We’re Gettin’ the Hang of It…

It’s always fun learning new stuff (OK, maybe fun isn’t the word) but my friend and dispatcher/office manager/girl Friday B and I are starting to finally get the hang of it…

Running a trucking terminal, that is.

It helped immensely that yesterday the corporate safety man came up to our little terminal and walked us through a lot of things that the other corporate guys who have been up forgot or omitted from their on-site lesson plans. And now we have a lot better understanding of how things like paperwork should be done so we can get properly paid for all this work.

Not that we’re drawing any checks any time soon, since our terminal runs on commissions. And until we start moving trucks on a regular schedule those commissions are going to be little dribs & drabs, so we try to have at least one good laugh every day about how we’re working for nothing right now. (If we don’t have a good laugh we might both burst into tears… naw, neither of us is the boo-hooing type…)

I’m finally getting fairly comfortable explaining the equipment lease program to our potential owner/operators. There are so many details to it that I have to get it right. When someone comes out to hear about it I feel a big responsibility to explain it clearly, to be able to answer any questions they may have, and to be able to stop and start again without getting lost. I’m getting there.

On the practical operations side of things, we figured out the computer program for booking loads, and after piddling around on the practice side of it for a while, we were able to book our first load without a hitch.

It’s starting to feel natural answering the phones with our new business name instead of the old ones, and we’re getting along great working together. (We decided Capricorns and Scorpios are compatible workmates and neither one of us has developed any annoying habits that drive the other one crazy yet… at least B hasn’t, and unless she’s just refraining from hollering, “Stop that!” at me, apparently I haven’t either…)

So we’re having fun, well, as much as you can have working 8-12 hours a day unpaid anyway, and starting to feel like we’re at our normal jobs instead of in uncharted territory, and we’re already trying to figure out how to politely but firmly convince BB that he needs to move his office (which is just one wall of the one we all share) into our residence so we can quit tripping over each other trying to get to the coffee in the mornings….

In other words, what was pretty scary and new is already getting to be the “normal” for us. And that’s just fine with me, I’m not so sad to think I’ll soon be too busy here to do much driving anymore. Which, I suppose means that things are working out and the future looks pretty good from where we’re at now.

Gotta love that…

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Shakin’ Them Trees…

Now that I have trucks in my fleet that are ready to roll, it’s my primary job to hustle up work to keep my people busy and happy. And that’s what I did all day today, I was out there shakin’ them trees. You know, the ones the loads grow on.

I started out the morning with a renewed sense of stubborn optimism that something had to give, some way, some how.. that, and a visit planned to a handful of potential customers. So I got myself looking relatively professional and decent, made sure I smelled good but not too girly-good, gathered up my notes, paperwork, and business cards, and got moving.

Unlike last week’s visits, today every visit I made was actually received very well and I think some good progress was made. Cards were handed out, paperwork was left where it needed to be, hands got properly shaken (good firm handshakes, not those icky floppy weak fishy girly kind of handshakes, by the way) and I went back to the office about lunchtime thinking we might have some load booking action happening today.

And, lo and behold, that’s exactly what happened. I had gone out with the full intention of waking the sleeping giant (our customer base) and by the time I got back we had loads scheduled for both of the trucks that were ready to run.

Aaaaamazin’! Not only that, but we managed to get all of the proper info into the proper part of the computerized system on the first try getting things set up.

What a new feeling after the “hurry up and wait” frustration of the past few weeks… real progress, and a little taste of success. Just a nibble, I know, but it’s pretty tasty stuff.

And I think I like it!

Growin’ Pains…

I remember having growin’ pains as a kid.

Since I got my height all at the same time one summer between my 12th and 13th years, I had plenty of the above, and not just in a social/emotional sense, but in a very real physical way. Sometimes it just hurts to grow, and the faster you grow, the more it hurts.

It’s kinda like that in business too, I’m learning, or maybe being reminded since I actually did know that before now. The past couple of months have blazed by so fast it’s just about made my head spin, and there’s been some real pain involved in just trying to keep up with the changes that just keep on coming.

But then again, maybe that’s a good sign of better things to come. I’m taking it that way, anyway…

The past week has been a pretty good example of all the odd stuff that happens when you’re expanding a business. We had three trucks sitting and waiting for their first loads. To be specific, it was a 3/4 ton hotshot pickup, a 1-ton truck and 40′ trailer, and my truck, the 2-ton.

