Friday, May 25, 2012

If You Don't Ask, You Don't Get

We recently did what Ed called "a typical flatbed load" - where you show up at the shipper, get in line behind thirty or so trucks, and like cattle, wait to be shuttled in groups, to the area where you'll be loaded. When, they can't tell you, but at some point they promise you'll have freight on your trailer. This is not our typical situation, but he's familiar with the drill because he's done them before.

When we first arrived at the shipper, the trucks ahead of us where all clumped together, no line, no order. I counted fifteen just in my immediate line of vision. When Ed came back to the truck after checking in at the shipping office, he reported that he saw an even longer line of trucks in front of the clump, stretching out like the tail of a tadpole.

As the line moved forward, I took this picture. The trucks snaked around the building and from the look of it, we were in for a long wait. There is nothing I dislike more in trucking than a long wait - especially if there's any inkling that we're not going to get paid for our time. I had a feeling this was going to be one of those loads.
We were there to pick up pipe going to a $380 million dollar project, where they're installing gas pipelines in a Marcellus shale region in the Northeastern United States.

Ed is used to the incompetency of dispatchers, brokers and agents. He just goes with the flow. If we're required to wait, unless it becomes excessive, he's okay with it. It's just part of the industry. If he feels it's time to ask for detention pay, he does. But he gives them the benefit of the doubt first.

I, on the other hand, do not like to give anyone even one minute of my time for free. Mostly because they take advantage of it, they just assume that I will. And I don't like when it's just assumed. Although, in the trucking industry it's not even an assumption, it's an expectation. You are always expected to wait without getting paid.

I used to work for a man over twenty years ago who expressly told me, "If you don't ask, you don't get" - this was in response to my asking for a raise - he wanted to teach me to ask for what I wanted. I've always been very outspoken when it comes to getting what I want, but him saying this made me realize that it's okay, and people do it in business all the time. So asking for what I want has become my modus operandi. And in this case, if you have enough money to fund a project worth hundreds of millions of dollars, you can probably afford to pay me a few hundred dollars for my time. Especially if you want your pipe.
Which is why it's always worth asking. Sometimes, you get nothing, but sometimes, like on a recent load we did where I asked for an additional $1,000.00 because they wanted the freight there overnight, turning what was originally a solo run into a team run, you do get what you ask for.
This is also how you learn who you will and who you won't work with again. People who don't value your time, expertise and safe operation to deliver their freight, aren't worth dicking around with. Those are the people who wind up on our DNH list - Do Not Haul.

Unfortunately, sometimes you don't always have a choice, or you find out after the fact when they go back on their word or claim to "not have any money" in the load. That's usually when they try to make you feel bad that they aren't making any money.

NEWSFLASH: I do not feel bad for you. I'm not buying your sob story, and if you're not making any money on all of these loads you're moving, then you're a shitty businessperson. Our job is to make sure we make as much money as we possibly can doing this thing we enjoy doing.

Ed can do the calculations in his head and know instantly if the load is worth our time. That's a valuable skill that comes from years of experience and it's a tool we use on every load. Asking for what I want, especially when it involves anything extra (tarping, extra stops, expedited service), or when my time has been wasted sitting around because of circumstances I didn't create, is my tool.

If Ed is happy with what he's getting, and I'm happy with what I'm getting, there's a whole lotta happy going on. I call that a win-win.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Feeling Great About Hands And Breasts (Even If They’re Drooping)
2010: It Pays To Blog About Life On The Road
2009: Bringing A Little Tropical And Some Pretty In Pink To The Trucking World
2008: My Kind Of Festival
2007: Happy Memorial Day
2006: Closing The Age Gap
2005: Sorry, no post for this day.


Marlaina said...

My comment -- Bravo!!!

Dave said...

Salena you need a BIGGER BLOG presence. Not nearly enough trucks know or will do that-WHY I don't know. I like how you explained it (good cross reference with your former boss).
I still can't beleive how many people are out here driving trucks just because (making a living is secondary).

Willow said...

I've seen alot of these guys on the road this week, hauling pipe. Now I know where they're all going!

Hi to you both!

Willow and Zygote