Friday, June 18, 2021

If You Want to Beat the HGV Driver Shortage It Might be Time to Look at Your Company Offering

With the Age of Vehicle Capacity Over Shippers Need to Examine Themselves
Shipping News Feature

US – UK – EUROPE – WORLDWIDE – The well-publicised shortage of heavy goods vehicle drivers is a problem which continues to afflict all regions and, in a week when the road haulage lobby met with the UK government for discussions on the situation, it is worth perhaps considering some options.

On June 16 Road Haulage Association (RHA) Chief Executive, Richard Burnett met for two and a half hours with Roads Minister Baroness Vere and Minister Mims Davies from the Department of Work and Pensions to emphasise the urgent need for action. Whilst the discussion centred on driver training and apprenticeships, Driver CPC, short-term access to non-UK labour and parking, other points raised had echoes of a US initiative.

The RHA touched on better driver facilities and ways to show that working community more respect than is traditional in the UK. With wages in the industry at heretofore unknown heights, many still seem to look down on what is an extremely difficult job which bears no relation to how it was when often comparatively unprofessional just a few short years ago.

Things can be seen differently elsewhere, in Germany truck driving is viewed as a more valued career, whilst in the US efforts are made to ensure companies can attract the best available hauliers to carry their goods, as expressed last year by trucking giant Schneider. The logistics outfit issued a checklist to aid finding, and retaining, a suitable set of carriers, many of whom are self-employed and able to pick and choose the loads which suit them.

Schneider concluded that several points needed to be addressed by potential clients to ensure drivers were happy to handle the work offered. These range from efficiency of load/unload procedures with alert yard staff and clear signage, to no delays in preparing and issuing paperwork.

Flexible pickup and delivery windows were needed with weekend slots attractive in such a tight market, with no extra charges involved, no frequent load changes, plus zero cancellations or short lead times which can negatively impact carrier planning. Offering the chance for carriers to suggest alternate pickup or delivery times can also help secure freight capacity.

Carriers appreciate long notice periods, so no delay in advising them. Schneider says 3-5 days of lead time, with at least 24 hours of advanced notice of load ready times and accurate forecasting of anticipated surges, make freight more attractive. Round trips will always get the vote over single destination journeys.

Most of all however it is the figure in the cab who needs to feel happy and to this end, and with delays sometimes being inevitable, restrooms, break areas and safe designated parking make a shipper or receiver more desirable. In the US larger facilities often tend to offer these kinds of accommodations specifically for drivers.

The same cannot always be said for the UK. Some of the facilities, for example certain pallet network headquarters and logistics depots where drivers are often forced to wait around for hours, often during the night, are simply lamentable. So the message is, if you want the best service, maybe it is time to consider what you are offering the people you are relying on for it.