Month: June 2014

A Need for Change

Scale-01

Diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. I mentioned them last week but I’m sure its not the first time you’ve heard of these condition. Over the last few years these diseases have become more and more common in America. Bellies have been growing and the amount of money spent on medical bills has grown just as much. The media will place the blame on many areas. Some say it’s the large corporations backing fast food, others blame the health care system. Though I’m pretty sure we’re all a tiny bit to blame, I believe the biggest culprit is the lack of education on nutrition.

We hear about these conditions and how we can fix it with an expensive pill. What we don’t hear as often as we should is the way nutrition fits into the mix. Though high blood pressure can be reduced with a pill, it can also be reduced by limiting your salt intake. Likewise, high cholesterol which can lead to heart complications can be lowered with medication or by eating adequate fiber. Even if eating a well-balanced diet isn’t realistic for your lifestyle, knowing the facts can help you understand the need for change when it comes to the American diet and may help lower your chances of complications with these disease.

Because our bodies are biologically wired to love foods that are high in fat and salt, and its this same type of food that is available to us everywhere, it will be difficult to make healthy choices. The tips and advice I will be sharing will be easier for some to use than for others. It’s easy to not think about the things we eat. Our lives are busy enough as it is, but in the grand scheme of things, taking some time everyday to think about what goes into our bodies and how it effects our health will help you feel better and live longer. Taking the time to learn how food can impact our bodies is the first step of understand why a change must be made. Changing what we eat may seem like an impossible feat, but even the smallest effort makes the largest difference.

Next week, I’ll be discussing how water and fiber help reduce the risk for heart disease and hypertension as well as easy and tasty ways of fitting them into your truck.

The Business of Eating

Business of Eating

Most people don’t think about eating. We eat what we can, when we can and that’s about the end of it. As much as we would like to, our busy lives just don’t allow us enough time or money to eat a balanced diet. Recently, people have started to question what our food is actually made of, which has led to many healthier options and better access to certain foods. It seems that everything these days is vegan or gluten-free, which is important to vegetarians and people who can’t tolerate gluten….and that’s about it.

But what about the rest of us? What about the people who still can’t afford a $5.00 hormone-free, gluten-free salad the size of an appetizer? Or those of us who don’t have time to cook every night because we spend most of our lives outside of our homes? We still have to deal with the cheap, high-fat, high-calorie food that tastes delicious, yes, but contributes to multiple health problems that will end up costing us thousands in medical bills. What about us?


Bottom line is, that a lot still needs to be done when it comes to the food that is available and the population that has always been neglected when it comes to nutrition is you, truckers. You, who have the most important job of bringing food from the farms to the table get gypped when it comes to your own health. I’ve been thinking about why this is since Bill first asked me to start this blog and I still can’t say why.

Whether it’s because it’s too expensive or because it’s just too hard to squeeze an entire kitchen into your truck, the fact still remains that the trucking industry just does not consider nutrition as an important part of your career. This seems a little unfair to me, considering y’all are still expected to maintain a decent level of fitness.

Sure you’re taught how to do your pre-trip inspections and how to keep track of your hours, but no one really teaches you how to maintain a decent diet while on the road. However, you can still be considered unqualified if your medical exam doesn’t meet a certain standard. In fact, DOT can deem you unsafe to drive if you require insulin to control your diabetes, or if your blood pressure is too high (might I mention that type 2 diabetes and hypertension can both be improved, and sometimes even reversed, with a proper diet…just sayin’).

This just doesn’t make sense to me considering that you spend most of your time out on the big road, which means most of your food comes from your fridge (which, lets be honest, can fit about an energy drink and some chips) or truck stop food.Target Icon

Now, my goal isn’t to give you guys advice on eating your vegetables and packing salads in your truck that will look like your kids’ science project in a couple of days. No, I want to give you guys some tips that are REALISTIC with your career and your lifestyle. I want to provide some information that might help you guys control any existing health problem or even prevent them, because the pure nature of your career leaves truckers with a very high risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity.

