Paul has been in the trucking industry for twelve years. He worked as an over-the-road driver, a local driver and acted as a CDL instructor. He started at ATS as a flatbed specialized driver before moving into a driver consultant role.
So you’ve decided it’s time to move on to another trucking carrier — now what?
Perhaps you were unhappy about pay, you didn’t get to go home as often as you would’ve liked or you didn’t feel valued as a driver.
Once you’ve accepted a position with another trucking company, you don’t just drive or fly on down to orientation to get started somewhere else. There are a few things you’ll need to take care of before you go.
It’s always best to quit on good terms. As a former driver who spent more than ten years in the trucking industry, I know a thing or two about quitting on good terms before transitioning to a new carrier. I’ll teach you everything you need to know about giving your notice and turning in your truck so you can leave in good standing.
Quitting on bad terms — or worse, abandoning your truck or a load — is a surefire way to ensure you get a bad work verification on your Drive-A-Check (DAC) report and lose your chance of working with your top-choice trucking carrier.
If it’s time to quit your trucking carrier, this article will teach you everything you need to know about quitting on good terms, including turning in your truck and getting your finances in order.
6 Tips for Quitting Your Trucking Job
Get your finances in order
Give two weeks’ notice
Strategically plan your quit date
Offload your gear and reorganize your stuff
Drop off your truck in an authorized location — don’t abandon it
Clean out your truck
1. Get Your Finances in Order
Timing is everything when it comes to quitting your current trucking carrier and transitioning to a new one. If you don’t have your finances in order, you probably shouldn’t be putting in your notice just yet.
You should have upwards of four weeks of pay saved away before you quit. Include the cost of daily expenses on the road — from coffee and cigarettes to food and entertainment — and any expenses you need to take care of at home, including rent, utilities and insurance.
You also need to ensure you have money to cover any final truck lease payments and the maintenance costs required to recondition the truck for the next driver. You’ll be responsible for these costs if you leased the truck.
Do not quit when you owe the company money.
You might be going several weeks without pay until your next check. During that time, you may have to pay to get to orientation or cover your meals and accommodations if your new carrier isn’t already covering those expenses.
It’s good practice to talk to the new trucking carrier you’re working with to find out if there are any hiring bonuses. If there are, find out how and when they will be paid out. Also, ask when you will receive your first check.
If you’re in a bad financial spot, take some time to save up before you put in your notice and start orientation with a new carrier. Your recruiter should understand if you need to wait to start orientation for a few weeks to get your ducks in a row. Make sure you are in a good financial spot before you willingly subject yourself to a week or two without income.
Some drivers prefer to carry cash in their truck so it’s readily accessible and they don’t have to worry about finding a bank. Whether you have a debit card or cash, just make sure you can access the money you need in whatever state you may be in for new driver orientation. Give yourself the money and freedom to get where you need to go.
2. Give Two Weeks’ Notice
You should always give two weeks’ notice. Some drivers will even give three weeks’ notice if they’re especially close with their fleet manager or dispatcher. It’s not only common courtesy to give notice, but it will ensure you get a good review from your employer when you’re applying to other jobs in the future.
If you can, it’s best practice to quit in person. Face-to-face interactions are always preferable over a phone call, and it’s especially preferable over a simple text or email. It gives you the chance to talk with your fleet manager about what is frustrating you and why you are choosing to leave. Be honest about why you’re not happy. They may be able to make a change that will make you stay — especially if you are a valued driver.
It doesn’t hurt to also send out your notice on the Qualcomm, or onboard computer with a messaging system. It’s best to have documentation of all interactions. The message will go to a group of people and it will be abundantly clear when your last day will be. Be sure to thank everyone you worked with.
You shouldn’t quit until you have something else lined up. You should be scheduled for new driver orientation. To avoid the chance of being disqualified once you get to orientation, be sure you are 100 percent honest about your driving experience. This includes your accident record, safety score and work history.
