02:59:09 pm, Categories: efficiencies , Tags: driver retention

With the cost of hiring a new, never-before-seen-or-tested truck driver, purported by some employment specialists to be approaching $5000.00, how can I keep the good drivers I have now? This is a good question. Hardly any trucking company today, large or small, can afford to part with $5000.00 looking for a driver to replace a valued employee who decided to "get off the road."

From my early days in the trucking industry, I have always said, "Driver turnover is as common as changing one’s socks. It seems it's the very nature of the beast. Drivers are so used to moving from one location to another in their daily activities – pickups, deliveries, etc. – that moving from one company to another seems to be an acceptable behavior." How do we change that?

What is the key or keys that will keep a good driver happy enough to stay with your company for 20 or 30 years? Here are a few suggestions that I have found successful and might help you as well.

1) Remember your drivers are people! They have feelings, desires, expectations, and goals. If you and your dispatchers show genuine interest in these feelings, desires, expectations, and goals, your drivers will understand that you care about them. When employees feel the company cares about them, they are less likely to look for other employment.

2) Be realistic in your expectations. Remember your drivers are not you! They are trying to do the best they can amidst all of the government regulations that are directed specifically at them.

3) Keep your equipment in good working order. No one likes to drive a piece of junk that has to be herded down the road. If you have ever driven long haul and had to fight or repair the equipment every step of the way you know what I mean. If you haven’t had this unpleasant opportunity, consider the last time your automobile broke down…was that a pleasant experience?

4) Ask your drivers for input. I am not suggesting that you let your drivers run your company. On the contrary, I strongly state that drivers should not be allowed to run your company, but they have ideas that can help. They are the ones talking to your shippers, receivers and brokers; they are the ones that portray your company image, regardless of what you think your company image may be. And finally;

5) Be competitive in your pay scale and the benefits you offer. Remember points 1) thru 4) will help keep the drivers, but you have to be competitive enough for any driver to want to look at you in the first place.

Good drivers are worth their weight in gold. If you will treat them as if they are gold, your drivers will be content, happy, eager to help grow your business, and less likely to "look for something better."

Dale Clark
TruckMaster Solution Provider
TruckMaster Your Trucking Company


  12:19:45 pm, Categories: regulations , Tags: csa2010, safestat

Next year FMCSA is replacing SAFESTAT with CSA 2010 (Comprehensive Safety Analysis – 2010). Have you heard about this? If not, you need to educate yourself now. This is scheduled to take effect the middle of next year and when it does, your safety information for the last 24 months will be used to determine your CSA scores. The inspections and violations that are happening now, will determine your CSA rating when it takes effect next year. You need to be familiar with the new CSA program, in order to be proactive and start now making changes needed to improve your CSA rating in the future. The FMCSA website for this information is here.

FMCSA will be gathering much more information for the CSA program than they are currently gathering for the SAFESTAT program. All inspections (roadside, offsite, and onsite), all violations, and all crashes will be included in the new CSA information gathering process. SAFESTAT currently has four main categories that it monitors. The new CSA is monitoring seven categories that they called BASIC (Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Category). These seven BASIC categories are:

  • Unsafe driving
  • Fatigue (hours-of-service)
  • Driver fitness
  • Controlled substances and alcohol
  • Vehicle maintenance
  • Improper loading and cargo securement
  • Crash history


Any incidents, within these seven BASIC categories that you had in the last 24 months, will be included in your CSA rating. The most current incidents are weighted and affect the rating more than older incidents. Therefore, if you take steps now to clean up any safety issues, your safety rating will be much lower when CSA takes effect next year.

Not only is FMCSA including more information in the ratings, they have also proposed more comprehensive punitive actions if a carriers CSA rating is too high, up to and including revocation of their authority. Don’t wait until CSA takes effect to make any needed safety changes. It will be too late if your score is too high. Learn the new rules now, make any needed changes, and when CSA takes effect, you will be sitting pretty, ready to "keep on truckin'".

Craig Sorensen
TruckMaster Solution Provider
TruckMaster Your Trucking Company


  12:18:32 pm, Categories: economy , Tags: state of economy

Those of us in the Trucking Industry have had an especially tough couple of years. Between the extreme fuel prices, immediately followed by the recession, I'm not sure that there’s an industry that has felt more of an effect than ours. "If it moves, it moves by truck" has an unfortunate side effect - when things aren’t moving, the trucks sit idle.

The attitude we read from the industry until very recently was not optimistic. TruckMaster lost some valued clients to the crisis, a few of which had been with us for many years. When discussing our software products with new potential clients, more often than not we’d be told that they needed and wanted our trucking software solution as it would increase their productivity drastically, but the very future of their businesses were in doubt. "Call us in 6 months, if we're still around, we will purchase your trucking software".

It seems to me that it's turning around now. We're starting to hear the optimism again. The constant rumble of bad economic news has slowed. The freight is starting to flow, the trucks are starting to move again. There's a sense felt by most that I talk to that better times are immediately ahead.

I’m not trying to imply that the crisis is over, we've got a ways to go, but my feeling is that we're on the downhill side.

My question for you is, do you see things getting better? Has your trucking business been improving over the last few weeks? Have you felt more optimism from those that you do business with?

