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Coronavirus Regulatory Relief for Trucking: 4 Programs to Know

The COVID-19 global pandemic has affected virtually every business across the world. Shutdowns, slow sales, layoffs, increased expenses due to new protocols, and so many other things have made the last few months unpredictable to say the least. With all the negative news, there has been some good news for the struggling trucking industry. Programs were created to provide regulatory relief during these trying times. Here are 4 programs for you to know.

1. CARES Act 2020

The CARES Act (The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) made over $2 trillion in federal funds available to businesses affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic. This act was signed into law in late March 2020. Its intent was to provide financial relief, quickly, to American workers and businesses impacted by the pandemic.

The CARES Act provides a number of programs to help keep the economy moving, even though many companies were forced to slow or shut down due to COVID-19.

2. Paycheck Protection Program

The CARES Act established the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). This program provides small businesses with funds to help keep their employees employed during the crisis. With over $300 billion in funding available, this program provides cash flow help if business slows or even stops.

This regulatory relief comes in the form of a small business loan. The loan is largely forgivable if all employee retention criteria are met.

These funds can be used to cover things like salaries, sick leave, business disruptions, and health insurance premiums. The PPP program is still open, with a new deadline for applications of August 8, 2020.

Displaced Driver Resources

If you have unfortunately laid off or furloughed drivers, you have our sympathy. We created a resource center for displaced drivers to provide them with assistance when transitioning and searching from a new job.

3. Economic Industry Disaster Loans

Economic Industry Disaster Loans (EIDLs) are also being made available for small businesses.

This program has been in existence for a while, and the CARES Act expanded eligibility to help business struggling with the effects of the financial crisis.

This regulatory relief is a loan backed by the Small Business Administration. You can apply for a EIDL and get a $10,000 emergency advance quickly, and a loan up to $2 million. These low interest loans can help cover payroll, expenses, debt and other expenses. The advance is forgivable. You can still apply for EIDL loans if you have a gap to bridge due to loss of income because of the pandemic.

4. FMSCA Emergency Resources

Not all regulatory relief is in the form of cash/payments to trucking companies. The FMSCA has provided a number of emergency declarations and provisions since March 2020. These are meant to help speed delivery of needed medical supplies, and provide deadline extensions to help support truck drivers.

During these past few months, there have been many lessons learned from the impact of COVID-19 on the trucking industry. As businesses continue to try and get to their new normal, many of these regulatory relief programs can be a tremendous help to stabilize business.

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Times like these create uncertainty, but they also lead to opportunity. We’re here to help you and your team, whether you’re downsizing or growing.

How to Improve Remote Onboarding for Truck Drivers

Whether digital process enhancements have been underway at your company for years or are completely new in your fleet, Coronavirus changed everything. Many tried and true processes for hiring, onboarding, and training are simply not feasible right now. With the possibility of continued social distancing looking likely, establishing a protocol for remote onboarding is well worth the time. Here are a few best practices that have proven successful in the trucking industry.

Prioritize People

Driver safety has to be a high priority for all fleets during this time. Drivers have questions about everything from orientation to sanitation. It’s important to address these concerns quickly and compassionately.

As you hire new drivers, it may be tempting to increase efficiency by removing human contact in the onboarding process and relying solely on technology. In this case, removing the personal touch is a counterproductive strategy. 

With reduced face to face contact, reaching out to new employees becomes even more important. Each interaction becomes more meaningful because there are fewer touchpoints. Studies have demonstrated that most driver turnover happens within one year. With such limited time, it’s critical to start out on the right foot. What you do in response to the challenges of trucking during Coronavirus will leave a lasting impression. With that in mind, even with remote onboarding, make every effort to warmly welcome new drivers into your company. 

Get Organized

Transitioning to remote onboarding for the foreseeable future may require a significant shift in workflow. As you prepare to refine the rapidly implemented processes of this spring, consider what you will need to move more permanently to remote onboarding. 

Gather the requisite hiring documents and establish a secure system for sharing them with drivers. That might include driver contracts, tax documentation, and any other hiring forms you typically request. 

