Whether you own your rig, or drive for a company, as a professional driver you’re tasked with making smart, conscious decisions that affect your efficiency: of your time, your haul, and your truck. Even the littlest changes can make large, noticeable impacts on your career. Here are a few ways to improve efficiency over the road.
Keeping Careful Record
Your operational expenses are a combination of both fixed and variable. Your fixed costs include rent, insurance, taxes, equipment, permits, and necessary training and course work. Your variable costs are the part of your expenses you’re able to control. This is includes fuel, meals, lodging, supplies, and additional add-ons that can pile up quickly. Being smart about allocating and analyzing your finances helps you protect your margins.
Variables – relating to food, fuel, and lodging. These can easily be combined to best utilize your stops with an all-in-one-type location that suited to handle all your needs as a professional driver. Consider maximizing your stops to get the most out of your time off route; some travel centers and truck stops offer meals, food to-go, showers, a business center, free parking with fuel purchase, and lounges for a little rest and relaxation.
Time is Money
Professional drivers maintain a fine line between speed and safety. Often, there is motivation to transport shipments as quickly as possible, as dictated by clients, time lines, and the impending weather. There is much responsibility on drivers to deliver product timely and safely. Managing efficiency on top of that can be an aspect of the industry that doesn’t receive proper dedication. Preventative measures can ensure drivers efficiently and safely transport, each and every time.
One of the most important aspects of time management is resting. It can be a hard mandate to follow, obeying best practices for resting and sleep is crucial to professional drivers’ safety, and the well-being of all travelers on the road. Being awake for 18 hours is comparable to a blood alcohol level of .08 – that’s a dangerous statistic. Improve your efficiency by following a rest/sleeping regimen that ensures you’re razor-sharp and poised for a successful transport each and every time you hit the road.
Today’s Economy is On Your Side
As a professional driver, your fuel costs are a big part of your bottom line. The national average price of diesel is $2.35 a gallon; if your rig has a fuel tank capacity of 150 – 300 gallons; filling up is an investment each time. You might think of fuel as a fixed cost in your over-the-road operation, however, there are always ways to improve fuel economy.
In 2008, the average price of diesel leveled out at an all-time high of $4.85 a gallon – according to AAA. So today’s prices are more than half of what professional drivers were paying eight years ago, so that is favorable for today’s over-the-road drivers like yourself. Still, fuel efficiency is important to any professional driver. Your driving habits directly impact the fuel efficiency of your truck – we covered fuel management tips in a blog last month. Quick tips to keep in mind include:
- Don’t accelerate or decelerate too quickly; this consumes more fuel
- Don’t let your truck idle while you’re resting at a travel center or rest stop – even 30 minutes of idling after a 100-mile trip can slash your MPG by 33 percent
- Obey posted speed limits; a lead foot decreases fuel efficiency
- Keep an eye on the sky, and allow for extra time in inclement weather
As a business owner who manages a fleet, you can directly influence your drivers with cost-saving measures. Be open and honest about your expectations and goals for efficiency. Reward your drivers with the best mileage monthly or quarterly. Encourage your team to become educated about their rigs, and itemize common issues that affect tangible, variable costs.
Expose your employees to tools like routing technologies, reporting systems, and communication tools that positively impact the bottom line. When you institute cost savings as a company initiative, you empower the right people and have a better buy in on goals and strategy.