When it comes to carriers stepping up to the challenge of retaining a quality pool of owner-operators, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Advanced software tools that larger carriers routinely use to determine routes, fuel optimization strategies, DOT compliance and more are oftentimes also capable of benefiting the owner-operators that ultimately move the load.
“Fleets that are successful [at retaining owner-operators] show owner-operators how these tools work for them,” Duff Swain, president of Trincon Group, told FleetOwner. “If this is used constructively to show the owner-operator how he could make more money, then it’s all in how you package and present [the software]. Once you get that idea across I think owner-operators are very supportive.”
Fuel savings and efficient routes would be one component of such technology that owner-operators could benefit from, Swain said. “As fuel goes up and down in price, most trucking companies will pass all or part of that fuel surcharge onto owner-operators. Oftentimes it’s not a 100% pass through. Owner-operators are always fighting fuel and anything from an educational and training standpoint [carriers could offer] is a big plus.”
Onboard computers that are increasingly becoming standard equipment for carriers could allow trucking companies to assign loads to owner-operators without them having to call in and allow owner-operators to report status on loads without calling in. And with that technology trucking companies can arrange tasks so the next load pops up before [the owner-operator] is done, according to Swain.
“You have to look upon [the owner-operator] as a small businessman in business to make a profit and return-on-investment and is interested in any tool that helps him accomplish that,” Swain said. “Oftentimes they cannot afford all the tools. That’s a natural win-win if the trucking company has the technology to help the owner-operator improve his own profitability. That relationship needs to be sold and it tears down distrust.”