I’ve been in the trucking industry for a decade now. I work with all sorts of trucking companies from carriers to leased on owner operators. I’ve run my trucking company as a carrier, a truck dispatch service for other carriers, as well as a 100% owner-operator lease company. All of these roles have forced me to constantly question what the best trucking companies have in common. This is what this post is all about. Let’s explore.
Having spoken with thousands of leased on owner operators, I’ve heard all about their struggles to make it in the trucking industry. I’ve heard about their experiences being leased onto carriers as independent owner operators. I’ve heard good stories, I’ve heard bad stories, and I’ve heard absolute nightmare scenarios. I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that not all lease programs are created equal.
Those of you who are carriers, should listen up because the contents of this post will help you run a better trucking company. I’ve seen countless trucking companies fail because of some truly basic business concepts that owners simply were not aware of. Sometimes it’s lack of experience, sometimes it’s lack of knowledge, and unfortunately, all too often it was because of greed. So let’s take a look at what makes the best trucking companies and better yet, how you too can implement these changes into your trucking business.
What the Best Trucking Companies are Made of
So what is it that makes the best trucking companies, well, “the best”? I can tell you right now that the best trucking companies have the best people. Whether they’re the truck drivers, the owners, the administrators, the dispatchers, the safety and compliance departments, accounting, or any number of other departments and roles filled by people. At the end of the day it always comes down to having the right people in the right roles and positions.
I feel like deep inside you probably knew that though. Truth is that we’ve all heard this a million times before. We sort of know by now that the best trucking companies have the best people who’ve helped build the company to what it is today. So let’s keep going and dig a bit deeper.
What Really Makes the Best Trucking Companies
Trucking companies that treat their drivers right tend to always do considerably better than those who don’t. Companies who don’t nickel and dime their drivers on pay, that don’t lie to their drivers, that are fair to their drivers and don’t play favorites, all do better than those who don’t.
I’ve heard from way more drivers who’ve shared with me being misguided and often blatantly lied to during the recruiting process. They were promised a certain rate per mile, they were promised performance bonuses, additional pay, higher rates than they’ve gotten, and they were promised a certain amount of weekly miles. In most cases, some or all of these promises were simply not true and were more of a case of telling a person what they want to hear.
The Best Trucking Companies are Transparent
The very best trucking companies out there, especially those who lease on owner operators, are truly transparent with their drivers. They understand that no matter what, they’re nothing without their drivers. The drivers drive the trucks. If anything, company owners and everyone else involved in non-driving positions, need to remember the old adage of “if the wheels ain’t turnin’, you ain’t earnin’”. Let’s be real. If the drivers stopped driving, no one would make any money. So it’s safe to say that the better you treat your drivers, the better everyone will fare.
So what does this have to do with transparency? Everything, actually!
You see, the vast majority of leased on owner operators I’ve spoken with have told me they never see a broker-produced rate confirmation. Some are provided a rate sheet created by the trucking company they’re leased onto. In extremely rare cases, they actually receive a real rate confirmation from the broker which is signed by the dispatcher.
Some drivers have told me that the rate confirmation they received was doctored. This is where the dispatcher or whoever dispatched the load, actually edited the rate confirmation’s final dollar amount or linehaul. This is why when you receive a rate confirmation from us, you’re CC’d in the email being sent back to the broker. This way you know that you’re getting the same exact document being sent to the broker. Seems pretty simple, and it is.
Why this is so important and why the best trucking companies do this is because if a driver can’t trust the dollar amounts, they can’t trust anything being presented to them by their company. Plain and simple. A company provided rate sheet that’s created by the trucking company can’t be trusted because they can literally write anything into it. A rate confirmation coming from the company, also can’t be fully trusted because it could’ve been edited. The only way to be 100% sure you’re getting paid a percentage of the true dollar amount, is to receive the original rate confirmation coming from and going back to the broker with a signature.
The Best Trucking Companies are Fair
Fairness can mean different things to different people. That much is true. What else is true is that we all know when we’re being treated unfairly. Some companies continuously claim they didn’t receive detention pay or layover pay. Eventually the driver gives up or forgets about a load he was detained on several weeks or months ago. They really have no proof whether there was detention or not. Well, the best trucking companies are fair in their dealings with their drivers, their money, and how detention and layover pay is distributed.
