A few months ago I was delayed at a shipper. When the fork lift guy came out to tell me the load would be delayed, he immediately got defensive when I asked how long of a delay; even though I had asked politely. I then explained that I just needed to keep my dispatch in the loop and calculate if the delivery would be delayed.
He apologized. They were having production issues that day and I wasn’t the only truck delayed. I was, however, the only one who didn’t tear him a brand new a$#. He got me in to a dock as soon as my load was ready and even moved me ahead of another driver whose load was ready before mine. That driver wasn’t so nice to Mr. Forklift Guy.
When on the road we, as truck drivers, are representatives of the company who employs us. We work with clients in person all the time. These aren’t just shippers and receivers – they’re clients. They pay the bills.
It’s important to be professional when you are dealing with clients. First, we want to continue to do business with them. Trucking is an extremely competitive and cut throat business. It’s in our best interest to keep our clients satisfied with our service; see above about who pays the bills. Second, when you are professional it’ll make your job easier. Sure, if you’re having problems with a shipper/receiver they may not respond professionally to you; but at least you’re not making the situation worse. Third, if you lose clients, or cause problems between your company and the clients, it won’t take long for your company to get rid of you or reduce your miles.
Here are a few tips on how to deal with clients for new truck drivers.
The 7 P’s
Proper Prior Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance
You will improve the experience for both you and the client through proper preparation. Make sure you call them in advance to set up your pick up or delivery. Have your pick up or order numbers on hand and know where the load is going.
Arrive early. Even if you have an appointment you can arrive early, unless specifically instructed not to. If you arrive early see if they have an opening. If they don’t, make it clear that it isn’t a problem. Ask them if you can get in early if they have a cancelation. Often you’ll get in early if you’re prepared.
Also ensure your trailer is clean.
Don’t Appear to be a Derelict
Make sure you and your clothes are clean. There’s nothing worse than being stuck near another driver who hasn’t showered or looks as though they were crawling under their truck.
Also, wear shoes! You’re conducting business and not swimming at the beach. Flip flops really make you appear to be some sort of slob. Shipper/receivers have safety and insurance liabilities and don’t want unprotected feet, shuffling around their property. And let’s face it; fully grown adults should not be wearing uggs or crocs – ever. EVER!
Call Your Dispatch
If you are having an issue with a shipper/receiver, call your dispatch. Always be polite and friendly. Yelling and escalating a situation doesn’t lead to a positive outcome. Remember these people ultimately determine when you leave. They’re on the clock, and if they keep you there longer, it doesn’t cost them anytime away from their family.
Remember that this is a fast paced industry and shipper/receivers have a lot to deal with too. Approach them with an attitude of courtesy and cooperation. Your goal and their goal should be to get the job done as efficiently as possible. A little professional courtesy will go a long way.