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Navigating the Driver Shortage ~ Simplified (Part 2)

Jun 26, 2018

Last time we talked about the truck driver shortage, its causes, and its effects. If you missed it, you can go here to read it. Here we’re going to look at something more positive – what’s being done in an effort to improve the situation and what you need to do to successfully ship your freight.

Truck driver shortage-solution-American Group.jpgWhat is the solution? 

Bonuses, Wages, and Benefits

To attract drivers, trucking companies are offering sign-on bonuses. Wages have jumped at least 10% over the last 18 months. Yet higher pay typically isn’t enough to overcome many people’s aversion to a rough-and-tumble driver lifestyle. To address this, some carriers are also making an effort to offer better work schedules so drivers have a normal weekend off on a more routine basis, for example. Carriers are also working to enhance benefits to attract drivers by offering services such as keeping nurse practitioners on staff who can care for employees and their families.

Compensation Based on Hourly Versus Per Mile

Some drivers are paid hourly but most are compensated based on miles driven. It’s been found that more than 77 % of carriers reported that their drivers are being detained for more than two hours on at least one out of five loads. Although carriers may charge fees for unnecessary loading and unloading delays, drivers aren’t compensated for these wait times. Plus, congestion on the roadways result in longer hours for truckers as well. Previously, carriers were reluctant to pay for hours driven with no way to confirm the time was actually spent driving, as opposed to making a stop along the way. They used to have to rely on EDI messages for visibility, which is not a real-time solution, and can be altered. Now, with smart phones, GPS, and ELDs, there’s plenty of real-time visibility and no reason not to pay for hours driven instead of miles traveled. There may be a trend of starting to pay drivers hourly and this could help make the occupation more appealing.

Legislation

The American Trucking Association (ATA) backs legislation in Congress to lower the minimum age for interstate driving from 21 to 18. Trucking loses many potential recruits to other industries when they graduate from high school. Changing the age could help with that. Plus the legislation requires a commercial driver licensing program that would include extensive training and mentoring.

Carrier-Run Truck Driver Schools 

Another way that carriers are trying to attract new drivers is by offering on-site truck driver schools. Some of them even have lodging for new drivers while they’re attending school. New drivers who successfully graduate from the school would, of course, already have a job available to them with the carrier too! 

What’s a Shipper to Do? 

Shortage or no shortage, you still have freight you need moved. So, how do you successful ensure that your freight is moved safely, and in a timely fashion, without ruining your budget? Here are a few things to remember:

There’s More to Freight Shipping Than Price – Yes, I know that you have a budget to keep in mind. I’m not saying that you should necessarily pay top dollar. What I am saying is that there’s more to consider when selecting a carrier to move your freight. Service, for example, is important so your freight arrives safely, undamaged, and in a timely fashion. 

Don’t Send Out a Freight RFP – This approach may have worked in the past, but sending out an RFP only creates an artificially increased demand on the lane where your freight needs to travel. This, in turn, drives up rates due to the economic principles of supply and demand.

Consider a Regional Approach – Instead of offering all your freight to all carriers, consider looking at regional options based on your freight destinations. It will be a win-win, helping you contain costs while securing the needed capacity along with personal service. 

Use Metrics to Help You Select Carriers – Look at performance levels such as on-time delivery, service ratings, and damage metrics when selecting a carrier. If you have a TMS system, you already have these metrics at your disposal.

Make it Easy for Carriers to Serve You – Don’t make carriers wait in line at your loading dock to load or unload. These delays are part of the driver shortage problem. Be a part of the solution by scheduling with carriers so that you’re ready to receive a delivery or to load your freight when the truck arrives at your facility. And, don’t forget to communicate with freight carriers to keep them in the loop with any situational changes or adjustments needed. Both these things will make them more likely to want to work with you. 

Now you have a more complete picture of the driver shortage, its causes, its effects, its potential solution, and how to navigate it. Start implementing some of these ideas so you’re in a better position to meet your current shipping requirements. Remember, working with a 3PL can give you added leverage in working with carriers. So, why not contact American Group to find out how we can help? 

American Group is a 3PL with decades of experience guiding businesses through the selection, preparation, and shipping of their freight. Contact us for assistance with your next shipment by phone at 866-553-6608 or by email at Info@ShipAG.com. We’re here to make Shipping.Simplified®.

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