Don’t Wait for the Truck Driver Shortage to Hit Your Business

A truck driver shortage exists. News media like CNN, trade groups, trucking firms and industry watchers all agree a shortage exists and will worsen over the next 5 years.

So what’s causing this shortage? There’s no singular cause. But many industry insiders mention: driver pay and benefits, an improving economy, time away from home and family, company culture, and government regulations.

Since no one has definitively identified the cause (or causes), it’s prudent to consider everything. This approach keeps you from a real cause, so your business won’t accidentally be blown away by it.

Oh, before going any further, be aware some challenge the notion of an existing or impending truck driver shortage. Admittedly this represents a minority view, but they cite turnover as the real issue.

Regardless, to help you manage the risks — whether caused by a truck driver shortage or turnover — here are six ways to alleviate the impending impacts.

Forecasting Truck Driver Shortages and Their Potential Impacts

  • When engaged in problem solving, it’s better to start sooner rather than later.  So start now!
  • Gather the facts and assumptions and consider the forecasts and their potential effects.  Project how these effects will impact your business in particular.  How can you mitigate risk?  Look out at least 3- 5 years.  You’ll want to address issues as well as those that will worsen over time.
  • Develop a plan that identifies issues directly affecting your business.  Now you’re ready to look at how to mitigate them (holistic rather than piecemeal).

Offer Benefits that Cater to the Interests of Today’s Young Drivers

  • Review your company’s existing benefits and compare them to today’s market. Are they attractive given today’s market? Do your benefits “influence” a young driver’s decision to join a company?  Consider vacation, training, hiring bonuses, to name a few. Do you offer guaranteed time off? NTBTRK in Michigan “guarantees” drivers 48 hours off/week.
  • Realistically, what can your company afford given today’s truck truck driver shortage?  And what can your business afford to not do?  50% of companies now offer sign-on bonuses, ranging from $250 to $5,000. Werner Enterprises offers up to $5,000 signing bonuses.
  • Bottom line – review and update your company’s benefits according to the competitive landscape. Allocate available resources in a way that makes sense for your situation.

Re-engineer Business Processes for Effectiveness and Efficiency

  • Zoning is a new process taking hold in the industry. Several trucking firms have already implemented zoning and others are considering it.  And companies are already realizing beneficial effects. Con-way, for example, designs routes, limiting travel to several states; ensuring drivers can be home once a week.  It’s a winner.
  • Inter-modal transportation offers another means to reduce the impacts of a truck driver shortage.  Long-term, this looks like a viable solution, especially as forecasts put the shortage at 300,000 by 2020. Before this spins out of control – if it does – you’ll already have a solution that takes the bite out of that looming impact.

Build Partnerships that Foster Trust and Long-term Relationships

  • Don’t go it alone. As the trucking industry experiences increasing cost and competition, now is the time to start forging a meaningful partnership with shippers. Take a long-term view. But also take advantage of any low-hanging fruit.
  • Explore new and different ways of working together. Focus on improved service for shippers and better conditions for your drivers. Seeking win-win opportunities builds common ground and trust.  And partnering may lead to unexpected innovations that will surprise you.

Revitalize Recruitment Programs

  • Renewed emphasis on recruiting and marketing can lead to substantial benefits. Do your recruiting and marketing plans address today’s market conditions? Are you exploiting all potential sources of driver candidates?
  • Swift Transportation focuses its recruiting efforts on military veterans because they offer a ready pool of potentially candidates. And, sweetening the pot, the federal government now gives trucking companies a $6,500 bonus for each vet hired. Others target trucking schools.  Explore the possibilities.

Renew Marketing Plans with a Targeted Focus and Relevant Content

  • Are your marketing materials relevant? Do they target the issues important to today’s younger drivers? Look at refreshing your online (website content, banner ads, and offline (brochures, fact sheets, press releases) marketing content.
    • Studies suggest driver salary remains important, but other intangibles weigh in heavily as well. Spending more time with family, for example, ranks higher with young drivers than money.

All signs, naysayers aside, suggest today’s truck driver shortage will get worse. Current projections suggest there’s no relief in sight any time soon.

Develop a plan that takes a holistic approach. Implement the right elements, at the right time to navigate this looming crisis.

Why wait to let things get beyond your control? The advantage goes to the early mover.

What will you do about it?


 About the Author:

Alex Milo, , is a professional B2B Copywriter with a certification in SEO copywriting.  He’s also a Certified Professional Logistician.  Alex has over 25 years of experience in transportation and logistics operational, customer service, and business development positions. He writes B2B marketing content and consults to transportation and logistics companies, helping them develop and implement content marketing strategies. You can reach him at