In today’s freight market and regulatory climate, fleets of 25 trucks or less face increasing challenges to their very survival. Sometimes, the answer is to get larger. Expanding the size of a truck fleet opens doors to new markets and makes competing with the truly big fish—outfits with fleets of 200 or more—more doable while still retaining the agility to offer personalized service that many huge carriers don’t. Bigger isn’t always better, so when do you know it’s the right time to expand the fleet? Here are a few indicators that getting larger may be good timing:
What changes and challenges will 2017 serve up to the trucking industry? Certainly, economic issues remain an x-factor. Freight is often a bellwether for the health of many core components of the economy and, whether the present recovery continues or stalls, trucking companies will be among the first to know it. Another signpost on the road ahead is new federal legislation set to take effect during the coming year. Bills poised to become law in 2017 will impact daily driver ops as well as administrative procedures and adoption of new technology. Here’s a sample of what’s in the pipeline from Washington.
Advertising on a trailer, truck or van puts your brand and message in motion.
While stationary billboards have been the staple of outdoor advertising for decades, advertising on commercial vehicles is now a competitive option for the most advertising bang-per-buck.
A semi-trailer and the wide open road add up to a powerful strategy for advertising your company and brand to millions of motorists.
The considerable available square footage on both sides of a 50-foot trailer offers powerful potential to reach out to an ever-changing market. Every mile your trailer travels down the road with blank sides, on the other hand, is a missed marketing opportunity.
Lead generation is a process that motivates prospective customers to take the next step.
In mobile trailer advertising, lead generation means the prospect who glimpses an effective ad is inspired to take action, expressing interest in a product or service in some way, shape or form. That may include going to a brick-and-mortar location to shop for it, making a telephone inquiry or simply visiting a website. Advertising on semi-trailers visually exposes thousands of potential customers to your message as the truck covers miles of busy streets and highways every day.
Empty miles: they’re often the biggest money-drain for a trucking company.
Also known as “deadheading,” empty miles happen when a truck driver carries a load from Point A and delivers to Point B, then brings an empty truck all the way back to Point A again, racking up driver hours and fuel expenses with no freight revenue to compensate. According to recent research, between 15 and 25 percent of the trailers on the road at any given time are empty. The antidote to these empty miles is a successful back-haul strategy that optimizes opportunities to fill the truck with paying freight on return trips.
According to the American Trucking Association, our industry is now short about 35,000 drivers.
How did that happen? Consider another statistic from the ATA: In large truck fleets, driver turnover stands at about 95 percent—and that’s actually a slight decrease from other recent years. Conversely, at smaller fleets with less than $30 million annual revenue, turnover is currently around 90 percent, but trending upwards. The fact that the minimum-wage fast food business has even worse employee turnover (averaging 145% annually) should be little comfort. Now more than ever, the question of how to keep drivers happy keeps fleet managers and trucking execs awake at night.
The fleet manager of only a few years ago—confined to an office, tethered to a desktop computer—is history.
Today, the job description has expanded to include multiple functions, many of which require a manager on the move. Mobility imposes the need for mobile connectivity and data accessible far from home base and stationary technology. Apps purpose-designed for fleet managers increasingly enable decision-making in motion. Often these apps are offered as accessories to modern primary fleet management software already in use. Most are available on both Android and iOS platforms for smartphones and tablets. Here are three standout examples that have earned high ratings from users.
Choosing the right drivers for your company and ensuring that they are competently trained is a critical component for any fleet.
However, this component can also be among the most costly of expenditures. There's a delicate balance required to both attract and retain skilled drivers while keeping costs low at the same time.
With oil prices fluctuating wildly and sometimes reaching outrageous heights, many fleet managers and owner/operators are looking for ways to trim down their fuel costs. Fortunately, there are several simple and common sense steps you can take to cut out unnecessary fuel waste and improve profit margins.