Transport companies thrive in a time of COVID

Commercial road transport company owner: You are looking at the most challenging five years in business coming up. While many will struggle on a downward spiral, a select few will thrive.

Back in 2018 it was already being reported that over half of commercial road transport industry workers would be over 65 by 2026.

In July this year, Ausure Horizon ran a poll of Truck & Transport company owners, and while you would be forgiven for thinking that issues surrounding novel coronavirus would be front of mind, what we found was that an ageing workforce was not only the number one response for immediate issues, it was in fact close to triple the responses from the second highest concern (compliance and accreditation).

It’s challenging enough to find young, qualified drivers to fill those empty cabs when there are plenty of new drivers coming through the ranks, but in the age of the internet, many of the potential truck drivers of the future are more concerned with updating their Instagram than upskilling their abilities.

For business owners, this creates three significant problems:

A smaller pool of qualified, potential employees (lower standards)
The chances of recruiting team members who are a cultural fit for your organisation go down as much as 75 per cent
Significantly increased exposure in Workplace Health & Safety, increased scrutiny from National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NVHR) and an almost certain growth in post-employment litigation.

Luckily, for forward thinking business owners, these problems can, with a focused effort, become your biggest strengths moving forward.

To increase the size of your potential employment pool, ensure quality standards and team culture standards are met and even exceeded. In short, you need to start looking at your employee chain like your supply chain.

Sending a pallet from Newcastle to Brisbane needs equipment (usually a mobile asset like a truck), incentivised community outreach (marketing to tell people you have a truck), implementation systems (quotes and sales) and solid job execution and follow up procedures.

All of this of course takes time and energy.

The good news is that developing your own pool of talent works the exact same way. I’ll be honest though. This will take a complete departure from the traditionally held beliefs of what ‘does’ and ‘doesn’t’ work in recruitment.

The mobile asset is your training and upskilling program (some clients partner with driver training and vocational training institutions for joint ventures), the community outreach stems mostly from the network of your network (an incentivised recruitment drive from within your own ranks can be unbelievably fruitful).

Implementation strategies in systems like this include clearly defined ‘career progression pathways’ like roadmaps for the life of a driver. Instead of relying on getting the job and not knowing what is next, these recruits have a career laid out in front of them.

Finally, it’s time to execute and follow-up — that is, build the systems around this that will build your company’s future, and follow it through as a long-term game plan.

This strategy is a new way of looking at this issue for most business owners, and when it comes time to implement radically new ideas to pivot your business model, naturally we recommend working with experienced consultants to help you turn it into a reality.

While we can look after your insurance, we’d be very happy to introduce you to culture and change specialists that are in our network as well.

Now the third significant problem we face is that of exposure.

Increased exposure in OH&S, NHVP, employment litigation, costs associated with mistakes, the list goes on (and on).

There are two things you must be acutely aware of as the business owner when it comes to mitigating this risk:
What is your exposure level?

How much is it going to cost to be covered?

No one wants to be spending one cent more on insurance than they must, so balancing cheap but, potentially ineffective policies, against more robust and often more expensive coverage, really is a specialist area. Great insurance isn’t great when you buy it; it’s great when you need to use it.

While we can hope that you never have to use it, but just to be sure, if there is one thing that you take away from this article, it is this: get your policies checked. Even if you have an amazing broker, it always pays to have a second opinion.

With a lifetime of insuring transport and commercial businesses, and a team of award winning brokers, we still have others in our team check every policy to catch every foreseeable issue, to make sure clients have the right coverage in place, and then, to ensure it’s the most competitive rate available.

You can certainly pay to have your policies all reviewed and recommendations made or reach out to Ausure Horizon where we have a dedicated team who offer this as a free service.

Even if you’re not yet a client having the right policy at the right time is so critical, and we want to make sure no-one is left unnecessarily exposed.

One final note from me: Thank you.

The COVID-19 year has been a challenge. While I am ever so grateful for our frontline health workers, being a transport company specialist, I am also aware of our amazing industry, and businesses like yours.

My little girl’s birthday present turned up with a courier the other day, and my neighbours’ small business can still send products around the country, not to mention the million other little things, which are really the big things, that still happen because of who you are. Keep going. You’re amazing.

About the author

David Summers has been an Insurance Broker for 17 years with ten years experience as a Transport specialist. He has cemented himself as one of Australia’s elite insurance brokers in both the transport and construction industries. His success is based on a long-term partnership approach with his clients.

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