The worst offenders rely on the fact that brokers often take a very long time to pay detention and layover. When they do, a new and updated rate confirmation is created and sent for a signature. The best trucking companies update the driver and pay them what’s owed on their next check. This is one of the best ways to earn a trucker’s respect. Unfortunately there are lots of trucking companies who take advantage of this and simply claim that they didn’t receive any detention or layover pay.
The Best Trucking Companies get the Best Freight Rates
As a rule, the best trucking companies get the best rates. The reason for this is actually quite simple. The best trucking companies are able to hire the best people and train them to become the best dispatchers. These dispatchers are likely to be happier, stay employed longer, aren’t overworked, and only get better with time and experience.
The numbers work in trucker’s favor. Basic math tells us that if you’re able to get just $0.25 cents more per mile on 12,000 miles each month, you’ll make an additional $3,000 per month which equals to an additional $36,000 annually. The good news is that you could make an additional $0.50 cents per mile and more which would add up to $72,000 per year and more.
I’ve personally spoken with people who’ve worked with truck dispatchers who were assigned over 100 truckers. One has told me their dispatcher had 500 trucks, although I’m not sure if I believe this. For contrast, our dispatchers are maxed out at 5 trucks each, with experienced, long-time dispatchers running up to 7 trucks.
It’s simply impossible to dispatch a large number of trucks and get high rates. Dispatchers become overwhelmed and in time, simply stop caring. All they want to do is to quickly dispatch a load and move on to the next driver. These types of dispatch companies don’t care about quality because their entire business model relies on quantity.
Our services cost a bit more but ultimately benefit the customer because they work with a dedicated dispatcher who’s never overwhelmed and is always looking for the absolute best deal. I’ve spoken with enough truckers to know that this is a much better approach than building a culture of hurry up and book something.
Weekly Minimum Charges are a Red Flag
The best truck dispatch services don’t charge weekly minimums. This is very important. Many of the companies out there like to charge a minimum weekly fee of $150 – $175 which disincentivizes them to look for loads. Their entire model is build around recruiting the most carriers and placing them under contract and is a huge red flag. Once the carrier realizes that they’re not getting anything out of this truck dispatch service, they try to cancel it. This is usually when they find out about the minimum weekly charge. I feel like this is a complete bait and switch operation, a red flag, and should be avoided at all costs. Unfortunately many of the salespeople in these companies are very good at telling you what you want to hear and conveniently “forgetting” to mention the parts about their weekly minimums.
Let me tell you up front that AFT Dispatch does not have any weekly minimums, forced dispatch, time commitments, or anything along these lines. If you ever have any questions, simply give us a call at (801) 448-6363 Ext. 1 and we’ll answer any and all of your questions.
The Best Trucking Companies Don’t Hide Behind Legalese
Legalese is “the formal and technical language of legal documents that is often hard to understand”. Legalese is what lawyers are made of. Legalese is what trucking companies use to hide all sorts of information in the legal contracts which are signed by the owner operators leasing on with them. In those contracts, they may stipulate that a driver has to drive a certain amount of miles per year in order to hit their annual bonus. Then they make sure the driver never hits his mileage requirements and hold the contract as proof for why they didn’t get their bonus. Too often recruiters will summarize the agreement, conveniently leaving out these important details.
I recently spoke with a truck driver/trainer from a very large mega carrier. He was very happy with where he was and truth be told, he made excellent money. He’ll be leasing on with us shortly after the publication of this article but still, he is doing quite well where he’s coming from. The thing he mentioned to me was that he had to move quickly because his contract would auto-renew and he would owe the company $8,000 if he left them after the fact. I’m glad he read the agreements and knew what he was facing.
The way I see things is considerably more simple. Is there a place for contracts and agreements? Yes, absolutely! Both parties should know what they can expect from each other. This is how our dispatch agreement is written. We clearly list and explain different dispatch and carrier obligations. This way, it’s easy to know from the start what the expectations are.
