by Sheila Jackson

We all know there’s a driver shortage in the trucking industry. And we know it’s pretty severe. According to a recent report by Bob Costello, chief economist and senior vice president with the American Trucking Association, new driver needs for the upcoming decade will be just under 900,000—or 90,000 a year. The same report states that more than 70 percent of goods consumed in the U.S. are moved by truck.

Numbers like that present an almost insurmountable scenario when it comes to tackling the turmoil in the world of capacity. Not enough drivers means not enough trucks transporting goods. And trucks are the primary criteria most companies look at when vetting a service provider. If you don’t have a satisfactory answer to, “How many trucks do you have?” you aren’t taken seriously as a legitimate transportation provider.

But what if there was another way to look at the equation? What if there were several other assets that, if optimized, could compensate for the driver/truck shortage? What if you had the answer in front of you and didn’t know it?

Instead of looking from an individual parts perspective (micro view), what if we examined the issue from the perspective of the entire transportation process (macro view)—from initial shipping inquiry to final delivery of goods—and used a team, talent, and technology “tactical” approach to mobilize our entire network, infrastructure, and employee skill set so we could mobilize the right drivers with the right trucks for the right job at the right time? It’s not the trucks; it’s the tactics.

Here’s how the optimized use of talent, resourcefulness, and logistical tactics can be turned into a strategic solution:

A Coordinated TEAM

Every effective CEO knows that individuals don’t make companies, teams of individuals do. And that a well-defined, highly skilled, and goal-centered team will outperform a group of individuals–even if they’re all-stars–every time. It’s the system, the collective resources, the synergistic collaboration that provides the opportunity to thrive, while others struggle, stuck in stale tactics that no longer work.

So you can have all the trucks and drivers needed to meet industry demands, but if those drivers aren’t in the right trucks in the right locations at the right times—which means they’re part of a strategic, integrated, and highly skilled team—you’re still going to have significant issues and risks when it comes to getting goods transported efficiently and on time.

On the other hand, a coordinated team of talented, experienced, business savvy, and properly equipped professionals can do the work of an army of individuals who rely primarily on good intentions and numbers. It’s a synergetic process where the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. If a driver has the right team behind him that tells him what to ship, when to ship it, and the best way to ship it, assets can be optimized to maximize everyone’s efforts. One driver—with the right team—can do the work of several. It’s efficiency at its best.

Capable TALENT

But just because the team typically outperforms the individual doesn’t mean that the unique talent and experience of each individual isn’t crucial. Teams are comprised of individuals, right? And the more skilled each individual is, the more productive the team is. It’s not just about teams, it’s about effective teams.

As we stated earlier, just having enough drivers and trucks to meet current demands doesn’t ensure optimal delivery of goods. It’s having trucks and drivers with the right team members that changes the scenario. It’s the right individual, with the right skills, working the best he or she can at his or her area of expertise that determines the productivity and effectiveness. It’s not just people, but the right ones, who translate their abilities into optimal productivity.

The “right team member”—that professional who expertly knows his or her job, the industry, and the nuances and tricks of the trade—can do things quicker, less costly, and more effectively than others who don’t possess those talents. He or she is better able to minimize the chaos, mitigate industry risk, and multiply himself or herself many times over.

Cutting-edge TECHNOLOGY and Tools

The seventh of Stephen R. Covey’s habits of highly effective people is to “Sharpen the Saw,” where Covey tells the story of a man walking in a forest and observing another man laboring to saw down a tree. Noticing that the man’s saw is worn and ineffective, the observer suggests that he sharpen his saw. The man replies, shortsightedly and unfortunately, that he’s far too busy to stop and perform the task.

Having the foresight and the appropriate tools to complete the task is essential. Having the best ones provides an even better scenario. At Principle we call them “cool tools.” They’re the latest and greatest processes and programs that gives us a decided advantage for the job. Our customizable technology platform has the capability to match your needs with optimal capacity. It also allows our team to manage each shipment from start to finish, providing real-time status updates throughout the move of a load and continue to deliver seamless  transportation and logistics solutions through any channel across the nation.

These are the types of resources and systems that provide real-time and comprehensive visibility into critical data that can be used for oversight management and better decision making which create the transparency needed to build the trust you need with your partners.

There you go! Team, talent, and technology. I think that’s a better model of confronting the mounting driver/truck shortage than to merely discounting its real impact and, trying to solve it with a paradigm of raw numbers and equipment. And if this method of maximizing resources, expertise, experience, and technology continues to improve, then we might not be talking shortages and challenges and instead be discussing surpluses and opportunities.

Simply put: get the right resources and right personnel in the right place at the right time for the right price.

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