One of the ways to improve fuel economy is to reduce idling. This saves fuel and reduces wear and tear on the equipment. That is why many companies offer bonuses based on reduced idle times. More money is always good, so hopefully this blog can help with that.
There are several ways to reduce idling. One of the biggest ways is to have an APU (Auxiliary Power Unit). These not only provide power to keep the inside of our cabs and bunks comfortable, but they also provide power to watch TV, charge our devices, and cook our food.
There are 2 different types of APU’s. Diesel operated and battery operated. They both have their good points and bad points. That is a topic for a different blog. This blog is only going to be about one type.
My company, Nussbaum Transportation, has equipped our vehicles with a battery powered unit. It is quiet, generally maintenance free and doesn’t produce any emissions. It does have a downside though: Depending on your power use the batteries wear down and idling is required to recharge them. This can take up to 2 hours, which is about 2 gallons of fuel. The following are some things I do to make the batteries last longer and reduce the need to idle. Lifetime idle percentage on my truck is right about 1%.
Charge your devices while running. I have 3 devices that require charging, a phone, and 2 tablets. I try to make sure they are plugged in and charging so they are fully charged by the time I shut down for the end of the day. This reduces the need to charge my devices after I have shut the truck off, saving the battery life. It is not much, but every little bit helps.
Cook while you drive. If you cook in your truck using a Crock Pot, Burton Oven, or Hot Logic Mini, having the unit cook as you drive also saves the battery. It also makes your vehicle smell good! Just make sure to secure the unit in some fashion. You don’t want it flying around in the case of an unexpected maneuver.
Microwave before you shut the truck off. If you are going to microwave something, try to do it right after you shut down for the day, but before you shut the truck off. Five minutes of idle time is better than having to idle for an hour or two to recharge the batteries.
Unplug all non-essentials. All the little things we have plugged into our power ports use energy. The little USB charger for our phones and the plug for our GPS usually have a little light that stays on. Pulling them out saves power. I have a power strip that my TV and microwave are plugged into. That way I can shut off the power strip killing the power to the TV and microwave, saving even more power. I only plug in my Blu-Ray player when I use it.
Try not to shut the truck off two hours before the end of the day. It takes approximately two hours to put the charge back into your batteries that are drawn out by starting the truck. Letting it run those final two hours may save having to start your truck back up.
I realize these things are not always possible to do. However, doing them when you can will extend the time you have before needing to start the truck back up. I am fortunate enough to have Solar Panels on my truck providing even more run time. I hope these help!
Every day we share the road with millions of other drivers, and many might agree that we don’t share it very well. While driving, it’s not hard to notice the number of reckless and inconsiderate people who are only looking out for themselves. Noticing these drivers is especially common for truck drivers, who drive over a hundred thousand miles each year and deal with countless careless drivers every day.
What if the best way to change the carelessness on the road is to drive with a little more etiquette? At Team Run Smart, we believe that by driving with better etiquette on the road, we can inspire others to do the same. Here are some ways that truck drivers can drive safely, act courteously, and help others. All it takes is practicing a little driving and traffic etiquette.
The most important reason to practice driving etiquette is it will help you, and the people around you, to stay safe on the road. When you are driving, keep your head on a swivel and constantly be looking at your surroundings. Physically move around in your seat and make sure you are able to see everything. This includes making sure you are able to see another driver’s face. Remember that if you can’t see a driver’s face, then they can’t see you. A good thing to keep in mind is when you are driving forward, live in your windshield and glance at your mirrors, and when you are driving backward, live in your mirrors and glance at your windshield.
If you are driving next to a lane that people merge on to, make sure somebody isn’t trying to merge at the same time as you are looking to get in that lane. The best way to avoid an incident on this part of the interstate is to avoid making a lane change altogether until you are past the ramp. This way you are allowing people to easily get onto the highway while also avoiding the risk of changing into a lane that somebody else is needing to move into. Also, if you are the person that is coming onto the interstate, make sure you are getting up to highway speed so that you can safely merge onto the highway without making the people behind you slam on their brakes.
