About 350,000 registered truck owners/operators in the U.S. are an essential part of the vast army of over-the-road trucks responsible for moving freight across our nation’s highways every day. These independent professional drivers are hardworking and committed to doing their job safely and efficiently.
According to a survey of owner-operators conducted earlier this year, 41 percent of those surveyed spend at least 200 nights away from home and drive more than 100,000 miles per year. However, small independent owner/operators face challenges and barriers to entry not encountered by professional drivers employed by large shippers and 3PLs.
So, in the spirit of the holiday season, here are a just a few items on independent owner/operator wish lists:
Direct Access to Large Shippers. Smaller owner/operators, no matter how qualified, get scant attention from larger shippers, so they have to engage and bid on freight loads through brokers or sub-contract to larger carriers. The result is missed opportunities and lower profitability.
Greater Transparency, Less Friction in Bidding and Load Acquisition. Enhancing visibility and improving these processes, whether with brokers or directly with shippers, would greatly enhance the revenue potential and profitability of independents.
Fair and Prompt Payment. Owner drivers should not be subject to delayed compensation, nor should they have to use a factoring company to get paid more quickly, for jobs successfully completed, which is often the case based on many shippers’ standard terms.
Simple, Easy to Use Mobile Technology. Onboard mobile technology can even the playing field for owner/operators, enabling them to compete on equal footing with shippers, brokers, 3PLs and large carriers. However, they likely don’t need or want complex, fleet-sized technology solutions. Rather, they prefer more focused applications that can interact seamlessly with networked systems they already have, such as laptop, smartphone, or tablet and GPS system.
Fast, Real-Time Communications, More Accurate Scheduling, Less Downtime. In hauling freight, time spent off the road is too often lost time. Drivers don’t want to spend unproductive time idling at a shipper’s loading dock in a long line or awaiting delivery instructions from a customer’s receiving dock. With today’s instant communications devices, these kinds of delays should be rare – but they still do happen. Drivers enabled to partner with shippers to improve the efficiency and productivity of both parties typically are more respected and experience greater job satisfaction.
Back-Office Support. No one enjoys doing administrative work, yet commercial truck driving is both a transactional business and government regulated industry, so there’s no escaping a certain amount of admin time. Here, too, onboard mobile technology can help. There are hosted solutions that can provide small operators with information and support for necessities such as logging driver Hours of Service, ELD logs, truck maintenance records and more.
Driver-Friendly Sites and Facilities. Providing thoughtful amenities for drivers they rely on is a hallmark of the highest ranked shippers. Independent owner operators appreciate being greeted with conveniences such as onsite parking, clean restrooms, and a comfortable driver break room.
If you’re an independent commercial trucker, you can likely think of more items to add to your over-the-road wish list ? such as better road food, fair winter skies, and no traffic!
Here at Sleek Fleet LLC, we believe simple, easy to use mobile technology is fantastic, but unfortunately it can’t solve everything. So, we leave you with this heartfelt wish—
Have a Happy Holiday and a Prosperous New Year!