Archive for October, 2015

Working as a Family Team

Posted by

 

family-591581_1920

The biggest challenge for truckers and their family at home is balancing financial responsibilities and home time.  We all agree that family is the most important thing.  So it is very important that we take the time to talk about this, plan and get it right.  Each family has different needs so it pays to work together with those at home as a family team to come up with a plan that works.  The job of a trucker’s spouse is harder than our job.  Truckers know that there are two things Momma needs:  a good paycheck and you.  The dilemma is that you have to be away from home, not at home, to run miles.  But the bills don’t care.  They just keep coming.  So what is the answer?

Let’s look at things from the trucker’s spouse’s perspective.  In most trucker households, the spouse at home pays the bills.  The bills are the same each week.  But the trucker’s pay is different each week because he or she is paid by the miles and the miles are different each week. Because of this, financial planning and home time planning are critical to your family’s success.

Every trucker can relate to that tense conversation with the spouse on Friday.  It is tense because that is payday and the day bills are paid.  If the settlement is low, while the bills stay the same, this is stressful for all.  Due to the nature of a trucker family’s life and the way truckers are paid, it is critical that the family work together as a team to plan their finances.  It is always better to manage your money than to let your money manage you.  Do you think a person can go broke making $200,000 per year?  Do you think a person can save money making $40,000 per year?  What is the difference?  The difference lies in managing expenses.  This is an area that you do have control over.  Therefore, working together as a team to come up with a family budget is mission critical.  If you find that your average pay is not enough to meet your expenses, the only logical thing to do is cut the expenses.  You should plan your expenses to be no more than 80% of your average pay check.  This allows for extra money from good weeks to get you through the weeks when miles are low.office-620822__180

This budget should take into account the fact that miles are different each week.  All trucking companies are subject to the ups and downs of break downs, annual reviews, preventive maintenance, things that go wrong and freight fluctuations at different times of the week, month and year.  All trucking companies are subject to the same economy.  When it is slow, we always see some drivers quit and go to another company.  The driver will say, “I have to do something.”  The driver has to do something but it is much smarter to do something that works instead of something that doesn’t work.  If it is slow here, I assure you it is slow everywhere.  No trucking company has a corner on the economy.  So the driver quits, perhaps hurts his or her DAC, goes to another company he or she knows nothing about, and wastes a week in orientation.  The driver then learns it is slow there too, and the cycle of poor decisions repeats.  If you work as a team with your partner on a plan so you control your finances and budget, you are prepared for slow freight times.  You can make more here than other places because our pay is top drawer and you have learned the system and know how to make the most of it.

boy-926103_1920

What is the problem from the home time side?  We can all agree that over the road truckers don’t get as much home time as they should.  Is home time important?  You bet.  We work to support our family, not the other way around.  Since truckers are gone from home most of the time it is critical that we get them home and that they make the most of this time.  If that Friday conversation about money is a happy one, then the quality of home time will be better, because the financial stress is removed.  If a trucker family is financially solid, it is so much easier to go home.  But if a trucker family is financially stressed, the trucker stays out longer to get out of the hole.  But this causes family stress.  Smart families know the freight flows.  They work as a team to have the trucker out more during good freight times and home more during slow freight times.  They not only plan home time, but they are flexible too.  If they get behind in a budget, then either change the budget or do some catching up on the road.  The smart families know that proper money management is the key to adequate and quality home time.

If there is anything we can do to help your family, let us know.  We value family.  We know home time is mission critical.  We care about the ACT family and we care about yours.  Let’s all be smart about it.  It is what we are all working for.

Happy Trucking!

Tom

New ACT Total Rewards Program

Posted by

A top priority for ACT is to improve how we recognize and reward Company Drivers and Independent Contractors for the awesome things they’re doing every day. We are extremely happy to announce that ACT has created a customized rewards and recognition program called ACT Total Rewards.

We believe our new program will inspire as well as reward our drivers by providing exciting options of how they collect and redeem their reward points. Since they’re the “driving force” behind our company, this program has been designed strictly for them! The rewards program is available beginning Monday, November 2, 2015.

ACT Total Rewards

Stay Metrics, a trusted third party company for ACT, will manage the program. Drivers will be asked to participate in surveys designed to give us responsible feedback. The surveys will be done in the strictest of confidence, and only the statistical data will be provided to us – no driver names. Participants’ input is highly confidential, highly valued, and greatly appreciated.

This data is very important for us, and we will use it to identify areas that need attention and improvement. This data will also assist our Senior Management team in its decision-making process.

The entire program is managed online through the personalized ACT Total Rewards website at ACTTotalRewards.com. The site provides everything drivers need including reward points that have been earned. When drivers are ready to redeem points, they’ll use this site to order selected prizes. Awesome! There’s even a Wish List feature that tracks progress toward desired items. (Prizes will be subject to customary tax withholdings.)

Each driver’s personalized welcome page will summarize points earned; along with any rewards they may have redeemed so far. Information on additional detailed points can be found on the My Account page.

ACT Company Drivers & Independent Contractors, here’s how to easily access the ACT Total Rewards site:

First time login – go to ACTTotalRewards.com/invitation. Enter your Driver Code and create your password.

