The Whole Enchilada

May 8, 2015

When someone considering a new job evaluates pay, often they look at the “rate” of pay and don’t look at the entire package.  This is especially true when a driver looks primarily at a “sign on bonus” or mileage pay that a trucking company advertises.  If you are not careful, you will fall victim to a “bait and switch.”

Tunnel vision could cause you to miss many important elements of pay.  Look beyond what is advertised.  Your pay consists of many items that, all put together, comprise your total compensation package. Make sure you get the whole enchilada.

There are a number of questions you should ask the recruiter.  Be sure to get a pen and paper to write the answers down from each company and compare notes. If you don’t understand the answers, ask again.  If they can’t answer the questions, run!  Pay shouldn’t be ambiguous.

If you are a good driver with a good record, the question is not whether you can get a job. The question is whether you will get the job you deserve. Recruiters are highly commissioned to get you into their orientation. Ask the right questions.  Do your homework to make sure you get what you deserve for your skill and experience.

Questions for Recruiters

1. What is the rate of pay?  Is this for northeast?  Is this for certain operations?  Is it tiered? Does this vary by length of the haul?  If so what is the average rate per mile?  Short haul operations tend to have higher rates but fewer miles.  Long haul operations tend to have lower rates and higher miles.  One trick is that if you are dealing with a publicly traded company, you can research their SEC filings online and learn their average lengths of haul and average miles per week per truck.  This is public information for these carriers.

2. If you are talking with someone who advertises “guaranteed pay,” what is in the fine print”?  Some may advertise this but won’t pay it if lists of conditions are not met.  What is that list?

3. What are the average miles a driver in your fleets gets per week?  What is the average per year? What was the average W2 pay of your drivers last year?  What was the high?

4. What is your per diem allowance?  (An amount that is deducted to represent road expenses to save taxes)

5. What benefits do you offer?  Health insurance? Dental? Vision? Long term Disability?  Short term disability?  Group Life Insurance?  Legal Protection Insurance?  What does each cover?  What does each cost?  Some medical plans look inexpensive but do not cover much.  What are the co-pays?  Deductibles?  What is the charge for family coverage?  If you are divorced, will this insurance meet your obligations to your children under that decree?  For health insurance, confirm that it is actually insurance and not a health plan.  Some inexpensive products look like insurance but are really not.  These offer a schedule of a very limited coverage.

6. What do you offer in terms of holiday and vacation pay?  How long do you have to work at the company to qualify?  Does it increase with tenure?

7. Do you offer layover pay?  How much?  How do you define a “layover?”

8. Do you have driver loading or unloading?  How often?  What is your pay for this?  Do you reimburse for lumpers?

9. Do you pay detention?  How much free time before you pay?  What are the conditions?  Do you pay detention regardless of whether the customer pays you?  How quickly is it paid?

10. Do you pay for tolls?

11. Are there other opportunities to make money, such as recruiting? Or training?

12. Do you have a 401(k) retirement plan?  What is the match?

13. Do you charge drivers for anything?  What?  How much?

14. Do you pay anything for taking a trailer in for repair?

15. Do you pay for a short shuttle?

16. What is your cap on mileage pay rate?  Is it based on performance, tenure or other items?  What are they?

17. Are there bonuses?  What are they based on? How often are they paid?  What percentage of your fleet actually earns the bonuses?

Keep in mind that time is money.  Wasted time takes from your compensation since you are paid by the mile.  Ask some questions around time.

Do they haul many food products?  If so, you are likely to spend a lot of time at grocery warehouses, which often live load and are notorious for delaying drivers.  Ask how many trailers per tractor they have.  If they have 3 to 1, they are probably likely to be a drop and hook operation predominantly.  If it is 2 to 1 or less, there is probably a lot of live loading involved.  Live loading eats into your compensation.

Ask about their CSA scores.  Good scores tend to get a green light at the scale houses more often, while bad scores insure that you will spend a lot of time at the scale houses.

Ask about the average age of their equipment.  Older equipment tends to spend more uncompensated time in the shop, especially with EPA requirements on exhaust systems.

There is a lot more you could ask but this is a good starting checklist.  Prepare before you call.  To truly understand your compensation, you must take the time to ask the right questions, listen to their answers and take notes so you can compare the offerings.  This is the best way to find your long term career.

Check back in on Tuesday for ACT’s answers to these questions.  If you look at the package ACT offers, I think you will find that here, you get the “Whole Enchilada.”

Happy and Profitable Trucking!  ~Tom