Action Overcomes Fear

I have had many changes since stepping aside from running a motor carrier. One of the rewarding parts has been the ability to set my own agenda. The flip side of that has been trying to stay focused on new challenges that I have taken on. You see, my new free time has created many new distractions that I truly enjoy but at the same time, divert me from what I still want to achieve in my business career. During my old routine I felt accountable to many people so I would write a ‘to do’ list every day and recap it each evening stating what I had accomplished and I would try to be disciplined enough to touch or accomplish all those items that were the most difficult for me. I did this by marking them AOF (Action Overcomes Fear). The rational was obvious. Usually those things that we are the most uncomfortable confronting are made more difficult than they really are because, as humans, we tend to avoid them.

AOF was my mental reminder that in fact, confronting those difficult issues early usually revealed that they are not as difficult as I thought they would be. It’s the procrastination that we get bogged down in and the avoidance of a difficult situation that we dwell on that makes the situation bigger than it really is. Some of you might be in the same type of situation, especially when it comes to dealing with issues with your current carrier. Remember that old song “Take This Job and Shove It?” It sounds great but the cost of changing jobs as a driver or changing contracts as an Owner Operator is expensive and need to be thought through thoroughly before leaving the situation you are in with your current carrier.

As a company driver, if you leave your carrier you will be giving up your earned benefits and possibly your safety bonus that has been earned to this time of the year. You’ll lose your seniority, which may or may not mean that much to you, but does grant you additional vacation time or the opportunity for better runs. You may have a waiting period for health benefits at your new carrier plus the inevitable cash flow interruption etc.

As an Owner Operator considering changing jobs you’re probably going to cost yourself thousands of dollars. You should plan for 2-3 weeks to switch carriers as it probably will take that amount of time by the time you de-identify your truck, take out your satellite, surrender other company equipment, go through the new company’s orientation, get a safety etc. While all this is going on you will be hit with your fixed costs, which keep coming no matter what, including your truck payment, break down insurance and your personal fixed costs such as your home mortgage, car payments and your insurance payments. Let’s say this number for three weeks is $2000.00 dollars for your truck and $1000.00 for personal payments. That’s $3000.00 that’s going to keep coming no matter what. Let’s assume that your missed revenue or opportunity cost is $9,350.00 (8500 miles @ 1.10 per mile for easy numbers) for 3 weeks. To be accurate we need to back out your variable cost. For fuel and maintenance; say $3800.00. Your missed opportunity money is $5550.00 plus your fixed payments might mean that the three-week change to your new carrier will cost you $8550.00. You might have decided to move to the new carrier because they pay an additional 3 cents per mile. If you run 30,000 miles per year, that means you will earn an additional $3,900.00 dollars and at that rate it will take you 2.5 years to re-coup the money it cost you to change. Put pen to paper and figure it out the numbers don’t lie, they enlighten.

The burden of this industry’s high turnover is usually placed at the doorstep of the company. After all, they are the employer and are the one dictating the contract content when Owner Operators are utilized and to a large degree this is true. But I sometimes wonder if the transportability of your services isn’t also a major contributor to high turnover. In other words it might be far too easy for you to simply look for a new job rather that confront what your significant issue is. And then to work on a solution. I know many of you who have flipped carriers in the past few years are now on the defensive and feel that in fact you did deal with whatever issue you had and then felt that you had no resolution so you cut bait and went on to your new carrier. It’s not my intention to second-guess you but I will tell you that there is a major difference in outcome potential depending on how you choose to deal with your issues. What do I mean by this? It’s easier to give you an example. When people had issues that they thought were worthy of my attention they would come to me in one of two fashions. The wrong approach would usually not help their situation because they would do this by living under the delusion that I was some kind of dumping ground for their problems. They simply handed me their issue by stating their case and then when done they would look at me with the “so what are you going to do about this” look. The approach that is much more constructive happens when the individual explains the issue, offers alternatives and seeks my opinion on a single or a variety of solutions. It’s much less tiring and a more intelligent way to seek lasting solutions.

So a word to the wise before you decide to cut bait. Take a long look in the mirror and ask yourself if you have truly been professional in how you have dealt with your issues with your carrier. Then put pen to paper and do the math on your new opportunity and if you have done both of these to the best of your ability, you can now make a quality decision.


Safe Trucking

Ray J. Haight

About Ray J. Haight

Areas of Focus: Operations, Recruiting & Retention, Human Resources With a career spanning four decades, Ray has been involved in all facets of the North American Trucking Industry.