Canada, Thanksgiving and Halloween.
Add Halloween items to the food items and you have really increased the dependency on truckers in this country.
Imagine the kids coming to your door dressed as themselves because costumes didn’t “make it to the stores, or how about the thought of giving kids an “I owe you note” in their trick or treat bag because the chocolate bars and candy didn’t make it to the stores.
How about those pumpkins? Or lack of any? It will make for a very boring Halloween and many disappointed tables not having pumpkin pies for desserts. So you are the key ingredient if you transport any treat specific to the Halloween or Thanksgiving holiday season.
The kids won’t realize it, most of the public won’t realize how important you are, but we know who made these joyous occasions a reality, the trucker driver. Remember, you’re no turkey, the turkey’s are on the table.
Enjoy the holidays.
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

Looking Professional Starts With You!

The trucking industry constantly amazes me with the stories I hear. Like the story of an instructor telling a class of new drivers that proper trip planning includes bringing a bottle with you to go to the bathroom while on the road. Unbelievable! That’s not trip planning, that’s camping!

We have all encountered the driver on the dock who has not Girl-in-truckshowered in a week. The driver that only does laundry once a month? In 25 years of trucking, I have seen them all.

Many people operating by themselves think no one else sees them so why bother looking professional. The truth of the matter is many people see you. Whether passing you on the highway, standing next to you in the fuel bar, or behind you in a restaurant, you are being seen all the time. You may be the nicest person in the world, but first impressions count and hygiene like that is sending the wrong impression.

We are expected to be professional in our driving capabilities and that translates into our appearance. I am in no way suggesting you wear a three piece suit while driving, but basic hygiene and dressing for the day are a prerequisite. Many people get into the trucking industry so they don’t have to cut their hair, dress properly, etc. The truth of the matter is more companies have come to realize that the professionalism of the driver is a direct reflection on the company and are paying more attention to driver’s appearance than ever before. Notice we have not even begun to talk about driving capabilities as of yet.

Whether you are new to the transportation industry or are a long time veteran, pay attention to your appearance, hygiene and equipment. It not only reflects on you, but the company you run for. With an industry frantically trying to change a bad image, if each of us takes pride in ourselves and our equipment, our professionalism will rise accordingly.

How do you do this? Plan where you stop! In 25 years of driving I have never used a bucket. Clean up before you arrive at your customer. If you do sleep on site at the customer’s dock, at least keep supplies in your truck and comb your hair so that you look presentable when they first see you. Presentation is everything, especially in trucking. Take your career seriously and professionally and you will climb the ranks with quality carriers. Try it and see!

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

Surviving in a Slip Seat Environment

You who may want to work for a company where slip seating is a regular part of the operation, but there are some things you may want to look out for a successful outcome. First, what is “Slip Seating”? Slip seating is where two or more drivers share the same vehicle. Maybe one driver drives the vehicle during the day and another at night. Slip seating can be a challenge for drivers that prefer their own space. Issues with cleanliness, vehicle abuse, lack of attention to maintenance, can all be common problems in some slip seat environments. Companies are not bad that slip seat, but as a driver there are some things to watch for when applying to companies with that type of operation.

Large companies can’t afford to have trucks sitting around empty

Blonde woman truck driver
s.

waiting for a driver or dedicate equipment to each driver. Trucks are big money and every parked truck is a loss of revenue. Depending on the operation, many companies have transport lanes and schedules that are just too complex to have one driver dedicated to each unit. So from a company standpoint, slip seating may be the most profitable way to operate.

What happens if you come across this type of operation as many of these types of companies are the top carriers in the industry? The biggest issues are usually cleanliness and maintenance. If a driver has the attitude that its not their problem it can make a truck operation hell to work in. Know what you want! Are you obsessive about cleanliness, do you have good maintenance habits? If so make sure the other person also has that same attention to detail. The time to ask about your preferences is during the hiring stage. If you are already in that type of operation and you see issues arising try some of the following options.

Ask for another driver for the unit to be of like mind. If possible, go meet that person and explain and agree on a system that works for both of you. Split on cleaning duties, and maintenance objectives. Believe me, there is nothing worse than arriving to depart on a run and realize clearance lights are out, or there is no fuel left in the tank. Find someone that knows how to handle post trip inspections. Any company worth their weight will appreciate a driver wanting to keep their image and equipment in top shape. It may take a couple of tests to find someone that you work well with.

Some of the top carriers that operate locally often have slip seat type of operations. The good ones will do their best to pair people together, such as two smokers together, or two clean drivers together. As a driver it is up to you to know what you are willing to do and how you like to operate. Be ready to fulfill your side of work obligations and you can make a slip seat operation work.

