It’s been so long since I was actually what I can consider “busy” with the hotshotting work that I had forgotten the challenges that come along with said busy-ness. And it can get sort of chaotic.
At the top of the list is obviously staying safe. Yes, this is a business built around doing things fast, but not to the degree that laws or common sense are tossed out the window. So planning and juggling time is critical.
And that’s what I’ve been doing for the past couple of weeks since work has gotten busy, planning and juggling.
The planning part is mostly figuring out how long it will take me to get from point a to point b, then making sure I have the necessary number of legal driving hours to get it done. Not much of a problem with the jobs I’ve been getting, since they’re shorter runs. The only tricky part there is getting home, then getting to the next pick-up with no wasted time.
Did I ever say I tend to dawdle around a little on the way home, once the customer’s goods are safely delivered? Well, I have to fight that tendency and keep myself focused on the next load, not the interesting roadside marker I just passed in the best interest of time management.
When jobs are coming two days apart, it’s relatively easy to just go with the flow. But when they start coming in one day apart, and it’s a sixteen hour round trip to get the delivery made and return for the next load, planning and time management become super-important.
Which is what I’ll be dealing with today and tomorrow.
Later this morning I’ll be leaving out with a little load heading somewhere down south, not certain as to just where that will be, but my best guess is probably somewhere near Houston. I’ll have to get that delivered this evening, do a turn and burn, and run out my driving clock getting back as close to home as possible before stopping for the night.
Then tomorrow, after my required 10 hours off run out, I’ll finish the drive back here, pick up the second load, then do another turn & burn, and head back to the destination (I do know where this one is going, about 5 hours away) and get that load in and off the truck by tomorrow evening.
Which should leave me just enough driving time on my clock to swing by Starbucks and then get to a decently clean motel where I’ll spend my 10 hours off tomorrow night. Which also means that Saturday morning I’ll be heading home for the weekend.
The juggling part comes in minding my hours, keeping my log as I go, paying attention to my consumption of driving hours, keeping track of receipts, and keeping paperwork up to the minute in order. To help me with all of this, I keep my log on a computer program that shows me with a glance when I’m getting short on driving time, I haul a cheap HP printer and even cheaper little scanner with me and can whip out a log sheet or invoice, or a copy of any necessary paperwork at a moment’s notice right there on the side of the road.
Thanks to modern technology (which I’ve written about before) I can be in touch with my customers 24-7, and if they shoot me an email, my phone will chirp at me to tell me to stop and check it.
Considering the fact that one of my customers has ever-changing shipping needs, this is pretty great. It’s pretty common for me to be halfway to somewhere with a load on the truck, and they realize they need me to run by one or two other spots near my delivery location to pick up something else. No problem, technology makes it possible for me to get it done.
My GPS is my best friend on those occasions.
Now, I don’t just take the GPS directions at face value, and neither should anyone else using one. My first trip in to any location is made after consulting up to date maps. I don’t want or need any ugly surprises. But once I’m there, I save the location to the GPS. When I get those mid-trip calls to run by XYZ on my way out of town, all I have to do to make sure I get there without delay is pull it up in the GPS history for directions.
Yes, after a couple of trips I can usually find things without it, but when time is critical, I use that tool to avoid stupid delays. As in making stupid wrong turns or thinking I can find a short-cut in an unfamiliar town. (Not that I ever do that, hah!)
At any rate, it’s not difficult to manage time, it just takes the right tools and the right amount of attention to detail. Speaking of time management, it’s time for me to get myself ready to head out, so I had best stop chit-chatting and get busy.