Adjust Your Ordering Schedule To Get Through Driver-Shortage Shipping Delays

If your business or worksite relies on just-in-time shipments to replace dwindling supplies, listen up. You know about the trucker shortage, but now it's getting serious, and it can affect your business greatly if you run out of supplies while no drivers are available. Trucking companies are taking steps to combat the shortage, but you should look at your ordering schedule now to see how you can work the longer delivery times into your business.

Growing Business, Growing Shortage

The truck driving industry in North America has been dealing with a driver shortage for many years -- it just hasn't been that threatening because the recession made orders and shipments drop. So, there wasn't a need for a lot of drivers, and retirements and turnover didn't have much of an effect. But now the demand for shipping is increasing, and trucking companies are having to let shipments wait as their overworked drivers try to deliver everything.

The existing pool of drivers in both Canada and the United States is dwindling as more people retire. There is also a high turnover rate -- near 90 percent for the entire industry. Truck companies are educating new hires and trying to fill fleets as quickly as possible. Some companies have made great headway here, such as one Arkansas company that, by 2014, had reduced its turnover rate to 63 percent.

Growing Shipments, Growing Delays

However, the threat isn't gone yet. Shipments are still experiencing delays, and that means companies like yours have to build that delay into ordering times. One way to do that is to build up a reserve of non-perishable supplies that you know you need. If you deal in perishable supplies, like produce or dairy, then you can order a little more often as delivery times lengthen.

Growing Shipping Times, Growing Reserves

Start scouting around now for extra storage space, especially if you deal with large items like piping for oil and gas worksites. You might be able to find empty warehouse space for rent, or you could build a temporary storage site at your worksite. Also check with local freight companies to see how they handle short-notice but local deliveries.

Identify those supplies that you need the most and that you run out of quickly. Start ordering more and set the extra aside. Talk to your suppliers about delays that they've noticed and build up your reserve so that it could cover those extra days if need be. In other words, if your suppliers are seeing delays of a week, for example, set aside enough supplies so that you would wait out that week and still work, rather than running out.

Trucking companies are doing all they can to eliminate the driver shortage, but there will still probably be an adjustment period. Build your reserves now to account for that shortage without affecting your business operations.