Shippers tend to treat trucking as a commodity, with price being the number one determinant when selecting a carrier.
But shippers and logistics providers shouldn’t think of truckers as an expense to be minimized. They should view their carrier relationships as an integral component of their supply chain.
As we move into peak season, trucking companies — and, ultimately, shippers — are going to feel the effects of a nationwide driver shortage.
Truck capacity has already grown “extremely tight” and “edged even closer to 100% utilization,” according to a State of Logistics report released this summer by the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals and reported on by the Wall Street Journal.
The American Trucking Association estimates there is a shortage of between 35,000 and 40,000 drivers in the U.S. trucking industry, and that number is expected to grow.
A 3PL is only as reliable as its network of carriers, which is why forward-thinking 3PLs are listening to their carriers’ concerns and building long-term, collaborative partnerships.
Below are five tips from transportation analytics firm Omnitracs for maintaining valuable relationships with truck drivers.
Trust — Fostering trusting relationships between fleet managers and drivers is crucial to the safety, productivity and satisfaction of the driver, as well as increasing profitability of the entire fleet. To help build and maintain trusting relationships, ensure honest and open discussions with your drivers in all forms of communication, especially when it comes to load assignments. It’s not enough to trust your drivers; they must trust you, too.
Consistency — In today’s uncertain trucking climate, drivers crave consistency. One of the easiest ways to keep your drivers happy is by simply paying them on time. Make sure your drivers are clear about the value and anticipated delivery date of their paychecks to avoid disappointment and frustration on the tail end.
Listen –Open, two-way communication between fleet managers and drivers is essential to maintaining good manager-driver relationships. Taking the time to listen to a driver’s concerns can help boost employee loyalty and help fleet managers remediate issues before they develop into larger problems (i.e. accidents, voluntary termination or workers’ compensation claims). Alongside listening, it’s also important to mirror a driver’s behaviors to help them feel more comfortable and open.
Establish Recognition Programs – Implementing end-of-year incentives and year-round recognition programs is a great way to show your drivers that you value and appreciate their dedication and hard work. From employee of the month awards to year-end bonuses for safe driving habits, these programs give drivers something to strive for and help build pride fleet-wide.
Monitor for change – Lacking valuable face time, fleet managers must monitor for changes in drivers’ behaviors to proactively remediate potentially troublesome situations or events. Predictive analytics systems, such as those offered by Omnitracs Analytics, arm fleet managers with the tools and information needed to have the right conversation, with the right driver, at the right times.