Take it or leave it, I just want to give you the facts, because it seems that no one else is willing to do so. So whether my advice is helpful or if you think I’m just too green to know anything (and I’ll admit I don’t know how hard it is to be a trucker), I just want to put it all out there, just in case some of you are willing to listen.

DAT Blog | Finding the Hot Spots

It sure would be nice if someone just generated an email telling you that Cleveland was going to be hot this week and that Indianapolis was cooling off.  That would really help position your truck.

Unfortunately, this reading of the tea leaves is not available for those drivers that are running around like the 3 blind mice hoping they land in a hot market.

For them, it is like hitting the Spot Market Rate Lottery.

Fortunately,  for the business owner that is in the trucking business, there are resources for data and knowledge to help them make educated guesses on where to position themselves and how to price themselves for the market.

We all would love this to be like some fixed math formula where we can plug all the information in and get solid results, but in reality it is much more like picking stocks than solving a calculus problem.  At the end of the day the business owner takes all the available data on capacity, knowledge of the industries that are in various markets, and their gut into consideration to make a decision.

Triad of Rates 2Like someone that picks stocks for a living, if you are right more than you are wrong then you are considered a genius.

All of this ties into my Triad of Great Rates and applies to the Knowledge portion but you still need to perform and have relationships. 

There are various resources to help the trucking business professional gain the knowledge to make the best decision.

1. I have to plug in The Trucking MBA.  This is a free resource that I have created to help Owner Operators and drivers looking at becoming Owner Operators understand the business and increase their chances of becoming successful.  All of our online classes are free.  Make sure you are following our blog to get all of the latest updates.

2.  If you are not a Facebook junkie,  one of the best groups around to learn about rates and markets is “The Rates Per Mile Masters”.  At present they have over 2,000 members and the typical internet bickering and insults are not tolerated and dealt with immediately.  I wish I had found a group like this years ago.  They can be found at https://www.facebook.com/groups/740941659272552/

3. Check out the blog below on one of the must have products for getting information on rates and capacity, the DAT Load Board.  Chad that runs the above mentioned Facebook group has negotiated a free month.  Just use “promo721” when signing up.  In the coming weeks we are going to be hosting webinars that focus on specific areas in the DAT load board and how to use the tools to get the best rates possible and position your truck in the best markets.

DAT Blog | Finding the Hot Spots.

This is just a short list of resources that are out there to help you become a better business owner.  I am sure that there are dozens more.  Please share.

A rising tide raises all boats.

Being a Better Dispatcher/ Broker Gets you Better Rates

The following are thoughts from Tom McLear, our VP of Operations, and one of the best people I have every worked with in terms of building relationships with customers and getting premium rates.

 

Whether you are dispatching yourself or working with a fleet of drivers, there are little changes you can make to your day to day routine that can not only increase productivity, but also strengthen relationships with customers.

With modern technology, making a simple phone call or sending an email can take less than a minute. In transportation, communication with customers is key and can make the difference of getting a better rate on future loads.  Taking the time to call or email a customer and ask, “Is there anything I can help you with today?” will keep lines of communication open.

This is essential as it keeps the customer focused on you and shows that you are focused on your customer.  This may seem obvious to some people, but the fact is, this is not at all common.

Many people simply call customers, talk about numbers, and hang up.

Starting the day by opening a line of communication with just a few key customers can generate extra business for you, and keep your customers coming back for more.

I love listening to Tom call customers.  He has the ability in two words (actually, one word twice) to get people that he hasn’t worked with in years to remember him.  “Yo, Yo” is all hes has to say to get people to respond “McLeeeear” (Like Norm on Cheers).  Sometimes it is the little things that you do that build the longest and best relationships.  

New Nutritionist Segment!

