When it comes down to it, drivers want to make the most money possible for the time they spend away from home. Unfortunately, many don’t take advantage of time-saving measures that can make them as productive as possible.
Some drivers feel they do really well when they run 10K miles a month. But when they find themselves in a conversation with another driver who relates their disappointment with only managing to run a dismal 13K miles, well, the first driver may look at them like they are crazy. And it becomes even more distressing to the first driver to hear that the other driver usually expects or hopes to be over 14K, or even in the 15K range each month.
Inevitably, the first driver tells the other, “That is impossible! How can you possibly run miles like that? There’s NO WAY you can do that!” But the truth is, it’s really not all that hard if you get the most from your time management skills.
Run on Reset
My first recommendation for maximizing productivity is simple. Run on a reset weekly cycle. I’ve spent many hours poring over the numbers, and the bottom line is crystal clear. It is mathematically impossible for a pair of drivers to go head-to-head under the same set of conditions and have the RECAP running driver even come close to the miles of a driver running weekly RESETS.
I’ve had countless great loads in my career that were only possible to do on time if a driver ran flat out running on a reset. This makes a big productivity difference on a long load of say 1,600-2,500 miles. For example, the recap driver is limited to only running daily what hours they have coming back to them. The reset driver can burn the maximum hours possible, wait for 10 hours and do it again, all the way from pick up to delivery. As soon as they deliver, they are off and running again. The recap driver could easily take an extra day or two on the same load.
There are ways to make the reset method even more productive. I’ve seen many times a driver ask in a forum, “I have only 2-4-6 hours left that I can run before I’ll need a reset. Should I run those hours tomorrow or start my reset now?” If that is all the hours you have left, my recommendation is to start your reset now. You should run your maximum driving time the last day before starting a reset. This is the ideal time to start a reset. The exception is when delivering on time doesn’t leave enough extra time for you to wait out a reset. Then you do what you have to do for on-time delivery.
If you are running a reset cycle and you take off and drive only a few hours, you are seriously cutting into your productivity. Lay out the days on a calendar in front of you and prove it to yourself. Run the number of miles you can do in the next 7 days if you did a short day of just a few hours and then reset, or reset and then run. You’ll quickly see the difference. By resetting first, you’ll be miles ahead later down the road.
Save Time at Break Time
Good timing can help you make the most out of the 30 minute mandatory daily break. There is a sweet spot during your 14 hour shift to take your break. If you take one too early, you will most likely need to take a second one later on. Given your 8-hour shift at the start of the day, you should wait until you have 2 1/2 hours or less before you have to stop. At the 2 1/2 hours point you have used up 5 1/2 hours of your 14 hours. Add the 30 minute break and your total is now 6 hours. 14 – 6 = 8, so you still have the maximum amount of time on your daily 14 hour clock left. You will not need a second break no matter what happens during the rest of your day. Stopping with any amount of time less than 2 1/2 hours accomplishes the same task.
Timing your break to occur during a fuel stop saves more time. Avoiding a second stop for fuel saves more time on your clock for driving and arriving earlier. An even greater benefit can be had when you can manage to stop at the end of your day at your fueling location and combine the time with your vehicle inspection.
Communicate Your Status
Make it a habit to update your asset manager or after-hours personnel on when you expect to be empty and how much time you will have left to run. I do this religiously about 1 hour before making my delivery. This helps get you noticed as being close to empty, and in my experience, improves the likelihood of having a preplan put on you before you even arrive. Again, saving time increases my productivity. I’m able to ask for directions and work out my trip plan en route to my delivery. If I am doing a live unload, I’m already set to head out the minute I’m empty. If I’m doing a drop, then it will still only take a minimum amount of time to fill in the missing details and roll out to the next customer. That’s far more productive than waiting until you are empty to start the process rolling.
If you are expecting to be very low on hours, ask if there is a nearby customer you can get a load from that has overnight parking. If not, start making plans B and C to see if you can park at your delivery, or will you need to make it to a truck stop or other location to park. The more you can plan ahead, the less time you will spend burning log minutes/hours when you are waiting to see what you will be assigned next.
Good time management requires a lot of planning ahead and maintaining good communication with the persons who are assigning you your loads. The latter being messages passed on from the asset managers to the load planners. But you have to keep them up to date on your status at all times. You cannot expect them to know what your situation is 24/7. Give them the information they need to be able to help you, and you will be miles ahead of the game.