Remember the Aesop’s fable “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”. The young shepherd boy was bored while doing his job. He cried out that there was a wolf chasing the sheep. The villagers came running, but there was no wolf. He repeated. The villagers again came running to his aid. Again there was no wolf. When the wolf came, and the boy cried wolf, the villagers did not believe him.
This industry has been crying wolf for at least the 30 years that I have been driving. The nation has entered a phase of “full” employment. Now, the trucking industry has to compete with everyone else for workers. The ELD mandate has reduced capacity by about 6%. Combine that with a roughly 3% growth cycle and we have an issue. If you are a driver this is a great issue.
OOIDA’s Todd Spencer went to battle on Fox Business. The host was talking about the industry’s inability to attract enough quality drivers. Mr. Spencer shut him down. The numbers back Spencer. We have a constant need for about 3,500,000 drivers. We attract about 500,000 new recruits every year. Add to that another 40,000 or so drivers who return to the industry, and we have plenty of new recruits. The problem has always been that we don’t keep them.
The industry has been reluctant to evolve. Free labor is a wonderful thing, unless you are the labor. Changes often don’t occur until they are absolutely necessary. When you see $100,000 worth of product on the shipping docks not getting moved, you figure out a way to get it move. Outbidding your neighbor is the traditional way. That is good for drivers, but it is also a temporary solution. This is a good time for the industry to make more permanent solutions. We have to “gasp” become more efficient.
For something (drivers) that is in supposedly in short supply, we sure waste a lot of it. We need to start pre-staging loads. A few weeks ago, I had a load that was suppose to be a drop and hook. It was suppose to be picked up by noon. We had an empty trailer on site. When I arrived at 11:30, I was told that I was late for my 11:00 live load. Miscommunication happens. I get that. There is a spotter on site. It would have taken less than 5 minutes to spot the trailer in the dock and started loading it. Unfortunately, the shipper had not started picking the order. That is not a communication issue. That is a bad plan. That shouldn’t happen. The shipper does not get that.
The shippers need to get that. So do the cosignees. Raise your hand if you have ever delivered a sealed, shipper load and count load. Keep it up if you have ever had to wait, because there was a discrepancy. There are a lot of hands still in the air, including mine. This would be a good time for the industry to make changes. When there truly is a shortage of something, you stop wasting it.