732.3 billion U.S. dollars – this is the worth of the trucking industry back in 2020.
902,000 – this is the number of truck drivers employed in the U.S.
928,647 – this is the number of for-hire carriers.
799,342 – this is the number of private carriers.
Can you spot how big of an influence the trucking industry has on the U.S. economy and standards of living? Indeed, the U.S. trucking industry is one of the biggest driving forces of the nation’s economy. Being responsible for almost 70 percent of the U.S. goods, it largely contributes to economic growth. Plus, as an industry that recruits millions of people, it drastically cuts the unemployment rate. Statistics show that most of the cargo is handled by the trucking industry rather than by other means of transportation like trains, planes, or ships. Indeed, the industry cannot thrive without facing several challenges and overcoming them. Recently, self-driving trucks became popular, which impacted the ongoing driver shortages. Also, such problems come up because of the average age of retirement for truck drivers, which is approximately the age of 46. Another issue regarding the whole trucking industry is the rate of trucking accidents that happen because of distracted driving, truck malfunctioning, as well as other driver behaviors. Such issues and challenges make the industry ponder whether to change its functioning or not.
It is evident that the U.S. economy heavily depends on the trucking industry as a bright source of income. No doubt that without it, the U.S. economy will suffer. It is not only a question of the economy but also concerns businesses that entirely rely on the day-to-day operations of trucking businesses like AJR Trucking. As the weakening of the trucking industry will be fatal for the U.S., it would be better to explore the main aspects of the trucking business. This will help understand what changes can be made to your trucking business to contribute to the development of the industry. Let’s go along with the article and brainstorm together.
Trucking as a Service Industry
Trucking is considered a service industry that encompasses thorough planning procedures to ensure customer satisfaction. Not a single detail should be missed in the implementation of any given request because manufacturers, businesses, and individuals involved in the process of delivery are very demanding. As a part of the service industry, trucking companies need to make customer satisfaction one of their top priorities. Even though the planning stage is not the most pleasurable thing to undertake, it is the key to the success of each and every trucking company. The biggest trucking companies in the U.S., like AJR Trucking, pay utmost attention to the planning stage and ensure that they devote a decent amount of time to it because if planning is done perfectly, implementation of the plan will go without disruptions.
Permits and Licenses
Businesses in the trucking industry cannot function without permits and licenses. Yes, permits and licenses need to fully match the trucking regulations and requirements. Operating illegally in this industry is pointless for a trucking business because, sooner or later, it will end up losing the trucking license. Considering how special regulations and requirements are for trucking companies, business owners need to put an emphasis on ensuring that not a single regulation or requirement is missed. Obligations concerning permits from the governments, taxes, employees, and the business itself should be handled in the most detailed way. For instance, if a trucking business forgets to provide it’s truck drivers a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), it will either cost the employees their careers or risk being subject to massive penalties. Either way, it is better and safer to take your time and explore what is needed to obtain to be legally successful.
The Back Office
Many people have a vague understanding of what a trucking business is. These people think that a trucking company encompasses business owners, trucks, and truck drivers. Is it true? No! Trucking business is more than that. As mentioned above, at the end of the day, it is the backbone of the U.S. economy. Indeed, if we talk about the trucking business’s internal environment, it expands beyond just trucks and truck drivers. The back office of a truck company is one of the crucial facets of the business. The whole operation starts with a call from the operations manager, who begins the required service. That person is in charge of overseeing safe and disruptive operations. Things like what needs to be picked up, when it should be done, what the delivery destination is, when the shipment should be at that particular destination, and other questions should be taken care of by the operations manager. An important thing to keep in mind is that not only are such details being communicated from the client but so are all the concerns of the truck driver. If anything happens during the delivery, the operations manager gets notified and starts taking measures to revert the situation. Meaning, every minor detail is being communicated to the back office.
Advice: while recruiting an operations manager, ensure his or her professionalism, knowledge of the industry, and capability to multitask. Be picky since that person is the driving force of your company.
There is a chain of essential responsibilities that each trucking business should take into account. First, trucking businesses ensure accurate and on-time delivery of raw materials to manufacturers. These raw materials get to the manufacturers from quarries, farms, and other places that supply the required material for the product the factory plans to manufacture. Afterward, as soon as the factory finishes producing a given product, trucks travel either to wholesalers or retailers. Another destination can be airplanes, trains, or ships for overseas deliveries to lengthier destinations. The whole process of crafting the product, no matter the distance, is implemented by trucking businesses. Imagine how much effort truck drivers put into their work to ensure service excellence from the beginning until the end.
Understanding Challenges of the Trucking Industry
You may not believe it, but it is the fourth year in a row that the trucking industry highlights driver shortage as the primary concern of the year. Drivers repeatedly started leaving their positions. Reasons for the leave differ, including COVID-19 consequences, FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, the rise of self-driving trucks, earlier retirement age, etc.
The more valuable the shipment is, the higher the crime rate. Trucking businesses are concerned about their delivery truck drivers, facilities, fleets, etc. Each and every one of the best trucking companies develop a security staffing to keep possible crimes away that may happen because of distracted driving, truck malfunctioning, as well as other driver behaviors. However, if you think there is no bigger threat than this, you don’t know about cybercrime. Yes, the Cybersecurity of the trucking industry is under threat too. With the emergence of cybercrime, which threatens even the biggest trucking companies in the U.S. to rob the required information at any possible time, going after innovation became a headache for every trucking business. There is a need to integrate technology into a trucking company while maintaining secure operations of the existing systems.
Considering that driver shortage is real, recruiters seek ways to retain truck drivers. The thing is that it will be a critical point in the business life cycle if driver shortage succeeds and driver retention fails. Balance is of utmost importance in this situation. COVID-19 played to the benefit of the trucking industry with this challenge as truck drivers had the feeling of job security, and it was easier to retain them. Now, when the trucking industry is the backbone of the U.S. economy, again and again, the COVID-19 logic doesn’t work anymore.
Is there a Solution?
Such challenges impose truck businesses to think about closing the company and try something new. However, each of the challenges has a solution.
Having professional truck drivers is the number one luring aspect of success in the trucking industry. But is the challenge of driver shortage impossible to overcome? Not really. The ultimate solution is to design specific programs to attract employees, train them to become professionals in the field, and retain them with appraisal practices. The more people know about how your company treats employees, the more people would love to work there. Take AJR Trucking as an example. It never encounters problems with driver shortage because of the unique and caring company culture: employee appreciation is always a priority for AJR.
Security/Cybersecurity is a challenge that will ongoingly develop as the world of tech never stops innovating. Indeed, what trucking companies can do is shift security from third-party firms to technology. For instance, security shift reports, security trucking business checklists, safety leading indicator audits, and many other pieces of paperwork can be conducted and kept online. This way, your reports, and documents will be safe and capable of being found if attacked. Also, ensure that you, as a truck driver, are equipped with all security measures to be safe and attentive on the road.
To ensure driver retention is not a challenge anymore, a trucking company needs to design retention strategies based on driver feedback. Ensure that the truck driver’s salary is sufficient for the responsibilities one has. Ensure that the truck driver enjoys driving the equipment you provide. Ensure that the truck driver is healthy and happy by using health and wellness programs concentrated on the improvement of the quality of life of the driver while, almost always, being on the road. Show that you care by providing the best trucking jobs to say goodbye to the challenge.
If there is a challenge, there is a solution. Just be brave enough to face it.