Fuel for Thought
The Road Ahead
Consider long term effects
Today's drivers should be experiencing higher rates over years past. The uptick in rates are a welcome change from the lower rates and is also a much needed boost for driver morale. While the recent years have been leading many drivers to consider other avenues of income, the increase in rates we are seeing today may also help with driver retention. There is not now, nor has there been a driver shortage, however, at different points in the past, there have been many times where the industry has seen driver pay shortages. If you pay a driver his or her worth, you will not have to worry about retaining drivers. Poor pay usually equals poor or no performance. While many are reaping the rewards of higher rates in today's market, it is not the time to become complacent and expect the high rates to stay forever. This is also not the time to assume that you can provide a lower level of service just because you have more opportunities at your disposal.
Consider that when the market swings back out of the drivers favor, the bridges you burn now may not be able to be crossed later when you may need it.
Building good relationships with your customers is always a sound business plan, but you have to provide the services your customer expects, or more. As a business owner in the trucking industry, you may have more customers than you think. Unless you book your loads directly with your customer, if you are leased to a carrier, the broker, agent, or dispatcher could also be considered your customer. Where do your loads come from? An agent, broker or dispatcher may provide you with different load options that you are able to accept or decline, but once accepted, you need to follow through or you may develop a reputation for unreliability and consequently the agent, broker or dispatcher may pass you over in lieu of other drivers that have been proven to get the job done without fail.
Only looking at today rather than planning for the long term can be detrimental to any business.
A note on building those customer relationships. It doesn't mean you should take lesser rates today to gain work later, but it does mean giving the service you agreed to provide at a fair market rate. That rate may differ from day to day or week to week, or even based on location, but once you agree to take the load or loads, it is completely unprofessional to drop your commitment just because you received a better offer. This is short term thinking and your customer will remember your business practices in the future. The actions you take today could very well shape your business future.
If you believe that everything runs in cycles, as I do, then you will know that these good market conditions will end, when that end comes is anyone's guess. Preparing now or at least sticking to your business plan can help even out the bumps in the economy when the up cycle ends or starts to ebb.
Follow through. Your word is only as good as your actions taken to back it up.
See you down the road,