More Women Truck Drivers: A Solution to Many Industry and Gender Challenges
I recently attended a national transportation conference, where a featured panel included a high-level discussion with leaders from three prominent trucking fleets. As they candidly discussed the challenges present in the industry, the driver shortage took center stage. I noticed as they discussed ideas around recruiting and retaining drivers, they didn’t refer to any drivers as women. “He,” “him,” “men,” “guys,” “the boys” – not a single reference to females. While I’m certain the phrasing wasn’t intentional, it does speak volumes about what’s missing in our industry – more women.

Addressing the Driver Shortage
According to the American Trucking Associations, trucking currently is about 50,000 drivers short, a number expected to more than triple by 2026. Despite comprising 50% of the US population, women only hold about 6% of truck driving jobs. This leaves a massive pool of untapped human capital to address the driver shortage.

It’s hard to be what you can’t see, especially when most recruiting advertisements feature men. I asked an agency specializing in driver recruitment advertising why that is. They stated that many fleets don’t request advertising geared toward females because the cost per hire increases for women. However, it’s important to assess the total value of a hire over an extended time.

According to Ellen Voie, President and CEO of Women in Trucking, women tend to stay with fleets longer, engage in less risky behavior, and value team collaboration and goals. Considering the whole picture, the return on investment of hiring a safe, goal-oriented, team player that prefers to stay with the same carrier for as long as possible should be very high.

Closing the Pay Gap
On average, women earned 28% less than men in the United States in 2017 according to the Pew Research Center. While the gap is closing overall, trucking represents a great avenue for closing the disparity even quicker. With most trucking compensation plans using per mile rates, productivity rules. Additionally, transportation wages are increasing, with driver pay up about 12% year over year. Trucking provides a fantastic avenue for women to earn equal wages in an industry with increasing compensation trends.

Women as Entrepreneurs
The US is home to 11.6 million women-owned businesses worth $1.7 trillion in revenue and employment for 9 million people. Women-owned businesses are growing at five times the national average. However, more than 50% of female business starts are in the health and human services sector. Logistics has been identified as a high-growth, high-wage industry where women aren’t aggressively starting businesses. In a market desperate for additional trucks, independent contractors and owner-operators hold the flex capacity shippers need. Many of today’s largest US fleets started with a single truck. Women as independent contractors provides a new avenue for entrepreneurs with high market demand already established.

Changing Lifestyles
Women historically haven’t entered the industry in large volumes because trucking hasn’t always supported raising a family or being a care provider. Equipment also hasn’t been designed with women in mind. Those things are changing. Shippers are redistributing networks to create more daily runs. Carriers are working to provide nightly or weekly home time to their drivers. Equipment manufacturers also are modifying truck designs to be more inclusive for all driver types and builds. Automatic trucks also have become prevalent in the industry.

More women also are looking for second careers. As Boomers continue to enter retirement, they average just $15,000 in savings. They also are living longer on retirement benefits as costs continue to rise. Retirement benefits are typically lower for women as they often earn less during their careers. According to an article published in The Atlantic, Social Security replaces only 40% of an earner’s income when they retire, when 70% is required to live comfortably. With more fleets offering no-cost or low-cost CDL training programs, trucking provides an easy-access alternative career for women. Hitting the open road and seeing every part of the United States while being paid seems like a retirement plan worth some consideration.

Breaking Down Barriers
Technology providers like FreightRover also help lessen the barriers preventing more women from joining the industry. FreightRover’s CarrierHQ pay-as-you-go insurance program offers upfront capital cost savings of more than 80%. Paired with per gallon fuel savings, low factoring rates, and business formation in under 48 hours, launching a fleet has become much quicker and more efficient. FreightRover’s partnership with Urgent Care Travel also offers reduced-cost medical access for drivers and their families at multiple locations throughout the US. Women can better care for themselves and their families while still being on the road.

Trucking needs more women. They represent one of the most viable solutions to truly address the capacity crunch. And, women need trucking. Equal pay, entrepreneurial opportunities, and a different career for evolving lives – trucking supports efforts to create better equality for women. When I attend the next transportation conference, I hope to hear a lot more mentions of “she,” “her,” and “women” when it comes to drivers and other careers in transportation.

When it comes to shipping less-than-truckload (LTL), the devil is in the details. Systems like FreightRover’s SmartLTL eliminate the difficult work around building shipments and finding capacity at the right price. Knowing your LTL shipment’s specifics also saves you a lot of time and money. Here are FreightRover’s quick tips for LTL.

Your BOL is the bible.

Carriers live by the information you put on your BOL. If information is missing or inaccurate on your BOL, you’re likely to pay a price.

Know your freight class and NMFC number.

Knowing your freight class gives you the most accurate LTL quotes. While many systems use calculators to help you determine a freight class, these are only estimates. When doing an RFP, work with your carriers to agree on your freight class upfront. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your carriers for help in advance as well.

Reclassifications or NMFC disputes often appear on the invoice, which may not always make it over to the Operations team from Accounting. Make sure the team tendering your shipments know how the carrier is assessing the freight, so they don’t keep making the same costly errors.

Weight can’t wait.

Across our customer base, the fee we see most assessed by carriers are reweigh fees. If you ship LTL frequently, a good scale is a great investment. Mistakes like relying on weights on manufacturer boxes or forgetting to include the additional weight of your pallet will cost you. You’ll likely be assessed a reweigh fee and weight change fee. LTL carriers have individuals on the docks focused on finding loads with weights that don’t match. Don’t let one be yours.

