Newbies - Starting as a Company Driver
Slowdowns and Layoffs
Dealing with slowdowns is just part of being a truck driver. Freight, unfortunately, moves in cycles. There will be times when you will struggle to keep your truck moving. It really doesn't matter what type of freight you haul because each sector has its own cycles. The real challenge in driving is being able to deal with the slowdowns appropriately.
The best way to deal with the slow freight times is to become familiar with the freight cycle. Ask your carrier when freight is good and when it is slow. If you have this information, you can take advantage of the good times to prepare for the slow times. For example, if freight really picks up just before and during the holiday season, take as little time off as possible and accept any and all loads. This may even mean that you should consider celebrating your holidays in January or February.
Why take time off when the freight is good, especially when you know it will slow down in a matter of weeks? It's also important to stick to your budget during the good freight times. If you stick to you budget when you are getting good miles you will be able to set some money aside for those times when freight is lean. So, in essence, dealing with the slowdowns in freight is simply a matter of preparation.
Another word of caution is that when freight is slow you shouldn't necessarily look for another job. Remember, all carriers are essentially the same and ultimately suffer through the same slow cycles. This doesn't mean they will stop recruiting though. So, yes, you could find another job, but by the time you become familiar with your new carrier and have an opportunity for more miles, freight will likely be picking up again at the carrier you just left.
Many drivers become concerned about layoffs during times of slow freight. However, at most carriers this is a concern that will not come to fruition. Most carriers struggle to keep drivers on hand throughout the year, so most will not consider laying off their current drivers. Instead, they ration out the freight and everyone drives less. If a carrier does lay you off, you should have relatively little trouble finding other employment as a driver. Again, by the time you get comfortable with a new carrier, the layoff may nearly be over.
Preparation and patience are the keys to making it through the slow times. If you are prepared for when they will come, both financially and emotionally, you can ride out the storm. Freight moves in cycles and when the slow times come, the good times are just around the corner.