How to find success as a company driver with Bruce Outridge

We’ve met a wide variety of individuals from the trucking industry while interviewing for the Successful Driver Podcast. Everyone has had their own tips for success; whether that be properly maintaining your truck’s HVAC, or ensuring you’re practicing healthy budgeting habits. Bruce Outridge, host of the Lead Pedal Podcast, joined us to discuss his past in trucking and to share his top tips for success.

Bruce was in trucking long before he launched his podcast in 2015. In his over thirty years of working in the transportation industry, Bruce has worn many hats; from driver, to owner-operator, to fleet supervisor. Today, Bruce owns his own company, Bruce Outridge Productions, and uses his platforms as a podcaster, author, speaker, and producer to share the knowledge he’s gathered over the years. He has produced several programs to help new owner-operators build successful businesses and uses his podcast to chat all things trucking.

Much of Bruce’s time in trucking was spent working as a professional driver. He shared with us four tips to help you succeed when working as a company driver. Most of the advice Bruce shares can be narrowed down to a simple, universal concept; being professional. Personability is one of the top traits that Bruce equates to success; having good customer service and being kind to dispatch goes a long way in Bruce’s book. Punctuality is another big plus according to Bruce, and while that is important in any business, being known to be on time in trucking is a great way to build rapport. Even though you don’t own your truck as a company driver, Bruce emphasizes taking care of the vehicle as if it were your own.

“I always had that mentality that whether I pay for the truck or not, I own the truck, like it was my vehicle. When you take care of it like that and the company realizes you take care of it like that…I never drove old trucks, at the beginning I did for a while, but at the end they were like ‘let’s go to the dealership and I’m going to show you the leather seats’ like that’s where it was at the end because I took care of that old truck they gave me in the beginning. The drivers that do that, you will find that companies kind of leave them alone. When a company finds a guy who will take care of their equipment like it’s their own vehicle, is going to be on time, is willing to do the work and get the job done…they’re not going to bug you so that you leave, they want to keep you.”

Watch our full episode with Bruce Outridge now and check out the Lead Pedal Podcast if you’d like to learn even more from him!

Tips from ATBS on succeeding in your trucking business

It’s been said many times on the Successful Driver Podcast that it’s important for drivers to treat trucking like a business. Todd Amen, President and CEO of American Truck Business Services (ATBS), sat down with us to share his advice on how a driver can make their business succeed.

When it comes to trucking, there are multiple factors that contribute to success. While on the surface it may seem as simple as hopping in a truck and driving, anyone in the business knows there’s more to the industry than that. ATBS assists drivers in an area key to their success, their finances. ATBS has been helping drivers with the business side of trucking since 1998 and is now the largest tax and accounting firm serving owner-operators.

“At ATBS, our goal really is to help the driver treat it like a business. We do a budget, we often call it a ‘profit plan’ because a ‘budget’ sounds like a root canal and a profit plan sounds like something fun.”

There are certain factors that a driver can never truly control. Todd spoke to this when he said that “it literally broke [his] heart when [he] was in the trucking business and [they] had drivers fail for no reason of their own.” There is value to planning for an unforeseen future, whether that includes a tire blowout on the road, a transmission failure, or even an accident. While you can’t control whether these things happen, you can have some control over your response. Saving and practicing healthy budgeting habits is one of the best ways to help yourself prepare for the unexpected.

“I think of all kinds of stories of, you know, the ants saving up for dry season and hoarding their harvest underground so that they can eat for long term, we’re no different. It’s a good time, don’t go out and buy new toys like a Harley, or a bass boat, or a bunch of chrome for your truck. Save that money, man, because the tough times will come and you’re going to need it to get through the tough time, so put some money in the bank right now, don’t just blow it all. It’s nice to make money, it’s nice to have nice things, but make sure you’re building your savings for when the tough time comes.”

Todd shared with us the three main reasons ATBS has seen drivers fail, which include:

  1. Maintenance: Trucks, especially used trucks, will require maintenance. It’s never a question of if, but when, so plan accordingly. “In today’s world, if you’ve got a used truck, we want people setting aside 10 to 14 cents a mile in a maintenance account. Don’t plan on getting a loan from somebody or a second mortgage to fix something that breaks, do preventative maintenance.”
  2. Health: You’re just as important to your business as your truck, so when you don’t have your health, your professional life could be affected as well. “Drivers have health issues, their family has health issues…A lot of times, if you’re independent, you don’t have insurance because it’s expensive. So, take care of yourself and try to get some form of health insurance.”
  3. Bad Business Practices: The business side of anything can often be the most frustrating to manage. Between budgeting and making sure your taxes get paid on time, there are plenty of places where accidents can happen. “Not paying the IRS when you’re supposed to, not paying attention to your numbers…Those are things that cause people to fail, if you can eliminate them by doing the right things, your odds of growing and buying a next truck, and a second truck, and a fifth truck are in your favor.”

