They say trucking is a lifestyle, not just a job .. so why not get the most out of that lifestyle and truly enjoy it!
I’m going to share here my journey from being a noob to being a noob with a year experience leasing a truck and being on Schneider choice.
Who I am, how it came to be, why I made the decisions I did, what it’s like and yes the numbers.. along with updates from this point forward.
Why did I get into trucking?
I’m the kind of person where I’d go crazy being stuck somewhere doing the same things.. seeing the same things all the time.
Most people work around where they live and that’s their life.. that’s their experience. The same old scenery and things to do.
For people that like that hey good for them… me I want to experience more in life.. I want to see more, do more and have to freedom to do so.
An OTR driver pretty much has the entire country to their disposal.
I find to fascinating to see and experience new things and places.
How many people get to say they’ve seen most all of the country?
So there was that aspect.. plus now a days jobs in general suck. In trucking there are good jobs out there and in general it’s not that difficult to get started in the industry.
I’m 26, no kids or wife. I got a house in Tennessee near Knoxville. Figured it’s a good area to get a job and be able to get home being a truck driver. Also it’s cheap to live there and no state income tax.
Made the choice of paying for my own trucking school because I didn’t want to risk it being locked in someplace by contract for a year and them mistreating me or not making any money.
It was a little difficult for me landing a job at first and I started somewhere that had trashy pay.
Gave them 6-7 months and left.
I then went to Crete as a reefer Shaffer driver. They paid me .43 practical mile with my less than a year experience and for what it was I did well there. They gave me miles and always got me home on time.
However I wasn’t happy….
The reefer lifestyle was sucking the life out of me mainly due to flipflopping sleep schedules all the time.
I always felt once I got one year of experience in that a lot more would open up to me and when I reached my one year it did and I was ready for something better.
As much as I enjoyed OTR I was really tempted by LTL, you know being one of those linehaul drivers that just goes from terminal to terminal doing drop and hooks. Seeing these union jobs that pay for everything that you do, give you a pension, pay for your health care.. sleep in hotels and not a truck. Pay higher than any OTR job would offer. Every time I met an LTL driver they’ve all been very happy but the main reason they were happy was because of the money. It was tempting but I decided against it mainly because of the lifestyle. Where as the Schneider program offered me everything that I was looking for and gave me the choice and freedom my heart desires.
How does the Schneider choice program set itself far apart from everywhere else?
While yes an O/O can lease on here I leased a truck from Schneider finance so I will go into details about that.
First the program itself..
You work off of a load board.. paid by percentage and are in complete control of everything you do and where you go. You set your own schedule and have no dispatcher telling you what to do.
If you want to only do drop and hooks.. you can do that.
If you want to only drive a certain area.. you can do that.
If you only want loads with huge open window appointments.. you can do that.
If you only want to do short or long longs… you can do that.
And there’s thousands of loads to where you have soo many choices.
This is a video of how it pretty much works
Pay is 65% of linehaul + FSC and extras which is usually like extra stops.
That might sound low but 65% is the same you get with Landstar if you don’t have your own trailer.
However Schneider pays all the tolls expect the Florida turnpike (but who goes there) and the I-80 in Ohio and Indiana. Everything else is covered.
You don’t pay for transflo or your qualcomm.
When you click on a load it usually takes just a few seconds and it’s assigned to you and gets sent to your truck. There is no waiting around for confirmation or brokers or phone calls.. none of that. Point and click then taada it’s yours and the load info gets sent your truck.
Rates are just like anywhere else.. there’s cheap freight here and very good freight. Of course you don’t have to take cheap freight, I know I don’t.
A few good recent loads I did
OH to IN 200 miles $738
IN to PA 380 miles $1658
Both those loads are drop were drop and hook at both ends.
PA 136 miles multi-stop $816
Now not all my loads are that good all the time but that’s just an example of a few I did recently to show there is good freight here. A higher % doesn’t always mean a higher rate you’re getting.
Oh yeah fuel discount.. that changes but it’s ranged from .22 to .45 cents off the cash price at Pilot/ Flying J.
Learning the system, the load board and getting the most out of it takes time.
Basics of course is that rates suck out of Florida and New England BUT you can find high paying freight into those regions. Since I have been here (5 months) I have yet to go into New England.
The closer you get to New England the more difficult rate wise it is to escape.
Generally I’ve come to learn anything east Pittsburgh, PA down to Richmond, VA is a black hole.. as in it’s difficult to get good rates out of that region but not impossible.
Since I’ve been here every time I’ve been to the Northeast (no further to NY, PA, NJ) I managed to escape for $1.40+ all miles. However a few times I waited over a week before I left that region because I refuse to take cheap freight out. In those circumstances I ran within the region which does pay well until I found something good enough to get me out.
Another thing that really makes the overall lifestyle wonderful here is the amount of Operating Centers and drop lots there are here.
Here’s one example of how that plays an awesome factor in how you can run.
I did a weekend load from the Charlotte, NC area to Chicago. It was a live unload Monday morning at 9am.
Now normally that would mean somehow finding a place to park near Chicago and going through terrible traffic in the morning. However Schneider has an OC in Chicago.. so I drove in Sunday night, parked and was 3 miles away from the customer in the morning.
Which again speaks to the lifestyle benefits here.
When you come from reefer like me to being able to run drop and hook, open window appointment freight… oh man what a difference and how wonderful it is.
If I wanna haul butt and get it there ASAP I can, if I wanna stop and check out this cool place to eat I’ve never been before I can.
Scheduling yourself, having open window appointments, drop and hooks, many places to park.. it really is great. If I wanna go explore someplace new or go visit family.. I can pretty much anytime I want.
Here for me it is the ultimate OTR lifestyle.
Now it isn’t perfect here as no place is…
Some negatives are.. too many 10+ year old trailers.
They have a lot of new trailers but there’s old ones too and a lot of times they have issues… by far the main thing that pisses me off the most. The problem with a lot of these trailers is that the tandems won’t slide because they’re beat up and broken. Getting to a customer that demands the tandems being slid when they won’t does not make for a fun time.
Another thing is they aren’t as organized as I’d hope to be. Plus they don’t have enough people answering the phones to where I sit on hold for long periods of time when I do need to speak to somebody especially on nights and weekends.
Sometimes but not often a customer will not have an empty when you do a drop and hook, this too isn’t fun but you learn as time goes on. As in for example I know if I do a drop on weekends or at night it’s the greatest risk that customer won’t have an empty for me. When this happen I usually call and ask if I can bobtail to my next preload which only works about 1/4 of the time… when I can’t Schneider sends me somewhere else to get an empty.
Overall the positive outweighs the negative by far though and again I realize no place is perfect.
(part 2 below)