When it comes to your turn signal, use it to show intention rather than using it as a warning of movement. Think about the 8-second rule when you are intending on using your turn signal – look in the mirror, make sure you are clear, turn on your signal, wait 3 seconds, and take 5 seconds to make a lane change. By following this, you are making sure everybody around you is aware that you are about to make a lane change.
Additional Etiquette Tips for Safety
Slow down in work zones
Slow down or change lanes if somebody is broken down
Don’t follow the pack in bad weather
Don’t drive faster than you can stop (You can go too slow a bunch of times but you can only go too fast one time)
Use emergency flashers when you’re backing up
Use lights when it’s raining
Acting courteously while on the road is also a big part of driving etiquette. These are things that you can do to make sure that you are treating everybody with respect. The first way to act courteously on the road is to move to the right unless you are passing. This way you are not blocking people in the left lane who are there to go faster than the others on the road. Also, don’t be afraid to give up ground, because most of the time it’s only for a second. If you are close to the same speed as another truck trying to pass you, slow down a little bit to let that truck pass. If you are getting close to a lane ending in a work zone and a car is trying to zip past you, reduce your speed to avoid an accident or hostility. Say somebody does something careless on the road that makes you mad. Pull off of the highway, cool down a bit, and let the person who is irritating you go ahead. Road rage has no place inside the truck and it’s only going to lead to your day getting worse.
A few other ways to be courteous on the road are, don’t park on fuel island. Once you are done fueling, pullover to give somebody else a chance to fill up. If you are entering a toll booth while it’s raining, turn off your windshield wipers so that you don’t spray the toll booth employee. And lastly, if you’re running with somebody on the CB radio, switch channels so that other people don’t have to listen to your conversation and can keep their CB radio open for updates that might come through.
On top of driving safely and acting courteously, you can drive with etiquette by helping others. One way that you can practice helping others is to warn them about things you notice that they may not be aware of yet. If you pass by an incident on the road, for the next couple of miles, warn people on the other side of the road who are coming up towards it. Specifically, if you see an accident, use your horn to warn others who aren’t yet aware. This is especially true if the incident is on the other side of a hill that people aren’t able to see over. However, make sure you keep up to date on local laws in regards to using flashers and other techniques to warn drivers. If you notice something wrong with another person’s truck or trailer, and they aren’t able to see it, try to get their attention and warn them that something is wrong. Don’t allow them to continue going down the road with an issue that can cause further harm to their truck, the road, or possibly themselves or others. Lastly, if you see there is large debris on the road, call the non-emergency line and warn them about it. Each place you are in should have their own non-emergency line, but you can also use 311.
Additionally, you can be helpful by doing a few of these simple things. If you see somebody trying to back in at night, turn off your headlights. This will allow them to see easier and not be impaired by the light coming from your truck. If you see somebody struggling to back in, get out and help instead of videotaping. Everybody has been in that type of position before, and if you were struggling, you would want somebody to help you out as well. Lastly, if you are walking around the parking lot and you see somebody driving, watch their eyes so you know they are paying attention and vice versa. Make it easier for them to get through the parking lot knowing that you are paying attention.
When it comes to driving etiquette, it’s very simple: just treat others how you would want to be treated. By doing this, we can change the perception of our roads and make driving a little less hostile and a little more friendly.
Winter is right around the corner, which means it’s time to refresh yourself on how to drive in the changing weather. There are many things you can do while driving, and things you can do to your truck that will make driving in the winter as safe and stress-free as possible.
Team Run Smart has a list of of winter driving tips for truck drivers based on years of experience!
The first thing to remember when driving in the winter is that it doesn’t matter how fast you are going, but how fast you can stop. The road conditions in the winter are going to increase the amount of time and distance you will need for your brakes. This is important to think about because the chances of needing to stop or maneuver out of the way goes up when the road conditions are poor.
There are many things you can do in the winter while driving to make sure you have enough time and distance to stop and stay safe on the road. If you’re driving below the speed limit and people are passing you, don’t feel pressured to go faster just because others are. If you are getting pressure on the CB radio to go faster, turn down the CB and focus on what you are doing. If you continue to drive and still feel uncomfortable, pull off in a safe place until you feel conditions are good enough to drive. Your safety, and the safety of others around you, is the most important thing in the winter.
