No, no that Congress, but a congress of truck drivers. From the Latin roots of con and gress, or “together walk,” truckers walk, ride and haul together. Each year, the Class 8 segment alone hauls 10 billion tons of freight. That’s 75% of the total domestic tonnage. The enterprise carriers can say that they do the bulk of the work, but it seems that the owner-operator and small fleets are the ones out there getting it done.
SmartHop, is a company that “helps small trucking companies make smarter decisions, enabling them to make more money and have control over their business.” It’s an all-in-one platform that helps drivers start their own business, from “just a CDL-A and a truck” up through getting your own authority and forming relationships with brokers. SmartHop even has a dispatching service and customer support for those times you need it. And the cost is only 3%, not 35% like some we know.
The State of Small Trucking
So looking through the pamphlet, SmartHop conducted a survey of 1,000 drivers on topics that cause us stress. Topics included ”what keeps us up at night,” “roadblocks in business,” and “what drivers think will happen next.” Of the drivers who responded, over 40% have only been in the business for two years or less. They came in during the rush of goods caused by COVID-19.
The main reason they signed on was the pay. Well, there were some crazy paying loads out of California for PPE. Nearly 27% signed on just for the adventure and seeing the sights. (Truckers do have the secondary job of “professional tourist,” you know.)
Focusing on the drivers who have been driving for five years and more (nearly 28% of the survey), you start to see the stress weigh in. Of those drivers, 65% say burnout is a factor for quitting, if they did. Rates and pay, work/home balance, equipment repairs and availability are major factors in over 57% of the responses. The more experienced drivers said they want more business support to take some of the weight off their shoulders. The majority said they wanted help with fuel discounts and high-quality loads, not necessarily better pay. Insurance discounts (thank you Congress) and faster payment processing are other major factors.
Leveraging Technology to help improve profits
So, how can technology help you today? We hear about the benefits of technology constantly in this digital age. Nearly half (42.6%) of the respondents said their job quality had improved, but 17.4% said it had slipped backwards. Almost a quarter (22.5%) said it was technology that caused this shift. Innovations in trucking and newer applications on their phones have helped. The majority said that they have more information on their routes, have improved their margins, and have access to more resources and tools than the enterprise carriers have had. The top improvement for those with their own authority and the small fleet companies said driving safety was an improvement due to new tech, while company and “leased-on” did not.
“It’s well understood that trucking has always been a tough job, especially for owner-operators and small fleets. And, as we face a market downturn with operational costs on the rise, things have become even more challenging for truckers who want to run under their own authority. Our goal with this report was to shed light on the most critical challenges that these women and men are up against so the industry can better support this crucial segment of our nation’s supply chain. Nearly half of the independent truckers we surveyed started trucking during the past two years, indicating that the job remains quite attractive. It is important that we find ways to support them through solutions that make it easier and more profitable to make a living.” – Guillermo Garcia, EO and co-founder of SmartHop
So in conclusion, the pandemic put a brighter spotlight on truckers. We need to use the tools available to us in an attempt to better ourselves. Reducing stress and burnout, finding business partners to help mitigate the daily back office work, and using all the tech we have available to make driving and delivering safer and more profitable are important in the downturn we are facing now. The April 28 GDP report shows the slowing is real. With tighter markets, drivers will have to be smart in their decisions on where to headhaul and backhaul, where to buy fuel, and whether a “tactical relocation” to another lane is necessary. 2022 is shaping up to be a very interesting year for trucking. Stay safe out there!