Nutrition Logo 2

The Trucking MBA is now starting a nutrition segment for drivers. Our staff nutritionist, Lili, is going to be posting later this week and then each Monday going forward. She will provide information and advice on how drivers can affordably eat healthy meals with the limited space and resources they are restricted by. This new segment is open to questions and comments throughout the week, feel free to post your own experiences and ask Lili for any information you may need through our blog. We are excited to be able to help drivers live and feel better.

Be happy, be healthy…

Technology is our Hero

Heroic Technology-14

As an Owner Operator, technology can not only make the work we do easier and safer but also allow us to enjoy life a little more.

I got to thinking about all the changes in technology since I first started driving and how much more enjoyable life in the truck is. When I finally came off the road a couple years ago to run my business I had a 7” GPS on the dash. With a tap of the screen I could see how far the next truck stop or rest area was, if I wanted, I could add that stop into my routing.

The display could be configured to tell me what time I would arrive at the next destination based on how I told it I liked to drive (you could set the speed calculations to show you running slower or faster). It would give me traffic conditions and let me look for alternate routes. Now don’t think I didn’t use an Atlas when I was running in areas that where new to me. That stayed right near me at all times.

Of course I had the smart phone, satellite radio, computer, tablet, flat screen TV with surround sound.

I had an Xbox with a wireless controller, multifunction printer/scanner that connected to my wireless network with wireless internet access. Obviously you can’t live without Hulu and Netflix as well. Yes, I liked my toys.

Computer Maps-15-16-16-16The one thing I didn’t do, that I now see is absolute genius and would have been available to me at that time, is use Google Earth to look and see what that “last mile” looks like in terms of route, potential issues and landmarks.

For last mile directions I never relied on one source of information. I always called (even when told not to) to get the best route to the customer. Being able to look at the Google Earth shot of the location and see the route into and out of a stop is just brilliant.

One of my teams, Craig and Anne Leonard (if you don’t follow their Blog, you need to), told me this is what they do when they are looking to park for their next adventure. It is so simple and absolutely amazing.

So next time the customer says, “We get trucks in here all the time!”, you now know you can check to make sure they aren’t talking about some little package delivery truck.

In no way should you get rid of your atlas and truck stop book. Technology only goes so far and you don’t want to see your rig on Facebook with the caption “My GPS said it was a truck route.” When used properly though, technology can really get you out of some sticky situations or help you avoid them all together.

Now we can go on and on with all the different technology that Owner Operators are using to make life on the road more enjoyable, life safer and to make better money.  But I would rather hear from all of you on what you are using, what is working and what doesn’t work.

A woman of leisure.

I have to post their stuff now and again because I want as many people to see that it is possible to have an amazing life as a truck driver. Or more importantly, as an Owner Operator.

While this is a fun little post you really need to dig around on this blog, subscribe and get to know these people. While they drive for us I am proud to also call them friends.

Anne & Craigs Great Adventure

I wish that was the case.(I should be sitting by the pool eating bons bons) LOL, Craig is on his own for a couple of days. He is going out solo while I stay home and finish up a couple projects. We had agreed to stay home through Wednesday but Craig gets antsy after a couple days. He chose to get a load up to Ohio and I chose to stay home. Feels a little weird I must say. Shelby isn’t home from work yet and the house is super quiet. I am looking forward to finishing up some of the projects I wanted to get done. When you are home for a few days here and there. Projects tend to be pushed aside.
This week we did get our patio garden planted. We bought plants that help with mosquitoes. If there is a mosquito anywhere around me it finds…

View original post 84 more words

Leveraging Differences – Understanding your Truck Driving Peers

As an Owner Operator that books their own loads it is important to understand your competition.  A big part of that is understanding how the industry is changing.  PFS does a good job explaining the differences between generations.

Armed with this information, a smart Owner Operator can find ways to leverage better rates and build better relationships.

Understanding your Truck Driving Peers – Drive PFS : DrivePFS.

