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In his blog “Natural Tendencies”, fellow Team Run Smart Pro Henry Albert wrote about his experience being a company driver and how it was difficult to keep the “business” side of his brain under control. He also explored the difference of attitude between company drivers and an owner-operator when it comes to operating the equipment, especially when you have the added concern of keeping the bottom line out of the red.

He brought up how some companies, like the one I am fortunate enough to drive for, Nussbaum Transportation, have created an ownership culture amongst its drivers. This culture has reduced turnover to a very low level while maintaining profitability and customer satisfaction. So that brings up the question, “Why should I, as a company driver care about and contribute to profitability?”

It’s The Mindset

The natural tendency for company drivers is to go as fast and as far as we can. We are paid by the mile but keep track of our time by the hour. This creates a desire to go, go, go, regardless of cost. After all, we aren’t paying for the fuel, tires, maintenance, or taxes. There are CFO’s to worry about that, we just have to worry about our paychecks. The cost of doing business rarely crosses a company driver’s mind.

I am a firm believer, however, that if my company does well, I will do well. Here are a few examples of how company drivers like myself can help our companies do well:

  • Taking care of my equipment not only saves my company money but also keeps me moving due to less downtime.
  • Watching fuel consumption not only saves the company money but saves me time on my clock by not having to stop and fuel as often. This allows me to be more productive.
  • Reducing idle time not only saves fuel but reduces wear and tear on my equipment, which in turn keeps me rolling and earning money as well.
  • Keeping tires properly inflated not only saves on possible costly road calls and tire costs but allows me to keep rolling down the road
  • Keeping my truck ready for a DOT inspection not only helps my company with their safety scores and accident predictor score, lowering insurance costs, but it also keeps us rolling past a lot of Pre-Pass sites, which increases productivity. There is also the added benefit of a “Clean Inspection Bonus.”

See a pattern here? Treating that truck like I own it benefits everyone involved in my opinion. So as a company driver, it’s not natural to do these things…

But maybe it should be.

Companies, it is up to you to figure out how to incentivize these behaviors and grow the culture of ownership. It can be done though. 

Team Run Smart Pro Jimmy Nevarez has the perspective of not only being a small fleet owner but also kind of being a company driver as he still drives one of his trucks. I’ll let him explain how he walks that line and gets his drivers to “Buy-in.”

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Clark W Reed

Clark Reed of Roscoe, Illinois is an OTR company driver and trainer for Nussbaum Transportation based out of Hudson, Illinois. He has been driving since 2005 and has driven van, reefer, and tanker. He currently hauls dry van to all lower 48 states. Clark is passionate about MPGs and how driver habits influence them. The lifetime average of his 2018 Cascadia is 9.75 mpg, with eyes on 10. Clark, along with Henry Albert, was one of the seven drivers in 2017's "Run on Less" by NACFE, a road show, demonstrating what fuel efficiency can be obtained with existing technologies.

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