When the word ‘maintenance’ comes up in conversation within trucking circles, most would assume the talk is about trucks, or any piece of equipment for that matter. In the training world however, ‘maintenance’ can be a couple of things.
Outside of the regularly thought of use for the word, in the training world, we rank our students in three different categories; No Maintenance, Low Maintenance, and High Maintenance.
No Maintenance: these students are every training schools dream. They have done their research on the industry and they have obtained all the required paperwork for enrollment. Once enrolled, these students make sure that they have fully committed to the schedule, and treat it as their job. During their training they make sure to always arrive on time and in the proper attire. They ask questions throughout the training and they listen to the answers from the instructors. No Maintenance students also study their training paperwork. You can tell this because when it comes to the pre-trip and air brake components of their training, they progress much faster than their counter parts in the other two maintenance categories. By week three or four of their programs, these students also have a pretty good idea of what companies they would like to work for. In some cases, they have reached out to the companies to let them know of the interest, submitted a resume along with a list of certificates they will obtain and potentially met for an interview, which in the best case scenario results in a conditional job offer. When these no maintenance students end up obtaining their licenses and receiving all their certificates, it is likely they are on their way to a successful career in the industry.
Low Maintenance: Most of the time, students falling into the Low Maintenance category are enjoyable to have around the training facility. During the enrollment process they will have most paperwork handy and what they don’t bring when their supposed to normally shoes up shortly after. They may have some scheduling issues but they address them in a polite way. These students are committed to the program but sometimes need a little push to bear down, or regular reminder from the instructors to study the training paperwork. These students will ask the odd questions about employment opportunities throughout the program but when you follow up with them they haven’t moved on anything. Once they pass their road test, they often complete interviews in the follow week and are working for a reputable company within a couple weeks of graduating.
High Maintenance: these students can cause headaches and challenges for everyone involved in their training program, including the administrators, customer service reps, school managers, and maybe most
importantly, the instructors. When this type of student is going through the enrollment process, it seems like they always need to be chased for their paperwork and hounded to get it in. You’re never sure whether these students want to be in the program, or if they are being forced to be. Sometimes they seem excited and committed, other times extremely disinterested. When you give these students their schedule, it is likely they ‘forget’ everything you told them during orientation. Things like “Why I am scheduled on a weekend?”, “What do you mean there is evening training”, “Oh, sorry I forgot to tell you I need 5 days off for a trip to Cuba.” Once scheduling issues are sorted out and training begins, it’s a tossup whether the student will show up on time or not, usually being anywhere from 5-15 minutes late. It is rare that these students take the time to study their training paperwork, and often during yard times the instructors have to focus extra effort on making sure they are paying attention. The instructors will have headaches from these students for numerous reasons; 1) they don’t listen 2) they can sense the dis interest and lack of effort 3) they don’t study 4) they complain 5) etc, etc, etc.. For this type of student, by the 5th or 6th week of a program, it seems as if they have done no research and have no idea about the type of driving or any companies they may be interested in obtaining employment from, nor do they have an interest in speaking with the customer service reps about potential opportunities. After a successful road test, these students will wait weeks, maybe months to start a job hunt. In most cases these types of students end up working for a less then reputable carrier or not pursuing a career in truck at all.
When we do our employment calls to previous grads on a regular basis, without fail, the students in the No Maintenance and Low Maintenance categories are working for the reputable carriers or private fleets and have had very little to no job jumping and are happy with their career choice. When speaking with the high maintenance clients it is not uncommon for them to be out of the industry all together, or to have had three or four different jobs in a twelve-month span.
Hiring companies often call us regarding graduated students who have applied for job openings. Most of the questions they ask have nothing to do with the students grades or ability behind the wheel. They want to know about the student’s attitude, professionalism, attendance, relationship with staff, and communication skills, which we translate into No Maintenance, Low Maintenance, or High Maintenance.
About the Author
A graduate of the University of Guelph, Richardson played five years of football for the Gryphons captaining the team in his last 3 years. He started working in the trucking industry at age 5 washing trucks and 20 years later his career is now in the industry with KRTS and The Rear View Mirror