The capacity crunch has been amongst some of the top concerns for shippers in the U.S. during 2018. Unfortunately, over the last several years the problem seems to have grown with little action being taken to reverse these issues. LTL was once a solution sought when FT capacity was not available. However, nowadays a unique combination of increased buyer power, driver labor shortage, and supply/demand balance have all contributed to the growing gap between LTL capacity need and actual deliverables.
The LTL capacity crunch is so great that many FT companies are rejecting truckload bookings to utilize their space for LTL shipments. LTL carriers are struggling to keep their head above water with on-time deliveries and good customer service. Due to the current nature of the industry, everyone would benefit from a few best practices to keep their LTL freight moving as seamlessly as possible in the midst of an industry-wide crisis.
Capacity Crunch: Attempting to Access LTL
As stated before, LTL has long been treated as an avenue for shippers when truckload shipping availability diminishes. However, an increased use of LTL shipping due to growing customer demands and eCommerce has flipped the industry upside-down, often making LTL the first choice for a business’s supply chain. In response, truckload carriers are struggling to match their historic numbers and are resorting to reutilizing their space for LTL shipments. While the additional competition may help to tame LTL rates, it is a short-term solution to a much grander problem.
LTL Driver Shortage
Currently, the LTL industry is struggling due to the classic “demand > supply”. Less drivers sign into the trucking industry every year, and finding experienced workers is becoming harder than ever. However, the LTL industry is (attempting) to handle these issues as best as possible. On average, LTL drivers make quite a bit more in annual salary and benefits that TL drivers. Also, many LTL carriers are offering $10,000+ bonuses to drivers who stick with the company for at least a year.
LTL carriers are doing everything they can to eliminate employment volatility and create a sustainable workplace, but at the end of the day, the industry simply does not have enough drivers to handle the current market demand.
LTL Best Practices
Since employee acquisition in the trucking industry is difficult these days, carriers should be focusing their attention on employee retention. Setting yourself apart by making employees feel valued and taken care of is of utmost importance in strengthening your workforce. Here are a few best practices to make workers feel welcomed and cared for while working for your company:
- Decreasing Loading and Unloading Time: Delays in the yard will directly impact drivers’ ability to work, and are often among the greatest pain points and complaints of LTL drivers. If you plan on increasing driver retention, you need to address loading and unloading time concerns.
- Leniency with Tardiness: Everyone has their own issues in life. Trust that your employees are always striving for professionality in their responsibilities, but understand that unexpected circumstances arise. An unforgiving employer can lead employees to quickly reconsider whether or not they feel recognized and understood at their current job.
- Communication with Delays: Delays are a headache – especially when they are found out later in the process. Let your drivers know of any foreseen delays. The additional information can help them to reroute their trucks for increased efficiency and less waiting time.
The trucking industry has been under fire for some time, and unfortunately shows no signs of slowing down in the near future. In addition, the trucking industry is not being presented as a desirable job to high school and college students, which is greatly decreasing the number of job market entrees. As a result, LTL carriers should focus their attention on job retention so as to grow their businesses organically and better their customer service in the long run.
If you have any questions about LTL shipping, the industry, or other related topics, call one of our team members! We are experienced in the industry and are happy to help whenever and wherever needed!