Learning tools for new drivers

Arrow isn’t just interested in selling trucks, we’re interested in ensuring that our customers succeed in their business endeavors. This concept is why we launched the Successful Driver Podcast; Arrow strives to be open and informative with our customers, focusing on having the“heart of the teacher” in all that we do.

So, what does that mean? Simply put, Arrow understands that in order to be successful, our customers must first succeed. Don Fotiades, Regional Branch Manager at Arrow Truck Sales, spoke on this topic, saying; “Any time you’re dealing with the public, if you truly want to provide a support role, to help, to impart knowledge, you have to learn and share. You have to be invested and believe in what you’re doing every day to make those people around you better, whether they’re working with you, selling the equipment, or are the people you’re selling the equipment to. Educate them, knowledge is power and if we keep it to ourselves, we’re not doing anybody any favors.”

Since launching the Successful Driver Podcast, Arrow has collected a library of information that are great learning tools for anyone getting started in the trucking industry. From financial advice to tips on maintenance and truck upkeep, we have what you need to start building your industry knowledge.

Follow the links below to watch interviews on specific topics, and keep an eye on Arrow’s social media to help stay up-to-date on when our next episodes are going live!

  1. Tips for choosing the right truck warranty
  2. How to maintain your truck’s resale value
  3. Road safety and inspector compliance with CVSA
  4. Advice from a Finance and Insurance Manager
  5. Tax and accounting services for truckers

What to consider when choosing a truck warranty…

When purchasing a used truck, it is vital that you have a plan for what happens when the inevitable breakdown or wear-out occurs. It’s no secret that a used truck will have used truck issues, which is why coverage that caters specifically to trucks with expired factory warranties exists. A basic factory warranty will cover a truck for up to 200,000 miles, or roughly two years. With six out of ten used trucks being likely to experience major equipment failure in their lifetime, you can understand why two years of coverage isn’t enough to fully protect your investment.

Wade Bontrager, CEO of National Truck Protection (NTP) joined us on the Successful Driver Podcast to discuss warranties and to share some tips on choosing the program that’s right for you. When asked who needs to consider a warranty, Wade’s simple answer was, “anyone who’s not flush with cash.” To elaborate, he added that “it’s really the smaller guys, the single owner-operators where if they have a $20,000 engine claim or a $25,000 engine claim and they get a couple of those in six months…they’re out of business.”

According to actual claims paid by NTP customers, half of all claims have repair costs of over $5,000 and one in five cost over $10,000. Protecting your truck from equipment failure is big, but how do you know what coverage to get? Wade provided three simple parameters to help first time truck buyers narrow down what they need to select when shopping for warranties.

What components are covered?

Know what components you want covered and make sure you’re aware of what is part of the plan before purchasing. There is a big difference between full coverage and catastrophic coverage, for example.

What conditions are applied to the coverage?

It’s important you know how your coverage handles things like deductibles, progressive damage, and pre-existing conditions.

 

How long of a warranty do you need?

This depends largely on where you are with your finances. For example, Wade recommends you purchase coverage to match the length of your loan if you’re financing a truck.

 

 

“Make sure you look at the covered components and see what’s covered and make sure that’s covering the things that generally fail and that’s what we’ve tried to accomplish with our products; building a suite of products that really cover those things that fail and doing it very transparently. We want to make sure people know what’s not covered as well. Our product has gotten pretty broad, so it covers things like comfort package that does cover things like the radio and air conditioner and radiators, things that aren’t normally covered by our market.”

Visit NTPWarranty.com to learn more about what they offer and watch Wade’s full interview for more helpful warranty tips and info!

The Importance of Changing Technology to the Trucking Industry

Technology has made a huge impact on all aspects of life over the last decade, and the trucking industry is no exception! We sat down with Matt Quick, the Lead Sales Associate at Arrow’s Cincinnati Branch to discuss all things trucking, including the impacts technology and COVID-19 have had on the industry.

When asked how the use of technology has kept truck buying and selling going during the pandemic, Matt said; “We can provide our customers with a lot of audio and video information on the truck to put their mind at ease so that they can make the decision on purchasing the truck on the phone, or via email with us, or over text with us without actually seeing the truck. That’s what they need to do to secure their assets today. I think that if it weren’t for some of today’s tools, we wouldn’t be able to get them enough reliable and transparent information as quickly as they need it.”

Being able to interact remotely with customers has been vital during these difficult times, and Arrow has made sure to adapt continuously. While technology has been utilized by the trucking industry for many years, COVID-19 has pushed the importance of conducting business electronically, and Matt doesn’t see things ever fully going back to the way they used to be.

