Saturday, April 28, 2018

Why Are People Using The Driver "Crunch" as An Excuse for Poor Service?

Ok, no more webinars or explanations of how to be a "shipper of choice... please.  I think we all get it that there is a driver problem and there is a capacity problem.  However, as I think about this there are two real issues I just cannot reconcile with the problem.  The two are 1) Lack of delivering on commitments and 2) Lack of investment.

First, lets deal with commitments.  This word really lacks meaning in this industry but I will try to define it. The definition is simply "Do what you say you are going to do" and regardless of tight capacity or not, this is something everyone should be able to do.  Why is freight being left on docks after companies have made commitments (through tender acceptances) to pick up the freight?  If there are no drivers to pick up the freight be up front and honest with the shipper.  Tell them that.  I fear too many companies are just "sweeping up" tenders then, over time, figuring out what they will do and what they won't do (sometimes by just not delivering at all).  I cannot figure out if this is purposeful or if it is just horrible execution. 

This also brings me to the idea that we are blaming ELDs for this crisis which seems ridiculous to me.  Essentially, when someone says that, they are saying they used to operate illegally but now that there is an electronic device they can no longer be illegal. Oops.. that type of argument gets you in trouble.

So, this brings me to my second and final point:  Don't listen to what the sales people tell you, listen to what the CEO's of the companies tell the investors.  The key question you should be asking carriers when they say they need higher rates to offset the capacity crunch is what are they going to do with that money?  If they are plowing back into driver investments then I am all in.  If they are increasing dividends and or buying back stock then you have to wonder who is kidding who. 

My fear is this issue is going to be a circular problem that will never be solved.  Let's follow this logic:

1) How is leadership compensated?  Increasing stock price.

2) How do you increase stock price in a tight market with raising rates?  Buy back stock and raise dividends. 

3) Will the stock price go up as much if you invest the money in driver pay versus doing #2 above?  No. 

This says we likely will not see driver investment or productivity investment.  Rather, we likely will see shareholder investment which will make the problem much worse.

Please prove me wrong by doing the right thing.