How Can Shippers Help Alleviate the Capacity Crunch?

As a shipper who doesn’t have company drivers, you might feel a bit helpless in this current capacity crunch, but you aren’t. You may not be able to single-handedly increase the driver pool, but you can work to make sure the truckers who are on the road will want to move your loads. Here are some tips:

Be courteous – Everyone likes to be treated like a professional. Manners still matter. So be polite, say please and thank you, and treat drivers how you would want to be treated.

Be honest – Tell the driver exactly what product is being shipped. If your product is going to take five hours to load, be upfront about it. If you absolutely will not pay detention if a driver is held up during pickup or delivery, say so before the load is scheduled.

Be punctual – If you have scheduled appointments for picking up and dropping off, do everything in your power to be on time. If you end up running more than a couple hours late, offer to pay the driver detention. A few-hour delay can mess up a driver’s schedule based on hours of service and other loads already scheduled.

Be realistic – Do you really have to have original documents from the carrier? A legible copy of paperwork is just as legally acceptable as the original, and faxing or emailing a copy is much quicker than mailing originals. Don’t make drivers wait for hours on end at a first come, first serve pickup. If space allows, let them leave their empty trailers and take a break that is not only well-deserved, but also required by law.

Be accommodating – If drivers do have to wait around, have a place for them wait. A decent waiting area and clean restroom are very important to folks who have been on the road.

Case in point: Poultry has a bit of a reputation for being both time-consuming and messy. While working on this article I overheard one of our Problem Solvers talking to a driver about taking a load. As soon as the driver heard the word “chicken,” he was wary about taking the load. The Problem Solver booking the load said the customer he was working with is fairly quick about loading, so drivers are more likely to haul for him. Another poultry customer we work with takes five to seven hours to load a truck, but they are upfront about it so the driver can plan ahead. As far as the mess, some receiving docks offer an on-site wash-out facility, negating the need to find a truck wash place and wait in line to get cleaned out. Other customers try to keep the mess to a minimum on the loading end to lessen the clean-out time after delivery. These seemingly small things make it more enticing for drivers to take these sometimes less-than-desirable loads.

The driver shortage isn’t going away anytime soon, but shippers can ease the effect of it by making their company a place that drivers want to work with. And maybe, if conditions approve, more people will be willing to make trucking their career, and the capacity crunch will be a thing of the past.