“I don’t think it’s ever gonna stop, I don’t think it’s gonna return to the way it used to be. We have always in trucking been a very telecommunicative  industry rather than in-person, we have a lot less people actually come to our lot when they can get the upfront information they need over the phone, and luckily for Arrow, and luckily for our customers, over the last 18 months we’ve been able to stay ahead of the curve with adapting our tools a little more, and now that I think we’ve made it so easy for the customer with those tools, I don’t expect them to go back to doing things the old fashioned way.”

Watch Matt’s full interview with the Successful Driver Podcast now!

 

The Value of Transparency

Why is transparency an important factor in used truck buying? While it may feel natural to compare the purchase of a semi-truck to the purchase of a car, the key role a truck plays in your life and livelihood makes its purchase more comparable to a mortgage than anything. With that being the case, it’s easy to see how valuable clear and uncensored information is during (and after) the truck buying experience.

Charles Bowles, the Director of Strategic Initiatives at Commercial Truck Trader, spoke on the value of transparency when he joined us on the Successful Driver Podcast. According to Charles, one important thing that transparency achieves is ensuring that everyone remains on the same page. “Ceteris paribus…all things being equal, everybody is on the same playing field.”

Transparency has taken on a new level of importance with the steady growth of online truck shopping and purchasing. Information is expected to be more readily available online, allowing customers to research their purchase well before a decision is made. “When you’re able to work online and research (and that’s with forums and third-party marketplaces, that’s on dealer websites) you can collect a lot more information that can help drive your decision.”

When the lifeblood of your business is your truck, its vital to ensure that your purchase is well-informed and protected. Arrow’s understanding that time is money is one of the core reasons we work under the tagline of “clear, simple used truck buying”. This process goes beyond truck history, extending to honest discussions about the importance of truck warranties and preventative maintenance. There’s no secret that, when buying a used truck, you need to be prepared for unplanned service requirements. Proper preparation helps mitigate that downtime, making sure you lose out on the smallest amount of time and money as possible.

“It is extraordinarily important to consider service and maintenance as well as price,” Charles said when discussing the importance of a well-informed buying process. “Price almost becomes secondary to these other important features. It’s more than just the price of the truck, you have to be comfortable with the service and the maintenance and the warranty programs associated with them.”

Watch the full episode now to learn more about the importance of transparency and the role Commercial Truck Trader plays in helping drivers find success.

 

It’s Brake Safety Week!

There’s no question that, when it comes to roadway safety, properly functioning brakes are key. That’s why CVSA aims to remind drivers to keep up with their truck maintenance with Brake Safety Week.

This year’s Brake Safety Week is August 22-28. During this week, commercial vehicle inspectors will spread safety and education across the roadways. Inspectors will be conducting the North American Standard inspection, focusing heavily on vehicle brake systems and components. Any vehicle found with brake-related out-of-service violations will be removed from the roadways.

Kerri Wirachowsky, Director of CVSA’s Roadside Inspection Program, returned to the Successful Driver Podcast to tell us a little bit more about the event. “They may do Level 1 inspections, or they may only do inspections on the brake systems, so they’ll do a Level 4 inspection. They won’t really increase it unless they find something with the brakes.”

Data collected during these inspections will be used to determine any trends found with failing parts. Brake air hoses are one part that inspectors will be looking at closely, comparing the overall efficacy of rubber hoses versus thermal plastic hoses. They want to know what type of violations these air hoses are found with and how prevalent they are. The data won’t change your inspection, but it will be used to compile better information on the hoses themselves for future use.

It’s important to be proactive with servicing your vehicle, whether it’s commercial or passenger. CVSA announces the dates of its safety weeks in advance to encourage drivers to make the repairs before a surprise inspection occurs. The goal is to educate and promote safety, not to catch drivers unprepared. As Kerri said in her interview, “if you only maintain your truck right before Roadcheck, that’s better than never maintaining it at all.”

The entirety of August is Brake Safety Awareness Month. Law Enforcement will be working to promote brake safety with commercial drivers, mechanics, owner-operators, motor carriers, and others.

If you’ve been putting off getting your vehicle serviced, this is your sign to make that visit ASAP.

 

5 Tips for Successful Drivers from DEX Heavy Duty Parts

In the first season of our podcast, Arrow Truck Sales has been taking a closer look at what it takes to be a successful driver. We’ve met with various individuals throughout the industry, gleaning the wisdom and advice offered up in each interview. Recently we concluded our first series on the show, a collection of interviews with DEX Heavy Duty Parts.

We learned a great deal about DEX and the trucking industry in this five-part series. If you haven’t caught up on these episodes yet, check out our DEX Heavy Duty Parts playlist on YouTube. After discussing the topic with them over the last month, here’s a look at what it takes to be successful as a truck driver according to DEX.

