It’s a season of mixed messages about the labour shortage in transportation and logistics.
While some interpret the data to show that the difficulty recruiting drivers is easing, others see a continuation of the trend.
In the US, where 3.54 million are employed as truck drivers, the American Trucking Association (ATA) said the industry needs another 78,000 people to get behind the wheel.
The ATA also said that based on current driver demographic trends, as well as projected growth in freight demand, the shortage could swell to more than 160,000 over the next decade.
In Canada the real numbers are smaller, but the situation is similar.
According to Trucking HR Canada, the average number of vacancies in the truck transportation sector in 2022 stood at 19,078, and in the first quarter of 2023, the number of vacancies rose by 475 jobs.
Taking a contrarian view, an academic paper published in September 2023 says the industry’s driver ‘shortage’ is nothing but the symptom of high employee turnover.
“For‐hire long‐distance truckload is unique among segments of the industry in having a persistent turnover problem, and this is distinct from a long-term shortage. We disagree that a long-term shortage exists in a form that ordinary market processes will not address…We also argue that the persistent turnover problem is the primary source of the perception by industry managers that there is a shortage,” the authors said.
Source: TruckingHR Canada, "Special vacancy report, June 2023"
This is an interesting argument, but it’s not one in which shippers need to participate. The bottom line here is that there is pressure on trucking companies to ensure there are enough drivers to move the loads they are hired to transport.
Whether it’s because the trucking companies don’t pay enough, thus prompting employees to move, or if it’s truly caused by a shortage, makes no difference when you are waiting on a truck that doesn’t show up, or can’t find a company that will take your load.
There’s little an individual company can do to alter market realities, but there is a lot you can do to ensure that your facility is one drivers look forward to visiting, whether to drop or pick-up loads, or both.
Making yourself a shipper of choice means drivers and their employers will see your organization more favourably than others, and in a tight market that can mean you get your loads moved.
So, what do you need to do? Be “user-friendly’ for drivers. Make your DC welcoming. Provide necessities like clean bathrooms, and waiting areas. If you can, offer niceties, too.
These would include snacks, drinks (no alcohol, of course), maybe showers, or even a quiet room where a driver could take a nap while her truck gets unloaded. With hours-of-service rules, being able to rest properly is a huge benefit for drivers.
Also, make it easy for them to do what they came for. Have a smooth entry and exit system, and ensure your lot and docks are easy to maneuver for a big truck. Provide an area for them to park if they do have to wait for a dock door.
However, you can probably avoid using those waiting spots most of the time if you also implement a dock scheduling system such as C3 Reservations. User-friendly, and effective,
C3’s cloud-based dock scheduling lets carriers pick and book the time slot that they want to pull up to the dock. It eliminates phone calls and back-and-forth negotiations when there are changes in a driver’s timeline.
It's an incredibly effective way to win the hearts and minds of your carriers and their drivers. It saves them valuable time because they are not waiting for a dock door, they know exactly when to arrive and where to go.
And because you don’t just make the reservation, you also keep it, they’ll stay happy.
It’s good for you, too. Dock scheduling lets you manage your human resources, inventory and space more effectively than you may even be able to imagine until you’ve seen it in action.
It eliminates wasted time at the docks, with staff standing around waiting, and wasted time in the office, as your traffic managers no longer have to make calls and track loads with a spreadsheet or whiteboard.
So, if you want to learn how to spread joy and share the love with your suppliers, call us for a demo of C3 Reservations, and you’ll be on your way to securing that coveted place as a shipper of choice.