You ARE Bigger Than Life

Today, Chad posted in the Facebook group “Rate Per Mile Masters” (if you aren’t a member you need to join https://www.facebook.com/groups/740941659272552/) about telling brokers that you can charge more because you are a member of this group. I absolutely love this attitude.

The Owner Operators in Farm2Fleet that have the best rates and success absolutely believe with all their heart and soul that they are worth every penny of what they charge. It isn’t arrogance to expect 50% or more on your rate than what a broker that deals with bottom feeders is hearing. It is knowing what you are worth and demanding it.

Unless you are convinced that you are bigger than life when you talk to brokers, it is just hot air. Step-up with the big attitude, back it up with over the top service and watch you rates rise.

With experience your highs will get higher, and lows will get higher.

 The more “RPMM’s” we have in the market, the better we will all have it. Thanks Chad for the great post and helping me with more relevant blog content. 😉

Also, in the next couple days I am going to create a longer related post that talks about how Farm2Fleet Trucking (with 20 Owner Operators) could go from a single truck operation to being recognized in the Best Fleets to Driver For program, got ranked at the 306th fastest growing company by Inc. Magazine (in the top 10 in Logistics), and have a greater brand recognition than companies 10x our size in less than 4-years. Many of the things that we do can be used by Independent Owner Operators to grow their business!

Planning to Fail

The title should say “Failed to Plan”. Regardless, this issue came up a couple weeks ago when I was talking with a driver trainer and made an off handed comment about it seeming like drivers aren’t doing trip plans anymore.

“What’s a trip plan?” was his response.

Now, granted, I’m not up on the latest on training new company drivers like I am with training Owner Operator’s. It’s just not what we do, but I think the basics like trip planning should be taught. How is a driver supposed to be able to tell his dispatcher if they can make the schedule on the load if they don’t know how to plan a trip? How are they supposed to be able to make sure they can get enough sleep so they can be safe on the road?

The list is long on all the things that a driver needs to be thinking about when they accept a load to make sure that they get the load picked up and delivered on-time and safely. A percentage of the new drivers today will be our future O/O’s. If they aren’t being taught the basics of planning a load and when they don’t have to think about the profitability portion of the business, how do we expect them to be able to understand what it is going to take to be a competent, safe and profitable Owner Operator?

Many years ago when I was a trainer, I spent more time on trip planning than on any other single task outside of logs. When a driver first got on my truck it would be fun to watch the driver trying to juggle their logs, an atlas, truck stop book, a calculator and a pad of paper.

Once they got a little better it was also great to watch as they learned to use these tools and in a fraction of the time. The Rock Stars could almost do it in their heads. My, carrier at that time, provided me with the drivers performance for a year so I got to see how well or poorly a driver did. It was interesting to see that the ones that got the best markings for trip planning did the best in the first year. They had fewer accidents, great on-time performance, and were top earners amongst their peers. The ones that didn’t care and never embraced the need to plan where problems. There were stupid accidents and they had awful on-time records, it was like they didn’t even care about the clock. These drivers made little money and almost all got fired or quit.

The point is, being prepared and planning ahead can greatly improve productivity and profitability. Beyond that, it helps manage the frustrations that many drivers encounter day to day.

Key factors to consider when planning a trip:

  • Hours you have available to drive.
  • How the pick-up and delivery schedule fall within  your legal ability to drive.
  • Based on the route, what is a realistic speed that you can drive (don’t even think about averaging 50 mph through Chicago at 07:00).
  • What do you know about shipper and receiver?  Are they known for long loads/unloads?
  • Where are you going to fuel?  Can you get in and out quickly or will there be a line?
  • Where are you going to take your 30-min break.
  • Where and when are you going to stop for the night?

These are just some of the items that you need to consider as you are planning your trip. At Farm2Fleet our drivers have years of experience and most do this without even thinking about it. But new drivers need to take the time to learn to plan and understand why. We now have all sorts of tools to help us with planning and it is important that we don’t rely on technology or dispatch to do our planning for us.