  1. Darin Redmon, Director of Operations

    “It’s not just being a driver; you have to be a logistics manager, you have to be efficient, you have to be a business owner…you have to be that total package.”  Efficiency and flexibility are a big key to success according to Darin. A driver isn’t just climbing into a truck and hitting the road, there are numerous other unique facets to the job that can make or break someone’s success.

  1. Kyle Pruitt, Productions Manager

“Continuously learning and evolving, trucking is changing…” Timeliness, highway safety, continual learning, and owning a good truck are elements Kyle believes are important to any successful driver.

  1. Sarah Newton, Marketing

The main thing is taking pride in what you do day in and day out and having a passion for it.” While access to equipment and freight are two big factors that Sarah cites as important to success, she believes that the trait that truly separates a successful driver from the rest is pride and passion for the job.

  1. Carey Hubbard, Site Manager

“In the age of same-day shipping, ‘got to have it now’, being calm under pressure has to make life tremendously easier.” Everyone at DEX agrees that the trucker’s role is as unique as it is diverse. There isn’t one simple way to describe the job, and similarly, there isn’t one simple way to be successful at it. Carey voiced this fact in his interview by providing a list of skills and traits he believes every driver needs to succeed. These 5 key skills are: patience, good time management, customer-first focus, dependability, and self-dependence.

  1. Will Proctor, Sales

“You have to be mindful of the cars and other trucks, mindful of your equipment,  mindful of your loads…” When Will asked his stepfather, a former trucker, what makes a driver successful, he narrowed his answer down to one simple word: mindfulness. Day-to-day a driver needs to stay mindful of a wide array of things to keep themselves, their load, and the drivers they share the road with safe.

How to discover more freight opportunities in the bulk commodity sector

Connectivity can be a key to success, especially in today’s world. BulkLoads.com utilizes this line of thought in their online community by virtually connecting those with materials in need of transport to truckers ready to haul. Jared Flinn, Operating Partner for Bulk Loads, spoke on the Successful Driver Podcast about how this network of shippers, brokers, and carriers can help a driver find success.

Jared shared the testimonial of a driver who had been on the verge of bankruptcy prior to finding BulkLoads.com.

“[He] found some freight, found some established contacts and now he’s having one of the best years he’s had in his business. For us, he went from one spectrum to the other in his business lifecycle.”

Operating within the bulk commodity niche, BulkLoads.com serves the industry by forming the connections needed to streamline business. To date, $4,087,252,260 worth of commodities have been moved through Bulks Loads in 2021. Jared says the difference is “that they’re finding connections, that they have more connections and that they even have more work than they ever need to do. That’s how we know that we’re doing our job.”

BulkLoads.com makes finding and maintaining these connections easy with their community-driven website. The site offers a variety of helpful tools, including (but not limited to); a load board, a truck board, and a forum. To make things even easier, Bulk Loads’ mobile app helps you find loads on the go.

 

Visit BulkLoads.com to explore their offerings, especially if you’re looking to haul grain, feed, fertilizer, aggregate, or any other bulk commodity. Interested in learning more? Listen to Episode 23 of the Successful Driver Podcast. Dive further into the conversation by checking out Bulk Loads’ Podcast, we suggest you start with Episode 155, featuring Arrow Truck Sales’ own Trae Viser.

How DEX Heavy Duty Parts Helps Keep Drivers on the Road

There are three types of parts offered by DEX Heavy Duty Parts: renovated, recycled, and surplus. One of DEX’s main goals as a company is to eliminate as much down time for a trucker as possible when a breakdownn or accident occurs. It’s no secret that time spent waiting on repairs is money lost for a driver. That’s why DEX’s parts solutions can be so pivotal when a trucker is faced with time off the road.

Darin Redmon, Manager of Operations at DEX Heavy Duty Parts, spoke about this issue on the Successful Driver Podcast, saying, “in the event they do have down time, we’re focused on that solution to get them back up and going.” DEX understands that their success as a company is determined by the success of their customers and, in order to be successful, a trucker’s wheels have to be turning.

“If they’re not moving, they’re not making money,” Darin shared with us. Knowing this, DEX focuses on this company motto; “we don’t sell parts, we sell Dexperiences.” The Dexperience, according to Darin, leans heavily on efficiency. Since time is money for a trucker, the total repair experience goes well beyond a part. That’s why DEX wants to make sure the process they offer is as streamlined as possible.

Curious to learn more about what DEX Heavy Duty Parts has to offer? The Successful Driver Podcast is featuring them in a five-episode series. The series continues this week with our third installment. Check out our DEX series playlist now to catch up on our previous episodes and make sure to subscribe to Arrow Truck Sales’ YouTube channel to get updates when a new episode goes live.