One of the primary trucking industry trends is an optimism about growth, says a new study from a Bibby Financial Services fleet survey. The survey was done in late 2018 and early 2019, when the boom months of 2018 had begun to level off.
Mary Ann Hudson, executive vice president with Bibby, presented the findings during a seminar at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Kentucky. Bibby offers factoring and lending for the trucking industry.
Surveying fleets from one to 100 trucks, Bibby found that 52 percent of respondents reported recent growth and 38 percent expect to continue growing at 11 percent to 25 percent.
Recruiting drivers was listed at the top concern by mid-size fleets, which Bibby defined as five to 100 trucks. Driver retention was their number 3 challenge. Those concerns ranked fourth and fifth, respectively, for fleets of one to four trucks.
Increasing business costs was the biggest challenge for small fleets and second biggest for mid-sized fleets. Hudson said insurance, maintenance and fuel are major parts of the costs.
The impacts of the difficult market for hiring drivers were far greater, in some cases more than double, for the mid-sized fleets compared to the small fleets. Increasing driver pay and benefits were the primary ways all fleets are responding to hiring difficulties.
“We need to figure out a way to get younger people involved in this industry,” Hudson said.
Among other findings:
- Of businesses that reported losing drivers unexpectedly, 42 percent estimated a revenue loss of over $10,000 as a result.
- Competition has intensified for small and medium fleets, Hudson says, partly due to so many new carrier entrants coming into the market.
- More than a third of carriers feel they have to accept a contract’s terms and conditions or risk losing business.
- Average days to pay have lengthened significantly. Some customers who used to pay in 30 to 45 days have now extended their terms to 60 or 90 days, Hudson said. Some have even asked for 120 days.
- Fleets’ priorities for technology investment over the next two years are, in order, predictive maintenance, route optimization and fleet management.