Well, my friend/dispatcher “B” and I racked our brains and scoured the loads in our network trying to get at the very least the hotshot and the 1-ton loaded. I wasn’t as worried about putting a load on my truck, (not that I don’t want to run, I just want my guys to run first!) so we were really looking for something to get our guys rolling with.

An ice-breaker load for each of them, you might say…

Well, B found one for the 3/4 ton. Oh happy day!

So we went into a flurry of activity and ended up booking the load. Only trouble was, to our dismay, when we called with the happy news, our 3/4 ton driver was stuck sitting in the middle of a dental appointment and couldn’t just hop up and take it, so we tried with the 1-ton driver… Then we noticed there might be a problem with the timing of the load.

Not good!

With that issue, the 1-ton driver didn’t want the load, and that left me with 2 options, turn the load back or figure out how to take it and resolve the problem with the darned thing.

At any rate, I didn’t want to risk getting a bad rep right out of the box by turning it back, so needless to say, (or maybe not since you don’t know what I know) I ended up resolving the problem and taking the load myself. And I guess I pretty much took one for the team by getting a great for a 3/4 ton but not-so-great load for a 2-ton load delivered anyway…

To make things more frustrating, the load was going into a very heavy volume lane for hotshot loads and everyone said “Oh, you can get a load coming back out of there, no problem!” Someone even said how smart I was to take that load due to the great reloads available down there…

Ha!

Maybe not so much, as the only load coming out of there yesterday while I was on my way back was about 4 hours too late for me to even think about as I was already halfway home when B. found it. And that was after I hung around and dragged my feet, made a Starbucks stop, and generally killed time (and ate up some of my 14 hour clock) down yonder hoping something would become available before I had to leave so I could still make it home without going over time on my log.

What’s a girl to do? Or rather two girls in this case… Well, we had a good laugh over it, it was either that or just have a good cry, and apparently neither of us is the crying type.

To top off the bad part of the week, one of the trucks we were trying to get signed ended up not getting signed due to unforeseen problems, so we won’t be getting that extra set of wheels this week. And probably not for quite a while yet, and that’s only if he wants to try again later on. That was disappointing for me and the truck owner both.

On the good side, while down there in hotshot land I did get to meet up briefly with one of the hotshot owner/ops I’ve been learning a lot of good information from via the internet, and he was just as nice as could be. He took a half an hour out of his busy day just to take a break at a truckstop near where I was sitting and waiting to see if I could get a return load booked and we had a good visit. I learned a lot more about how things work in his part of the universe, which = valuable info I can pass along to my guys so they’ll know more about what to expect when they run down that-a-way.

At any rate, it was a busy week even though we didn’t get much accomplished that actually put coinage in our pockets. What we did accomplish was making more contacts, learning the new system, and fine-tuning the office so it works for both of us pretty efficiently now. And we have a big truck halfway signed, which will do wonders for our bottom line once he’s up and rolling.

So it was an up and down type of week overall, but I guess if we’re moving forward in even little steps we’re still at least heading in the right direction.

That’s all I’ve got today…

Thank God It’s Friday!

As fast as this week flew by, and with all we got accomplished, I’m ready to sleep in a little in the morning and just have a bit of a weekend already.

Shifting gears as in going from independent hotshot carrier to a terminal manager for an established company brings a lot of busy work with it that I simply didn’t have before. So while there was a lot going on, it was also kinda nice to stay steadily busy. In the old days (a month ago..) I would have been sitting here stewing over not having loads and trying to figure out how to make them materialize out of thin air.

No such worries now, instead I’m more worried we won’t have enough trucks to keep up with the volume of work I expect will start up on Monday and continue until, well, whenever.

And yes, I know I’m being optimistic, but I believe in what I’m doing, so that makes it easier for me to stay on the positive side of things instead of being the grumpy butt I was turning into before this opportunity came along.

So much for the philosophical side of the week, which I barely had time to think about until after the clock ran out tonight, because the practical application of all the new information and skills I’m learning kept me hopping right along.

And I actually got things done that needed done, pretty much when they needed done, and managed to do them (mostly) correctly. And that’s OK with me since I already know I’m in the learning curve stage of this new venture. Close may not count in horseshoes and hand grenades, but when you’re learning a new job, close sure does count!