Throughout the entire process, allocate more time than you would usually consider necessary. Both management and employees are likely going through several “first-times.” A buffer allows everyone involved to work through challenges without the pressure of a tight deadline.

Digitize Your Material

Review the training files you would normally give to new drivers. If a digital copy doesn’t already exist, make one and decide how you will share that information. Fleets with greater financial flexibility may consider working with a learning management system designed for onboarding truck drivers. For companies on a tight budget, start with free tools like online repositories that let you share files and folders. Drivers should be able to access much of their training material remotely.

There are some training components that work well in person but fall flat online. Avoid trying to use materials designed for in-person orientation in exactly the same format online. Instead, use this time to consider how that information is best presented in a virtual format. Often, that means shorter “in-person” sessions, and more opportunities for drivers to learn at their own pace.

Communicate Clearly

As you move forward with changes to your remote onboarding process, don’t forget that drivers are also in uncharted territory. Many drivers may not immediately be comfortable with using technology for onboarding. For some drivers, this may be the first time they are using many of the online job training tools. 

Prior to the onboarding process, communicate with drivers about exactly what they can expect. 

If you are using specific technologies, share the details early. When possible, give drivers time to explore programs like video calls on their own to prepare. Any guidance you can offer on accessing information will also help smooth the process. 

Infuse Your Culture

Driver orientation and onboarding is about more than information sharing from your company. It’s also when drivers meet their peers and supervisors. It’s hard to replace this kind of natural networking in remote onboarding. Video calls, social networks, and personal phone calls or emails all help bridge the gap.

During orientation, consider arranging at least one video call for all new drivers. This is also the perfect opportunity to launch a mentoring program. Then, new drivers meet other members of the fleet and have at least one personal connection to regularly connect with as they start their new job.

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Remote Onboarding

This free guide helps you transition to remote onboarding to boost your driver recruitment and retention. Use this guide to help get your remote orientation process right the first time.

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4 Timely CDL Lessons Delivered By COVID-19

By mid-March, most everyone was impacted by the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, professional truck drivers included. Schools closed, office workers went to working from home full-time, and the grocery stores were wiped out of cleaning supplies and toilet paper. Everyone across the globe was forced to adjust to their “new normal”. But with all this seemingly bad news, there might be a silver lining to come out of it. All this rapid change might have forced companies into making decisions and changes they might not have otherwise. Here are 4 timely CDL lessons delivered by COVID-19.

1. Long-Term Planning is Important

The global pandemic affected virtually everyone in 2020. Hiring freezes are commonplace across many industries currently. Trucking companies are no exception. Quickly needing to shift gears from rapid hiring to potentially significant downsizing in a matter of weeks, was a tough change. But this time is a great opportunity to keep recruiting and getting your message out to potential future hires.

Maintaining your recruitment efforts may seem like the last thing you’d want to do when you’re downsizing. When you’re not actively hiring truck drivers, focus on building relationships in your recruitment pipeline.

Use this time to invest in your future needs and hiring once things get back on track. Many companies are coming up with creative ways to keep current employees engaged while things might be slow. Investing in the long-term is one of many great CDL lessons for many trucking companies.

2. Supply Chain Disruptions Can Be Mitigated

Global disruptions in the supply chain forced companies to make quick decisions in key areas. Production was adjusted while new suppliers were located. Longer lead times were baked into schedules. And this often resulted in higher prices and longer wait times for end products. What does all that mean for the trucking industry? The CDL lesson here is that it’s important to diversify your supply chain as much as possible. For truckers, this lesson’s impact might be felt soon, if there is a second or third wave of the virus that some are predicting.

Now that things are opening back up and shortages aren’t as common, what will happen if factories get shuttered again, or raw materials are delayed in transit? Having a resilient and diversified supply chain is the only way to mitigate this.

3. Technology is Key

Office workers in many trucking companies had to quickly migrate to working from home. Though unplanned, these transitions were easier through leveraging technology. Using new software for video conferencing improved the communications channels for remote workers, and keeps your teams informed and connected.

