Trucking companies are a crucial part of the global economy. Over 72% of the nation’s freight (10.93 billion tons in 2021) was moved by trucks. Commercial trucks paid close to $48.5 billion in both state and federal taxes for fuel, registrations, tolls, etc. Yet, as interest rates, operating costs, and necessary supplies increase, trucking companies must be strategic to prevent bankruptcy or unexpected business closures.
In 2022, the number of employed truck drivers increased by 3.6%. Despite this, several companies went bankrupt, including some large companies that employed hundreds of workers. What tips will help you thrive through the turbulent economy?
Take Very Good Care of Your Employees
You won’t have a trucking company if you didn’t have drivers, office staff, mechanics, and other essential employees. Take very good care of every employee you have, from your drivers to your cleaning crew. When your employees feel valued and have work to do, they’re less likely to become bored and feel insignificant. Happy workers want to do their best to be part of a system that’s working well.
What should you focus on? These three areas are essential.
Find out what the competition pays by using resources like LinkedIn, Glassdoor, employment ads, and BLS. Make sure you’re paying equal to over more than the competition, but don’t offer wages that you can’t afford. If you can’t pay more than your competition, make up for it in other areas and offer raises when you can.
Competitive wages are important, but so is your benefits package. Health and dental insurance with low co-pays and deductibles are important. Consider employee life insurance policies, tuition reimbursement plans, and generous sick, vacation, and personal time are all important.
Think outside the box to things you would want as a driver, office worker, mechanic, et. Drivers might want the chance to stretch out after a long day of sitting and driving. A membership to a gym or paying greens fees at local golf courses may be appealing. Some workers might love getting free memberships to warehouse stores, streaming services for music while on the road or in the office, and free meals from time to time.
A Safe Work Environment
If your drivers and employees don’t feel safe when they’re at work, why would they want to stay? Focus on safety, and this includes all aspects of safety from well-maintained trucks and a secure work location to comprehensive policies when it comes to discrimination and employee behavior.
Suppose a female trucker is experiencing offensive behavior from other drivers, address it immediately and make it known it’s not tolerated. Do not let it slide. Not only would that open you to possible workplace discrimination and harassment lawsuits, but the word of the situation could spread to your clients, and that could destroy your company.
Make Customer Service and Satisfaction a Priority
You need a strong customer service team. Even if you know a shipper or broker is in the wrong, your customer service team needs to know how to handle their complaints so that they feel listened to and valued. Strong relationships with your clients keep your business going. When they’re happy, they’re going to tell their associates, so word-of-mouth business spreads.
Incorporate tools to ensure your office staff can quickly answer questions and get information. If your drivers are on the road and can’t answer their phones, your dispatchers can’t wait for hours to get an ETA for your clients. Load-tracking technology is essential for keeping clients happy.
Become Very Diverse
If all your business does is transport goods from one location to another, you’re stuck in that one area of operations. You could gain extra business by branching to other areas. Add a warehouse to your trucking company, and you can now add warehousing to your list of services. Logistics can help a company plan, optimize, and execute every shipment. That’s also desired by many businesses.
When you diversify, you still have work if one area slows down. You can move staff from one area of business to the other to ensure no one is laid off during a downswing.
Keep Up-to-Date on the Latest Economic Trends
Pay attention to market trends. When you can predict what might happen in a week or month, you can plan accordingly and avoid taking on too much debt at the worst possible time. Right now is a better time to focus on keeping current trucks running, if at all possible. Avoid purchasing new rigs or a new building for your trucking company at a time when the market is seeing extremely high prices.
For example, the Federal Reserve has raised rates every month since March 2022. Federal Chair Jerome Powell continues to say that these rate increases are necessary to lower inflation. As rates increase, spending decreases, which is the goal. Given that, it’s unlikely that the rate increases will stop. A trucking company should consider that before making big purchases like a new rig. Interest rates are higher than they’ve been in 16 years, so if you can avoid expensive purchases until rates decrease, it’s better for your bottom line.
If you keep updated on financial news, you’ll know when prices start to decrease. You might be ready to stop renting and purchase your own buildings right now. You might find prices are far more favorable later in the year, so watch where prices go in the next few months and time your purchases wisely.
Use Technology to Your Advantage
Finally, use technology to simplify your business operations and keep everything running smoothly. Instead of waiting for drivers to return with their signed bills of lading, you can have them send a digital copy. Use that to get paid instantly.
There are no more hours spent invoicing clients. You don’t have to rely on the USPS to deliver the invoice, and then spend weeks waiting for a check to arrive. You can get paid the same day your driver delivers a load, and that constant influx of cash helps you pay workers and businesses on time. You get paid directly to your fuel discount card or bank. You choose the best options for your needs.
Find load technology is another important tool for navigating a tough economy. Take on extra work if you need it. With a find load app, you can search through millions of possible jobs and narrow them down by location, size, and rate. Instead of traveling to another state with half of the trailer full, use a find loads app to fill the other half with a load going to the same general vicinity.
How do you know the work you find in a find loads app is legitimate? Free business credit checks through Saint John Capital allow you to look up a client’s credit history. You’ll be able to see if they have a history of paying bills late or not at all, you can use the information you find to determine if the money you’ll get is worth the risk.
Saint John Capital offers everything you need to keep your trucking company strong during this turbulent economy. Talk to us about freight factoring to ensure you get paid fast. Our load-finding app keeps your drivers on the road and making more money. And with load tracking, you’ll never be frantically trying to pinpoint your driver’s location. Give us a call or fill out the application form online to sign up.