For a long time, trucking knowledge and skills were passed from the “old hands” to those wanting to take the wheel. These were drivers who not only talked the talk, but walked the walk. Truckers with many years behind the wheel, willing to pass information, gut instincts and hands-on experience knew that everyone would benefit from these new, eager and talented drivers, learning all they could about the industry.
The trucking environment today is different in a number of ways, but it still benefits from drivers sharing their knowledge and helping each other. A new driver who finds a veteran driver that is willing to share information whether it be safety or uncertain moments can benefit everyone on the roads. It can also be extremely fulfilling for veteran drivers.
The Experienced Driver
Every driver believes in their abilities on the road, but handling a truck in bad weather or around truckers who are more focused on texting than driving does not mean that you will be a good mentor. In order for this to work, you yourself needs to be successful. Also, you need to have in-the-trenches experience where learning from mistakes paved the way to your success and you need to be able to take what you’ve learned and teach it.
Those who have driven trucks say it takes about five years and 500,000 miles to gain the experience it takes to be a good driver. It takes that long for the open road and the industry itself to get through enough roadblocks in your path for someone to understand what it truly takes to be a great driver.
Lastly, you need to have passion for trucking and a desire to see other truckers have a greater success than you did.
Finding a Mentor
The rookie looking to learn needs to find someone with all of the traits stated above. Look for the driver who takes care of his vehicle, not necessarily the one with the shiniest, newest truck. Find someone who is professional and presentable even after tying down an entire flatbed
Listen to the driver about the job, ideally, this person should be a problem solver who focuses on finding a way to get things done. The mentor you are looking for should talk about revenue per week, month or quarter rather than looking at it per mile. Be careful around those who constantly talk about their success, the ideal mentor should be rooted in reality and humility.
Once you’ve established a good working relationship, ask about books, podcasts, publications or courses that might help you achieve your ultimate goals. Even ask them how they reached their biggest goals. They might be able to shed some light on what it takes and what is needed.
The more diversified their experience the better. Finding someone who has bought trucks, trailers and even owned their own company is deal as they can share a diverse set of experiences in each part of the industry.
Mentors Can Learn Too
A good mentor listens to others. The greatest benefit of being a mentor is knowing you’ve helped a trucker get his or her professional life in order; taking a unique lifestyle and teaching them how to earn a very good living from it.
Learning from those who have been on the road before is something that needs to continue in order to progress the industry and keep everyone safe.