For your drivers, working from home is not an option. However, this is the perfect time to invest in technology and equipment upgrades for your trucks and drivers.

Finding ways to take manual paper processes out and implement more contactless options will prove to be a great investment for the future. Anything that helps keep your drivers safe is a great investment.

4. Truck Drivers ARE Essential

While many industries came to a sudden halt, truckers kept rolling. Hospital equipment that needed to move quickly to areas of need – a truck driver got it there. Those empty grocery store shelves need refilling – here comes a truck with a load of supplies. The biggest CDL lesson here is that truck drivers are essential. Those of us in the industry already knew this, but now many more people do.

It’s a great time to thank a trucker and show that you care for all that they do to keep this country moving.

If you’re still working on your plans and making changes, we hope these CDL lessons are useful to you. If you’ve have thoughts on what other lessons this time is providing to the trucking industry, drop them in the comments below, we’d love to hear your feedback.

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We’ll Get Through This Together

Times like these create uncertainty, but they also lead to opportunity. We’re here to help you and your team, whether you’re downsizing or growing.

driver care

Let’s call a spade a spade. 2020 has been a year full of surprises and challenges. As an employer in the trucking industry, you may have a front-row seat to the hardships of Coronavirus. As you’re navigating these uncharted waters, be proactive in reaching out to your entire staff. This is not business as usual, and silence will be noticed. Take this opportunity to firmly demonstrate that your company cares about drivers. Focus on driver care, and you will build positive, lasting relationships for years to come. Here are just a few ways to show employees that you value them as people as well as for their work. 

1. Clear Communication

Be transparent and proactive with driver communication. It is one of the best ways to demonstrate driver care during COVID-19. Good communication is increasingly important because face-to-face interactions are scarce and can be hard to facilitate.

As you navigate the many transitions of this year, integrate driver check-ins as a regular priority. Ask drivers what form of communication works best for them.

While you may prefer emails, your drivers may feel more connected through phone calls, video calls, or texts. Show them you care by reaching out in the way they prefer, even if it’s not your most natural communication channel. 

2. Truck Sanitation

mask

As essential workers, truck drivers are keeping our country moving. As a fleet manager, you know that keeping drivers safe and healthy needs to be top of mind. Even as other industries slowly reopen and stay at home orders are lifted, the danger is not gone. Make a plan for sanitizing fleet equipment. 

If you haven’t already, consider sending drivers out with the resources they need for their day to day work. Masks, hand sanitizer, and cleaning wipes go a long way toward making drivers more comfortable. Regardless of what you decide, clearly communicate with drivers what you are doing and your expectations for them. If you ask drivers to bring their own supplies, consider reimbursing their purchases. 

3. Mental Health

A life on the road has its fair share of loneliness for anyone, but COVID-19 adds unique stress. Often, drivers are working increased hours or are completing more runs. The pressure for on-time deliveries is high. In addition, many drivers are deeply concerned with the well-being of their loved ones.

The same home time that is often a relief may be equally or more stressful than being on the road.

As a result, even when they come home after a few days or weeks on the road, family time may be very different. Some drivers intentionally quarantine themselves when home to reduce the risk of spread. As you check-in with drivers, provide them with resources to help connect with spouses, children, and friends. 

4. Company Culture

Perhaps ironically, challenging times often provide the clearest moments for demonstrating strong company culture. Focusing on driver care helps build relationships throughout your organization. It’s also an effort that will leave a lasting impression on your drivers. Treat them well, and you will reap the benefits for years. 

Drive My Way feature of Driver Dee from Prime Inc.

There are both public and private ways to prioritize driver care. In the public eye, use this opportunity to visibly thank and showcase drivers. If you maintain social media accounts or share a regular newsletter, use your platform to elevate drivers. Trucking is often a thankless job. Even though many Americans are now publicly thanking drivers, company recognition goes a long way. Consider launching a driver showcase series where you spotlight one stand-out driver each week. Then, you’re boosting morale and offering other drivers a model of what a top employee looks like. 