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

Trucking with Dignity

When you’re in the transportation industry dignity and distinction may be presented together or separately at any given time, or there may be days when both are present at the same time. You may not even know when they’re present, but you should because you control when they are present.
You may be asking yourself why this is important, why should you care? Well, it is important and you should care because it is about you! Dignity is about how you see yourself and distinction is how you are seen in the industry. Let’s talk about the distinction part first.
Most of us are seen as “truckers” in the eyes of the public. To some that means crazy, grease balled guys out to terrorize the highways. Ask most of the public who don’t understand us and we hog the roads, tailgate, and drive too fast or too slow, or are generally disrespectful of people on the road. That’s ‘‘distinction ‘‘in a negative way. Probably not the kind of distinction we or the industry is in need of at this or any point in time.
You and I know that the negative distinction stated above isn’t true. I‘m sure that most people who know you and others in the trucking industry also know how untrue that image is of the industry. The problem is that the public doesn’t know it.
The industry is ever changing and that may or may not give us a positive view depending on the time frame. One thing you can count on is that the industry is changing! You can either be a positive or negative part of this change, but unless you opt out of the industry, you will be part of the change.
This change has been going on for a while. The recruiting shortage we‘re in is part of the change, part of the process. We won‘t see how it has truly affected the industry until later, but it is part of the process. The question is how we make our distinction positive in the winds of change.
The answer of course is through dignity – your dignity, your Girl-in-truckself-esteem, your work ethic. By having dignity in yourself and your profession, you will create a positive image of yourself and the work that you do. By doing that, you will change the negative image of our industry because when you speak with other people about our industry you will speak about it in a positive light.
I know what you‘re saying. I‘m only one person, I won‘t change a whole industry. But think about this, what if each one of us chose to be positive about our industry from dispatchers, to drivers, to receptionists? How many people would we be influencing, one by one, across the country; one hundred and fifty thousand, five hundred thousand, a million? This system may seem idealistic, some idiotic way of looking at the world, or it could be one step closer to positive change. It’s up to you to decide. Word of mouth, that’s the best way to affect change, to sell something, or positively market something. Word of mouth!
“National Trucking Week” is upon us, if you’ve been negative about the industry in the past, then now is a good time to turn things around. The dignity part starts with you, if you are having trouble being positive about the industry, then maybe it’s time for a change in your thinking.
The distinction part is up to all of us. One by one, day by day! Are you doing your part? Celebrate “National Trucking Week” and treat it as a new start. You deserve it and we are all in this together. Start by thanking a transportation professional that you know. Thank you to all of you who strive everyday to make the transportation industry a better place.

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

Find out why you should say thank you to anyone in transportation this week!

It’s National Trucking Week in Canada this week and the United States next week. The two weeks are focused mostly on the work of the drivers in the industry and as a former driver I agree that drivers need to be thanked for the hard work that they do. In fact I have always said that National Trucking Week should be all the time or at least a whole month instead of a week, but drivers are just one part of the supply chain and it is important that we recognize others that make up the system or transportation environment.

Look at a basic transport team at a carrier. We have the management team that works with the contracts and getting new business. We have the planners that plan out the loads required to be hauled by the company. The loads are sent to dispatch who then communicates that information in a timely manner to keep the drivers moving, and the driver who has the lion’s share of work by getting the load to the customer safely and on time is extremely important.

No part of the system would work without someone doing that Girl-in-truckwork. Carriers couldn’t deliver freight without the driver. Drivers couldn’t get load information without dispatch and planning departments doing their jobs. Without the management team getting the contracts in the first place the other departments wouldn’t be required at all. Of course this is over simplified and there are many other factors that make a carrier operate properly, but I am sure you get the point.

Although the drivers are very much the focus of many carriers. There are also great people working behind the scenes of trucking companies across the country. I believe we need to celebrate all those people working in the transportation industry. The same goes for those working outside of a carrier for vendors that support the industry such as waitresses at truck stops, mechanics, service personnel and so on.

Let’s show our appreciation to all of those that make up the transportation industry. No matter who you are dealing with in the month of September or all year long for that matter say thank you. Thank a driver, say thank you to the mechanic that got you back on the road, say thank you to the dispatcher that keeps you moving, and thank all the other people keeping those in the industry employed and making money. Without the transportation industry we would have nothing on the shelves of our stores or in the cupboards of our homes. Thank you to all of you working in the industry and working hard to make it better!
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

How much are you really saving by choosing courses based on price?

Are you working on getting the correct licence for a future career in transportation? Deciding on the licence to train for could help you in the future and many potential students lose career advantage based TTSAO-Logo-colouron the way they choose courses. The reason for that is that training is expensive up front with certified schools but pays off as you go through your career. The trade off is money against opportunity. By taking courses based on cost, it may hold you back in career opportunity down the road. Let’s take a look at how the highest licence may help you down the road.

Brad has decided to get his truck drivers licence. He has an opportunity to drive for a current employer with a straight truck and needs a “D” licence to do so. His employer is willing to help with part of the course cost to a certain limit. Brad begins to investigate courses and sees that he could get “D” licence without too much expense from his own pocket, but is that his best way to go?