Another thing you can do if you are uncomfortable, and feel yourself sliding around, is to drive more and more gradually on the shoulder of the road. This tip works because there is usually more gravel on the shoulder of the road which allows your tires to grip better. You should only do this if you are having a hard time slowing down and are able to see the gravel on the shoulder.
There are also things around you that you should pay attention to that will help you understand how the conditions are on the road. If you see a car coming at you that is flashing their headlights at you, be prepared for something coming up ahead. People can be flashing their lights at you for a variety of reasons so make sure you’re ready for anything that could be coming up.
You should also pay attention to the number of cars driving on the other side of the road. If the number of vehicles coming towards you becomes fewer and fewer for no expected reason, it could mean that something might be wrong up ahead. Another thing to be prepared for in the winter is traffic being stopped on the other side of a hill that you are going over. Because you can’t see the other side of the hill, don’t assume that it is going to be clear. Be ready to brake, as you are going to need even more time to come to a stop going down a hill if traffic is backed up. The last thing you can pay attention to is the spray from other vehicles that are passing you. If you see water spraying off the tires you know the roads likely aren’t frozen, but if you see that the spraying has stopped, it may mean it’s time to be extra cautious and slow down.
Even if you are paying attention to all of these things on the road, there is still a chance that you will start sliding on the ice. If you begin sliding, make sure all of your tires are rolling as freely as possible. In order to do this, hit the clutch or put your gear in neutral. As you are sliding and your tires are rolling freely, find an object straight down the road, like a road sign, and steer towards that object. That is an effective way to get out of the slide and avoid jackknifing.
There are many things you can do to your truck, and things that you can notice on your truck that can help you drive in the winter weather. If you are having trouble with your windshield while driving in the cold and the snow, there are a couple of things you can do. If a thin layer of ice forms when the wipers run across the windshield, cool things off and try freezing your windshield. Park in a safe spot and turn your defrost to the coldest temperature setting. Once the windshield is frozen, scrape off the ice and continue driving with the defrosters on. The cold glass will will keep the snow and ice from sticking to the windshield while driving down the road. Continue to keep the windshield as cold as needed to keep ice from forming. If you’re driving in a wet heavy snow and snow is building up on the edges of the windshield causing the wipers to lose contact with the glass, then try putting your defrost on as hot as possible and lower the sun visors to hold the heat in at the top of the windshield. This will melt the wet snow that sticks to the top of the windshield and will allow for better visibility. There is a fine line between when to use these two tricks, but with experience you will learn when to use either one.
When it comes to your fuel, there are a few things you can do to make sure it doesn’t gel. The most common thing to do is use a diesel fuel additive. If you are going to do this, be sure to add it before you fuel up so that it doesn’t sit on top of the fuel without mixing in. Another thing to pay attention to is where you are fueling up. If you are going from a place that is south of I40 to a place that is north, fill up just enough south of I40 to get you to the place you know is going to be cold. The fuel in warmer climates is not going to be blended for cold weather like the fuel in cold climates. If you fill up just enough to get you north of I40, you won’t have to use fuel that is untreated and will be able to fill up right away with fuel that is treated. Lastly, if you have a bunk heater, make sure you run it while the truck’s warm when you first put the winterized fuel in. This is because if it’s old fuel that is not treated for the cold, it may not start. You should also turn on your bunk heater every month, even in the summer months, to make sure it’s ready for when you need it in the winter. Don’t let it sit for a long time with old fuel.
There are a few things you can do to help your tires and brakes from being affected by the weather. The first and most obvious thing to do is use tire chains when necessary. Learn about the chain laws in the places that you normally run. Secondly, make sure your brakes are dried out after you are done for the day so that they don’t freeze. You can do this by gently applying the brake pedal and dragging your brakes through the lot where you are going to park. This will warm the brake pads and vaporize any moisture on the brakes and drums. After you have done this and parked, don’t set the trailer brakes. You also need to be careful to avoid getting your tires stuck in snowy and icy conditions. If you are parking on ice, stop for a little while to let your tires cool, then roll forward or back a short distance. This way your tires will cool off so the snow and ice don’t melt around the tires which could get you stuck. You can also idle around the lot to let the snow cool the tires before parking.