The Best Trucking Companies are the Best for a Reason
Much can be said about what makes the best trucking companies truly exceptional. What I’ve written above will go a long way. If you can find a company that doesn’t charge you an arm and a leg to lease on with them, doesn’t gouge you with hidden fees, provides total transparency when it comes to your money, and doesn’t hide behind legalese mumbo jumbo, you’re off to a great start.
It won’t be easy to find such a unicorn though. There are very few trucking companies that can honestly say they provide everything mentioned above. Most will be lacking in some or all of what we talked about here. Don’t fret, they do exist, but while the burden of proof falls on the trucking company, it’s still your responsibility to make sure you’re not being handed a sour deal. In the end, you could go through everything with a fine toothed comb and find nothing out of the ordinary and still find yourself in a bad place months down the road. There is no way to protect yourself from every possibility but there is something you can do which will greatly enhance your chances of success and limit your liabilities..
Talk to Other Drivers in the Company
Interview and speak with other drivers in the company you’re considering leasing onto. Most companies have drivers who have no reservations about speaking with prospective drivers. Believe me, if something’s not right, they’ll tell you. If things are good, they’ll also tell you. They will share specific scenarios where they felt they were treated unfairly, and they’ll tell you when they were treated right. They have nothing to gain from this and this is one very good reason you should always ask to speak with a few drivers currently leased on with the trucking company you’re considering leasing on to.
If they’re one of the best trucking companies to lease onto, you will always hear more good than bad. You’ll hear from drivers who’ve been happily working there for many years and only have good things to share with you. The best trucking companies should always have plenty of people you can interview and speak with. The best trucking companies should never make you feel like they’re holding back. They should want you to speak with their leased on owner operators because they’re proud of what they’ve built and how well they treat their drivers. At the end of the day, it’s one thing if a recruiter tells you it’s a good company, it’s a whole different thing when a driver tells you this. Recruiter should want you to speak with drivers because it will only help solidify the “sale”.
A2C Logistics is one of the Best Trucking Companies to Lease Onto
I’m obviously very proud of what we’ve built at A2C Logistics, and here’s why. While I certainly have a vested interest in leasing on owner operators and making sure good things are said about us, it’s really not hard at all when you do things right.
A2C Logistics was created after years of working for terrible trucking companies as leased on owner operators and company drivers. Once we were truly fed up, we decided to look at all of the things which seemed like common sense and yet weren’t being provided by our employers. Then we created A2C Logistics, a 100% Owner-Operator trucking company.
You see, at A2C Logistics, we literally do all of the things discussed above and more. Not only do we treat our drivers right, provide full transparency by disclosing all original rate confirmations to drivers, and don’t nickel and dime drivers with crazy fees, we provide a few more things. For example, we have one of the lowest cost lease on owner operator programs in America. We have absolutely the best staff anyone can have the pleasure of working with. Everyone in our company is a professional with years of experience in the trucking industry and their specific roles. Our dispatchers are never overwhelmed with too many drivers because we limit the number of drivers each dispatcher works with to a very low number.
Furthermore, we don’t hide behind legalese and hard to understand language only a lawyer can decipher. If we can’t understand it, we don’t expect you to either. Oh and by the way, we don’t have any bonuses of any kind. Might seem like a detractor, but we feel you should simply be paid on your miles without dangling a carrot in front of you. If you’re detained or laid over and we’re able to collect that money, you can rest assured that it’ll be on your next paycheck.
Most importantly, we’d love for you to learn about all of this from our leased on owner operators. When you call to speak with us, to ask questions, or get more information about our truck dispatch services or owner operator lease on opportunities, be sure to ask to speak with other drivers currently working with us. We’ll be glad to ask them to call you at their earliest convenience.
At the end of the day I just want you to succeed. I’ll be very happy if it’s with us and I’ll be very happy if you join one of the other best trucking companies and lease onto them. The goal of this entire article is to provide you with at least some of the information we wish we had when we were starting out in the trucking industry as leased on owner operators. I hope it’s been helpful.
Get in touch with us by calling or texting (801) 448-6363