The 2021 peak holiday season is expected to be the most chaotic in recent history. The supply chain industry has seen record volatility over the past two years and the next few months will only get worse. This guide will help trucking companies and drivers prepare for what is already proving to be an unprecedented shipping season.
Holiday Season Impacting Factors
A number of problems across supply chains are causing increased uncertainty in the industry, especially leading into the peak shipping season of the year. What are the driving causes for the extreme market volatility?
- Driver shortages: Industry experts estimate a shortage of over 80,000 truck drivers across the nation which means there are not enough people to get loads where they need to go at the time they’re needed.
- Machinery shortages: Not only is there a driver shortage, but there is a shortage of trucks and truck parts. So, even if there was a driver available, they may not have a truck to haul the goods.
- Materials shortages: Stemming from pandemic closures, manufacturers are still playing catch-up when it comes to producing and distributing raw materials, leading to a domino effect of materials shortages across supply chains.
- Capacity limits: Because of driver and machinery shortages, there are limits to the amount of capacity available to ship goods. Even if the goods are ready to be shipped, there may not be available containers, trucks, drivers or staff available to get the goods to their destination. The HOS waiver for drivers carrying pandemic-related materials is still in place, which helps aid in delivery of important materials but does not relieve other capacity restraints.
- Price and rate increases: Because of the discrepancies with supply and demand industrywide, prices of goods have skyrocketed, and spot rates are higher than ever. The financial impact of this inflation has been felt across all supply chain stakeholders.
- Staffing shortages: The shortage of available workers in warehouses, manufacturers, brokerages, trucking companies and more has significantly impacted how quickly and efficiently goods can be made, managed and delivered.
- Port congestion and delays: Container shortages, driver shortages and an increase in product demand has caused ongoing congestion at every port in the nation. Even though President Biden’s administration began operating ports 24/7, there has been little relief.
How Truckers Can Prepare for the Season
Whether you’re an owner-operator or part of a fleet of trucks, there are three easy steps you can take to protect yourself and your business all year round, but especially during the peak season.
- Work with reputable brokers. The easiest way to make it through the season is by picking up a dedicated lane, which will provide you with a stable and predictable income and schedule. If a dedicated lane isn’t available, only pick up loads with reliable and reputable brokers. By working with well-rated brokers, you reduce your risk of encountering scams like double brokering .
If you’re an existing RTS customer, you can access free credit data on more than 70,000 brokers and shippers in the RTS Pro app. This will help you find highly-rated brokers. You can also use the app to access our exclusive load board to find freight near you.
- Plan ahead for shipment delays. Because of the variety of factors contributing to supply chain chaos, delays should be expected. Shipment delays can come in the form of bad weather, pickup and delivery problems, detention and more. Drivers should thoroughly inspect their trucks before and after hauling loads to limit any maintenance delays and communicate thoroughly with their dispatch and brokerage on any issues that happen on the road. Clear, frequent communication can help relieve the stress caused by shipment problems.
- Prepare financially. With the influx of loads, many brokerage accounting departments will be overloaded with invoices. It’s highly likely you’ll see delayed payments and more discrepancies than normal. Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself and collect on any overdue invoices. If you’re looking to increase your cash flow this holiday season, RTS Financial offers same-day funding with no hidden fees, and complimentary collection services on your open invoices.
Additionally, the fuel shortage is still causing problems around the country, and fuel prices have risen over the last few months. Be sure to plan accordingly when fueling and look for low fuel rates along your route. Fuel cards are a great way to save money at the pump, and they usually offer extended lines of credit so you don’t have to stress about your available funds while hauling a load. RTS Carrier Services provides up to $2,500 per truck, per week and significant savings on fuel and point-of-sale items at more than 2,000 stations nationwide.
Contact us today to learn more about how RTS can help your business through the busiest time of the year, and beyond.