If you’re new to the trucking industry you’ve probably noticed a that you’ve gotten a little more home time this past month than you normally do. While seasoned truck drivers are prepared for the slower freight volumes that come just after the holiday season, new drivers may be wondering what’s going on. Having less freight to pull is pretty much an industry norm depending on what your company hauls as part of their primary service. January and February, sometimes even March, are slower times as the economy slows after the holiday season.
With trucker pay cheques tied directly to the miles driven, the ups and down of the industry certainly affect your bank account. Being prepared for the slower times takes some planning and will power. This article may not help you immediately, but it will give you the information you need to start planning for next January when the industry slows down all over again.
Let’s take a look at the ups and downs of the trucking industry and what you, as a driver, can expect.
January through March: Enjoy Your Home Time
It’s the slow time of the year. This is the time of year where drivers get to spend some extra time at home – enjoy it! Taking extended time off is difficult while the industry is busy. Work wise you may experience 10 to 20 percent fewer miles than normal and shorter runs, which are tedious at best, but it’s better than no miles at all. Most companies rotate their drivers through the cycle of short haul/long haul balancing the runs. Financially you will see a small decrease in pay on account of driving fewer miles, but you can prepare for this during the busy times.
April through June: Business as Usual
By April, sometimes even sooner, the freight needing to be moved balances out and you will once again be hauling normal volumes. Work wise, you’ll be back into the swing of things with regular freight volumes and miles while still maintaining a healthy home life. Financially things will be balanced out as well and you can expect a series of normal pay cheques.
July through September: Things Start Heating Up
This is an interesting time in the trucking industry. Not only do the freight volumes start to increase above normal levels, many of you and your co-workers plan to take holidays during this three month period. While people are on holidays, freight still needs to move. Companies start to struggle to fill loads and, therefore, there are more miles to be had. Starting to take extra miles during this time of year will definitely eat into your home time, but you will also benefit from the extra cash. If you haven’t already guessed it; this is the time of year when you start saving up money to use during the slow season.
October through December: Make Hay While the Sun Shines
This is undoubtedly the craziest time in the trucking industry. In fact it is so busy that midway through you will be wishing it were January. Seasoned drivers will sacrifice home time to make more money now, while it’s busy, knowing that they will have more than enough home time in January and February. It is quite possible to see miles increase 10 to 20 percent over these three months, depending on how hard you work. This can have a significant impact on your income.
It’s all about Cash Flow
Prepare yourself by setting aside enough money to get you through two to three months of a 10 to 20 percent decrease in miles. When you think about it’s an easy number to achieve. Doing this gives you a cushion and allows you to maintain your current standard of living during slow times.