Detention Policies Need to Change in 2018

Detention Policies Need to Change in 2018

By: Chad Boblett – Boblett Brothers, Rate Per Mile Masters 

Chad Boblett is the owner and driver of Boblett Brothers Trucking of Lexington, KY. Chad also founded the Rate Per Mile Masters group on Facebook, a communications hub for more than 18,000 members, including owner-operators, truck drivers, and other transportation and logistics pros. 

 

I am so hoping that 2018 will be the year when detention policies and practices change.

Some amount of detention may be unavoidable, and the broker can’t always influence what happens at the shipper’s or receiver’s dock. But carriers and drivers can still ask for fair treatment, including fair compensation for long delays.

What’s reasonable and fair?


Waiting at the dock for the green light

Current industry standard:  Usually, the first two hours of waiting time are unpaid. Then the carrier gets $50 per hour for all hours after the first two. That means that when I sit at the dock for three hours, I’ll average $16.67 an hour.

Doing the math: I recently priced a new truck at $170,000, and last year I paid about $30,000 for a new trailer. That $200,000 worth of equipment and myself – an experienced, professional, certified CDL operator – will be sitting in a dock for only $16.67. That is not a good return on my investment or my time. 

Proof of detention: Now that all trucks must have ELDs, every driver can provide proof of arrival and departure times for every haul.

With ELDs, every hour of detention deprives the driver of an on-duty hour, and in some cases, a driving hour, that the driver could have used to move that load, get to his next appointment, or take a mandatory break.

Questions for the broker: If you ask a broker how long is the wait the broker will often say not to worry, “they pay detention.” My answer: Paying detention does not make this a good load. If I’m going to be held over at the dock, I need to negotiate a higher rate in advance. That way, I can justify missing my mileage goal for the day or the week. 

Detention drama: Getting paid for detention can involve some drama. I have experienced all of the following:

  1. The broker pays only after three hours of detention, not two – or he doesn’t pay at all.
  2. You have to remind the broker, repeatedly, to add the detention rate to your contract.
  3. The broker requires “in and out” times documented by the guy who signs the BOL, but that person won’t even speak to drivers. (Hopefully, this won’t be an issue with ELDs.)
  4. You did all the above, and more, but when the check arrives 30 days later, you realize the detention pay wasn’t included.    

How to avoid detention – or at least get paid: As an owner-operator, I have some control over my choice of loads. I want to avoid detention, as much as possible, so I can make the best use of my time. I make a point to always talk with the broker about detention, whether or not I expect to need it.

  1. Ask for specific pick and drop times. If the broker says “first come, first served” it means the customer does not pay detention. You could be in for some extended, unpaid waiting time.
  2. Read DAT Company Reviews. These have saved me so many times. Once, I read the reviews on DAT while I was waiting for the rate contract on a load I had just booked. Another owner-operator took the same load, and did not get paid after sitting for 6 hours.
  3. Set expectations. If I am working with a broker for the first time, I always have a conversation about my expectations for detention. If the broker doesn’t want to address it, and says “wait to see if it becomes a problem,” that’s a red flag. I usually assume the conversation is being delayed for a reason.
  4. Put it in writing. Don’t be shy. Negotiate your rate, and ask the broker to include the detention pay rate and terms in the rate contract. If the broker refuses to do this, consider it a warning sign, and move on to another load.

Prove detention times with KeepTruckin, the most affordable ELD for small carriers.

 

Real Women in Trucking partners with DAT to offer a special on the TruckersEdge load board to its members. Sign up for TruckersEdge today and get your first 30 days free by signing up at http://www.truckersedge.net/promo584 or entering “promo584” during sign up. This offer is available to new TruckersEdge subscribers only. 
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Driver Pay Needs an Overhaul

Driver Pay Needs an Overhaul

By: Mark Montague – Industry Pricing Analyst, DAT Solutions

When dispatching company drivers, a trucking operations person has to weigh multiple considerations. Foremost is serving the customer, but a close second consideration is getting your drivers enough miles for the week. If your drivers don’t get the miles, the good ones will leave. Then you have to replace them, on top of the normal churn that is a hallmark of this industry. 

Most over-the-road (OTR) truck drivers are paid by the mile. That can create a mismatch between the trucking company’s goals and the driver’s goals. The company wants to build revenue faster than expense. For the driver, it’s all about getting the miles. Company drivers won’t care that the carrier operation was able to increase revenue per mile by focusing on shorter hauls — unless the drivers are getting paid more, too.  

