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Strategic Relationships: Understanding and Navigating Today’s Truck Driver Shortage (Part 3 of 5)


In the first two articles of this series, we considered the many factors that are contributing to today’s truck driver shortage.

Given that there is no immediate capacity relief on the horizon, lumber companies must be prepared for a challenging 2022.

Freight rates will likely remain stubbornly high and tendering some loads will require extra effort. Navigating around the visible and hidden elements of the capacity shortage iceberg can be pursued via multiple strategies.

The final three articles of this series will consider three of these strategies: relationships, pay and perks, and rates and brokers.

With transportation providers having more opportunities to move freight than they can possibly handle, they enjoy a great deal of clout. Therefore, it’s critical to adopt a collaborative approach when working with carriers and brokers.

Excellent communication, advance notification of load volumes, flexibility on contract provisions, and adherence to loading/unloading time commitments provide the foundation for a positive rapport with service providers.

“You can’t think transactional, you have to think relationships,” recommends Kenny Lund, executive vice president at Allen Lund Company, LLC. “The companies that have developed long-term relationships and strategies—really, business friendships—have done pretty well and have been able to get trucks.”

The opposite tactic—taking an adversarial approach to sourcing transportation—produces severe consequences, according to Ryan Carter, president of Scotlynn USA Division Inc. and Scotlynn Transport LLC.

“It’s just not the time to bully your carriers or nickel-and-dime them to death,” Carter points out. “Carriers have too many options and are leaving long-term relationships. They’re moving capacity to customers who are willing to pay.”

In part 4, we’ll consider how pay and perks is a strategy for navigating this real capacity shortage.

Source: Blue Book Services, Inc.

Dr. Brian Gibson is executive director of Auburn University’s Center for Supply Chain Innovation.