«  View All Posts

Choosing the Right Trucking Company: 5 Considerations (That Aren’t Pay)

January 26th, 2022

Jimmy Williams

Jimmy Williams

Jimmy has been with ATS for four years as a driver consultant. He prides himself on giving each driver 100% commitment to ensure they are in the best possible situation.

Be honest: How many times have you applied to a trucking company simply because you liked the pay they were offering? 

Did you think the grass was greener on the other side but the grass actually hadn’t been watered in years?

While pay is certainly important, it is not the only thing that you should be thinking about when you start applying at trucking companies.

In fact, if pay is the only thing you’re thinking about, you’re more than likely going to end up in a world of hurt. This is because either the company might not actually pay what they promised or because they can’t accommodate other needs you might have on the job.

Even if the pay the company promised was accurate, how do they treat you? Are you just another number, or are you a valued member of the team? Is the company stable? 

As a driver consultant at Anderson Trucking Service (ATS), I pride myself on helping drivers understand all aspects of our company and our programs so they can get a clear understanding of whether or not ATS offers what they need to meet their career goals. I want to help you do the same thing, whether or not you are considering ATS as an option in your search.

The truth is this: In today’s market, every trucking company is paying pretty well. What truly makes a company stand out comes down to how they treat you, the stability of the company, their customer base, their home time policies and their equipment. 

By the time you’re done reading this article, you’ll be able to properly vet each trucking company you’re looking at, rather than just making your decision based on pay.

5 Things to Consider Before Switching Trucking Carriers

Pay shouldn’t be the only thing you look at when you’re switching trucking carriers. Be sure to also consider: 

  1. Customer Base
  2. Stability
  3. Home Time
  4. Equipment
  5. Respect


1. What Does the Company’s Customer Base Look Like?

In today’s market, brokered freight has tanked. Working with a trucking company that hauls only customer freight offers stability that brokered freight cannot. 

Look for a company that has a strong customer base. If they serve as the in-house carrier for a good percentage of their customers, that is a great sign. An in-house carrier means that they’re the only company that hauls freight for them. This customer loyalty will provide stability in your job.

Talk to your recruiter about the company’s customer base. Ask questions like:

  • What kind of freight will I be hauling if I work for you? 
  • Do you offer the type of freight I want to haul? 
  • Where are your customers located? 
  • Are your freight lanes in areas I’d rather avoid driving in?

If the company hauls freight that you hate hauling (maybe you hate hauling cranes or oversized machinery for instance), they’re probably not a good fit for you. On the flip side, if you’d rather have a lot of variety in the freight you haul and the company only hauls dry goods, they’re not the right fit for you either. 

Some companies have a large customer base that will take drivers all over. That means you might need to drive in areas you don’t like if you choose to drive for that company. Other companies may have a customer base in a centralized location. Either way, find out what routes you’ll frequently be driving. Do they align with your needs?

If you hate driving in the northeast but that’s where most of their customers are, you may want to find another company to drive for. If you’d love to drive in Canada one day, Washington another, and Texas the next, find a company that has a wide customer base (and customers in Canada).

You’ll find all of this out by asking your recruiter in your initial conversations with them. Don’t be afraid to ask an endless stream of questions. They should be prepared to answer with honesty. If they can’t — or they don’t at least offer to find the answer for you — you should move on to the next carrier on your list. You’re holding your career in your hands, after all; you need to know what you’re getting yourself into.

Another great question to ask your recruiter: Do they still work with their very first customers? If so, they’ve probably got a great reputation for a reason. Showing that they work with their first customers proves a level of expertise and safety that you may love to be a part of.

An open conversation with your recruiter about their customer base should be at the top of your checklist. They may not be able to name the names of their customers, but you’ll get a good idea of what your day-to-day will look like, along with the loads you’ll be hauling.

2. Is the Company Stable?

There’s not enough to be said about stable trucking carriers. Look for carriers that have been around for a long time and are well established in the trucking industry. Chances are, they’ll have built themselves up as a reliable carrier with a strong customer base. That offers you a stable career and a promising paycheck. 

Ask your recruiter how they did during the height of the pandemic. Many companies were forced to close up shop, while others excelled. Did they succeed or were they close to bankruptcy? 

Working with a debt-free company also provides stability. There’s a good chance they’ll be around next year and the year after that and the decade after that. If you’re looking to settle with a company and build your career, a stable, debt-free trucking company is the way to go.

Desktop CTA Is ATS Right For YOU?

3. What is Their Home Time Policy?

How often can you get home? 

If you’re a driver that wants to be home every single night, look for trucking companies that offer dedicated freight lanes for local and regional driving. If you decide to sign on with the top-paying company but they only offer over-the-road (OTR) driving, you’re in for a rude awakening. 

Driving OTR can be a tough lifestyle to adjust to if you’re used to going home every single night. It’s not uncommon for a truck driver to switch trucking companies because the pay promised looked great, but the driver didn’t realize they can only earn that pay if they’re out on the road for three weeks at a time.

The company’s home time policies should align with your and your family’s needs.

When considering home time, it’s a good idea to not only talk to your recruiter about what you can expect but also talk to drivers working for that company. Check out reviews too. Are home time requests met? Do drivers go home as often as the recruiters are promising? If these two don’t line up and home time is your top priority, you might want to go in another direction.


4. What Kind of Equipment Does the Company Offer?

Does the company have the type of equipment you want? 

The pandemic brought about a parts shortage and a national truck shortage. Talk to your recruiter about their equipment. Do they have new trucks? What is the company’s plan in the coming years for securing newer equipment?

Ask about the makes, models and years of the trucks in their fleet. Knowing the years of the trucks will give you a good idea of the wear and tear on the trucks.

You don’t want to drive for a company that doesn’t have the make and model of truck that you prefer, especially if you’ll only drive Freightliners or Volvos. You’ll be disappointed when you show up to orientation and can’t go home with the truck you want.

5. Does the Company Respect Their Drivers?

Talk to other drivers. Is the company known for fostering a culture of respect? Or is every driver treated like another number in the fleet? 

Talk to other drivers to see what their experience has been. Do drivers feel valued? Can they walk into company headquarters and be greeted with a handshake and a smile? Does the company do anything for Driver Appreciation Week?

Ask drivers what the company’s driver lounges look like. Are the facilities nice or have they seen better days? This can be a good indicator of how much a trucking company values its employees.

Companies that don’t foster a culture of respect may leave you with more complaints than praise.


Ask Your Recruiter the Right Questions to Find the Right Company

Finding the right carrier will prevent a whole lot of wasted time and wasted money. If you go to a company just because a Facebook ad popped up and promised great pay, you’re more likely than not going to be sorely disappointed. You may even come crawling back to your previous carrier.

Spend your time looking up the companies you’re considering. Talk to other drivers and ask your recruiters every question that crosses your mind.

ATS has been around since 1955. We currently have a third-generation Anderson at the helm, with our very first customer still loyal to us having us. We are more than 2,000 customers strong, with us acting as in-house carriers for 15 percent of those customers. We pride ourselves on putting family first and treating you with the respect you deserve. 

Take your time to find the right company for you. We put together a list of some of the top carriers in the industry right now, not just because of their pay, but because of their offerings and stability.

When you’re talking to recruiters, keep this list of 94 questions you must ask your recruiter handy.

Download the checklist now!