This is part II of our series on how to be rock and roll coach driver. You might want to start this read with Rick’s five (not so easy) steps to breaking into the coach business.
Congrats! You made it through the first installment of my story on becoming a coach driver and you’re back. I suppose you want to know what two questions I ask any wannabe entertainment coach driver. Your answers will tell me everything I need to know about your ability to handle the life once you’re in.
- How often does your company get you home?
- How often do you need to get home?
When I ask those two questions a lot of drivers will puff out their chest feathers and proudly proclaim; "Oh, I’ve been known to stay out up to four weeks at a time." Then I tell them they would never make it and they seem to be confused or otherwise upset.
But if you really want to do this, here is the information you have been waiting for...
Driving human passengers just isn’t the same as hauling freight. The CDL requirements are the same, but the dynamics involved in driving a bus are very different from those of a tractor-trailer.
For one thing - we have beds on board and people in those beds… in the middle of the night. So, lane changes are slow and deliberate and may take up to 1000 feet to complete. Exit ramps and turns are also slow and methodical.
You will never see an entertainer coach mashing the accelerator as soon as the light turns green at the bottom of the ramp. Keep that in mind when you are behind one of us.
Getting into the entertainment trucking business
There are six major players in the entertainment trucking industry and one for our Canadian brethren.
- Upstaging, Inc - Company drivers only
- Stage Call specialized transport - Opportunities for company drivers and O/O
- Roadshow, Inc - Opportunities for company drivers and O/O
- Janco, Ltd - Opportunities for company drivers
- Ego Trips - Opportunities for company drivers
- Xtreme transport, LLC - Opportunities for company drivers. If you want to do country music, this is your ticket
- Truck and Roll, Ltd (Canada) - Opportunities for company drivers
Each web site has a link to driver hiring requirements or a contact for you to enquire about a career with the carrier.
Upstaging is the largest truck transportation provider to the entertainment industry in North America and they provide concert lighting to numerous tours. With over 300 trucks, they are your best shot at getting hired and getting your foot in the door. DO NOT apply if you have not given serious thought to the guidelines I set in my previous post!
When you apply, you need to keep some things in mind. Our industry is not like the freight industry. We aren’t paid by the mile, instead bus drivers are paid on a day rate and truck drivers are paid a weekly salary. You will more than likely start in the $750+ per week salary range. You may balk at that figure and think you're worth more and you may so don't hesitate to ask. But you should keep in mind a few of the perks:
- Road expenses will go down exponentially... all three of your meals are provided free of charge on show days. In addition, soft drinks, water, juices etc. can be collected and taken to your truck for your fridge or cooler. You also get a bagged lunch for your overnight drive.
- We do what are called "over drives" when there is a long distance drive (usually 500 or more miles) between shows, you are paid extra.
- Doing your laundry will become a thing of the past. Drop your dirty clothes bag off in the production office with a $20 bill and the production runner will take it to a laundry and have it washed, dried, folded and returned at the end of the day.
- Yes you can get tickets for family/friends depending on the tour and whether or not the show is sold out in advance.
One more thing that I failed to mention is you must be able to sleep during the day and drive at night. If you’re a solar powered driver that hits the truck stop for parking every evening at 7 pm - this job is not for you.
Ninety eight percent of our driving is done between the hours of midnight and 8 am. You will come to appreciate the fact that during those hours you are on the road with true professionals. Because the solar powered fleet drivers are at the truck stop. But you may get so accustomed to the nocturnal schedule you'll curse your next day drive once you've gotten used to driving without idiots on the road.
Well, good luck in your endeavors. If you use this information to get your foot in the door, feel free to drop me a line and let me know how things are going for you. Maybe I’ll see you out on tour.