I am close to completing my lease/purchase (LP) program with J.B. Hunt. It was a learning experience and it took a little doing to be able to work it successfully. Here are some tips that I will share with you to help you along with yours.
It all starts with the choices you make in orientation. There are some very important decisions that you need to be aware of before you sign on the dotted line. There are different programs that is designed to fit the kind of driver/business owner you are. Here is what you need to decide on in orientation.
The truck you want or can afford:
They have all sorts of different mileage and year trucks available. If you decide on a newer truck then you will have a higher monthly payment but a newer, more reliable truck. If the truck has less than 500,000 miles, then you will have somewhat of a warranty available up until that point. The older trucks that are close to 500,000 miles have a much lower monthly payment, but not much left of the factory warranty. I chose an older truck with 466,000 miles but the body and appearance was good on it. My monthly payment is 1,010.00 per month.
They have two plans available. One is a complete coverage plan. This plan covers everything from bumper to bumper on your vehicle. I was offered this plan for .11 cents per mile and if you blew an engine the plan replaces that too. Tow bills due to mechanical failure etc.etc. However, I didn’t choose this plan because I have always ran the traditional mileage plan for .05 cents per mile. I put the numbers to both plans and figured the difference between the two plans before I made my decision. Now the maintenance plan for bumper to bumper is up to .13 cents per mile. The average monthly mileage you run over here is a little over 10,000 miles per month, that ends up to be 120,000 miles per year. Times that by 3 years and that is 360,000 miles. Times that by .13 cents per mile and the total maintenance for your truck for that period will be 46,800.00. If you run your own maintenance program for .07 cents per mile then you will end up putting 25,200 in your maintenance account. Both plans have their advantages and disadvantages. If you don’t consider yourself somewhat of a “shade tree” mechanic then the bumper to bumper plan might be the best plan for you. If you have somewhat of a mechanical knowledge, then the .07 cents will probably work for you. I chose the .07 cents per mile plan and have been able to keep up the maintenance up to this point. Right now I have around 4,000.00 left in my account but I’m facing about that much in repairs. While I’m writing this I need an air compressor (275.00) a b-service (225.00) and I’m going to have J.B. switch my clutch out (819,000 on the original) for 1,500.00. But, I have new drive tires on from last month, and new steer tires from 3 months ago that have come out of the account also. The money for the bumper to bumper does not build up in your account but the traditional one does, so any money left over in my account will follow me over to the O/O side of J.B. because they run a maintenance account for their owner ops also.
There are a few different plans for LP drivers. You can run forced dispatch or non-forced dispatch on mileage or percentage. After you have been with them for a while, then you will be eligible for the “pilot program” which is what I am currently on. The rates for mileage are .90 c.p.m. + fuel surcharge (fsc) on the forced dispatch or .87 cpm + fsc on the non-forced dispatch. The rates for percentage are 61% for forced dispatch or 57% for non-forced dispatch. If you decide on the mileage base plan, then you will receive compensation for your deadhead miles at .84 cpm + fsc. If you choose the percentage plan then you will deadhead on your own expense. The difference between forced and non-forced dispatch is if they send you a crappy load over the on board computer (obc) then a forced dispatch has to run that load but a non forced dispatch has the option to refuse it and wait for another one to be assigned to him/her.
A Freight Lane Tip:
If you haul a load into the northeast, then prepare yourself for a crappy rate if you are on percentage. Here is one lesson that I learned about accepting a crappy load. I was headed to New Jersey and a load came over the OBC that was 9 miles in length and paid around 12.00. I messaged the dispatcher back and told him that I would be proud to run that load for him and by the way could he give me a load to back that one up with. He responded by giving me a second load going to Laredo, Tx that was preloaded on the yard. After I arrived at the company yard I went into the break room and was greeted by about 6 other drivers who asked me if they had tried to put that crappy load on me. I told them I accepted it and they all sorta shook their heads and told me they would never haul a load that cheap. I told them the deal I got out of it by asking for a second one and then they all were standing around with their mouths open. I bid them farewell and went out to make my money.
Those are the choices you will make in orientation at J.B.! Now you are more informed about what is involved and how to choose what is best for you. You can change somewhat between the compensation plans but the maintenance plan and the truck you choose will be yours thru the life of your LP career.
Making Smart Business Decisions:
Another way I was able to succeed was money management along with the payment program. The last day of the week for getting paid is anything that is done by monday at 2400. Most of the time I would fill up my tank on monday. This allowed me to run the first couple of runs without having to buy any fuel and this in turn would meet my fixed expenses early on in the week. It was always a good feeling to have your truck payment and fixed expenses paid for early on in the week and still have some fuel left over to start the rest of the week with. You also have 4 weeks out of the year that you don’t have a truck payment. The payment plan is set up for 48 weeks but there are 52 weeks out of the year. If you plan to take some time off then try to set it up for the week that has the fifth monday in it out of the month. This will keep you from going into the hole or having a negative paycheck. Up to this point I have never been into the negative side of my compensation.
Anyway, these are some tips that will hopefully help you along. They might not fit your individual plan or capabilities and you might have to find out what works best for you because I’d hate to be responsible for you not making it in the program. Just watch your money, plan your time off and tweak your business plan if it’s not working for you.
Try not to get so upset that you want to quit the program and lose sight of the fact that in just a short while you will end up with your own truck. Conflicts may arise from time to time, but they can always be worked out with the right attitude. I am pretty excited about getting the title to my truck in less than 90 days. Keep the faith and keep on trucking.
(a.k.a. Bobby Boofay)