From the first day I got behind the wheel of a truck I have heard some Owner Operators complaining about company drivers. I've never quite understood that. We are all hauling freight, operating our vehicles safely, and sharing the road with inconsiderate drivers.
I have a ton of respect for those who have the fortitude to buy their own truck, get their own authority and strike out to run a business and make a living. That is really brave to me. I don't have the guts to do it. I am completely happy driving somebody else's equipment, letting them pay for fuel, repairs, taxes and my pay. The way I look at it, I have a whole team of people sitting in an office taking care of all that for me. From booking the loads to paying the bills, somebody is taking care of that behind the scenes for me. To them I say "Thanks.”
But that leads me to being a company truck driver, and how I look at it. I am not "just" a truck driver. I am a Customer Service Representative, Salesman, Mechanic, Compliance Officer, and Vehicle Inspector. I also work for a company that is employee owned, so you can add Owner to that list.
I Am the Most Visible Representative
Other than Salespeople, I may be the only representation of my company that the customer sees. Having clean clothes and a pleasant demeanor really does make a difference. Image leaves an impression, whether it is a good impression or bad. A good impression can not only lead to a more accommodating staff, but that impression can trickle up to people who are in a position to make decisions on more business. More business leads to more miles and more revenue. That is good for everybody.
Greener Grass Takes Work
My neighbor's yard looks awesome. He spends hours and hours on it. Mowing, trimming, mulching, pruning, fertilizing and picking up trash all takes time and effort. That hard work shows though. The grass may be greener at his house, but his extra work is the reason, not some super secret soil enhancement.
The same can be said for trucking companies. There are companies that are better than others, but I like to think with some extra effort, I can make my company a better place for everybody.
I hate changing jobs. Moving out of one truck, going through another orientation to learn how the new company wants things done, then moving into a new truck, it all takes time and it is frustrating. I would rather make things better where I am. That is not to say there isn't a time to move on, but I want to do everything I can to make my company more successful. Here are some of the things I do to add value to my company.
Be Professional with all customers. Even if things aren't going my way, and the customer seems like they could not care less, I stay professional and as pleasant as possible. Going off on a customer rarely results in a positive outcome.
Don't be wasteful. Just because your company is paying for the fuel and the truck doesn't mean we shouldn't take care to save money. If your justification for doing something is "well, they can afford it", then don't do it. I am a firm believer that if the company does better, then I will do better.
Take advantage of training programs. Improving as a driver not only makes me more valuable as a driver, it makes me safer. Even if it is training I have already had, refreshing my knowledge helps. It is easy to pick up bad habits. Supplemental training might just show you some things you can do better.
Participate in bonus programs. Companies offer these for a reason. If they are willing to pay you more money to do this or that, take advantage of it. They may be making more money because of your extra efforts, there is no reason you shouldn't get some of that.
Lastly, go above and beyond. Just doing the bare minimum may get the job done, but doing what we can to make our companies more successful will make your company a little better off, and that may benefit you as well.
In closing, be proud to be a company driver. 70% of drivers are company drivers. Do what you can to set yourself apart, not just for your company, but for yourself.