The Impact of the Truck Driver Shortage- Crisis 2018 continues to baffle the world.
I read an online article at Logistics Management (logisticsmgmt.com). The article was an outside perspective on the truck driver shortage. It irritated me. The term ‘Logistics’, better defines a company's shipping department than the term ‘Shipping Department’. ‘Logistics’ gives the shipping department some street cred at company parties. They deserve the moniker of ‘Logistics’. These guys feel the current pain of the trucking industry.
We used to call them shipping managers or clerks. You know these guys, they're out in the warehouse–that sometimes-scary place for sales people or office workers. It's loud out there, there’s a lot of yelling, and it smells dirty.
Shipping clerks and managers deserve a title like Logistics Americans. No joke. Warehouse work is tough. These people are a company requirement. Sure, everybody works hard at a company. I understand, Mr. Salesman, that it was difficult closing the sale. You need this or that product out the door before you can collect your commission check. I know, I know, Accounts Receivable lady, today was stressful in A.R., you can't collect an accounts receivable check if the product is still in the warehouse. I GET IT.
However, the stress level in the warehouse is probably considerably higher. Why? Because we're smack-dab in the middle of another truck driver shortage. But, everyone counts on the Shipping Department–a.k.a. Logistics–to move product off the premises. So, why are they yelling in that dusty, old warehouse? Because Logistics is unable to move the product…due to a lack of drivers.
At this point, it’s necessary to explain #TDSC 2018 to the Sales Department:
Mr. Salesman would like to purchase a new sofa this weekend. Mr. Salesman drives a Smart Car (which is only moderately smart, at best). What to do? Logistics 101 dictates consulting your ‘List of Pickup-Owning Friends’, which contains the names of 50 friends. As you’re sitting down to consult, your buddy Tanner shows up with a box of doughnuts. Tanner arrived in a Mustang, but he also owns a pickup. You are now poised to receive a 95% discount on the sofa haul, and get a free chocolate-covered with sprinkles! In your mind, Tanner has become Tanner Transport.
But the deal comes with a caveat–Tanner doesn’t have a driver for his pickup…at the moment. Give him a couple of days to round one up. ‘Hmm’, you ponder, ‘go without the new sofa for a weekend, or call someone on the list’? You favor sticking with Tanner, the discount, and 6 Glazed Crullers with a side of Blueberry Cake Doughnut Holes. You’re officially loyal.
Biff departs, you weigh yourself, and while doing so recall your old buddy Fletcher Freight. Fletch used to offer you a 95% discount and Apple Fritters out the yin yang. But he let you down 3 years ago, when the last set-back hit.
Fletcher fought, and survived, the Fuel Price Surcharge of 2010 but it was no walk in the park. He rebounded with a positive start in 2011. Fuel prices were manageable again and there were plenty of drivers…until the economy kicked into gear and created. Fletcher decided that suffering was a route he wasn’t capable of taking, ‘I’m a good guy, I employ a lot of good people who depend on me to supply them with sofa-hauling jobs’. Fletcher realized that he was cutting his drivers short by handing out monster discounts to his buddies. As a compromise, Fletch decided to lower the buddy discount to 75% and increase wages to his drivers, assuming it would be an incentive for his drivers to stick around. He was right.
And you ditched him.
You ditched Fletcher Freight for Tanner Transport and a 95% discount, plus endless Maple Eclairs and Creme-filled Twisty Doodle Dorks. Congratulations.
In the end, the deep discounts and sucrose bribes caught up with Tanner. Tanner was unable to give his drivers a raise, so they headed for greener pastures. Priorities be damned. But, what the hell, Fletcher is doing alright. He’s got plenty of drivers. You’ve committed to Tanner who practically guaranteed your sofa delivery Monday…or Tuesday…Friday at the latest. Hope you're happy. Tanner will survive. After all, how many friends can he possibly have who require a sofa pickup this weekend? He’ll be fine.
Holy Crap Salad Sandwich, what a conundrum! The trucking industry is difficult, but not as difficult as the Shipping Department, err, Logistics. The logistics people can wrap their head around a fuel surcharge: when the price of fuel increases, the cost to move product does so as well. When a red-hot economy floods a company with orders and revenues, it tends to flood a lot of companies with orders and revenue. It becomes an epidemic in short order.
It’s all wrapped up in supply and demand. Products have to be moved; truck drivers are the movers; truck drivers are, at times, in charge. They’d like to be paid for that responsibility. Call it a Truck Driver Surcharge.
Psst…Don't worry, Logistics People, you'll be able to dump all over truck drivers again. The driver shortage will bring it back around. The economy will cycle and drivers will be kicked to the curb. It always comes back to bite the driver in the ass.)