Private appreciation of drivers can take many forms. In addition to your regular driver check-ins, consider writing short, personalized notes. Alternately, pack lunch bags or coolers for drivers. It’s no secret that a healthy life on the road is harder than ever right now.

Sending drivers with a cooler shows that you care and you understand their challenges. If you’re not sure where to start, ask for feedback. Most drivers are all too happy to share their suggestions for improvement. Are drivers happy with how communication and health concerns are handled? Thoughtfully consider the suggestions that are offered. Then, choose a few to implement as soon as possible. Being responsive to driver questions and concerns is a form of driver appreciation.

The Long and the Short Of It

As we move into the second half of 2020, experts forecast that companies should prepare for the continued effects of  COVID-19. Now, you have time on your side. A focus on driver care necessitates both short and long term planning. In addition to your ongoing efforts to support drivers now, start developing a relief plan for the future. Consider, what would you have done differently this spring if you had been given 4 months warning? Take advantage of your experience this spring and develop a plan to sustain your company and support drivers in the event of a second wave.

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Remote Onboarding for Truck Drivers

Is remote onboarding the new normal in trucking? This quick guide is packed with tips to get you started or help you optimize your current remote onboarding process.

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hiring truck drivers

Recruiting is all about building, maintaining, and nurturing personal relationships. In this uncertain time, there’s one counterintuitive rule to remember. Even if you’re not hiring truck drivers, keep recruiting. Doing so will help you smoothly transition back to hiring drivers when your fleet is back to normal. 

Maintaining your recruitment efforts may seem like the last thing you’d want to do when you’re downsizing. Don’t be lulled into complacency. If you only focus on your plans for the next few weeks, you will be too late. Continuing to nurture your pipeline is critical to your company’s long-term health, but your strategy may have to change as a result of the global health crisis. Uncertain times require improvising, adapting, and overcoming obstacles. When you’re not actively hiring truck drivers, focus on building relationships in your recruitment pipeline. Here are a few best practices.

1. Don’t Lose Interested Applicants

As HR professionals know all too well, recruiting isn’t a faucet that you can turn on and off. Leads that are not consistently nurtured will turn cold and disengage. Even when you’re not hiring truck drivers, it’s important to develop your relationships for future employment.

Consider that consumers typically take three to nine months to make a decision. In this case, your jobs are a product, and applicants are your consumers. Most people spend the majority of our waking hours at work, and making a job change is a really big decision.

It’s too early to predict when freight demands will increase and hiring will resume, but you need to be ready. Continue to build a relationship with interested drivers. Found out what is important to them and whether you are a good fit. Then, when the time comes to bring in drivers, you’ll be prepared to quickly fill your open positions.

2. Stay Visible

Dee Sova from Prime Trucking

Example Campaign from Drive My Way

It’s important to stay top of mind for drivers even if you’re not hiring right now. While more drivers are in the market for a new job now, the competition remains very high for experienced, high performing drivers with exceptional safety records. A lull in recruiting is a good time to promote marketing campaigns. Highlight your current drivers with tasteful video campaigns.

There is no better endorsement for being a great place to work than one from current drivers who are happy that they joined and chose to stay. You can also take advantage of social media trends like #thankatrucker. Provide resources for current and prospective drivers to increase brand awareness and strengthen ties to your company. 

As a recruiter, it’s important to keep your energy high even when working from home. Continue making calls to drivers. Cultivating relationships in a hiring slowdown will make you an obvious choice when drivers are changing jobs in the future. Drivers are not shy about sharing their experiences with others. Employers will be remembered for the actions they took and how they treated drivers during this difficult time. 

3. Fine-Tune Your Message

With uncertainty rippling through the trucking industry, clear, positive communication is more important than ever. As a fleet, the best strategy is to be transparent about your position.

If you are not hiring new drivers, be honest with applicants. Even if you are not able to offer jobs right now, be a resource to drivers.

In recruitment conversations and all other company messaging, strive to acknowledge the current hardships, be authentic, and offer valuable, curated information that drivers can use. This is also an opportunity to optimize your outreach with video campaigns and a mobile-friendly interface. Setting the appropriate tone helps drivers respect and relate to your brand and will foster relationships with potential hires. 