The things I didn’t get right the first time didn’t slow me down too much, the folks walking me through this just pointed out where I went astray and gave me another try, with no drama involved, so it was a good (and as stress-less as it could be) experience. And I’m starting to get the hang of how this process goes.

I’ll take that as a good week and consider it time well spent, and I think I’ll even call it decent progress.

So what was I doing all week, you might well be wondering, so I’ll tell you…

I spent the week wading through piles of paperwork that’s involved in getting owner/ops set up, approved, and ready to roll, did a couple of interviews of potential said owner/ops, making visits to potential customers and handing out goodies & business cards to start the train rolling, and last, but not least, poking around in the computer software we’ll be using for load booking & tracking.

And after all of that I at least feel like I can take a load order, get it correctly into the system, get one of my guys on it, and keep the paperwork straight so everybody gets paid.

I guess an old dog can learn a few new tricks after all, I seem to be catching on… Stay tuned, I’ll let you know how it progresses once we are moving loads, hopefully this next week…

Cha.Cha.Cha…Changes

It’s time to start the newest chapter in this business, which is a little scary but really not so much. Or maybe I should say, if I had any sense at all I might be scared, but anyway, it’s just new… and new can be a little daunting.

Or maybe it’s just all the hard work I’m seeing ahead that has me spooked, after all, I’m a naturally lazy person who has to fight that nature and keep pushing myself to do what I need to get done. Sort of a self-forced self-starter. Honestly I’d probably be content to sit around all day with my feet up eating bon-bons, if I could figure out exactly what they are and where to get them….

Naw!

The trouble with that is getting old and fat before my time, both of which I absolutely refuse to do. So push, push, push, work, work, work, it is. My theory is that if it doesn’t keep me slim and young, at least I’ll be too tired to care.

Anyway I’m dancing all around the main subject, which is the fact that I’m officially an Acme Truck Lines, Inc. leased owner/operator now, and on top of that I’m also the terminal manager at the brand spankin’ new Duncan Terminal.

2013-07-05 15.54.39

That seems like a lot on my plate, and like most other ventures I’ve stumbled into, I don’t have a clue where this will take me, but I’m always up for a new adventure.

Now, I’ve been working on this deal for about a month and a half or so and it’s taking a while to get everything put together, but aside from the mountains of paperwork involved, the hardest part of the project is getting other owner/operators to lease their equipment.

And understandably so. I’m sure there are a lot of folks out there who have the trucks & trailers and are managing to scrape by running independent, and a handful that are really staying steadily busy and raking in the business, and that sort of independence is hard to give up.

But then again, I’m also pretty sure there are a lot of people out there who want better access to the well-paying oilfield loads, and like me, would get on board if they knew the opportunity was there.

So I guess this is not only a post, but another way for me to get the word out there, if you’re in the Duncan, OK area and have a truck & trailer, or tractor-trailer setup you want to put to work, shoot me an email!

( smbtransportllc@aol.com )

Alright, no more advertising, it’s about time I get back to work and stop goofing off…. see what I mean?

Did I Really Just Say That? Yep…

Dear long-time readers, hold on to your hats…  I’m leasing to the same company I’m opening the new terminal for.

Did I really just say that?

Yep…

I know some of you may want to kick me for my reversal in thinking, but I have my reasons.  And of course I’ll tell you what they are, that’s the whole point of this post, after all!

Now, if you want to take a stroll down memory lane without having to backtrack and read my old posts, right out of the gate I leased my truck to a little local outfit that turned out to be as crooked as the day was long.  Naturally, that experience left a bad taste in my mouth, and as I’ve learned over the years since then, my dislike should be more specifically directed toward the specific crooks I dealt with and not necessarily to the prospect of leasing in general.

What really finally pushed me over the edge to even re-consider leasing is the simple fact that a one-truck operation just can’t compete with the big guys for the good accounts, and in my particular area the oilfield is really heating up, so to get myself positioned to take advantage of that upswing in potential customers, I had to have some edge.

In my particular case, that edge has to be a big outfit that needs my truck as badly as I need their customer base.  So it may turn out to be a match made in business heaven.  If there is such a place.  Well, let’s just pretend that there is.

