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Insights That Drive Us
May 01, 2023

Adapting Business to a New Reality

By Scott Biddle, President and CEO

Originally published in Truck n Roll Magazine

With the increase in e-commerce and growing consumer demand, our industry has been expected to keep up with quicker delivery dates and management of an increased number of goods, more than ever before.

Recent patterns of consumer growth are a clear indication that our industry will continue to grow, with demand for workers rapidly increasing so the effectiveness of our supply chain can continue. According to estimations from Trucking HR Canada, our country will need to hire more than 17,000 new truck drivers per year up until 2025.

The way I see it, there’s never been a better time to become a commercial driver. Trucking is a stable and rewarding career choice with lots of job security. Yet many current and prospective drivers aren’t aware of the range of driving opportunities available, causing them to worry about long treks and work life balance.

But as I have said many times before, trucking is more than just the notion of driving and delivering on time, every time. Drivers today are seeking the complete package, including routes that fit their lifestyle, as well as a company culture that aligns with their values, employee benefits, and job security.

Shipping and logistics providers are best suited to be the change the industry so desperately needs. It is our responsibility to explore strategies that provide drivers with opportunities that demonstrate a company culture of driver appreciation and facilitate driver comfort for every stage of their life.

Addressing the Evolution of Truck Driving

I have worn many hats over the last 30 years of my career at Scotlynn; I was the first driver, the first dispatcher, the first salesperson, and the first safety manager. Even though it has come with no shortage of obstacles along the way, it has given me a unique perspective and understanding of the core fundamentals of driver satisfaction. There is no arguing that our growth and success is attributed to our professional drivers and carrier partners who set the bar for professionalism and reliability.

While we may not have always got it right, we have remained motivated by a series of priorities that drive our daily decisions as a premier transportation provider and asset-based logistics company operating across North America.

I have talked to many drivers that have helped build a theory that we must fit our business to better suit our drivers. This drove us to investigate how driver habits and routines have changed—which uncovered a crucial need to implement a new driver centric strategy without disrupting our organization. It looked like this: considering the wellbeing of fleet drivers, addressing the entire carrier experience, and surpassing fleet reputations.

Considering the Wellbeing of Fleet Drivers

So, we started with the basics, adapting our business to better meet driver satisfaction. Commitment from our drivers needed to come by way of deliberately sourcing business that will offer them the routes that fit their lifestyle. Whether they wished to drive cross-border or prefer regional routes so they are home more often, we needed to make a new commitment to our drivers that we will sustain a diversity of business and routes to allow for independence, work-life balance, and consistency.

We intentionally decided to source and increase our business partnerships that supported regional activity, so we could offer flexible schedules and give drivers the opportunity to return home more frequently, if they wanted.

Regional delivery involves hauling freight within a specific region with roughly a 150-mile radius. Which means drivers can get in plenty of miles while staying close enough to home to get there weekly or more. With our nationwide freight base covering every region, there are now plenty of flexible driving options to choose from.

If you are interested in working as a regional driver, there are several other benefits, including:

  • Completing multiple routes on the same day helps break up the monotony of the road and keeps drivers from sitting for too long.
  • Growing accustomed to routes, weather, and traffic patterns in your area, which may lead to increased driving and earning efficiency.
  • Predictability in routes, customers, and scheduling.
  • More efficient drops because you’ll routinely handle the same routes and visit the same customers. This also leads to greater customer satisfaction levels.

Awareness of the Entire Carrier Experience

In addition to combining the freedom of the open road with the stability and home time that employees crave, there was a need to address the entire carrier experience. Holistically this included longer lead times during the planning process to optimize routes, to better utilize trailer space and provide flexible delivery requirements. With more intentional planning, we knew we could effectively minimize the dwell time that causes slower transit times and contributes to driver stress.

To do this, we carefully select our front-line employees. Driver managers, dispatchers, and related support staff are critical to the full driver experience. They have direct experience within our industry–allowing them to communicate with drivers to provide encouragement and help to work out issues more directly, with less frustration for drivers.

And technology is playing an ever-bigger role in the industry’s efforts to improve the driver experience. We recently installed Samsara, a satellite technology and integrated fleet management platform in all our trucks, for a more accurate and reliable solution. Customers and our dispatch team benefit from live shipment tracking, and we are better equipped to monitor efficiencies and maintain driver communication.

The results of drivers who are more connected, and better connected, are drivers who are:

  • happier in their jobs for longer periods of time;
  • regularly improving skills;
  • feeling more connected to a team; and
  • increasingly seeing themselves as vital members of a true profession.

Investing in Fleet Reputation

Operating trucks that underperform or frequently break down is frustrating for drivers. Implementing a regular maintenance schedule can minimize repair issues that take drivers off the road and make their work less enjoyable.

Not only are Scotlynn tractors and trailers famously vibrant in colour and dressed in extra chrome enhancements, but we also make crucial annual investments to maintain a fresh rotation of new equipment. Every year we invest in our fleet to ensure we are operating with the best-in-class trucks, and we are also committed to turning over the entire fleet every five years. Because of this, our drivers aren’t forced to work with aging equipment that underperforms, avoiding unnecessary stress and delays.

This long-term partnership with PACCAR has extended us the opportunity to have an in-house parts and service centre. This onsite advantage keeps our business moving–we can maximize uptime and reduce delays when repairs are required.

In addition, we have a consistent maintenance schedule that includes regular servicing and daily washing and polishing, because our brand image demands that our inventory is clean, high-quality, and stands out as such.

All these efforts are a simple investment that ensures we are providing drivers with the equipment they want and are passionate about, while achieving the best-looking fleet travelling across North America.

The Takeaway

Few people would argue that the trucking industry is the backbone of the economy. Without our industry, Canadians would have very different lives. The goods and services that we want, need, and rely on would simply be less available and more expensive. But without a reliant and expanding workforce of drivers, a lot of what we come to depend on will be inaccessible or difficult to find.

There is no quick fix to evolving the truck driving industry to promote job satisfaction. Instead, a range of strategies that help improve organizational culture and awareness of drivers’ individual preferences must be implemented in an ongoing manner. When Scotlynn adapted our business strategy, and day-to-day operational practices so truck drivers were top of mind, there was a 97% increase in driver hires in 2022, compared to the previous year.

Gone are the days when companies could easily find new drivers and replace those leaving. Instead, they need to stop and reevaluate why they are experiencing an exit of drivers to begin with.

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