As we roll into trade show season, the carriers will be out in full strength looking for potential candidates for their fleets. They’ll look real slick, have those glossy brochures available for you to take home, and will try to entice you with new
equipment and promises of getting home regularly. Most of them are honest and will do their best to meet the wants and needs of the candidates joining their teams, but is that the information you really need to know? Many new drivers and potential drivers don’t know what to ask when talking with carriers and often are disappointed when the environment at the company isn’t what they expected.
Where does the company run and how long am I expected to be away?
This is the first question to be asking a recruiter. Why, you ask? If they run to California on a regular basis and you want to be home every night you won’t be happy there for long. Match the carrier to your lifestyle, not the other way around.
Do you pay hub miles or PC miles?
Ask the carrier how you are being paid for mileage. Hub miles mean you are paid for every mile you run where as PC miles means they are using a program that estimates the miles. Many are paying via PC miles and there is nothing wrong with that, but you need to make sure it is fair. Ask them to show you a normal run to a city like Chicago and show you the mileage. If they pay 500 miles to Chicago, but your delivery is on the far side and you run 550 you may find you are not making as much money as you could. Also ask about other items like pick ups, deliveries, and border crossings to see how they pay for those items.
What is the maintenance program like at your company?
This is extremely important for owner operators to ask, but ask about their maintenance and repair operation. You don’t want to work for a company that doesn’t care about preventative maintenance or the cleanliness of their equipment.
What are the company culture and incentive programs like?
Make sure you ask about the company culture, is it safety oriented, do they appreciate their employees, do they have a safety program or benefit program? These aren’t necessities but carriers that appreciate their drivers and staff are where you want to work. You certainly want to know that you are appreciated for working hard.
What are the options for growth at the company?
You may only be looking for experience at this point but if you happen to sign on with a good carrier there is no reason to think you have to leave them if you are happy there. I always look for a company to call home hoping for a twenty year career. Ask if there are places to grow in the company should it be a good fit. How will you know you are moving up in your career, do they honour you with better runs, better equipment, better pay? Are there options to moving into the office in safety, recruiting or more? Look at your long term goals along with the short term and you may find you hit a home run when signing on with a carrier.
Carriers are looking for people that want to work, but it is important that you also interview the carrier to make sure that you are going to work for a company that cares about you. There are many good ones and many that are not so good. You may feel you have to take the first carrier that comes along, but often that is not the best way to make an important decision such as where to go to work. Be proactive in your search, you’ll be glad you did. Good luck with the search!
About the Author
Bruce Outridge is a transportation consultant with over 30 years experience and author of the books Driven to Drive and Running by the Mile. For more information please visit his website at www.outridgeenterprises.ca