Sunday, October 11, 2009

The (E)mail Bag #1

This is the first of a semi-regular series of posts responding to reader email pertaining to this site. If you would like to email the author follow this link for instructions.

Most of the first batch of emails offer thanks for keeping up with the blog and posting all of the information the way I do. The most common question has been some variation of:

Why do you produce this blog?

To quote the first post I made on this blog:
I began this series of sites to give people from outside the industry an idea of what it is like for me, moving cargo around the United States day-to-day in a big rig. I don't claim any special knowledge or ability in trucking. You should also know that this site is not sponsored by or beholden to anyone but myself and the views expressed on these pages are entirely my own, whether you agree with them or not. It is also not a recruiting tool or come-on, though I suppose if you were persistent enough you could find out my truck number or driver code and arrange for me to get a recruiting "spiff" if you were so inclined to start driving for this company.

I post much of my financial data to show prospective lease operators one way a truck can be run. Also, when I began my research into trucking four years ago there really wasn't much hard data to go off of, and nowhere near as many blogs and bloggers as there are now.

Why don't you promote your name or truck number more aggressively as a recruiting tool?

As I mention in the quote above (and the tag line at the bottom of each page: "This blog is not authorized or endorsed by anyone, save the author.") the views expressed here are my own and no one exerts editorial control over this content but myself. Some of the operations, safety and recruiting folks at Hill Bros are aware of the blog, as are several of the owners.

Before I came to Hill Bros I made the recruiters well aware of my intentions and showed them my previous blog and I specifically got the head of recruiting to pass the idea of a daily(ish) blog past the owners to see if there would be any heartburn. So far, so good.

I like to think I lavish equal attention on the positives and negatives of trucking as I see them. When operations is on its came and I'm preplanned nicely, I mention it. When a dingleberry gets out of line (from my perspective) I mention that too.

Many trucking companies offer incentives for drivers to spread the word to fellow drivers to get them to sign on. I had some sign on to CFI when I worked there and I've had some sign on to Hill Bros in the time I've been here. However, my goal writing this blog is to inform more than it is to recruit and that is why I play down that angle even though it costs me money I may have made if I splashed my name and truck number on every page. Yes, I'm aware of several drivers who I could have been paid a recruiting bonus for but was not.

In a few months there will be some changes to the look and feel of this blog and there will be a more obvious route to determine who I am should you feel inclined to credit me if you start up with Hill Bros. Until then, just tell the recruiters that you talk to that they are a bunch of Ninjas and Jim in truck 8836 says so and all will be well. :)

Where did the stock portfolio updates go?

I started that on a lark but got bored with it, and the blog is already number heavy. I'm pleased to report quite significant gains across the board and more than a third of my down payment on my new house came just from gains in my portfolio.

Why don't you post data on your health care costs, self-employment taxes, accounting fees, etc? This would give drivers a more complete picture of the actual net you're making -- otherwise a driver could surmise that your net pay are the numbers you post.

My health care and tax situation is likely not the same as anyone else who reads this journal. I did mention in my first quarterly recap that my weekly "nut" comes to $800, which includes all my escrows. I could have been a bit more specific and noted that this includes my truck payment, APU payment, APU maintenance, accounting fee, various insurance payments, 2290 fee and license fee.

That's all for this first (E)mail bag. If you have questions of your own you can send them to me by following the instructions here.