Trucker Tools’ Director of Onboarding and Implementation Russ Bennett recently interviewed trucking company owner Je’Ron Hamm for Trucker Tools Talks, our weekly interview series with folks from around the trucking industry. Je’Ron is a former NFL tight end turned trucker turned fleet owner who got his start in the industry doing hot shot. Today Je’Ron’s trucking business Pro-Haul Logistics provides flatbed, power only and dry van locally, regionally and OTR to hundreds of brokers and shippers across the United States.
When he first started working in trucking, Je’Ron began documenting his experiences and lessons learned in trucking on his YouTube channel. The YouTube channel eventually grew to become Pro-Haul TV, Je’Ron’s mentorship and training program for new truckers. In our conversation with Je’Ron, he offered some great advice to new drivers and carriers, which we share here.
“Many people struggle with understanding the expenses that come along with a truck,” Je’Ron said. “Even myself, I heard the big number that I could earn, jumped in and realized there are a lot of hidden costs, including 25 percent of your income going to fuel. You may have a blowout or have to get a wrecker for some reason, things like that. Track your numbers early and understand what’s coming in and what’s going out. That’s the only way you can scale and build your business credit and have everything situated with your finances and taxes so that you can get whatever funding you need. That’s the biggest part — financial literacy.”
“We don’t do a ton of port work, but we will if it’s paying good and the driver has a TWIC card to get on and off,” said Je’Ron. “We run into some issues with timing there and long waits recently. I’m paying for everybody who doesn’t have TWIC to get their TWIC, though, just in case everything does start moving and we’ve got a bunch of containers that are going to need to get moved around. We just want to put ourselves in a good position for that.”
“A lot of brokers require you to have at least 90 days on your MC number,” said Je’Ron. “My suggestion to those drivers or companies just starting off with new MC numbers is to find those brokers who do work with new companies because a lot of them do. Now, you can’t negotiate as much because they know you don’t have many options. Going in that first three months just expect to maybe even lose a little money, but hopefully break even with your numbers because you don’t have as many options.”
“A lot of people are deadheading 200 or 300 miles and when you do that, now you’re working in the negative in terms of revenue,” Je’Ron said. “Once you’re in the business for a little while, you’ll start to figure out that there are freight dead spots and you’ll learn to avoid them. We do a pretty good job of sending our drivers places where we know they’re going to have more freight. We stay away from those super rural areas. We still deadhead sometimes. I try to keep our deadhead under 100 miles. This week, I think the most a guy deadheaded was 60 miles. Last week we had a guy who deadheaded 120 miles, but we got that into the rate. If we deadhead, we try to negotiate and sell our truck, like ‘Hey, my guy’s empty right now. He could be there in two hours, but we need a little bit more.’”
For more of our conversation with Je’Ron, watch this episode of Trucker Tools Talks on demand.