We are setting new records every week when it comes to truck scarcity. While servicing an economy that still does not have hospitality, schools, or entertainment venues open, the trucking supply is under siege. That siege includes shipper demands for carrier capacity and carriers trying to manage multiple load offerings while still supplying expected service which has put an unbelievable stress on the supply chain. The load-to-truck ratio is at record levels, spot rates have crossed over contract rates (not seen in 15 years) and we are just beginning this trek into the new unknown.
I truly believed and wrote about the phenomenal effort that our trucking community did to keep the supply chain safe and solid during this pandemic. It still amazes me how a high-touch industry acclimated to the social distancing needed to divert the effect of COVID-19. We had drivers spending more time on the road, we had dispatchers balancing family and work while working from home. We had offices conform to CDC guidelines, all in the complete effort to manage, flex, and accommodate the needs of their customers.
All those hoops that the truck drivers went through to meet their customers needs was a trial run for them to handle this impending crisis. When the economy starts returning to work, the shipping community will have a challenge that I have never witnessed in the 30 years I have been connected to this industry, shipments sitting on docks! There has always been a truck at some price, but, that lever may disappear in the fourth quarter.
2021 will deliver some new challenges to this industry and the higher rates will give the carriers some bottom-line profits to invest in trucks and then the supply and demand will switch in the favor of the shipper. How many trucks they all buy will be the stimulator to how fast and deep the supply benefit pulls away from the carrier. But, until that inevitability happens, I will be watching what happens in the next quarter, and especially what happens in 2021.
The mantra of “Thank a Trucker” will also include “Thank your Preferred Carrier” – I hope you shippers have a few of those carriers!