When beginning a career as a professional truck driver, there is always a starting point. With the trucking industry, that point is truck driver training. When deciding to become a truck driver, this career can be life changing; not only for the driver, but the driver’s family. Truck driver training may not fully prepares a driver for the demanding schedule and adjustments for all those involved.
When in truck driver training, being taught logs, federal motor carrier regulations, weight restrictions, road signs and laws are important; but driver training goes much further than that. Driving schools typically teach just the basics and that is all.
While classroom truck driver school prepares the driver for their CDL license (Commercial Driver’s License), and how to safely drive a truck, there are lessons to be learned that only hands on training can prepare you for. This type of training takes place behind the wheel of a truck, partnering with a company, dedication, patience and driving then miles upon miles.
Unfortunately, real life trucking can be a lot harder. Once you are hired by a trucking company, the next step is to “run” with it and begin your career or business strategy and make the money you have your heart set on. The first stop, working with your dispatcher or broker – this is where the money starts.
On The Job Training
Truck drivers must keep in mind that they are now your own business. You are in control of things you can and cannot do to ensure your success in the trucking world. Success depends on your mindset and willingness to see yourself as a business owner.
Creating the First Impression
The first step to building your own business is making the right impression on the dispatcher/broker. It may not matter if you are leased to a company, running under your own authority or even leased on as an owner-operator; the money starts and stops with a load agent. So, introduce yourself, learn about the process, make your name a name to remember and treat the dispatcher/broker with respect.
Establishing Your Preferences
When you introduce yourself, let them know your preferences. Sell yourself and your services. If you believe in on-time safe deliveries and communication, let them know! Also, show them that your word is good as gold. This will prove that you are trustworthy, dependable and above all professional.
Serving the Customer
Don’t forget even though you are the driver, you are also a customer service representative. Be sure to use your customer service skills. At some point, you must deal with the actual customer, so remember to be polite, respectful and trustworthy. Be sure to get your deliveries to the correct location and on-time and communicate when situations arise in the case you won’t be on time. Also, ensure that the feedback from the customer is always five-star! This alone can help you as a business owner keep your tuck moving.
Adapting to long hours on the road, different and new sleeping arrangements as well as shifts can be one of the biggest challenges for a truck driver. It can take time to adjust, but try to prepare yourself for these challenges and adapt.
Adapting to the driving changes is also one of the things you can’t learn in a classroom or in a study guide. Aggressive driving from both commuters and other truck drivers can lead to a terrible, costly accident. Being ready with defensive driving is the key. Of course, vigilance and remaining alert while driving and ready to avoid other drivers and vehicles is also an important part of staying safe. As a driver, you are not able control the actions of other drivers on the road; however, you can alter your own behavior while driving.
Just knowing the rules isn’t enough. Drivers must be able to react in real time to a situation that can cause them to break the rules, or to create a similar unsafe driving environment that you want to avoid. Adapting is a learnt skill not a taught text book technique.
Driver support is important no matter what level of a driver you are. Often, learning what company to partner up with can be daunting. Ensure you partner with a company that has your best interest at heart and can also continue to give you the professional training support you need.
Landstar offers support to all their owner-operators to help with success such as:
- Field representatives that provide the assistance to keep your business moving forward.
- Business classes that help you improve your bottom line.
- Available online training and tutorials.
- Technology, like Load Alerts, provides you with additional loading opportunities.
- A safety-first culture. This safety program is based on a commitment to continue and improve successful programs and practices.
Also offering appreciation and recognition programs to help remind the operators how important they are to the team such as:
- BCO All-Star Weekend – is a festive weekend of events honoring Roadstars and Million Mile Safe Drivers.
- Safety Cruise
- Safety Meetings that are held during select truck shows
- Truck Giveaways
- Enduring Friendships with employees, agents and customers
- Safe Driving recognition and awards programs
- High-profile loads and the opportunity to be featured in the Landstar’s The Road to Success magazine.
When you partner up with a non-forced dispatch company such as Landstar, the ongoing driver training never ceases, while giving you the freedom to run your own business your own way.