Note that owner-operators with their own authority may actually prefer these shorter trips. The rate per mile is higher, and these trips often pencil out. Most O-Os are perfectly willing to travel 250 to 300 miles per day if they can make $900 to $1,000. Shorter trips can also be profitable for a carrier that relies on company drivers. The problems arise when there are so many of these trips that the drivers become dissatisfied and leave the company.

 

Option #1: Give the Driver More Than 2,000 Miles Per Week

The simplest way of insuring that your drivers get enough miles is to assign them to trips of at least 400 miles, or to multi-day trips where they can average better than 400 miles per day.  For a driver who is paid by the mile, it’s ideal to have more than 2,000 miles per week. If the pay rate is 40¢, those 2,000 miles add up to $800 per week, or about $40,000 per year for the driver. Some trucking operations might be able to generate 2,200 weekly miles or more but it’s hard to get there with too many trips in the 225- to 375-mile range.

Drivers who feel shortchanged on miles will be likely to look elsewhere, including leaving driving completely. The electronic logging device (ELD) mandate will make things worse, at least initially, as reported by early adopters. Many fleets have found that drivers were not able to cover as many miles per week with ELDs as they did with paper logs. The end result is that most company drivers will make less money than they did before, so the industry needs to be proactive with a new approach.

 

Option #2: Increase Driver Pay to Make Short Hauls More Attractive

Raising the pay per mile can help retain drivers, and there is enough profit on shorter hauls to support a pay increase. When applied to long hauls, however, increased driver pay can add enough cost to make the trucking company less competitive.  Also, some drivers prefer long hauls, because they know they will spend less time sitting at docks. Even a higher rate per mile might not be enough to tempt those drivers to accept shorter hauls.

 

Option #3: Get Creative

It’s about time the trucking industry got creative and addressed this issue! Two possible solutions are to switch company drivers to an hourly pay rate, or to establish a tiered scale of per-mile payment according to the number of miles driven, with a weekly minimum guarantee. Carriers should also consider paying drivers when they are on duty but not driving, so they will not have to work for free whenever they’re detained at a shipper’s or receiver’s dock. 

 

To compare rates per mile for short and long hauls, get DAT TruckersEdge Pro with 15-day average rates based on DAT RateViewNeed ELDs? Contact KeepTruckin for a top-rated, affordable solution. 

 

Real Women in Trucking partners with DAT to offer a special on the TruckersEdge load board to its members. Sign up for TruckersEdge today and get your first 30 days free by signing up at http://www.truckersedge.net/promo584 or entering “promo584” during sign up. This offer is available to new TruckersEdge subscribers only.

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How Truckers Can Shake Off the Winter Blues

How Truckers Can Shake Off the Winter Blues

By: Chad Boblett – Boblett Brothers, Rate Per Mile Masters

Most of us owner-operators went home for the holidays, and it’s going to take a pretty penny to get back out on the road. The weather is so cold, you worked hard leading up to the holidays, and soon there will be fewer loads to pick from.

I know the feeling of these winter blues, it happens to me every year. This is what I do to stay employed and still get home. 

I look at last week’s DAT Trendlines report and see what the national spot market rate was for my kind of trailer. I double that number, and this now becomes my minimum rate per mile. If the weather is very bad or it’s a short run, then I will increase that number to what I am happy with.

I then post my truck, keeping my destination within 250 miles of home. In the comments, I will include my rate per mile. My purpose in this is that no matter what load I take, I know that I can deadhead back home if I can’t get another load and my average rate for the round trip will still match the national average.  

I have found that the best time to post this way is before 8 a.m. and after 3 p.m. Don’t forget that if you are not getting calls, you can easily do a search for these same loads and make calls on them. This is also a great practice if you are still adjusting to using ELD.    

 

Chad Boblett is the owner and driver of Boblett Brothers Trucking of Lexington, KY. Chad also founded the Rate Per Mile Masters group on Facebook, a communications hub for more than 18,000 members, including owner-operators, truck drivers, and other transportation and logistics pros. 

 

Real Women in Trucking partners with DAT to offer a special on the TruckersEdge load board to its members. Sign up for TruckersEdge today and get your first 30 days free by signing up at http://www.truckersedge.net/promo584 or entering “promo584” during sign up. This offer is available to new TruckersEdge subscribers only.

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