Back in the early days, my first lease was confusing to me, not having been in the business at all, and I didn’t know the questions to ask, the things to look for in the lease, or what the h-e-double toothpicks I was getting myself into.  And obviously that made me easy pickings for some unsavory folks who happened to be pretty good at spotting rookies and capitalizing on their ignorance, but who really sucked at running a trucking company.  Good crooks, bad businesspeople.  It happens…

But I have to say after really learning how this all works and paying attention, that is not the rule.  It’s the exception.

A lot of guys get into hotshotting like I did and get burned, and it puts them on the wrong side of thinking from then on.  At some point you just have to step back and take a look at the big picture, how the big boys play, and figure out how to make that work.  After all, that is the way the game is played, if you want to play at all.

And if you do want to play, you have to learn the house rules and use them to the best advantage you can.

And that’s what I’ve been doing these past few years, schooling myself on the house rules.  Hopefully by now I know a whole heck of a lot more about the business, how it is and is not supposed to work, and along with that, I’m able to figure a lot of things out for myself that were a mystery to me back then.

That all said, now that I’m leasing, I’m savvy enough to want to know what I’m getting for the money I’ll be giving over on the lease.

As leases go, most are set up on a percentage basis.  XX amount to the truck and XX amount goes to the leasing carrier.  Doing research on this subject, I’ve talked to many others who are leased to this outfit, interestingly, I haven’t heard any negative comments.

I’ve read a few scattered on the internet, but those were restricted to complaints about specific terminals and uneven distribution of the work available.  AKA Nepotism… which unfortunately happens in some offices in all forms of business (and government too, for that matter… but that’s another topic entirely and I’m not touching that one…)

To the point… What I’m getting in this case for the money is really, in a nutshell, quite a lot.

They (my new carrier) take care of the authority, IFTA reporting, insurance, paperwork, cutting checks both to the truck and the driver, they deal with the headache (which it would be to me) of doing tax & social security withholding, offer a 401K with some matching, and even have an employee stock purchase program once a person is with them for a set amount of time.  After Obama-care kicks in in January we’ll have health insurance available too.

Aside from getting rid of my paperwork hassles, they also offer a huge and extremely busy network of customers to which I will have access, and the entire supporting cast of office type folks to handle backgrounds, driver qualifications, and all the bells and whistles that will make my job easier.

And of course, since I’m opening it up, we also get a local terminal office to do our local dispatching of loads and bringing in new customers.

When I got a good look at that, the percentage they take actually looks like a reasonable amount. It’s paying for the help of a whole corporate structure, training, safety, and a lot of other stuff I’m probably forgetting to include here.

In other words, it’s definitely nothing like my first so-called carrier who took a big chunk and provided zero support, zero benefits, and zero attempts at even trying to find me back-hauls, and their loads payed pitifully poor rates to boot.

And it’s not like the brokers I’ve used who take their cut off the top and leave what’s left over to the person actually performing the work.  As good as some brokers are, they still don’t give a lot of anything for the money except the load they assign to you at the time, and the idea that they may call you again someday if they happen to think you might be available if they decide they have another one for you.  And that’s not a lot of support to the independent guy, it’s a stop-gap in between other loads is about all…

One of the things I’ve learned in the past few years in this business is a huge lesson…

Trucking companies have mastered the art of having their day to day operating expenses covered out of pockets that are not attached to their own pants.

By this I mean, anytime you haul a load for any broker, any carrier, etc., you foot the bill to move the freight.  I’m not so naive to believe that they haven’t figured out the same method for opening offices in various areas by getting folks like me to cover the utility bills and do the local footwork.  Which makes sense if you’re a big outfit, you need offices in a vast variety of locations, and you don’t want to foot the bill for all of the above, but still want to get a local presence in any particular area.

Just having that bit of knowledge let me look at this whole terminal / leasing venture with a more practical viewpoint.  The truth is they’re doing me a favor by letting me play in their sandbox, and I’m doing them a favor by footing the (very small considering I already have the office and am already paying for lights in the thing) bill for the local office… and with a lot of good communication and hard work on both ends, we could work this into something very good.

But that’s the office side.

On the truck side, I fully expect to have to transition into doing only close-in emergency-middle-of-the-night-weekend little truck hotshot loads and spending the majority of my time between the office and visiting various customers.

