How to Better Utilize Your Hours of Service to Maximize Your Earnings
You might not realize you’re cutting yourself short when it comes to maximizing the amount you earn. As an OTR driver, you have a limited amount of time you can drive. Driving equals money. So, if you’re not fully utilizing your hours, you’re cutting yourself short on the amount you can make. Use these four tips consistently and practice them as a daily routine to help you better utilize your hours of service to maximize your earnings:
Plan Your Trip.
Planning your trip is essential. This seems obvious, but there are many drivers that fail to do this. Instead of planning their trip as soon as they are dispatched a load, some drivers just start driving. This can cost a driver money out of their paycheck. Instead of hitting the road immediately after being dispatched a load, take the time to do the following:
1. Call the customer to get directions and to see if there is truck parking available.
2. Keep a paper map with you. Imagine your E-log system goes down while you’re on the road, or your phone stops working or dies. Now what? That’s why it’s important to always keep a paper map with you in your truck.
3. Know the fuel stops ahead of time. Running low on fuel and not knowing where the next fuel stop is not a good situation to be in.
4. Confirm you have the hours to deliver in time and plan out how many hours you will drive each day.
Be Smart About Your Time.
Have you heard of the saying “Time is money”? Well, there is truth to that saying. There are drivers who just don’t know how to utilize their time wisely, and thus are not maximizing their earnings. For example:
Scenario 1 (true story): The load was delivering at 22:00 Pacific Time (PT). The driver was only five hours away from the receiver. Instead of waiting until later, the driver started the day at 7:45 (PT). The driver arrived at the receiver at 13:45 (PT). That’s over six hours before delivery and the receiver wouldn’t let the driver check in because it was too early. The driver ended up driving to a truck stop and waited over six hours before heading back to the receiver. After the driver was unloaded and the shift was over, all the drive time had been used up. Not only did the driver lose money from not using time wisely, but the recap hours were affected.
Scenario 2 (hypothetical): The load was delivering at 22:00 Pacific Time (PT). Now, instead of leaving at 7:45 (PT), the driver leaves at 13:30 (PT). That gives the driver plenty of time to arrive at the receiver. The driver arrives at the receiver two hours before the appointment and can check in. It takes two hours to be unloaded. Now, the driver still has five hours to drive to the next location.
You see that the driver had time in the second scenario to drive to the next location. But how much time did the driver actually waste?
For example, if the driver is traveling at 60mph and has five hours to drive (60 x 5 = 300), then the driver can drive a total of 300 miles. Now, multiply 300 miles x CPM and that’s the amount of money the driver lost out on.
No one thought truck driving involved math, right? Wrong. To maximize your hours, you need to do a little math to make sure you’re not wasting time. Giving yourself plenty of time to get to your destination is important. Plan your trip ahead of time to make sure you aren’t wasting your time.
Driving a truck 11 hours a day is tiring and breaks are needed. Taking breaks is important for your mental health and safety. Our suggestion to you is to use your time wisely when you take a break. Use your breaks to take a quick nap, eat, use the bathroom, fuel up, etc. Remember though, the more breaks you take, the less time you have to drive. The more you drive the more money you will have in your pocket.
Communication is essential. Keep in mind your dispatcher is looking at a screen all day. What they see on their screens might not always translate to what you’re seeing or doing. Keep in constant contact with your dispatcher to make sure you’re both on the same page.
You can maximize your earnings by practicing these 4 tips for every load. Plan your trip ahead of time. That means making a few calls and looking at your map(s) and fuel stops ahead of time. That also means reducing the amount of breaks you take. Don’t be afraid to do some simple math to make sure you’re going to arrive in plenty of time, but not too much time that you end up wasting time.
Remember the more breaks you take the less time you have to drive so use your time wisely and rest up when you’re taking a break. Last but not least, remember dispatchers aren’t with you in the truck, so keeping them informed is important and will help make you more successful. Mastering these tips takes some time and constant practice, but once they become part of your routine, you will be on your way maximizing your earnings.