The Covid-19 pandemic caused a massive shift in many of the paradigms which had been previously ingrained in our lives. One of the biggest of those shifts occurred in the fuel trucking industry. The problem of driver shortages, particularly for fuel drivers, has been exacerbated because there was already a shortage of fuel drivers pre-pandemic, for a number of reasons, including an aging workforce.
When demand for fuel evaporated during Covid-19, more drivers were let go and were then lured to e-commerce companies and others. These companies represented a more lucrative career with less hazardous conditions, as many of the hazardous materials fuel drivers normally must deal with are not present in an e-commerce environment. With the jobs being easier, less stressful, and with strong signing bonuses, many aging drivers moved away from traditional fuel driving jobs, even after the pandemic began to wind down.
How We are Navigating the Challenge of Driver Shortages at Diversified
The landscape for companies that employ fuel drivers is rugged and difficult, but there are steps to take to mitigate the impact. At Diversified we are working every day to ensure our clients have the fuel they need to run their businesses, even in a difficult and challenging market. The key to staying adaptable and competitive in this current environment is to look ahead and analyze your weak areas in a timely and frequent manner.
For example, turnaround times to acquire fuel have skyrocketed; the previous average was about 24 hours, but this has ballooned all the way up to 3-4 days notice and even then, it can be a challenge. As such, we are looking out further ahead than we ever have before to make sure our clients have the fuel they need. We are taking special consideration in tourist destinations as well as these are proving even more difficult to supply fuel in.
What Do the Driver Shortages Mean for My Organization’s Fuel Needs?
- Get ahead and don’t wait: If you know you’re going to need fuel several days out, don’t wait to call. If you aren’t accustomed to planning that far out for fuel, start putting together a schedule and plan with your team to make sure you know what you will need and when so you can call and make arrangements for that fuel several days in advance.
- A word for spot buyers: You will find buying very difficult in this market. Consider implementing an index-based agreement so you can get a competitive price each day. The lowest daily price may not be available to you, especially during hurricane season and with tropical storms in play.
- Expect an increase in freight costs: Recruiting drivers back into the fuel fold will take creativity and financial incentives. Many carriers have already announced significant base rate increases. You may need to rethink your fuel surcharge to your customers because these increases in prices are likely not going away.
- Prepare for this to last: This problem is not a simple or quick solution. Driver’s can’t quickly get certified, trained, and insured. Since hiring a new driver can take up to 3 years to meet insurance requirements, many of these problems and price increases are here to stay.
If you need help taking control of your fuel spending or need help navigating the complex and ever-changing landscape of fuel buying, we’d love to help. Schedule a free consultation today!