The American Trucking Association and many other trucking organizations continue to pump out reports that we’re currently short 63,000 drivers, and forecasts a shortage of 176,000 by 2026.
The reason behind this number is because they’re getting gathering data from average trucking companies. You don’t have to be average. Participating in the driver shortage is your choice.
There’s no silver bullet answer out there though, so with a little inspiration from Jet Delivery CEO, Brian Fielkow, we’ll dive into two points, technology and pay, to help explain how the choices your transportation company makes impacts your participation in the "driver shortage."
Technology - Vehicles
Vehicle technology gets smarter and smarter by the day as we work closer to full autonomy. A recent CCJ article states that these fast moving developments shouldn’t scare drivers away because their job will be taken over by robots, but rather it should excite them about how their quality of life will improve.
Someone still needs to unload the vehicle, fuel it up and provide maintenance. These are all recent developments in the fast evolution of a smarter truck that has strong potential to help attract the next generation of drivers to the industry.
As Fielkow recently said in an interview with Yahoo! Finance, new technology in trucks could lead to reshaping the image of the truck driver. Truck driving today can be a grueling job. This job could be seen as interesting to outsiders, whom may reconsider giving truck driving a try or even returning to the industry after leaving previously. Fielkow believes that all the tech upgrades, especially driver assist, combined with newer, more comfortable cabins will actually make truck driving more “fun.”
Technology - Recruiting
Technology is also available for driver lead generation and candidate management. Digital advertising on Google Adwords, Facebook, Instagram, etc. allow you to serve extremely targeted ads to the drivers who you want to see them. You shouldn’t be paying for advertising sources that can’t filter out basic demographic and geographic requirements.
Those leads should be sent to a specific landing page for that job and location (and driver persona) for the ad they clicked on. That landing page should have a 90 second promotional video enticing the driver to provide their basic contact info. That lead should initiate creating a candidate in your Applicant Tracking System that automatically tracked the advertising source so you know where to spend your ad dollars. Hiring drivers should take days, not weeks, and you need to stop guessing where to spend advertising dollars.
Truck driver pay hasn’t kept up with inflation. The reason the industry struggles to find drivers is that median wage of truckers, generally between $40,000 and $50,000, doesn’t attract talent to the profession. The reason the industry is short drivers is because the labor market is clearly saying that the work you offer is worth more than what you pay.
Fielkow is CEO. He knows money doesn’t grow on trees. To raise wages requires open and productive conversations with customers to raise rates. The market is incredibly competitive and it’s a great time to have those conversations with customers – they’re expecting it. Beyond rates, negotiate with customers the treatment of drivers. This can be providing restrooms, scheduling pick-up and delivery times that are favorable to traffic, and compensating drivers for delays.
Fielkow also states that the compensation models for drivers need to change. Paying cents per mile or percentage of the load put too many variables outside of the drivers control to determine their compensation. Traffic, shipper delays, construction, maintenance failures are outside of the driver’s control, yet these factors have direct impact on driver compensation. The variance in driver pay during any week is random and is not tied to their performance.
With all of the extensive technology out there, including in the cab tracking a driver's every move – transportation company's can easily create a driver scorecard for a bonus system based purely on merit. Jetco has switch the majority of their drivers to guaranteed minimums or hourly wages because it’s more reflective of the work provided.
Still No Silver Bullet
We’re sorry to report that increasing pay and using the latest technology doesn’t solve your driver problem. Competitive pay, and more importantly, how you pay is table stakes if you want to grow your fleet. Purchasing the latest equipment doesn’t cause a line of drivers to show up at your door.
So while there’s no silver bullet, you have options to combat the driver shortage - in cab and recruiting technology enhance your pitch and allow you to process more leads in less time. It’s a numbers game and you need to do more with less. Remember, it’s your choice if you have a driver shortage or not.