So while I’ll be leasing on the 2-ton for now, I’ll probably sell it off once we have enough trucks that it’s not needed, and get myself a regular 4×4 pickup to make my courtesy calls and do my midnight deliveries.  This is getting a little farther down the road planning-wise, but that’s just how I think, (that Plan B thing again…)

Either way, from where I stand now I can see and appreciate the value of paying a carrier for all of the above when that carrier is well organized and staffed with hard-working people as this particular company is proving to be.

So I’ll just end with one last thought….  you do get what you pay for, if you pay the right outfit to get it.

It’s all in dealing with companies that are good at doing what they do as opposed to dealing with people pretending to be good at what they do.  That’s a huge difference, and it means everything in this business.

I’m A’Frayed Knot…

Here I was all set to have a work-free weekend… but Noooooo, the first thing I did yesterday was to assess what we needed in the office to get things properly set up, then it was off to the races to get the needed items.

So I ended up spending the day hunting down a filing cabinet (the last one on the shelf at our local Wally-World,) an actual office chair, folders, hanging folders, push pins, a bulletin board, and all the other little odds and ends I figured we couldn’t do without.  I actually remembered to get paper clips too.  Gonna need those for sure!

I had a little bit of a challenge since our laundry is in the “office” and it didn’t look so spiffy (or professional) just hanging all out there, so I also picked up a cheapo drill (all the real tools are on BB’s service van and the van was with him on an all-day job) and a couple of patterned sheets.  I found just the right size pieces of lumber to make a sort of extended curtain frame, and viola’, the laundry is now neatly tucked away and not so obnoxious looking.

All I’m missing now is a table/desk for myself, which my friends (and soon to be co-workers) apparently have and will be bringing over.

I did manage to get the dispatch desk set up, a table under the fax machine, the white boards hung on the wall to track our trucks, and the files sorted and a system at least pretty well started for finding them again when we need them.

Oh, and the coffee station!  Gotta have that!  And now we do…

All of this makes me really thankful that I have a load booked for the end of the week so I can escape the office at least one last time.  I’m not sure how this transition from the road to the little office next door is going to go, but I’m hoping to adjust even if it takes time.  And maybe I won’t have to do too much adjusting and I’ll get to keep doing some driving… but that all remains to be seen.

My biggest challenge seems to be in finding owner operators who want to lease to us.  Before I took this plunge I’d bet I got two to three calls a week from guys looking to put their trucks to work.  Since I started actually advertising for trucks, the calls have slowed down and at this point I have only two prospective owners ready to sign (once they’re approved by the head office, that is… and I’m hoping like crazy they pass muster or I’ll be in trouble…)

But overall, this weekend has just been an extension of last week, all work and no play.  Bah.  Maybe today I’ll leave the office door closed, go get fuel for the mower, and just ride off into the sunset on the noisy thing.  Or at least around the yard… the grass is pretty high and looks downright dreadful.  It’s even worse since the neighbor mowed yesterday and his looks so tidy.

Yeah.  So I better quit yapping and get busy, daylight’s a’wastin’.

 

Another Week in the Books…

When an old dog has to learn new tricks, it can get a little grumpy when a whole stack of new tricks appear on it’s desk just as the most recent new trick is being absorbed and learned.

And I say this from personal experience, being the old dog that I am, learning a whole bag of new tricks.

Overall, I managed to keep my cool even though at a couple of points during the week my head felt like it wanted to explode and by Wednesday I had a killer headache that didn’t leave me until sometime this morning… but happily enough, I survived it all and have my feet up relaxing now that the week is officially over.

It’s a huge transition for me going from a mobile, free-wheeling job to a desk job in sixty seconds flat, but that’s the choice I made (I guess) unless I actually do get to break out of the office once in a while hauling a little load here or there.

Which, happily, I get to do at the end of next week with a load already booked…

And I’ve never been all that fond of office work…

Hence the new tricks.  And the learning.

I do have to admit that it’s not difficult work though, I mean, I’ve worked a whole lot harder tying some goofy looking equipment down on the truck with big old chains and boomers in 110 degree weather sweating my tail off in very unladylike fashion, so this sitting in an air conditioned office answering phones and messing with the computer is a walk in the park physically.

Mentally, well, that’s another story.

I’m working on my phone skills, and reminding myself that I have to talk nice to everyone involved, even if I just stapled my finger to a stack of paperwork, and that shouting out obscenities in the office is a big NO NO.  I can get away with it in the truck since I usually roll with windows up and stereo on, so nobody cares anyway if I drop some naughty words when someone cuts me off in traffic…. but yeah, I have some adjusting to do.

