Tips for Getting Loaded and Unloaded Earlier
There is a particular word in the English language that truck drivers really hate. That word is ‘wait’. Truckers hate waiting because it prevents them from driving. And when they aren’t driving, they aren’t making money. Every hour a truck driver waits on a shipper or receiver is another hour that goes against daily working hours limits without any pay attached to it.
Waiting is not something they talk a lot about at CDL schools or job recruiting fairs, but it is part of the trucking job. It typically doesn’t take long for a new truck driver to begin wondering if there is any way to spend less time waiting. It turns out there is.
Are you interested in getting loaded and unloaded earlier in the day? Are you tired of waiting on shippers and receivers who do not seem to care that your time is money? Then it’s time to do something about it. Understand that what you need to do is not revolutionary. It is just good, common sense we seem to have lost somewhere along the way.
Call Ahead and Ask
With every pickup and delivery, you have a scheduled appointment time. That’s fine. But know that schedules are like rules in that they can be ‘broken’ occasionally. One of the easiest and most effective things you can do as a truck driver is to call ahead and ask if any earlier slots are open. The worst they can do is say no.
Calling ahead and asking for an earlier time does several things for you. First of all, it demonstrates to shippers and receivers that you are proactive. They like that. Second, it lets them know that you are paying attention to your own schedule. They like that as well. Third, it leaves the door open for getting lucky every now and again. No shipper or receiver will ever guarantee you an earlier time slot, but you just might get lucky and find one.
Be Friendly and Polite
The staff that make up shipping and receiving departments are human beings like anyone else. They appreciate truck drivers who are friendly, polite, and easy to deal with. Be that kind of person. Do not be the kind of truck driver who is grumpy, grouchy, and ready to yell and complain at the first inconvenience.
In addition to being friendly and polite, be conversational with your shippers and receivers. Unless you do something to change the dynamic, you are just a resource for getting goods from here to there. Because shipping and receiving staff don’t know you personally, they have no reason to invest in making your life easier. Being conversational changes this.
Engage shipping and receiving staff in personal conversations. They don’t have to take 30 minutes; just a few minutes to introduce yourself and chat a bit goes a long way. Ask them how the day is going. Ask about their families or what they plan to do for the weekend.
Developing a more personal rapport changes the perception of everyone you deal with. You will no longer be just a resource; you will also be a human being with a job to do and a life outside of that job. You will also be a truck driver more likely to enjoy greater cooperation from shipping and receiving staff.
Though they don’t teach these things in CDL schools, each of these tips can help you get loaded and unloaded earlier in the day. In the end, it doesn’t take a university degree to reduce wait times. It only takes an effort to be proactive and personable.