Everyone has different priorities during their job search. For some, a role with exceptional pay is a must. Others look for a workplace with a mission and values that mirror theirs, placing less emphasis on making top-dollar.
Regardless of their reason for looking, most people are set on finding a place where they can make a difference, utilize their skills, learn new things and grow. Are these your aims?
The transportation industry has a variety of positions that allow individuals to pursue personal and professional nourishment. At the right company, a job in this industry offers higher-than-average pay, work-life balance and the chance to make an impact on global commerce.
Driver managers fill a foundational role at every trucking company as they oversee, direct and ensure the success of a group of truck drivers. A highly-rewarding position, it’s not uncommon for driver managers to develop deep connections with the drivers under their watch as they communicate with them every day.
Like any other job, however, a career in driver management isn’t for everybody; conflict resolution and relationship building are vital skills for these workers to possess.
Here at Anderson Trucking Service (ATS), altogether our asset divisions employ more than 40 driver managers, each charged with monitoring a portion of our driver fleet. Over a nearly 70-year history, we’ve seen countless people thrive in this position and continually look to bring bright new talent onboard.
But being a driver manager isn’t the right fit for everyone.
To help you decide whether a career in driver management is worth pursuing, this article will explain:
- What a driver manager is
- What a driver manager does
- What’s great about being a driver manager
- What’s challenging about being a driver manager
- How much driver managers (generally) make
- Who this job is a good fit for
- Who this job is not a good fit for
What is a Driver Manager?
Driver managers are in charge of managing and overseeing a portion of a trucking company’s fleet — usually in the range of 35-45 drivers. Depending on the size of the company, the number of driver managers and, by extension, the number of drivers per manager will change.
Driver managers fall under a company’s operations wing, typically report to operations managers and work closely with sales, customer service and other support departments.
What are the Duties of a Driver Manager?
Driver managers fill a vital role within every trucking company. Primarily, these individuals help their fleet achieve safety, service, revenue and retention goals.
These are the metrics and performance indicators each driver manager is measured on per period. In turn, their fleet’s safety, service performance, average revenue-per-truck and driver turnover are the primary focus of every driver manager.
Usually, achieving these goals means developing strong relationships, trust and mutual respect with drivers. This relationship helps driver managers anticipate their drivers’ needs and take proactive measures to ensure positive performance and outcomes.
Although the day-to-day duties of a driver manager fluctuate as needs arise, the most prominent activities these employees accomplish are:
- Touching base with drivers via phone and email
- Ensuring the service expectations of loads assigned to their fleet are met
- Acting as a liaison between the drivers on the road and internal stakeholders (customer service and sales teams, permitting departments, safety, planning, etc.)
- Helping drivers ensure on-time pickup and delivery service by relaying routing recommendations, providing training where necessary and various other activities.
- Addressing driver concerns in a timely manner to ensure their needs are thoroughly met.
Although this isn’t a comprehensive list, as a driver manager, expect to be tasked with all of these things and more. In the fast-paced transportation world, incidents and issues arise daily, requiring a quick response from the people in these roles.
What’s Great About Being a Driver Manager?
First and foremost, being a driver manager is an incredibly rewarding position. Without their assistance and expertise, no trucking company would survive. Driver managers are the glue connecting truck drivers with their home base; the trucking company assigning them loads and keeping them moving.
As a result, driver managers become an extension of each truck driver under their gaze, developing deep and meaningful relationships with all of them.
Driver managers witness the impact of their efforts every day and are never bored; there are constantly problems to work through and solutions to find. Being the person in charge of finding a solution that meets internal demands and the needs of the truck driver is what many driver managers enjoy most.
If you end up pursuing one of these roles, expect to make a measurable impact on your company, its customers and the world.
What’s Challenging About Being a Driver Manager?
Being a driver manager is far from easy. It’s not uncommon for a driver manager to make 60-80 phone calls per day. During this time, these employees are under a lot of pressure — it’s up to them to fix issues as they arise to ensure driver satisfaction and the profitability of every truck.
This can be really challenging, especially for people who are uncomfortable working in a fast-paced environment. A trucking company’s success hinges on its drivers and driver managers act as the main point of contact for every driver. This responsibility can’t be taken lightly and can be stressful.
As such, you may want to avoid becoming a driver manager if this intimidates you. Also, steer clear of this position if you’re uncomfortable talking on the phone; driver managers spend more time doing this than most other jobs.
How Much Does a Driver Manager Make?
Entry-level driver managers — those entering this role with little/no experience — usually make $46,000-$60,000 in their first year. Your exact pay will change based on your employment history and experience.
Typically, driver managers are compensated with a base pay and have the opportunity to earn a monthly performance incentive on top of it. After some time, it’s not uncommon for a seasoned, high-performing driver manager to make a six-figure income.
So, if you’re searching for a job that can pay you well and offers the opportunity to control your income — through a performance-based incentive — a job in driver management may be worth pursuing.
Who is This Job a Good Fit For?
It’s difficult to definitively qualify someone as a fit for this role; so many people, with all kinds of backgrounds, have the potential to succeed as a driver manager.
However, people who possess soft skills like communication, charisma, problem-solving and collaboration do better than most.
Additionally, self-starters that are organized and great at prioritizing and reprioritizing at a moment’s notice make excellent driver managers. It’s typical for driver managers to have tons of tasks going at once, making these skills really important.
While they tend to get comfortable with their fast-paced workflow after 6-12 months, successful driver managers enter this role with a lot of these skills in place.
Who is This Job a Poor Fit For?
Driver managers must be able to build strong relationships with their coworkers and drivers. It’s important that these employees can build trust and credibility, feel comfortable resolving conflict and have the wherewithal to manage multiple complex tasks at the same time.
People without these competencies or the desire to develop them might want to avoid a fleet manager role. It’s also common to see poor communicators struggle in this position.
You see, in a job where talking on the phone, setting and managing expectations, creating connections and responding to issues are the main responsibilities, it’s important that driver managers have a well-rounded interpersonal skillset.
Considering a Driver Manager Position? Here Are 9 Skills You Need
With this high-level overview of the driver manager position, you have a better understanding of what this career path has to offer. As one of the most popular entry-level positions in the transportation world, a lot of people — just like you — have found happiness in a driver manager career.
At the right company, being a driver manager provides high earning potential, work-life balance, and flexibility. All of these are worth pursuing in a job.
But do you have what it takes to succeed from the onset? Over the years, we’ve identified nine skills present in our most effective driver managers. As such, it’s worth knowing whether your skill set matches theirs; if they do, you’ve got a fruitful career in fleet management ahead.
Your next step is to read this article where we list and outline those nine skills to round out your understanding of this position.
For more information on what being a fleet manager at ATS could mean, you can find the job description here. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out. One of our recruiters will respond promptly to address your concerns.