Obviously….

So I’m just glad I didn’t screw anything up too badly this week and more glad that the week is over.  It’s officially in the books!

Workin’ Like a Bad Dog…

I’m not sure how hard a bad dog has to work, but I’m guessing I’ve been working at least that hard the past few days on this new adventure / business venture.  And it’s actually been kind of fun.

There are a thousand brand new things to learn and the new rules that must be adhered to, not to mention all the little details that go into just getting the office set up and functional.  Today the new landline and fax went in, thank goodness, and I was able to put out a couple of fires by getting paperwork off and sent to the proper folks who have been waiting on it.

Which means I also tracked down a suitable fax machine, just a plain old fax (plain paper though) and not one of those infernal “all in one” rigs that seem to last half an hour then one or more of the “alls” they’re supposed to do don’t any more…

And I also managed to find a decent phone for that landline, one that you can actually plant on your shoulder while talking.  Nothing against cell phones, but they don’t stay put and we won’t be using them for our primary line anyway.

Since I’m doing this as much on the cheap as humanly possible, at least to get us started and until we see if it will be a profitable venture, my better half BB tracked us down a big old metal desk, and it’s one that’s been around long enough that while scrubbing it down and getting it ready to use, I actually, honest to gosh, found an 8 cent Eisenhower postage stamp in the bottom of the thing.  Oh, and a mouse nest in one of the upper drawers.  Needless to say the entire thing got taken apart and disinfected…

In between all that stuff I made a visit to one of my customers and got them up to date on the changes that are coming, and thankfully they’re still going to be my customer.  Gotta absolutely love your customers and treat them right!

And I fired off an update to my now-higher-ups just to let them know what I’ve actually been up to here, since I’d rather keep them informed than have them trying to track me down for a progress report.

Which brings me to where I am now, finally with a few minutes to just relax and rest my tired tootsies, and to catch y’all up on my recent goings-on…  which also means it’s time for me to post this and get some much needed sleep to hit the road running first thing in the morning.  So, goodnight!

The More Things Change… Well, The More They Change

If you’ve been following this insanely crazy odyssey into the world of hotshot driving of mine, then you’ve probably wondered at times what in the world I’ve been thinking.  I mean, every week things seem to change, fluctuate, and evolve.  It appears that is just all part of the business, and being able to deal with it is essential to a person’s sanity…

Not that I claim to be entirely sane either though, so maybe being able to tolerate it all is a sign of some specific sort of crazy…

What I’m getting at in a round-about way is that things are changing again, the proverbial wheel is spinning.  Where it will stop, who knows?  I sure don’t, but I’m in it for the long haul and I’m (mostly, except when it makes me cry like a big baby out of frustration) enjoying the ride.

So the big change this week is that instead of sticking stubbornly to my “One-Truck Independent Hot Shot” business model, I’m branching out.

Ok, that was a wimpy way to put it… let me try again…

I’m making a huge change and giving up my independence.  There, that’s a better way to tell you what I’m actually doing.

Yep, as a fellow hotshotter has so eloquently put it, I’m going over to the “DARK SIDE.”

Which means I’m leasing my truck (YES I AM) even though in the past I’ve had that one really bad experience (okay, not just bad, horrible, terrible, aggravating, experience) doing so, and have been doggedly resisting the urge to do it ever again.

But there’s more to the story… (Of course there is, or what would be the point of this post?)

One of the honest facts about hotshotting that I’ve been trying so hard to disprove and deny is that a lot of very profitable doors are simply not open to the independent with one or two trucks.

Just because that particular fact frustrates me and tics me off is irrelevant and doesn’t change the way the business actually works.  And after banging my own head on that unyielding and unmoving rock for a few years now, I’m declaring a truce of sorts, if not with the rock known as the hotshotting business, at least with myself.

I’ll explain…

A lot of the big players (we’re talking specifically about oilfield hotshotting here now) need more trucks available when things heat up than a little operator like me can provide them.  They also have multiple locations and are, well, just big companies with big needs.

If you think about it, a big company with high shipping volume is not going to waste their time keeping track of multiple little operators and their separate invoices, or be willing to have to cut 100 different checks to 100 different little guys every month.  So they simply don’t mess with the little guys.  They have accounts with outfits big enough to do what they need done with one call.  They aren’t willing to mess with the logistical nightmare of booking each and every load individually with separate carriers.

