With the 2016 holiday season just around the bend, there’s no time to wait for fleet managers who want to create an affective plan for meeting peak demand and maximize their opportunity at this crucial time of the year. This year, a few critical factors warrant careful consideration to make the coming holidays profitable and uncomplicated for trucking outfits:
1) The Driver and Technician Shortage
When the general interest press takes notice of a trucking trend, it’s often a big deal. Both Forbes and the New York Times recently ran articles about the national driver shortage. This issue isn’t breaking news—certainly not to the trucking industry itself—so why the media buzz?
In a guest column for Trucks.com right after he retired as head of the American Trucking Associations (ATA) this past summer, Bill Graves said, “While some may dispute this, every measure from ATA’s economics team, and nearly every conversation I have with those in the industry, highlight the fact that trucking companies have trouble attracting qualified drivers and technicians to keep America’s trucks moving.”
More fleets are moving to address the problem. Several top-rated North American trucking concerns offer some form of guaranteed pay to drivers. Some are also working harder on staggered schedules to afford their commercial truckers a better work-life balance—something highly prized in driver satisfaction surveys. Yet, if you find you need drivers in a pinch during peak season, keep in mind that well-respected firms like Ryder offers fully trained drivers.
2) Reserve Early or Risk Late Deliveries
Heavy demand for light-duty vehicles occurs during known seasonal peaks every single year. Yet it always catches some managers off-guard.
Consider these findings from a 2015 Coldwell Banker Commercial Affiliates survey, conducted by Harris Poll:
- Millennials are more likely to make a purchase online if there is a same-day delivery option (64 percent) compared to other generations (56 percent for Gen Xers and 40 percent for Baby Boomers).
- Same-day delivery is significantly more likely to make parents make a purchase online (63 percent) than nonparents (46 percent).
- 50 percent of parents expect the option of same day delivery when making a purchase online, compared to just 36 percent of nonparents.
3) ELD is Way Ahead of Schedule
Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) are part of what some industry pundits have called “a regulatory wave” that’s been breaking across the commercial trucking industry. It includes everything from emissions standards to Hour of Service compliance. ELDs, while still being absorbed from a cost and operational perspective, have been vigorously implemented to beat the 2017 deadline.
In other words, ELD use is quickly becoming the rule, rather than the exception. That may end up hindering those that fail to embrace the technology now. Some fleets and owners are certainly delaying ELD until the 2017 deadline gets closer.
But speaking at the 2016 Truckload Carriers Association, John Larkin, managing director and head of transportation capital markets research at Stifel Financial Corp., said, “Most shippers have little interest in using non-compliant carriers. We mention this fairly widespread trend to suggest that the impact associated with ELD implementation may be felt a little earlier than some had projected.”
To those that rent all or part of their fleet to meet seasonal demand spikes, this has ramifications. Some commercial fleets have already installed telematics in rental trucks, mostly for long-haul customers. Renters who qualify for the 100 and 150-mile radius exemptions can still keep paper trip logs. It’s a lot to think about during the busiest time of the year for the majority of trucking firms. And think you should.
If your business depends on rental trucks during peak delivery periods, reserve early. The huge expansion of same-day delivery among retailers means that more light-duty trucks will be reserved earlier than ever before this holiday season.
Don’t wait to secure the services of drivers you need—driver demand is much greater than driver inventory right now. Should you have trouble securing drivers in this critical period, don’t hesitate to use on-demand drivers from reputable firms like Ryder.
Before peak season arrives, speak with your fleet rental representative about ELD options and usage. In a rush to beat the extended compliance deadline, many trucking firms are now using several different ELD brands. It’s an important regulatory issue to manage, and industry watchers think it will have an impact this coming winter.
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