The trucking industry has endured its share of challenges over recent years, including pressures and complications stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. Even as some of these constraints have eased, trucking companies find themselves facing new challenges, as they work to keep pace with a rapidly changing industry.
Advances in technology are playing a large part in the pace of change, as the industry is turning to trucks that are more efficient and environmentally sustainable and even exploring the prospect of driverless vehicles. “Investing in business-critical assets and equipment that can help companies keep pace with new technology and operations capabilities can be a daunting prospect, as it obviously comes with a cost. But it can be critical in planning for the future,” said Bobby Chesney, sales executive for PNC Commercial Banking.
The industry is at an inflection point, and, according to Chesney, the key to navigating it successfully lies in forming strong financial partnerships. “Owner-operators need help with much more than just traditional equipment financing,” Chesney said. “They need advisors who can take into account the unique challenges in the trucking industry and provide solutions to help control infrastructure costs, leverage working capital, preserve cash flow and manage equipment obsolescence effectively.”
As trucking companies look to the future, they must confront another difficult reality: an aging workforce. The American Trucking Association projects that the sector will need to hire nearly 1 million drivers nationwide by 2030 to meet the pace of industry growth and replace drivers as they retire or exit the industry.
Another area where financial relationships can help meet companies’ needs is in employee recruitment and retention. “Hiring is currently very much a top priority for many owners and operators of trucking companies,” said Chesney. “In a tight labor market such as we’re facing right now, offering competitive, non-traditional employee benefits to attract and retain workers can be a key differentiator.”
To deliver these benefits, companies can turn to consultants, such as those in the PNC Organizational Financial Wellness program, who work with human resources decision makers and benefit managers to design custom programs to meet employees’ financial wellness needs. These offerings may include Health Savings Accounts, online financial education, retirement plan services, personalized banking solutions and new payment options that give workers access to their earned pay prior to payday.
Such benefit offerings may play a key role in attracting talent within the trucking sector, as expanded benefits represent the second-most important retention practice among younger drivers – those aged 18 to 25 – for small fleets.
Age dynamics are also driving an industry trend toward consolidation, as many owner-operators are making the strategic decision to sell or pass down their business. It’s another area where companies may benefit from relying on financial institutions who have demonstrated experience in helping with business succession planning.
Even as the industry evolves, its role and importance in the economy remain undiminished, which makes it all the more important for businesses to prepare for what’s ahead, according to Chesney. “Companies who embrace the change and collaborate to adopt strategies for the new landscape will be well positioned to thrive.”
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PNC has trucking industry specialists that can work with you to develop strategies for success. For more information, reach out to your PNC Relationship Manager, or click here to learn more.