First off, I never planned to file a report on this website about Covenant. I went to work for this company with high expectations of having a long and successful future with them. Unfortunately, it hasn't worked out. And, the fact that it hasn't worked out isn't due to my "screwing up". I'm leaving them on good terms, but not without some disappointment. So, I just thought I would share my experience(s) with others to provide a snapshot of what to expect should one choose to get on-board with this employer.
The main reason I am leaving is that I am simply unable to support my family from the relatively small amount of money this company pays to new/recent grad drivers. I already understand all too well about starting off at the bottom and working my way up. But, I didn't spend $5000 for CDL schooling so that I can be on the road for 3 weeks at a time (away from family), putting my life in danger, being responsible for anywhere from many thousands of dollars to over a million dollars worth of merchandise (in a loaded trailer) while earning only $300-$450 dollars a week. I can earn that at home (minus alot of that responsibility) working at a 7-11. Its not so much the cpm pay scale (although that does factor in), as it is the number of miles each week one is given. In my case, normally 2500-3200 (and I was teamed).
There is no uniformity in training requirements (for upgrade) among their various terminals. Many avoid upgrading in Chattanooga (due to the hassle), to the point, that now, drivers needing to be upgraded are turned away from other terminals for no apparent reason other than to simply force them to upgrade in Chattanooga. Such was the case with me. The safety director on duty (at one of their other terminals) either could not or simply would not give me an answer as to why he was turning me away other than "he was told not to upgrade me". I don't understand that reasoning. I'm not an ogre nor do I have a "problem" with other people. I was just trying to do the next right thing in order to move ahead and further my career expeditiously. I walked away feeling disillusioned and baffled by his lack of reasoning and refusal to cooperate.
So, I finally "upgraded", A COUPLE WEEKS LATER in Chattanooga.
Also, in Chattanooga, expect the "upgrade criteria" to differ from what is currently being published on their Website for new/recent CDL graduates. There will be more tasks involved in "testing out" than what they are currently purporting online. I believe that is why many avoid Chattanooga. According to one of the safety instructors I spoke to "on the hill", they now have about a 50% first-time fail rate. It is not uncommon, while talking about this to the more experienced full-time regularly employed drivers at Covenant, to be told by them (being a widely-held belief) that this fail rate is intentionally encouraged by Corporate to sharply leverage bonus monies paid to Trainers. First time go = $600 bonus, Re-Tries = $300 is paid to Trainers contingent upon their students success. I"m not making any of this up nor am I exaggerating. In the meantime, you are getting paid <$300, per week, while in trainee status....good luck paying your bills for a couple months.
Another thing, DON'T purchase everything they tell you you'll need to bring to Orientation on the list they provide online. Much of it is a waste of money. You'll never use it. They'll never ask to see it. Take what you know you'll need to take care of yourself and meet your own needs. All the rest is "fluff". Unfortunately, I made the mistake of dropping @ $200 on items that stayed packed in my bag and never saw the light of day the entire time I was out. Take that for what its worth, it's your money.
Also, don't be surprised (or get upset) if you need to call-in to one of the departments @ Corporate to inquire or make changes about your personal business loaded into their system. Unless you are lucky, chances are you'll be told that only "so and so" can help you and they aren't available at the moment. You'll need to wait, leave a message or callback. This happened to me twice in two different departments! In one of the instances, it actually took me nearly 3 days before I was able to speak to "the only person that could help me". In the meantime, I waited. I was astounded by this. How could a corporation the size of Covenant be staffed and/or trained so poorly that they would only have one person, in each of the two departments I dealt with, that possessed the knowledge, training, and networking capabilities to assist me with my issues in reaching a successful and timely resolution? Do they not cross-train? What happens when that "one person" is on vacation or calls in sick or is legitimately called away? Does the entire machine just break down? I marveled over what possible efficiency model they were mirroring.... I was stunned, sadly disappointed, and anxiously frustrated.
This is all from a company that shouts "I Commit to Care". I don't understand it. I think someone sold them on this mission statement because it sounded good, and the "higher-ups" believed it would make for good "eye-candy". In their mission statement/culture model the "C" is supposedly an acronym for "Communication". I really don't get that. Communication seemed poor, at best.
There is an "Executive Council" that I learned existed several weeks after I signed on with this company. This council is made up of Drivers, for Drivers, to act as liason among the "worker bee's" and "upper management". I only learned about it after I inquired about it after seeing it on a decal mounted on the side of one of the rigs at a terminal. I never met one of these guys. Throughout my entire orientation, training, and following my upgrade, and after having visited probably half a dozen yards/terminals across the country, I never had anyone tell me about the Executive Council until I saw this decal and asked. As a new driver, how can I believe this "Executive Council" truly have their "finger on the pulse" of the average working man "in the field" when it seems this title and council is more for "show" than "application"? I say that, because, how can I believe that this council is concerned with me ( as a new driver coming on board with the company) when they don't even make it a point to let me know they exist...unless this position and title is more self-serving than altruistic...
How does this council make it better (in understanding questions and concerns) of "new drivers" if they never communicate with them? Where is the forward thinking and desire for continual improvement if no communication exists? Perhaps, if I was afforded the knowledge of their existence, I would've had some type of recourse to appeal to someone on that council (other than the "safety director on duty") as to why I was being denied the ability to upgrade, outside of Chattanooga, when I had met all company requirements (treads, logs, segments, etc....)???
Later, I was told, by a more experienced and seasoned driver, the decision probably hinged on the expected cost of a bus ticket.....really, a bus ticket. The really sad part is that I made it a point to repeatedly let the "safety director" know that I wasn't planning on taking "home time" following upgrade. Truth is, I NEEDED to stay out so I could make more money. My bills were already falling so far behind (at home) that even the "basic utilities" were very near the point of being "shut off". My family was in fear. I did not feel any "Commitment to Care" as I walked out the director's office and back to the rig on the yard.
Most recently, a couple weeks ago, Covenant announced it was transitioning over to a "new software system". We were told that this new software would completely overhaul Covenants' old antiquated software system way of doing business, thereby, rocketing us (as a company) into the new millenia as an even more competitive industry leader. Immediately following this transition, I can tell you from my own first-hand experience (as well as from talking to others) that Covenant drivers all over the country sat in parking lots for days while Fleet Managers desperately struggled to grasp understanding of this new software. Last week, dozens of drivers didn't receive paychecks.
I'm serious, people actually didn't get paid. So, in their infinite wisdom, the company raised the "advance ceiling" to allow drivers to request up to $250 (one time) to offset this "discrepancy". At this very moment, Covenant is struggling to straighten these problems out. It's a damned mess. The real irony in all this is that many of these same drivers are probably drawing that $250 against their next weeks' paycheck... a paycheck made up of nearly 1/2 a week sitting in a parking lot. So, they won't get much of a check next week, either. It's almost like it's self-perpetuating. Sad, really.
But, I really do wish Covenant the best.
I just can't continue giving my allegiance and placing my future livelihood in the hands of this organization. I have given them all that they've asked and then some. In return, they have repeatedly failed to meet my expectations...on more than one level, in more than one instance.
This is not to say there aren't good people at Covenant..I believe there are. Unfortunately, I believe their main problems exist within their own management infrastructure. Aside from the "eye-candy" mission statement disconnect, this more recent "software" fiasco cements my suspicions. I can't imagine how this breakdown in S.O.P. is jeopardizing their customer service relationships, let alone the internal havoc its wreaked on their own employees.
And, that's all I've got to say about that.