4. Seek Out Opportunities That May Be Available in a Few Months

A hiring lull is the perfect time to look toward the future. The strategic recruiting plan that you laid out in early 2020 may or may not be the right fit for your company going forward. As you approach hiring for Q3 and Q4 of 2020 and beyond, do you anticipate your hiring needs changing? What is different about the drivers you need to recruit and how will your company meet those demands? Use the Drive My Way Ultimate Guide for Truck Driver Recruiting to create a comprehensive recruitment plan for the months ahead.

It is more important than ever to understand what drivers prioritize in a job.

Previously, drivers may have been asking for local jobs or flexible rider policies. Now, their focus may be on PTO policies for sickness or your truck cleaning standards. Listen carefully to what drivers are looking for and shape your marketing and recruiting efforts accordingly. This recruitment slowdown is also a great time to offer operations experience to recruiters to help your whole team align with current drivers’ experiences. Pairing a recruiter with a dispatcher or terminal manager may give them a perspective on drivers’ needs.

5. Prepare for Continued Remote Processes

Slowly but surely, companies are re-opening and finding a new normal. The widespread shutdowns due to COVID-19 will continue to ease, but the effects of the pandemic are likely to linger for far longer. With millions of Americans becoming remote workers overnight, virtual recruiting and onboarding have become the norm for many companies. Even as restrictions on in-person work environments are relaxed, prepare to manage your candidate lifecycle virtually.

While the circumstances have caused us to adapt and be distant, that does not mean that we have to lose the personal connection. In recent years, several companies, including Luma Brighter Learning, have started offering online Learning Management Systems (LMS) for onboarding truck drivers. It’s a strategy that is effective for both companies and drivers. We spoke with Luma Brighter Learning CEO, Gina Anderson, and she shared her perspective on why synchronous online learning is a great option for trucking fleets.

“The carriers are saving time, they’re saving money, they’re becoming more efficient, and they’re making their drivers happy.” Gina continued, “There’s not one way to train people. That’s why it’s so valuable to be able to provide mixed methods of training [using platforms like Luma]. You don’t have to get rid of synchronous (same-time) training — you can do it online. Drivers can learn any time, any place.”

Gina Anderson went on to add that it’s no longer a question of whether or not to implement online learning systems for drivers. Drivers still value real-time connections with peers, mentors, and trainers, so companies should be asking themselves how to make virtual onboarding possible. Asking drivers to complete the basics in a synchronous online environment is a cost-effective strategy to streamline your onboarding process while still complying with social distancing restrictions and engaging your driver community.  

ultimate guide to truck driver recruiting

Ultimate Guide to Truck Driver Recruiting

Current ways of recruiting truck drivers just don’t work anymore. That’s because recruiting isn’t a transaction. This ultimate guide helps carriers recruit for retention.

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truck driver layoffs

By March 2020, it had become evident that COVID-19 had spread to the United States, but it was difficult to anticipate the nuances of the economic fallout to come. The trucking industry has been deemed essential, yet few people accurately predicted the vastly different outcomes that would divide the industry. The fate for many fleets hinges on the presence or absence of a single word. “Essential.” That designation has created a feast and famine situation that has left some companies scrambling to hire drivers while others face heart-breaking truck driver layoffs.

If you are one of the companies that has been forced to consider layoffs and furloughs, you have our sympathy. These are difficult times that demand that you to make difficult decisions for yourself, your drivers, and your company. As you move forward, we encourage you to, above all, prioritize people.

Be a Hero to America’s Heroes

The way you treat drivers during hard times and bad situations will be the way they will always remember you. Choose respect, honor, and integrity. Even if you have to lay off drivers or place them on furlough, support them where you can. Here are a few ways you can help your drivers if a layoff is unavoidable.

1. Get Drivers Home Safely

Your truck drivers work hard for you. Make sure you don’t leave them with loose ends. If you have truck driver layoffs, treat your drivers how you would want to be treated.