The last little thing to pay attention to is your antenna. If you see ice building up on your antenna, it means the road you are on might also be frozen and icy.
Here are a few more quick tips that can help you during the winter.
If you can’t walk on it, you probably shouldn’t drive on it. If you can, every once in a while just get out and put your foot on the ground to see if it’s slick.
Get grippies or chains for your shoes that make it easier for you to walk outside of the truck. This is especially true at truck stops or docks that don’t clear off their pavement.
When you are driving, keep your coat on or near by just in case there is an emergency. You never know if something is going to happen that will force you to get out of your truck quickly.
Keep a candle in your truck with a metal coffee cup as a worst-case scenario for providing heat in your truck. This won’t keep your whole body warm, but should be enough to keep your hands from getting frostbite if you have no other heat options.
I am what one might call a “right lane dweller.” My company governs our trucks at 65 mph, but in an effort to achieve good fuel economy, I generally run 60, unless the load requires that I run faster. Most of the time this means I am running slower than a lot of the vehicles around me. Because of this, I stick to the right lane as much as possible. This leads to some conversations about safety and road etiquette. Let me give you my view.
Many times I have been called a “Road Block” or a hazard. The argument is made that by going slower than the flow of traffic I am creating an unsafe condition on the road. I would like to pose a question to that point. Who is the unsafe one? The driver running over the minimum but less than the limit who is staying in the right lane, or the driver who is running at or above the limit who isn’t paying enough attention to the road to see that there is a slower vehicle ahead of them?
I would answer the second driver. Many times the driver who is hammering down, coming up on the slower traffic isn’t willing to slow down, even for a half minute or so, to let traffic open up for them so they can safely change lanes. In my own experience, I have had professional drivers ride my tail, trying to intimidate me out of the way. That isn’t safe at all. Then I watch them whip out into the passing lane, another unsafe move and ride the tail of the vehicle they pulled in behind. But I’m the dangerous one.
The majority of rear-end collisions are caused by the rear vehicle either going too fast, following too close, not paying attention or a combination of the 3. It’s rarely caused by the vehicle in front going too slow or stopping. So again I ask, which one is the most dangerous?
Being Courteous Still Matters
None of this is to say I am oblivious to the realities of the road. There are things that I do to lessen the chance of a rear-end collision and be less of an obstruction to the flow of traffic. Being slower doesn’t mean I have to be a jerk. Here are some suggestions:
Keep it in the right lane. Only move left to clear the lane for merging traffic or to pass a slower moving vehicle.
Don”t be afraid to slow down a little bit more. Whether for merging traffic or to let a slightly faster truck pass, slowing down a mile or two more for just a bit can clear a potential back up and keep traffic moving around you.
Be willing to accelerate if needed. Speeding up to allow traffic to merge or to get around a slower moving vehicle can also keep traffic flowing around you. Once clear of the other vehicle you can slow down again.
These suggestions work for professional drivers running governed trucks as well as for those of us who choose to run slower than the speed limit. For those interested, the lifetime average fuel economy for my 2018 Freightliner Cascadia is 9.91 miles per gallon. This is a pen to paper calculation at 287,000 miles. It has the AeroX package, a DD15 with 405 hp and 1750 fpt at 975 rpm. DT 12 AMT with 2:28 rears running wide-based singles with a 6×2 configuration. I run all lower 48, freight of all kinds. Whatever the customer loads, I haul.
No matter what lane you are in, remember to drive safe and be courteous out there.
Recently, there has been a headline in the trucking media that says truck driver fatalities are on the rise. This headline just adds fuel to the notion that electronic logs (ELD) caused this.
After reading the comments from people where these articles were shared, I noticed many people with the opinion that in fact ELD’s did cause the rise in truck driver fatalities.
READ BEYOND THE HEADLINES
If these people who commented had read the articles they would have found out that there is much more to this. The real story was there were less fatalities per mile traveled by large trucks.
Here is the rest of the story taken right out of the story published in Landline Magazine…
“Per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, traffic fatalities decreased by 3.4% from 1.17 to 1.13. The decrease was not a result of less driving. VMT increased by 0.3% in 2018 compared with 2017.”
