View To a Skill
Specialized trucking requires specialized training
By Timothy D. Brady
To earn top dollar in the trucking industry, there are three maxims: Find that special niche. It’s not the time spent in the left seat that makes the greatest revenue, it’s the time spent in or on the trailer. And the more care the freight requires, the greater the compensation. With care comes training. So let’s look at the training required in three very different, specialized segments of trucking — household goods moving, car hauling and hazardous waste hauling.
JK Moving Services, Sterling, Va. More than 30 years of
experience in Household Goods Moving business.
Reliable Carriers, Canton, Mich. Does High Value Car Hauling, in business for 53 years
Environmental Transport Group Inc. (ETGI), Flanders, N.J. Hazardous Waste Hauling company in operation for 35 years.
What are the most important special skills a person needs to do this particular type of trucking?
JK Moving: We compare our drivers to project managers; we’re not simply looking for an employee who knows how to drive a truck. JK’s drivers manage customer expectations, oversee safety, handle equipment maintenance (OTR), communicate effectively with dispatch, etc. As for key special skills, we narrow it to three: customer service, proficiency in paperwork and the physical ability to move boxes and furnishings and protect the customer’s property.
Reliable Carriers: We look for people with good customer service skills, who are experienced in specialized and high-dollar product handling. Additionally, they must be on time and excellent with paperwork.
ETGI: Due to hazards associated with our business, it’s extremely important our drivers meet a higher standard than most other carriers require. While each applicant meeting minimum requirements under Federal law will be considered, preference is given to those who are at least 25 years old, have at least one year’s CMV driving experience within the last three years, hold a current CDL Class A or B license with HazMat endorsement, and have written and spoken command of all safety regulations in English. Plus, they must complete the full application in person and will go through a complete background check.
Do you offer training for drivers newly graduated from truck driving school?
JK Moving: JK starts all drivers with our proprietary, in-house training program.
Reliable Carriers: We do not. We require a minimum of five years’ driving experience.
ETGI: No. Drivers must have a minimum of three years of CMV experience.
Do you offer training for experienced truck drivers?
JK Moving: We provide the same training for an experienced driver as a new driver, although experienced ones typically acclimate to the job sooner and more easily because of previous driving experience.
Reliable Carriers: Yes, every driver or team of drivers (even with previous auto transport experience) we hire goes through an extensive training program at corporate headquarters in Canton, Mich.
ETGI: We have continuous training on safety issues and procedures in hauling hazardous waste and HazMat. Training is conducted as required by DOT and our business needs.
What does your driver training entail?
JK Moving: It varies, but our program lasts at least 30 days, and includes up to five days of classroom training, which covers appropriate procedures for completing paperwork, how to inventory a customer’s belongings and provide good customer service. We also cover JK’s safety procedures; company culture, policies and processes.
For hands-on training, JK has a two-story, fully-furnished training house on-site, where we teach our drivers how to: protect the customer’s home and property, pack household goods properly and wrap furniture to protect it from damage. We also teach drivers how to safely move boxes and items from the home to the truck/trailer and then back into the home to avoid injuries.
Household goods drivers must maneuver their trucks in tight urban spaces, on country roads — wherever our customers live. JK maintains in-house road testing to ensure incoming drivers’ skills are up to par, which means handling varied driving conditions and meeting our standards for required skills and safety knowledge.
After this training, the driver is assigned as a local driver for a specified period (the length of time is different for each person), to get acclimated to the moving aspects of the job. Once they’re proficient in that, they ride along with an experienced LD driver.
The experienced driver provides feedback to let us know when the new driver is ready. At that point the new driver is assigned his own equipment/truck and is ready to manage long-distance moves. Depending on the situation, we may assign an experienced driver to ride along with the new employee in his truck, as a safety net.
Reliable Carriers: The initial training program is one week. We review all DOT-related items, cover company history and review our procedures for correctly hauling automobiles. We review all corporate procedures and what’s expected of a “Reliable Driver,” both internally and externally.
ETGI: Because of the nature of our business in hauling hazardous materials and waste, training is ongoing and continuous. We have mandatory quarterly training for all drivers. The initial training for new hires is one full day before they’re put into a truck. Upon hire, all drivers are required to participate in hands-on-training as a co-driver.
What can someone expect to earn driving for your company?
JK Moving: JK’s drivers average $60,000 – $65,000 a year and full medical benefits. In addition, JK has a unique retirement program: employees — including drivers — participate in a company-funded profit-sharing plan and a 401(k) safe harbor program that positions drivers for financial security when they retire.
Reliable Carriers: Our independent contractors can gross as much as $400,000 plus per year. Mileage drivers earn between $50,000 – $100,000 per year.
ETGI: Our employee drivers average between $50,000 – $75,000 a year depending on their length of time here and how well they take advantage of incentives.
What are the main reasons a person doesn’t make it through the training program?
JK Moving: Moving is a very active job. Some candidates don’t have the appropriate work ethic; it’s more physically demanding than they thought. Sometimes a candidate’s personality isn’t well-suited or attuned to the level of customer service.
ETGI: They find the job too stressful or are unable to comprehend safety and handling procedures of hauling HazMat. Or they find out this just isn’t their cup of tea.
Reliable Carriers: They may decide that this work isn’t for them. They realize they don’t want to be out for as long as we may require. They cannot grasp various procedures and requirements in our business.
Do you have a special title for your drivers?
JK Moving: To customers, the driver is the Move Supervisor. Internally, drivers are LD (Long Distance) Drivers, whether they’re company drivers or owner-operators.
ETGI: Our local and regional truck drivers are all “company employees.” We don’t subcontract drivers or owner-operators.