Going Out of Service
I try to manage my in-service time closely, because I want the maximum exposure to available freight, and I don’t like to waste the time that I’ve already waited for freight.
I’ve been planning to post about what I do after delivering a load to prepare for my next load. I’m also trying to post on subjects that are related to what I’m doing at any particular time. Since I’m always one load away from getting ready for my next load, post-delivery planning is a topic that can apply several times a week. I will get to it, but right now I’m working on going out of service by the end of the week and who knows when that topic will come up again—I’m stingy with my out of service time. Technically, I’ll probably be going out of service again in the next couple week, but that is part of the story.
I try to manage my in-service time closely, because I want the maximum exposure to available freight, and I don’t like to waste the time that I’ve already waited for freight. I also take pride in not putting unrealistic expectations on the carrier who is arranging my freight. The following are different scenarios, and how I handle them.
Boston by Friday.
I’ve known for a couple weeks that I need to be in Boston by this Friday. Up until now it hasn’t mattered where I go. I’ve covered everything from Indiana to Florida just last week. This week I have to start paying attention. On Monday I send a qualcomm message to dispatch that looks something like this—“I plan to be in Boston, Massachusetts by Friday morning. Any loads in that direction will help. Available for all loads.” Wednesday morning I send a message that looks like, “I plan to be in Boston, Massachusetts by Friday morning. Available for loads going east.” If I’m still in the Midwest on Wednesday afternoon/evening, I send in my out of service macro (a pre written out of service message), and add a written message that says, “Out of service, heading to Boston, Massachusetts. If any loads come up en route, please call.” I look at this last message as helping me and the carrier. If something comes up accidently, it’s work for me and the carrier, but at the same time it is very hard for the carrier to miscommitt me to a load that can’t work.
Tires in Grand Rapids.
I ordered new tires for my van and had them shipped to Grand Rapids, Michigan. They arrive sometime this week, and I have 30 days to install them after they arrive. I picked Grand Rapids, because it is close to a lot of freight, and I have a very good chance of being near there several times in the next four weeks. Anytime I get within a couple hours of Grand Rapids, I’ll start heading that way. If a load comes up that takes me in a different direction, I’ll take the load, but I’ll continue my attempts to get to Grand Rapids when I’m close. I will stay in-service up to the point of handing my keys to the tire technician at the tire shop. I send in my going out of service macro with a return to service time of one hour. I also send a message to dispatch to let them know that I’m only out for a brief stop. I spend as little time between delivery and getting into the shop, because it has least impact on my dwell time. A day from now an hour is of little notice. A couple times during this brief down time, I’ve had dispatch call with a load for later in the day, because they knew what was going on. This strategy would work especially well in a busy place like Detroit where there is usually a line of other in-service vehicles after delivery. Deliver, zip to the shop, go out of service, and return to service an hour later. Minimal loss of dwell time and just a couple places in line. I use this same strategy when doing quick jobs like oil changes. Deliver, out of service, communicate, quick job, back in-service. Minimal loss in dwell time. There are times when it takes longer to deliver at a customer than it takes to go out and back into service. And the carrier isn’t caught short, since they know what’s happening.
The hardest to plan for but the easiest strategic decision to make is the urgent call from home. You just go. If it’s big enough to require your attention, you just go. The first thing I do is take myself out of service and then I tell dispatch what I’m doing. Whether I call or send in a qualcomm message depends on the urgency. I always have the funds to cover any trip anywhere I may need to go. It’s one of the purposes of an emergency fund. If dispatch offers a load going in my direction, that’s great, but my only expectation is of me fulfilling my responsibilities to myself. It may sound harsh, but emergencies are a part of the business, and if I can’t afford my emergencies, I need to restructure my business to fit my situation.