I would also question how many more commercial drivers there was in the year 2017.
The report also stated that pedestrian fatalities were up 3.4% and cyclists deaths were up by 6.3% which is the highest since 1990. Is this because there are more pedestrians and cyclists today?
I would be willing to bet there are more crashes involving cars with 17-inch diameter wheels in the year 2019 than there was back in 1975. This would make quite a headline because cars did not use 17” diameter wheels in 1975.
In the end, it is important to know the whole story before forming a knee jerk reaction without all of the facts.
In February of 2018, I started the 70+/10 project. The goal has been to run the speed limit up to 75 mph when safe to do so and achieve 10 mpg. The project is ongoing, and my fuel mileage during this period has been 9.507. New Blue’s fuel mileage before the project started was an average of 10.058, which gives my Cascadia a lifetime fuel mileage average of 9.697.
A large portion of my run is through Texas, where the speed limit is usually posted at 75 mph. An interesting take away from my 70+/10 project has been how much things have changed over the years, mechanically and aerodynamically. There is a figure that is still thrown around today that you will lose 1/10th of a mpg for each mph speed increase.
The 1/10th was always a flawed number to begin with as aerodynamic impact on drag is on a bell curve, not a straight line. Every mph increase in speed, in reality, has a greater impact than the one that proceeded it. One of the observations during 70+/10 project has been that I can still average good fuel economy numbers at speeds up to 72 mph. That final three mph up to 75 mph has proven to be the area that is holding me back from averaging above 10 mpg.
It was interesting as I was reviewing the performance of my Cascadia with another owner- operator friend of mine over dinner. He was sharing with me that he thought I would never improve my fuel mileage with this Cascadia over my previous Cascadia because this one is a 6 X 4 driving both axles vs the last one being a 6 X 2 having less parasitic loss.
The reason for being able to still increase my fuel mileage, despite going from a 6 X 2 to a 6 X 4 drive axle configure, was the mechanical and aerodynamic enhancements made to the New Cascadia vs. the old Cascadia. One of these enhancements is the 2.16 rear axle ratio with Detroit exclusive Axle Lube Management (ALM).
This one feature, ALM, brought the efficiency of the 6 X 4 rear axle configuration within 1.5 percent of the efficiency of a 6 X 2 without any of the inherent disadvantages associated with a 6 X 2 rear axle configuration. In addition to ALM the 2.16 rear axle ratio is not available in the 23,000 lb. axle used in a 6 X 2 rear axle configuration.
As I explained to my owner-operator friend, the gear ratio, along with active lube management and the myriad of aerodynamic improvements all combined, were more than enough to overcome the advantages my previous Cascadia had with only one drive axle.
A feature on the comfort side I never thought I would appreciate is the Cascadia’s Drivers Loft. My attitude has always been, get done driving, do paperwork, eat, lay down, and go to sleep. Did I need a table and chairs in a truck? Did I think it might be nice? Now that I have the Cascadia with the Drivers Loft, I have learned how much I actually use it.
Every day I put the bed away and use the table; it takes me about thirty seconds to switch back and forth. The table is nice to do my paperwork, instead of using the steering wheel or sitting in bed, prepare and eat meals, relax, or even visit with another driver.
In summary, could I live without having the Drivers Loft? Yes, as I survived back in the day with a small cabover truck sleeper. The real question is, would I want to? No, as I have come to appreciate this convenience as the sleeper feels like a home away from home.
In the end, it still amazes me how far my new Cascadia has advanced over my previous Cascadia in nearly every category from efficiency, comfort, livability, handling, and overall good looks.
Wind can be one of the more dangerous forces of Mother Nature we encounter out there, especially those of us in vans and reefers. With gusty wind areas around nearly every part of the country, wouldn’t it be nice to have a way to accurately predict wind patterns in your trip planning? I once wrote a blog article titled “Wind,” where I was excited about trying out a new wind forecasting app I had found. Now a staple in my trip planning toolbox and my favorite all-around weather predictor, many more features have been added since I last checked in on this amazing piece of weather tech.