Greg Dodson
TruckMaster Logistics Systems, Inc.
TruckMaster Your Trucking Company


  02:55:18 pm, Categories: efficiencies , Tags: document imaging

The trucking industry, it seems, is riddled with paper. From fax confirmations to bills of lading and invoices, managing each step of a shipment is covered with paper. In addition to shipment documentation for proof of delivery and related receipts, there is also internal documentation for drivers; from logbooks, equipment safety checks, expense reimbursement forms, and the many receipts they collect. In the office, we tend to duplicate the paperwork at least once if not twice so there is always a backup copy 'just in case.' Then we create or own original documents to send to customers, vendors, contractors, and employees.

I'm old enough to remember the days before desktop computers were the norm, (early 80s) and the many people who claimed we would soon no longer need paper. Our data would be managed with and by the computers. Of course, we all know what happened, paper sales went through the roof, as we developed new ways of analyzing data and all of the reports that came with that. The term 'paperless office' became a well-worn joke as the 90s ended.

However, in the last few years there have been some significant changes in technology that while may not create “paperless offices” will certainly create 'less papered offices.' First, computer manufacturers continue to create larger faster machines with cheaper and cheaper storage. Second, any good trucking software system now allows you to “print” to a file or PDF format instead of paper. Last, scanning technology has continued to get faster, and provide higher quality images. The result is that we no longer worry about running out of hard drive space, most documents we used to print on paper we are viewing on screen and/or transmitting electronically and may never actually print to paper, and if we do receive a paper document we can easily and quickly scan it.

While this 'technology' has been around for years, it has never been easier or cheaper to implement, nor as easy to actually use then it is now. The good news is that it's only going to get easier, and cheaper. Remember when Gigabyte was the new measurement of “big” with regards to hard drives. Now of course it's Terabyte, and we're looking forward to Petabyte (1024 terabytes). In addition to the these improvements we can not ignore the advancements mobile communication devices and the networks upon which they work have made in the last few years. Blackberrys and iPhones for instance have document management capabilities, and almost all of even the cheapest mobile phones have cameras. With these devices we can send and receive email or text messages, with some we can view and edit documents, and record digital images.

Each image takes just a few hundred kilobytes, and can be cheaply, quickly, and easily duplicated and or stored. With TruckMaster's trucking software you can use any of these images by attaching them to any record in the system for later retrieval. TruckMaster's unique design and system integration doesn't require you to spend thousands of dollars on additional hardware or software licensing. Document imaging is just one more valuable tool in the TruckMaster tool belt that comes as a standard part of every TruckMaster solution.

As you work through the next week, each time you search for an invoice, bill of lading, proof of delivery, driver log, maintenance receipt, claim picture, or just a freight confirmation, please remember they could all be just a click away in your TruckMaster system.

TruckMaster can bring you as close to paperless as you wish to be. To 'see' what we mean, contact TruckMaster today for a free on line demonstration.

Kurtis Brown
TruckMaster Solution Provider
TruckMaster Your Trucking Company


  04:42:25 pm, Categories: economy , Tags: economy improving

It's been a tough year to stay optimistic in the trucking industry. However it sure beats the alternative!
Finally in the last couple of months we have had some positive signs that go beyond the “positive thinking” aspect that sometimes leaves you feeling like Dorothy clicking the heels of her red shoes wishing to go home.

The Commerce Department said orders for durable goods rose 1.8% in April, and another 1.8% in May.

While shipments continued a 10 month decline the longest on record (since 1992) the increase in orders is a good sign that while we are not out of the woods yet there are signs that shipments will start to pick up. The US Census Bureau in April stated inventories had been decreasing for six consecutive months , and that shipments had continued to slide. The combination of lower inventories, months of declining shipments, and two months of increased orders would indicate that there should be increased shipments soon.

It's not just the US that is showing signs of improvement either, Bloomberg reports that Germany's “manufacturing orders jumped the most in almost two years in May”. Also the World Bank upgraded its forecast for China's economy this year. Bloomberg also reported that Chinese manufacturing orders were starting to recover in April. While the recovery was not based on US exports it is a good sign.

Back in the US NPR reported that housing starts, and building reports jumped in June 3.6 percent. Also applications for building permits rose 8.7 percent in June. That has to be good news for flatbed trucking operations!

Not all the reports are positive for sure. For instance, Reuters published an interesting article stating in part that the Philadelphia Federal Reserve had lowered it's index of factory conditions in July after raising it in June. Over all the article ends up with a mixed bag of negative and positive measurements of the economy almost begrudgingly admitting that there might be a recovery in the works.

As we all know everything we use, wear or eat etc. came to us via truck. So any improvement in any segment of our economy is a great thing for trucking. We'll keep seeking out positive economic reports to post here on our Trucking Industry Blog. Please do not be shy about posting your own good economic stories here as well!

As we wrote on this blog at the beginning of the year, the best time to prepare for good times is during the slow times. If you do not already have good trucking software, freight brokerage software, or logistics software, this is the time to call TruckMaster. We can custom fit a solution for your company, and get your staff trained and ready for the coming recovery. Then you will be able to have everyone focused on maximizing the profits of your company taking full advantage of all the opportunities.

Call us today for a free demonstration.

Kurtis Brown
TruckMaster Solution Provider
TruckMaster Your Trucking Company


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