And looking at it from their perspective, I have to admit I wouldn’t either.  It would be insane and very unproductive doing business that way.  Not to mention it would be a huge pain in the rump.

So… I have accepted the fact that I had to find a way to get my little foot in the door even if it meant I would have to give up my independence to get it done.  It’s fine to be independent, but it’s not so fine to be independent and starving when things change, as they can, and do, on a near hourly basis in this biz…

And you can ask BB, (or just sympathize with him for having to deal with me if you want to, I’ll understand,) I’m one bull-headed, stubbornly independent woman… so this was not an easy call for me to make in any way, shape, or form.

But being me, I found a way to do it that I can tolerate.  Or at least I think I can in theory, I’ll know soon in practice if it was a good or not so good idea…

Anyway… I’m stalling… hmmm….

Ok, here’s the basic scoop.  I finally realized that I need help getting to the good loads that the little guys like me are locked out of, and the best option I could come up with, once I admitted that to myself, was to try to lease on with a well known big company to take advantage of their connections that I would never, never, be able to get close to on my own.

There, I said it.  Out loud, and in front of God and everybody.  Finally.  There comes a point when you have to stop doing the same thing over and over when it’s just not working as well as you need it to, and that’s where I finally am.

So… I did a lot of research over the past few months (I had plenty of time since I wasn’t out there raking in the bucks with lots of loads) and talked to lots of other hotshots who are leased to a lot of other companies.  I finally bit the bullet and picked the one I thought had the best “user rating” of the companies out there.

The only trouble at that point was the fact that the closest terminal my chosen company had to me was too far away, and there was no way they would lease me on through that particular terminal.

So what’s a girl to do?

I’ll tell you what I did… I got busy on the computer and fired off an e-mail to the company I picked and asked them to put in a terminal closer to me so I could lease on with them.  I know, that’s an insane move, and a pretty self-serving request to make of some big company, but I figured the worst thing they could do was just ignore me, or say, “No.”

Much to my surprise (and shock!) I got back an e-mail not three hours later, which happened to be on a holiday no less, which impressed the heck out of me, and an invitation to talk to them about me opening a terminal for them, which in turn scared the bejeebers out of me.  Honestly, my first instinct was to duck and cover.

I mean, I just wanted to mind my own beeswax and drive my own truck down the happy hotshot highway hauling some at least consistent loads and let someone else do the hard work of finding those loads for me…  That was the whole idea to start with!

Ha!  See where that kind of thinking and my impulsive e-mailing got me…

Let’s just say I kinda know how the character Prissy felt in Gone With The Wind when she said she “didn’t know nothin’ about birthin’ no babies…” or however she said it, just switch out birthin’ babies there for runnin’ terminals and it’s the same darned thing, sheer terror.

However, since some famous goofball once said, “nothing ventured… etc….” and I’m just silly enough to believe it, I put on my old (and dusty) cop type of thinking cap ( “I know this is dangerous and could kill me but I don’t care lalalalala, I’m doing it anyway”)  and made myself at least consider the possibility.  After a couple of days of hard thinking it didn’t seem quite so impossible or quite so overwhelming.  Amazing what the human mind can convince itself of in a short amount of time… but I’m rambling so back on point here…

To make a long story short, we’ve met up and talked (a lot)… I grilled them with my big old stack stack of pre-printed  questions, done a lot more good old fashioned police type work digging into every aspect of the company that I can get into, and I’ve read everything on the net anyone has to say about them, good and bad.

Now that I’ve exhausted my resources (and my poor brain!) with all this digging & talking & snooping,  I’m satisfied that everything is run properly and on the “up & up” with this particular outfit.  So it looks like I’m now venturing into the (for me anyway) uncharted territory of trucking terminal management.

The up side (I hope!) will be a decent paying job without all of the long range travel, and should be a little easier on my (rapidly!) aging old body.

The down side?

I suppose part of that is giving up my independence, but as much as I valued it, it was also holding me down.  And I will miss all the long range travel and the work that was hard on my aging old body.  I know, it’s confusing and contradictory, but hey, I am a girl…

So…, that’s where I’m at right now.  I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.  Wish me luck, or… survival… or something anyway…