Home Delivery and the Truck Driver Shortage

On the Sunday mornings when my 88-year-old father feels up to it, we like to go for a drive. He grew up on a farm and enjoys being driven out to bean and corn fields. After most excursions, we stop for breakfast. Denny’s is one of our go-to destinations. Dad always gets biscuits and gravy with hash browns and scrambled eggs. As I said earlier, we go for a drive and breakfast when he’s feeling well enough. Some days his back is out of whack, or his feet have swelled from diabetes, or he’s just under the weather. As we left Denny’s today, I noticed a Grubhub “We Deliver” poster on Denny’s door. That would be a great alternative for dad on a day when he wasn’t feeling up to going out. He could have his favorite biscuits and gravy delivered to his door. Home delivery would work.

Home Delivery

Home delivery of food, groceries, medications, and more isn’t slowing down; it’s growing. Amazon Prime now has more than 100 million members. Grubhub’s business is ahead of 2017 by 49% for the first quarter of 2018. They deliver for 80,000 restaurants in 1600 cities.  Grubhub reports record first quarter of 2018.

Retailers such as Walmart and Kroger deliver. There’s no end in sight, and that’s a problem. Because who is going to make the deliveries when the trucking industry is already woefully short of drivers?

Yes, I understand last mile delivery is a far different animal than OTR, but at some level, they’re competing for the same drivers. So, are there enough drivers to go around? The answer is no.

“About 51,000 more drivers are needed to meet the demand from companies such as Amazon and Walmart that are shipping more goods across the country, according to the American Trucking Associations. The driver shortage is already leading to delayed deliveries and higher prices for goods that Americans buy. The ATA predicts that it’s likely to get worse in the coming years.” Washington Post — America has a massive truck driver shortage.

“The rush to bring everything from groceries to gourmet meals to customers’ doorsteps has sparked such a demand that job postings for delivery drivers have tripled nationwide on Indeed.com in the past three years. The dearth of truck drivers needed to carry products from city to city is well-documented, but the growth of e-commerce depends as much or more on a steady supply of qualified last-mile car and van drivers.” — Transport Topics — delivery boom breeds hiring crisis finding enough drivers.

So, What Can be Done?

Make Driving More Attractive to Young People

“Today’s young people know how to use technology, and they want jobs that incorporate it. Instead of hiring a “truck driver,” hire a “load management specialist” who uses onboard technology to save every penny possible, delivering goods in the most economical way, and who also happens to … drive the truck. Make the changes and spread the word. Write blogs, use social media, conduct job fairs, go to tech schools and college campuses, and offer internships.” — What to do about the Truck Driver Shortage.

Hire More Women

“According to this CDL Career Now article Women in Trucking, women make up 47 % of the overall workforce in the United States. Yet females account for less than 6 % of the truck drivers in America and fewer than 15% of all jobs in the trucking industry. In an industry painfully short of drivers why aren’t there more women truck drivers?” — Why Aren’t There More Women Drivers?

Reduce Turnover

There are many actions that could reduce turnover, including pay, flex time, wellness programs, and other nontraditional benefits. However, complete transparency about the job to recruits could be a game changer.

“I recently read an article in which a trucking carrier executive blamed truck driver training schools for not giving students realistic job expectations. Things like fluctuations in pay, customer delays, poor communications with dispatch, time away from family, and more. Another trucking executive blamed recruiters. Here’s the truth, unless the carrier has in-house recruiters and driver training, the carrier has little control over the school or recruiter.

It’s the carrier’s responsibility in their hiring process to be transparent about the pitfalls of the position. Not only is it the responsibility of carriers—they should want to share the downside. Wouldn’t it be better to eliminate candidates that don’t fit the position before spending six months training them?” — 3 Ways to Reduce Driver Turnover,

Welcome to the 21st Century

Part of the solution is reducing the need for drivers by implementing drones, driverless vehicles, and platooning, “One driver in the lead truck with several trailers linked electronically. It’s called platooning. Sound like a futurescape or something from a science fiction movie? Think again, Volvo has been platooning trucks and cars in Europe since 2009.” — A Train of Trailers in the Center Lane. Platooning will not directly help last mile deliveries because if it lowers the number of drivers needed for long haul deliveries more will be available for short runs.

Until Then

There is no one answer, but several. And there will be growing pains. In the meantime, support the trucking industry and all the hard-working drivers that make our life’s a little bit more enjoyable. Thank you. I think next week I’ll have Grubhub deliver Denny’s to my fathers. I’ll have a Grand Slam, please.

Photo Credit: Photo by Michelle Souliere on Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

By |2018-11-15T12:53:13+00:00November 15th, 2018|Trucking & Logistics|

About the Author:

Randy Clark is the Director of Communications at TKO Graphix, where he regularly blogs for TKO's Brandwire. Randy is passionate about social media, leadership development, and flower gardening. He is a beer geek and, on weekends, he fronts the rock band, Under The Radar. He is the proud father of one educator, one principal, has four amazing grandchildren, and a public speaker wife who puts up with him. His twitter handle is: @randyclarktko, Facebook: Randy Clarktko, Google+: Randy Clark on G+