Get drivers home safely and don’t turn off their fuel cards. Doing so demonstrates to your drivers that you care about them as people and not just for the work they do. The cost to your company is small compared to the respected reputation you earn.

2. Be Clear in Your Communication, Especially About Jobs

Each truck driver who is laid off is going to start looking for another job, but first, they will have an important question for you. Should they anticipate their job coming back? Unfortunately, most of us don’t have an easy answer to that question. As an HR professional or executive, the best approach is transparency. If there is a possibility you may hire again soon, let them know. Do you anticipate that it may be a long dry spell in hiring? Be honest about that as well, and connect your drivers to job finding resources like Drive My Way.

3. Familiarize Yourself with Valuable Resources

You may be facing quite a few truck driver layoffs within your company. Each person will react to the news differently, but many of them will have the same questions. Prepare for some of their most immediate concerns and questions your drivers might have. Drivers may ask how to file for unemployment, whether their health coverage will continue, and whether they will have disability insurance. Soon, they will become more work-focused as they begin looking for a new job and may wonder if they need to register for the FMCSA Clearinghouse.

Drive My Way’s displaced driver resources can help you navigate these questions and we’re here to help get your drivers back on the road as soon as they’re ready.

Displaced Driver Resources

Help drivers transition, search for a job, and care for their families.

How to Have the Hard Conversation

No one likes to be the bearer of bad news, especially in such uncertain times. If you do have to make layoffs in your company, strive to be clear, concise, and compassionate. Your drivers are aware of the economic uncertainty right now, so don’t sugarcoat the truth. Acknowledge that no one is at fault for the global crisis, but it is creating very difficult circumstances for your company. Reassure drivers that your decision is not because of their performance and that they have been a valued part of your team.

Here’s our conscientious layoff template for getting started with hard conversations.

Due to the current economic state, it saddens me to share that we, unfortunately, need to downsize our fleet. This affects our entire company and is an extremely tough decision for us to make. Our drivers have gone above and beyond for our company, and we want to help you transition during these difficult times. We respect you, appreciate you, and want to assist you and your family. We hope to operate at full capacity again in the near future but, unfortunately, can’t anticipate a new start date due to the unstable state of the economy. In the meantime, we’re committed to providing you with resources as you make this transition and would like to stay in touch as our situation changes and we are able to hire again.

Consider the Health Impact on Managers

As you strive to be compassionate toward your employees, don’t forget to safeguard your own physical and mental health. Leaders who are consistently having to deliver layoff notifications to drivers and staff won’t get much sympathy from other employees but are likely coping with a tremendous amount of stress themselves. You might notice stress as the subtler signs of increased irritation or frequent headaches. For others, it might be obvious. Difficulty sleeping at night, emotional breakdowns, and the development of serious health concerns all point to stress. For the health of yourself, your colleagues, and your company, you can’t afford to ignore these signs.

To keep moving forward, give yourself time and space when you need it. Anxiety and stress over layoffs are normal. Be honest and compassionate with yourself, just as you are with your employees.

Ask yourself:

  1. Have I acted with integrity?
  2. Have I made well-educated decisions with the best interest of my company in mind?
  3. Am I systematically looking for solutions to sustain my company through this drought?

If you can answer yes to all three of these questions, be a little less hard on yourself. You are doing exactly what you should be. Manage stress by making time for exercise and healthy meals. Even on the busiest days, carve out a few hours of time each day to completely detach from work. You are the strongest asset to your company when you are able to work productively and maintain perspective on your job.

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We’ll Get Through This Together

Times like these create uncertainty, but they also lead to opportunity. We’re here to help you and your team, whether you’re downsizing or growing.

3 Important Ways the Coronavirus Impacts the Trucking Industry

The Coronavirus may be the most talked about and least expected economic trend of the first half of 2020. Airborne diseases like influenza are common this time of year, but Coronavirus, or COVID-19, is raising concerns because of the rapid rate of infection. A full understanding of how the Coronavirus impacts the trucking industry remains largely unknown. Most companies will soon feel the impact. That may come either directly through their supply chain or through indirect economic ripples. 