During my first encounter with Windy.com, it was solely a web site (windytv.com) I had to type into my browser to use. Since then, it has been released as an app with regular updates for feature additions and bug fixes. Though relatively bug-free on my iPhone already, the developers have continued to keep it up-to-date. They’ve added so much new functionality and tools that it has become my go-to app for all weather forecasting and tracking of current conditions. There are at least 40 search layer overlays you can toggle on and off, including things like wind, rain, thunder/lightning, temperature, precipitation, clouds, visibility, air quality, and more! It also provides features like live webcams for certain areas, paragliding spots, and tide forecasts! The developers of this app have worked hard to make it one of the most accurate and comprehensive tools for weather I have encountered in all my weather technology searches.
I will be the first to admit that I have never been a fan of weather that I can’t see. I can do snow, sleet, rain and dust because they have visual signs. Wind on the other hand, gives me little to gauge it on except the blowing trees and bushes on the side of the road, and occasionally a truck lying over on its side if it gets that bad! Most of those daytime visual cues all but disappear in the dark of night, making an already dangerous situation much more dangerous.
Having a tool like the windy.com app or website takes a lot of the guesswork out of trip planning through wind-prone areas. It has saved me more than a handful of times, prompting me to take alternate routes on several occasions, with light loads or an empty box behind me. Be sure to add the 7-day forecast capability of the Windy.com app to your mobile device. You’ll be glad that you did!
I often get asked why fuel economy and good driving habits matter to me so much, especially since I am a company driver and don’t have to pay for the fuel. That is an excellent question. I am paid by the mile, so getting to my destination as quickly and safely as possible should be my only concern, right?
My reasoning goes a little deeper than that though. Let me explain.
THERE IS MORE MONEY TO BE MADE
My company offers a bonus for better performance, and so do most other companies too. Some companies base their bonuses simply by Miles Per Gallon (MPG) while other companies, like mine, offer bonuses for executing good driving habits that produce higher MPG. Either way, there’s money on the table and I want it. I personally like being rewarded for good habits. I can’t control load weight, terrain, traffic or weather. All of those things affect fuel economy. The only thing I can control is how I drive the truck. That’s where good habits come into play. Maintaining space, being light on the pedals and using the terrain to my advantage are all things I can control every load, every day. Following good habits will get you the best fuel economy you can achieve, so if you are paid a bonus strictly on your MPG, it is a good idea to drive as efficiently as possible.
IT HELPS KEEP EQUIPMENT IN BETTER CONDITION
Fellow Team Run Smart Pro Henry Albert once presented the following scenario. He witnessed 2 professional drivers in a rough parking lot. One of them was taking their time, being careful to avoid potholes as much as possible. Their truck was in good shape and looked pretty good. The other driver was just driving haphazardly speeding through the same lot, not paying attention to the holes and ruts. Their truck seemed to be a bad shape and looked as though it had seen better days.
“What was the difference?” Henry asked. The answer: The reckless driver was a company driver. They obviously weren’t concerned with the condition of the equipment. The other driver was an owner/operator and was taking great care with the equipment because that cost comes directly from their bottom line. But breakdowns cost company drivers as well.
One of the worst things to deal with is being broken down on the road. The long waits not only cost the company money, but it costs you, as the driver, money as well because of lost miles driven. Driving conservatively is easier on your equipment meaning your brakes and tires will last longer and your suspension won’t wear out as quickly or break. The longer we can make these parts last, the less downtime we may experience. This, in turn, allows us to keep moving and make more money. Our company makes more money too, by increasing revenue and lowering maintenance costs.
BEING WASTEFUL IS WELL…WASTEFUL
Whether it is fuel, money or time, wasting anything is just that, wasteful. Even though I am not paying for the fuel as a company driver, it still seems wasteful to just let the truck idle for no reason. I understand running it in extreme temperatures so we can stay comfortable, or for a mechanical issue, but to idle it just to idle it not only wastes fuel, it costs money. If I can save $3 a day in fuel and work 250 days a year (most of us work more than that), that is $750 a year. Now multiply that by the number of trucks your company may have. That $3 a day adds up pretty quick. I’m a firm believer that if my company is doing well financially, then I will do well financially.
