Home > All Mercertown Blog Posts, The Economy Trucker > The Economy Trucker (part 4)

The Economy Trucker (part 4)

As we start to head into the Winter months, I can hear the nervousness in contractors voices.  What is freight going to do?  Is it going to be slow?  The best answer I have is “I don’t know”.  There are some steps you can take to ensure that you will be as successful as possible though.

Take some time to review your equipment list with your coordinator.  We keep a list in the computer that shows coordinators and agents exactly what equipment you currently have on the truck.  It has to be precise, because you will be offered freight depending on what you have on board.  Here are some of the items of equipment that we need to know about:

# of Straps, Chains, and Binders – Our typical requirement is 12 of each.  Some of our shippers consistently require 14-15, or more.  Anytime this number changes, it needs to be noted.

# of Coil Racks, Dunnage (Beveled or not), Rubber Belting – When agents put loads of coils in the computer, they usually put in the number of coils being hauled.  If this number is not correct in the computer, you may get bypassed on a load because it doesn’t appear that you have enough racks to haul it.

Tarps – Most important of all.  Need to know how many, and what size of all tarps.  Your coordinator will put in a maximum tarp height size in your equipment screen, which will default to your preference screen.  That number is typically going to be 4, 6, or 8, as in how many feet tall you can tarp.  It is smart to figure out the maximum tarp height that you can tarp a 48′ long load.  If your coordinator thinks that you can only tarp a maximum of 6′ tall, but you have enough tarps to cover 8′ tall, then you are missing freight!  A common mistake is telling your coordinator that you have 6′ tarps, but you don’t mention that they could be turned to cover an 8′ tall load.  If you don’t communicate with your coordinator, then they may just put 6′ in.

Also communicate with your coordinator about defective tarps.  If you have any tarps with significant tearing, then your coordinator needs to know.  We have some customers, particularly ones that move coils, that are really putting a lot of pressure on us to keep their freight dry, and claim free.  We do not need to knowingly send you into a shipper when you have poor tarps that you know will not keep the product completely dry.  This will lead to an increase in claims, and money out of your pocket.  Also, the less we take care of a customers product, the less freight they will give us.  When you ask what’s going to happen this winter, I will say that we need to take care of our customers to get all of the freight offered to us that we can.  If you have defective tarps, repair or replace them as soon as possible.  I know that money is tight, but it gets even tighter when you can’t haul any freight because you have nothing to cover it with.

Load Levellers, Ramps – These two obviously apply to our Step Deck fleet.  I think that one load leveler is a must!    If you are pulling a Step Deck, that doesn’t have a 40+ foot bottom deck, get a leveler.  Everyone knows that we do a ton of  Military freight.  We get a lot of those Military loads in the form of 20 foot containers.  You can’t legally overhang 2 20′ containers on the bottom of a Step Deck.  So you need the leveller to level the front can off of the top deck.  There is also a lot of pipe, and other commodities that a load leveler will allow you to load with your Step Deck.

Ramps are ok to have, but if you are in the market to buy some…wait.  There are plenty of steps with them already to cover most of the freight that we get that require them.  I would not go out and spend a ton of money on them going into the winter.  It’s just going to be more money out of your pocket, and more weight on your trailer.

Empty Weight – Your coordinator needs to know the maximum amount of weight you can scale!  THIS IS VITAL TO YOUR SUCCESS AT MERCER!  I have seen too many contractors tell their coordinator to put lower weights in the computer than what they can scale.  For example:  If you can scale 48,000#, but you tell your coordinator you only want to haul no more than 45,000.  Your coordinator puts that as your maximum scale weight in the computer, and you are not offered any freight that weighs over 45,000 pounds.  Why would you not to even be offered a load over that?  The effect is that you are not offered as much freight, and we will have to continue to feed our brokers pockets with the heavy freight that you refuse to haul.  You can pass any freight that you want to here at Mercer.  You can be the pickiest driver in the world here.  At least open yourself up to be offered the freight.  What if that 48000 pound load would get you through the house, or it paid better than anything else you are getting offered?  Please check with your coordinator, and see what your scale weight is in the computer.  Make sure it is 100% accurate!

Remember, we can only offer you the freight, that we think that you have the equipment to haul.  You have to be versatile in this business to survive, so make sure that your equipment info is current with your coordinator.  Update it every time you lose or add equipment.  If you have any questions on what you should have, and how much of it…call Heidi, and I.  Be safe, and have a good day!

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  1. HeidiVT
    September 15, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    In addition to the equipment items Jason mentioned, I’d like to urge each of you to review your endorsments. I had a contractor today that had hazmat and we did not have it in the system. Also consider expanding your abilities- get a TWIC card, passport, Alabama Coil Certification, Haz-Mat and maybe even a tanker endorsement. All these items could seperate you from the other contractors at the truck stop and get you a load. Remember, if you can do something they can’t, you’re getting out of there.

    • Gary Stone
      September 23, 2009 at 8:44 am

      HeidiVT . . . . . . . How do we get to see our profiles at MERCER? My last visit to the Louisville facility was great for me because my profile was not complete and i too was not listed for HAMAT, tanker, etc. Thank You

  2. Mike & Bobbye Sue
    September 16, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    What is the benefit of a tanker endorsement for a flatbed company? Just curious!

    • Jason Schaftlein
      September 16, 2009 at 4:02 pm

      For example: We have hauled fuel tanker vehicles for the military, and we have had contractors get shut down for having a tanker unit on their trailer, but no tanker endorsement on their cdl. It is a rare occurance, but it is needed for some of our freight.

  3. jpdubois
    September 22, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    How many airplane parts can we load before we need a pilot’s license?

    • Jason Schaftlein
      September 23, 2009 at 8:24 am

      It depends on how fast you drive.

    • Roger Osborn
      October 10, 2010 at 10:41 am

      LOL…that is just too funny jpdubois…. ha..thanks for the good laugh, that’s my kinda sense of humor! ; ‘ )

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