Time is of the essence.

Narrow appointment windows or same-day shipments can prevent carriers from quoting your freight or may drive up rates. LTL carriers prefer office hours, avoid weekends, and want as much time to optimize their trucks as possible.

Share what’s special about your shipment.

To help your freight meet its delivery date, let carriers know about accessorials up front. Detail shipments that require services like liftgates, appointments, or special handling. Failing to disclose these details not only will drive up your invoice, but also could cause you to incur additional fees like reconsignments or detention.

Train your receivers to inspect shipments before signing.

Claims are frequent among LTL shipments. Unfortunately, we see many customers try to file claims after a delivery receipt was signed indicating no damage. This sets everyone up for a long battle. Work with your delivery recipients to check your shipment and take a picture of any damage before the driver leaves.

LTL volumes are expected to grow by 3% annually through 2022. As capacity becomes more difficult to come by, the savvy LTL shippers will move the most freight. FreightRover’s SmartLTL is here to help. You manage the details. SmartLTL delivers. Everyone wins.

82% of surveyed freight payors rarely discuss best practices in freight payment outside of their organization and 55% have no budget to improve. Why? Most often IT investments go toward revenue generating activities leaving carrier payments as a “we’ve got bigger priorities” or “we’ve always done it this way” type of process. However, if the hidden costs behind carrier payments were widely known, creating a better process would become as urgent as any project up for consideration.

Hidden Costs

With the average carrier invoice costing upwards of $4 to process, duplicate payments accounting for 0.5-1.5% of additional freight spend, and a monthly savings of 2-4% possible by catching invoice errors, several sizeable extra costs lurk inside of carrier payments.

These monetary costs are in addition to the cost of not being considered a “shipper of choice” because of poor carrier payment practices. The number of shippers/3PLs paying carriers in 30+ days has grown to 47%, an increase of 9% since 2011. As pay terms have increased, capacity has decreased with a current shortage of 40,000+ drivers (and growing) and carrier utilization hovering between 98-103%. Additionally, 97% of the industry comprises carriers with 20 trucks or less, many with liquidity as a key business challenge.

Shippers/3PLs extending pay terms to hold onto cash are quickly finding themselves on a “do not call” list for carriers. Carriers are 1) contracting at higher rates to account for delayed payments and/or 2) selecting who gets their trucks with consideration for days to pay. Who can blame carriers when after two years of begging for freight, they now find themselves in the land of plenty.

Rocky vs. Apollo

I once heard the transportation industry described as a constant boxing match. When the market is soft, shippers strike with quick uppercuts to carriers through rate decreases and service expectations. When the market heats up, carriers jab back through rate increases and capacity controls. The constant back and forth leaves both sides worn out and against the ropes.

Far too often, managing transportation seems to be a zero-sum game between shippers and carriers. But there are new ways for both sides to win – without pricing or capacity punches – that can start in the often-overlooked area of payment processing.

A New Dog in the Fight

Powerful, but often unrealized, gains for both sides come through cash management tailored for individual business needs. FreightRover’s PayEngine is an online technology platform allowing shippers/3PLs to:

  • Capitalize on zero-cost extended pay terms
  • Shed the tedious carrier payment process without losing control of what gets paid
  • Create a carrier-centric quick pay program for its transportation providers

PayEngine was designed with both shippers and carriers in mind by addressing three common goals – increased revenue, decreased cost, and improved quality. The platform addresses common wish list items tied to improving inefficient pay processes:

  • Process invoices quicker and cheaper
  • Better align accounts receivable and payable
  • Free cash to avoid interest fees
  • Create more time for invoice auditing
  • Scale for business growth without increasing headcount
  • Receive detailed payables reporting
  • Create a competitive advantage for controlling rates and capacity
  • Focus less on back office and more on core business operations

PayEngine simplifies the payment process for both shippers and carriers. With FreightRover’s PayEngine, shippers/3PLs have one payee and one annual 1099 to issue, not thousands. No more per load pay term carrier negotiations. Carriers set their pay terms inside PayEngine and receive direct deposits in as quick as 24-hours after load completion.

With its white-labeled solution, PayEngine provides customized pay portals with on-demand payment data, invoices, and aging reports for shippers and carriers. Designed for the tech savvy and tech averse, PayEngine can connect to a TMS or function through a simple spreadsheet upload. Unlike other solutions, shippers maintain control of what gets paid, but PayEngine does the paying.

Simplified – shippers receive more time to pay, carriers get paid quicker, and PayEngine does the payment work.

The Knockout Punch

Among the many battles that happen in transportation daily moving goods from point A to B, carrier payment doesn’t need to be one of them. If you aren’t sure how much your current carrier pay process is impacting the bottom line, conduct an internal assessment of the following:

  • What is our internal cost to process invoices?
  • What is the cost of processing errors?
  • In the last five years, how has our transportation spend aligned with extended pay terms?
  • Do we deliver on the pay terms we’ve committed to our transportation providers?
  • Are the finance and operations teams aligned in managing transportation spend? Are cash on hand and ample capacity in conflict?

If the findings surprise you, consider stepping into the ring to make carrier pay improvements a priority for your organization. To learn more, visit www.rover180.com.

Sources:

“2015 American Shipper Transportation Benchmark Study,” American Shipper

“Freight Payment & Auditing Services: Cash is King,” Inbound Logistics

“Don’t Dismiss Small Trucking Companies Just Yet,” FleetOwner

“New Report Says National Shortage of Truck Drivers to Reach 50,000 This Year,” ATA