As we move into mid-March, the rate of infection in the epicenter, located in Hubei Province, China has slowed. Despite that, reports of Coronavirus cases internationally, including in the United States, are increasing. To date, 423 cases have been identified in the United States with 19 deaths reported. The majority of these cases are concentrated near coastal states and shipping ports. 

Short Term Outlook: Global Supply Chain Disruptions

The global impact of the coronavirus is already evident domestically. For instance, late February marked one of Wall Street’s worst weeks ever. The automotive, technology, and medical industries are seeing some of the earliest impacts. Unsurprisingly, this can be traced to the importance of Chinese manufacturing in their supply chains. 

In August 2019, President Trump issued an order for US companies to diversify supply chains. Despite that, the reality is that many US Companies have global supply chains with a strong presence in China. Based on a study conducted by the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai, 87% of companies operating in China expect the coronavirus to impact 2020 revenues. Already, the freight industry is working to stabilize against the reduced port activity. Recent weeks have seen an increased supply from Mexico.  In addition, a $225 Million grant was recently made available by the US Department of Transportation.  

Global Supply Chains in the Trucking Industry

shipping containers in port

The full impact of the Coronavirus outbreak on freight carriers who are part of a global supply chain will not clarify for weeks and even months to come. At the end of the day, the nature of the freight you carry will determine how COVID19 will most strongly affect your company. For example, carriers in technology or medical supplies may already be experiencing the impact. Sluggish import activity may be slowing loads out of port cities. Other carriers may experience a delayed impact.

Unmet Q1 manufacturing targets, lethargic return to production, and continued global virus outbreak all contribute to delays. Many Chinese manufacturing companies are returning to production. However, facilities are operating at reduced capacity as workers slowly return to work. As you know, ground transport typically makes up one of the final processes in supply chains. As a result, employers can expect the effects of the coronavirus to continue well into Q2 and Q3 2020.

Long Term Outlook

The number of ways the Coronavirus impacts the trucking industry is largely dependent on how quickly cases continue to spread globally over the coming weeks. For example, if the rate of infection slows, economic growth is expected to recover fairly quickly with a strong rebound in the second half of the year. Delayed shipments in Quarter 1 and Quarter 2 of 2020 may invigorate sluggish freight markets in Quarter 3 and Quarter 4 of this year. In short, this uptick anticipates increased port activity to compensate for the current delayed shipment rate. On the other hand, a slow response to virus containment will bring more lasting challenges to the freight industry. 

Ripple Effects

placing money in piggy bankFor companies with a domestic supply chain, the effects of the Coronavirus will be less immediately obvious. That said, they are no less important. National and international markets already are reacting to the pandemic. As a result, we may see economic instability increase in response to the uncertainty. As this reaches individual consumers, demand for non-essential goods may decrease shipping demand.

Drivers may also feel ripple effects from the outbreak in parallel industries such as oil and gas. In the near term, gas prices may remain low due to reduced export to and demand from China. Low gas prices will benefit freight in the short term. But, a prolonged imbalance may contribute to long term economic instability.

Protect the Health of Your Employees and Company

Currently, the Coronavirus has had very limited spread in the United States. Unsurprisingly, health officials caution that the illness may become more widespread in the United States in the coming weeks.  Prioritize your health, the health of your employees, and the health of your company. In addition, take measures now to reduce how the coronavirus impacts your company. Each company’s actions can also change how coronavirus impacts the trucking industry at large. There are several common sense measures promoted by the CDC. You can implement these measures immediately to reduce any risk of infection. 

    1. Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently
    2. Watch for symptoms in yourself and your loved ones 
    3. Reach out to a medical professional with any concerns
    4. Stay home when you’re sick and encourage your employees to do the same
    5. Consider offering a few extra days of paid sick leave to allow employees to prioritize their health

The health of your company is closely tied with the health of your drivers.  Consider, you may be able to weather a mild driver shortage due to illness without lasting impact. This is more serious. Quick recoveries are critical to long term company health. Ensuring that drivers are able to take the necessary paid sick days will reduce their exposure to other drivers and will help them quickly return to work.

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