Unfortunately, public perception of truck drivers is at an all-time low. We all know of the negative stereotypes in the industry but what can you do to put these to rest?
To get ahead, you need to think about how you are perceived by the people you encounter during the day. Like any business, trust is built on first impressions. People will often make snap decisions based on how you project yourself. So, if you can exceed these preconceptions you’ll not only get more respect, you’ll be doing your part in improving the overall image of trucking.
It only takes a few minor tweaks to start building that trust. These simple rules show you how to start acting like a true professional:
Treat everyone like a customer
If you want to get ahead in your career it is important to impress your customers. But who exactly are your customers?
You might think customers are just the people you deliver goods to, but in reality your customers are everyone you deal within your workday. It doesn’t matter if it’s a DOT inspector, your dispatcher, workers at the loading dock, or your boss they are all your customers. Not only are they your customers, you are a customer of theirs. In fact, everyone is a customer of everyone else.
Give great customer service to everyone and watch it be reciprocated. Treat people how you would like them to treat you.
Check your attitude at the door
We’ve all seen that irate driver who needs to get unloaded as soon as he’s backed into the dock. It doesn’t matter how busy he is no one wants to deal with him.
Not every day is going to run smoothly; sometimes you’ve just got to roll with the punches and hold your tongue. Even when you’re having a bad day you still need to endear yourself to your customers.
Introduce yourself properly, clearly state why you are there and even engage in some small talk. If you’re remembered as the nice guy just watch how quickly people deal with you compared to the guy who just grunts at everyone.
Dress to Impress
Clothes make the man; it’s an idiom you’ve likely heard before. Before you even speak, how you dress and look says a lot about you. Driving a truck can be a dirty work, no one expects you to be wearing a business suit and tie, but you do have to make some effort.
If you are lucky your company might provide you with a uniform. Uniforms are great, but remember it’s your responsibility to make sure you keep it clean, pressed and looking good.
If you’re not fortunate enough to be provided with a uniform it’s no excuse for looking scruffy. Forget about the grubby oversized t-shirt and sports shorts. Instead, invest in some good quality work clothes. For the summer months avoid t-shirts and try a collared polo shirt and don’t forget to have a spare shirt in your vehicle.
Get the Funk Out
Sitting behind the wheel with the sun beating through the windows can lead to some ripe body odors. Even with the A/C blasting, some days you just can’t avoid getting a little stinky.
As long as you shower daily then a quick spray of deodorant should suffice to keep you smelling fresh as a daisy. These days many truck stops have been modernized, so there is no excuse for not showering daily when you are out on a long haul.
You never know when you might have to shake someone’s hand so it’s a good idea to keep a small bottle of hand sanitizer and degreaser in the cab. Also don’t forget to clean you teeth, keep you hair brushed and trim your beard/facial hair.
Putting it all together
Remember when out on the road you are not just representing your company but you are also representing your fellow truckers. Stay smart!