For all future logins – go to: ACTTotalRewards.com

Beginning November 2, 2015, just log in, click on the link for the annual survey, complete the survey to earn 4,000 points AND be entered into three weeks of random drawings!

ipad

Drawing Dates and Prizes:

  • November 6 at 2:00 PM CST – Apple iPad
  • November 13 at 2:00 PM CST – 24” Flatscreen TV
  • November 20 at 2:00 PM CST – 24” Flatscreen TV

And even more reward items:

ACT reward items

This is just one more way that ACT is improving the overall experience for our hardworking drivers. THANK YOU for the sacrifices you make being on the road. Now, collect some points and bring home some prizes. Be safe!

Brandon Kohlwes, VP Operations

Regular Doctor or Emergency Room?

Posted by

 

dr

Here at ACT, we have many specialized positions that are tailored to meet the needs of drivers, customers, and other stakeholders.  Unlike other carriers our size, ACT has made the investment to run three shifts in Operations with 24/7/365 coverage.  Other companies just send someone home with a cell phone or force their front line managers to be on-call 24/7.  We believe running three shifts is necessary to make sure our drivers and customers are taken care of as well as letting our day time Driver Support Managers, Customer Service Reps, and Planners maintain a work/home life balance.  This work/home life balance upholds one of ACT’s Core Values:  Family.  One of the most important positions that often gets overlooked is the role that keeps the Operation moving after business hours.  I am talking about our After Hours Team consisting of Leland Hughes (Department Manager), Chris Marshall, Caleb Williams, John Monzingo, Mahogany “Wood” Collins, Bob Dinning, and Cindy Sandahl.

These individuals work diligently all through the nights and weekends to ensure that driver needs and customer needs are met.  Do you ever wonder, “What do those folks on nights actually do?”  Well let me answer that for you:

  • ACT receives, per week, an average of 604 phone calls from 1700-0700.  The second shift (M-F, 1300-2300) averages one phone call every 7 minutes.  Imagine taking a phone call every 7 minutes for a 10 hour shift.  That is about 86 phone calls per night per person.
  • Each After Hours person is responsible for FOUR boards or roughly 150 drivers at a time.  This number of drivers equates to a WHOLE LOT of satellite messages to sort through and respond to… while taking a phone call every 7 minutes.
  • Here in Liberty, electricity can be pretty spotty during bad weather.  We lose electricity quite a bit.  In the event of poor weather, After Hours personnel are in charge of running outside, checking fuel levels on generators, starting the generators and plugging everything in to keep our servers and computers alive and the lights on… while sorting through a whole lot of satellite messages and taking a phone call every 7 minutes.
  • In the event of an accident involving ACT, an After Hours person takes down all of the crucial information about the event while trying to coordinate with local law enforcement and hazmat crews if needed, while trying to contact and alert key managers for ACT at home and the customers involved… while trying to keep the lights on, sorting through a whole lot of satellite messages, and taking a phone call every 7 minutes.
  • Upset drivers call at all hours to unload their minds onto After Hours personnel.  Chances are the person taking the call cannot do a whole lot to fix the problem, but they will still take the brunt of negativity that should be reserved for their daytime Driver Support Manager… while handling emergencies, keeping the lights on, sorting through a whole lot of satellite messages, and taking a phone call every 7 minutes.
  • Customers track their shipments 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Customers request empty trailers all hours of the day.  Customers will email and call to get updates on where their shipment is and if it will be on-time.  Some of these customers are very respectful, but some are upset about a load potentially running late or not having a trailer immediately available to preload.  After Hours has to gather as much information as possible to respond to the customer… while calming down an upset driver, handling emergencies, keeping the lights on, sorting through a whole lot of satellite messages, and taking a phone call every 7 minutes.
  • This might not surprise you, but trucks breakdown all hours of the day.  Chris Marshall is our After Hours Breakdown Specialist.  He gets calls from drivers that are broken down as well as getting calls from vendors looking for payment and approvals to work on trucks.  Chris handles these calls and tracks down invoices while helping the rest of the After Hours team by tracking customer loads, calming down an upset driver, handling emergencies, keeping the lights on, sorting through a whole lot of satellite messages, and taking a phone call every 7 minutes.

I think you can see where I am going with this.  Our After Hours folks wear every hat at this company at the same time and are constantly in motion in order to keep drivers moving and safe.  So, I’d like to ask you to please be respectful of their time.

Before contacting After Hours, ask yourself, “Is this an issue for my regular doctor or for the emergency room?”

You see, your Driver Support Manager is your “regular doctor”.  This individual is tasked with getting you miles, getting you home, and meeting your needs.  If you have an issue regarding some of these items, it’s best to wait and talk to your Driver Support Manager who can affect changes to improve your experience at ACT.  After Hours can’t increase your overall miles, they can’t get you consistently better home time… but your Driver Support Manager can.

ER

If the issue at hand is something for the “emergency room” then you need to engage our After Hours team.  They are here to serve you with an immediate need or respond in the event of an emergency.

Don’t take offense if you are in a conversation with a member of our After Hours team and they have to abruptly end the call.  This is not because they don’t like you, don’t care about you, or think that your needs are less important.  It is because they have to handle a breakdown, track a customer load, calm down an upset driver, handle an emergency, keep the lights on, respond to messages, and answer a call every 7 minutes.  Please be respectful and courteous to this team.  They keep the ship afloat while the day time team gets much needed rest to keep the engine moving during the day.  This is one of the highest stress jobs in the organization so please do what you can to make it as easy on them as possible.  Maybe even offer a thank you out of the blue to them… they will appreciate it and will ride the rest of the night on your kind words.

As always, thank you for all that you do!

Brandon J. Kohlwes, Vice President of Operations