Brad needs to think more than his current employer in order to see the value of a course. If Brad gets the “D” licence he would improve his position at his current job. What happens if Brad leaves the company down the road. If he decides to upgrade to drive a heavier truck he would need retraining costing him more for another course. He has now paid double for that licence.

Let’s go further as Brad ages. He now decides in his later years that he would like to drive a bus for a local bus company. He would now have to go back and retrain for his bus licence. He is now spending more time and money to satisfy the opportunities in his career.

If we look at a basic cost for the “D” licence course around $6000 that is the first investment. Add an additional $8000 for a class “A” licence and an extra money for the bus upgrade and you can see over the course of a career it would cost over $15,000 for the licences.

So what would have been a better scenario for Brad? It may cost Brad more money in the beginning but save him money in the long term. With a “D” licence Brad can drive a straight truck, cars, etc. If Brad was to get the higher licence of an “A” he could drive A, D, and G vehicles. If Brad writes the test for his “C” licence he can also drive coach bus, ambulance, and limousine. Brad would have saved over $5000 instead of going for the “D” licence alone. He would also possibly make higher pay with a class “A” licence than having just the “D” licence.

Brad gets his “A” licence and takes the test for his “C” licence he now covers his whole career with two licences. He can drive the vehicle for his current employer, won’t have to retrain for a future employer, and if he decides to drive a non-school bus vehicle down the road he already has the licence and can move right into that opportunity.

If you are looking to become a driver in the transportation industry and are investigating training facilities here is an order that may help you and save you money over time.

  1. First try to look at your career as a whole and look past your current employer for possible opportunities.
  2. Look into only certified training schools offering regulated training.
  3. Don’t decide on courses based on pricing alone. You may be saving money now but cheating yourself later on.

As you can see through the examples above you will save more money over time by going for the highest licence you can get now. A great place to look for certified training is with the TTSAO list of schools at www.ttsao.com.
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

Breakdown preparedness, are you ready?

Have you ever broke down at the side of the road? It can be a daunting time especially if the weather is cold or you break down in a strange place. As professional truck drivers you will break down at some point in your career, it is just a matter of time. When these breakdowns happen they can be very costly and frightening for those involved, especially if it happens in the middle of the night or remote location. The bad part is that it happens to all of us. The good part is that you can be prepared.

We all hope that accidents don’t happen very often in transportation Truck on highwaybut they do. What happens more often and without warning is mechanical breakdowns and when they happen they can lead us into a crash which can be very scary. This recently happened to a friend of mine on his way to work. Things were going fine, he was getting on the highway for work like he always did and starting down the highway in his car. All of a sudden there was a loud bang, the front end of the car dropped about a foot, and the car went into a skid. Hanging on for dear life and trying to stay in control the best he could the car kept spinning out of control. He saw the cars from his side of the roadway as he spun out of control, then the vehicle went through the ditch to the other side of the road continuing in its spiral direction. As you can imagine my friend saw his life flash before his eyes as he held on for life. Hold and steer, hold and steer is all he could do and hope this wild ride would be over soon. It was similar to being on a bucking bronco for eight seconds that seemed like an eternity. Finally the car stopped on the opposite side of the road, on the shoulder, facing the wrong way to the direction of traffic. Still holding the wheel my friend tried to gather his thoughts as the dust settled around him. But was it over?

The actual event may have been over, but not the problem at hand of a breakdown. Thankfully my friend was okay, but now he had a car at the side of the road, facing the wrong way of a highway with a broken front end, and a wheel stuffed sideways under the car. That of course in addition to the fact he would now be late for work, is rightfully shaken up, and has little money in his bank account. So how did it end?

The Police showed up writing up a report for mechanical failure. The tow cost him his last three hundred dollars to go a kilometre off the highway. He scrapped the car because it wasn’t worth the cost of repair, and he had to borrow a car to finish out his week.

We can’t be prepared for everything, but there are some things you can do to ease the burden should an incident happen. First of course is to maintain your vehicle in good working order, that’s a no brainer! Second is to do regular inspections of your vehicle to hopefully catch potential problems before they present themselves, usually at times or places we don’t expect. The third thing is to be prepared for mechanical items to breakdown. Have a plan in place for having your vehicle towed such as CAA or AAA that can lower your costs should something happen. Make sure before leaving on any trip no matter how short that you have a fully charged cell phone in case of an emergency. Keep items like water, crackers, and a blanket in your vehicle should you breakdown for a long period of time. These things may not stop a breakdown but hopefully will ease the burden should something happen. Be safe and happy driving!
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

Reserve your place for the PMTC Golf Tournament-September 12, 2016

Check out the PMTC Golf Tournament on Monday September 12th. Sign up for a great networking event and BEAT THE PRO!

We’ve added a new competition to the Fall Tournament:
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$275 + HST per player includes golf, cart, lunch, dinner, on-course beverages and prizes!

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