Here are some simple things that can end up saving a lot of money:
Keep your tires properly inflated. Proper inflation not only improves fuel economy but lessens the chance of a tire failure which can not only result in downtime and a costly road call, but a tire blowing could injure someone.
Do a thorough Pre-Trip. Finding a problem before you get on the road can save you time and money as well. If you’re lucky, you may be at a truck stop that has service bays on site. If not, it’s still safer to have repairs performed in a parking lot than on the side of the road with traffic speeding past.
Try to maintain momentum. Every time you slow down it requires fuel to get back up to speed. One of the easiest ways to do this is to control your following distance. In heavy traffic, whether you leave 20 feet or 200 feet, someone is going to try to grab that space. Let them take it.
Lastly, report any mechanical issues and have them taken care of right away. Putting it off can lead to bigger issues that take longer to get fixed.
Be safe out there and take care of your equipment. It might just save you money and time.
As an independent owner-operator, I’ve had many drivers ask me, “How do you find your own customers?” The answer to that is you can go about this in various ways.
Years ago, when I began my business, I went to the local library to research companies that offered the proper materials to be transported on a flatbed trailer. One thing that really helped my business is that I had decided upon two major cities in which I was going to ply my trade. My thoughts at the time were to deal with only a few customers on both ends. I already knew if Albert Transport wanted more substantial profits, I needed to build customer satisfaction and didn’t want to rely on freight from brokers.
At the time, I did not have the option of Google so my research began with “Standard Industry Codes” (SIC Codes). Today, I’m sure this information is available online. A gold mine of information can be found such as:
Product or material manufactured
Years in business
Size of business
Number of employees
And much more information about each company
The contacts for the CEO or other staff members may also be listed. Other areas I researched were “Trade Publications” and advertisements for lumber, construction, steel, and various other building products. The librarian was more than happy to assist in the research and as most people do not go to the library today, they just might be missing out on a piece of knowledge only the librarian knows.
One day, I had the bright idea to search our local Home Depot, Lowes and lumber yards. The materials at these locations all provide a label with the states where the product originated. I would simply look for cities in which I wanted to serve and sometimes the phone number was located on the label.
If you are starting this search today, I would still suggest sorting through SIC Codes in the area you want to set up your business. Once you have created the list of contacts it’s time to pick up the phone, go visit them, or email the point of contact to set up a meeting. Before you pick up the phone, have your elevator speech prepared with what differentiates your business from others should they choose to use you.
When driving, walking, running, or riding a bike, all of us have to pay attention to the sounds and what is happening around us.
Recently when driving through a city, I witnessed a police vehicle almost get hit by not one, but three cars. We were all at a busy intersection, and a police car with lights and sirens on was trying to make a left-hand turn at a red light.
What is your response when you hear a siren? Mine is to look around madly and roll down the window, if needed, so that I can locate the position of the emergency vehicle. If the siren is behind or coming at me, I look in the mirrors and pull over to the right when it’s safe to do so.
When the emergency vehicle is approaching from a side street, I look to see if it has a blinker on or if they are continuing straight and respond appropriately so they are able to get around me safely.
In this instance, the officer came to a complete stop at the red light before entering the intersection, I stopped in my lane on the road to the right of the car with the flashing lights and sirens, and the oncoming traffic had stopped as well.
After I stopped two cars passed me on the right, but the one that scared me was the one that passed me on my left at a high rate of speed. They were oblivious to the sirens and the emergency lights until they got in front of the police car as it was pulling into the intersection.
I’m sure officers are taught to drive around oblivious vehicles as that was the only thing that saved the officer as well as the speeding car.
This whole scenario has me wondering “what was in these people’s minds?” First, they saw, or I hope they saw me stopped at a green light, the lights flashing on the police car, and heard the wail of the sirens. I felt like all of this should have been a huge clue that something was going on at this intersection and they should proceed with caution.
I also wondered who was waiting for this officer to possibly save their life as these oblivious vehicles made the emergency vehicle wait as they sped by.
The interior of the Freightliner Cascadia is quiet but not quiet enough to block out the sound of an emergency vehicle. We always need to be mindful of what is going on around us and take the appropriate action.