It’s also important to note that there is a chance your carrier will decide to send you on your way when you quit, especially if you weren’t in good standing with them. Carriers may do this to avoid truck abandonment. If you quit in person, they may ask for the keys immediately. If you quit on the road, you may be quickly routed back to your carrier to turn the truck in.
Keep this in mind when you quit. It may not go the way you planned.
3. Strategically Plan Your Quit Date
Most drivers choose to have their last day on a Friday so they can start new driver orientation on a Monday. No matter what day you decide to give your notice to your fleet manager, you need to be mindful when choosing your quit date.
You should ask your fleet manager or dispatcher to route you back to the terminal, headquarters or drop-off spot on your last day. That way, you’ll be able to drop your truck off and head straight to your new driver orientation — whether you’re renting a car or flying.
A smooth transition from one job to the next will help you get back out on the road and earning money as soon as possible.
Is it time to make the switch? Contact one of our driver consultants today.
4. Offload Your Gear and Reorganize Your Stuff
Part of your strategic plan when you quit should include factoring in home-time so you can offload your gear.
If you can give your notice on the way home, that’s preferable. That will give you time to offload all your nonessential gear that doesn’t need to come with you to new driver orientation.
You don’t want to be hauling a fridge, microwave, television and weeks of clothing to orientation; it’s a lot of baggage — literally — to lug around.
When you’re home, offload the stuff you don’t need and pack the basics. Think a couple of weeks of clothing, your sheets and maybe your iPad or computer.
Ideally, you’ll be routed home fairly quickly after orientation, so you can pick up the rest of the stuff you need for your truck then.
5. Drop Off Your Truck in an Authorized Location — DON’T Abandon It
If you drop your truck off in an unauthorized location, it’s considered truck abandonment. Do not abandon your truck and do not abandon any loads.
Don’t leave your truck on the side of the road or in an abandoned parking lot. It will get you in a lot of trouble because it costs the carriers thousands of dollars to collect. A truck abandonment will go on your DAC report, so it could cost you jobs at future carriers because they look at your work verification.
If you abandon your truck as a lease operator, you could be fined or they may even withhold your last check. Abandoning your truck and a load is even worse.
You will need to return your truck to the exact location specified by either your trucking carrier or the leasing company. Anywhere else is considered abandonment.
Park your truck in a spot where you can see the trucking company’s logo or building and the truck number. Take a picture for your records. This proves that you didn’t abandon your truck and you left it exactly where it needs to be. Send the photo to your fleet manager along with a note about where you left it.
6. Clean Out Your Truck
Before you drop your truck off, take some time to clean it out. Clear it of garbage and any personal belongings.
It’s a good idea to spend some time cleaning your truck, too. Give it a quick sweep or vacuum and wipe down all of the surfaces. If your leased truck is extremely dirty, you could be fined. Be considerate and take care of your truck; someone will be coming into that truck behind you to clean and detail it and you don’t want to leave them with a mess.
If you’ve been leasing your truck, take care of any final maintenance work. Carriers will spend thousands of dollars to get your truck back in tip-top shape for the next driver. If your truck needs repairs, you’ll need to cover the costs. They’ll pull from your escrow and maintenance accounts for this. If you need extensive repairs that you didn’t already take care of, your reserve from your escrow and maintenance accounts may not cover it and you’ll have to spend money out-of-pocket.
Keep On Trucking!
Quitting your trucking carrier can be tough, but knowing that you are prepared will make it easier. In turn, you’ll feel more prepared to give your best at your next job.
All most drivers want is a chance to prove themselves. Just be sure that as a driver you are giving the company you’re going to work for ample time to do the same thing. Jumping from company to company will not only cost you and the company money, but it is frustrating and stressful.
If you live in one of our hiring areas and are considering switching trucking carriers, Anderson Trucking Service (ATS) has a driver-centric culture that puts the driver first. You’ll be treated with respect and given the tools you need to succeed and feel supported.
I hope you’re well on your way to quitting in good standing, but if you’re not quite at the quitting stage, you’ll find this list of questions you should consider when you’re switching carriers helpful.