Home > All Mercertown Blog Posts, The Economy Trucker > The Economy Trucker (part 2)

The Economy Trucker (part 2)

Welcome to the second version of the Economy Trucker.  Our first conversation went really well, so I may continue to do this post once a month or so.  Please continue to leave comments, in each comment section of the posts. 

Yesterday at lunch, all truck coordinators met with our General Management Group (GMG), which includes Dale Corum, John Fallot, John Eliassen, and Rick Reed.  Jim Reeves from our Sales Department, was also in attendance.  A large part of our discussion was the economy, and how the recession is affecting our industry, and our business.  Below, I will highlight some of the topics we discussed:

  • In the last Economy Trucker edition, we discussed how our permanent trucks are hauling less of our available freight, and our percentage of freight being brokered to other companies continues to rise.  Our brokerage numbers continue to rise, as our permanent trucks have only hauled a little over half of our available freight through the first 6 business days of this month.
  • Some analysts predict that our recession may end during the summer, but unemployment will continue to rise, and the road to recovery will be a long one.
  • Our short term goal is to stay strong, maintain profitability, increase sales, and adjust rates to increase freight volume.
  • We need to retain as many trucks as possible to be prepared when freight throughout the industry improves.  Good sign for those of you that a concerned that we will lay-off more trucks.
  • Historically speaking, our freight volume usually peaks around July 1st, so our drivers need to be prepared throughout the next couple of months to work.
  • Due to economic conditions, and a lack of freight throughout the industry, we are seeing individual truck revenues down on a average of 22% over last years numbers.
  • Looking at the first 6 business days of each month, we are averaging 115 more loads per day available this month, compared to the previous 5 months of the year.
  • Mercer is in good shape, and we are still profiting, even through a slow time.  Better than some other companies can say. 
  • Competition is very heavy in the industry right now, and while we recognize that rates are low, they will probably not increase any time soon.
  • There are trucks sitting each day, and passing freight that we have to broker, or give back to the shipper.
  • Tim Allen is calling permanent trucks and re-offering freight that has cleared the board in an effort to cover the load.  He is doing an outstanding job, and many of the agents have complimented him.
  • Shippers have zero tolerance for us giving freight back to them.  If we ask agents to commit on more freight, it must be covered, so we can retain the customer.
  • Many shippers prefer no brokers, and want a Mercer truck on their freight.  We have to cover this type of freight, because it is exactly the type of customer we want.
  • We are a service carrier, and many shippers don’t care much about service right now, they are just seeking the lowest rate they can find.
  • Many customers that have signed contracts with us, are trying to renegotiate them for a lower rate, and more flexible pay schedules.
  • The only way to get a new customer right now is to provide a lower rate than their current shippers are already getting.
  • Many shippers are stating that other companies are more than willing to haul their freight for $1 per mile.

We need to continue to try to cover all of the freight that we have.  We know that not all of the freight is the best, but if we don’t cover a marginal load, then the shipper probably thinks that we can’t cover the long, better paying freight either.  It’s a good time to increase communication with your coordinator, and revisit with them, the type of freight you are willing to haul, and the areas that you are willing to travel to.  Based on General Management Groups comments, we want to keep our contractors here at Mercer!  If you are successful, we are successful.  The longer we retain drivers, the safer and more reliable company we become

In a nut shell, freight numbers are improving.  We are still pretty far off of last years record month of nearly $35 million in June, though.  We all need to try to move one more load safely!  If a load clears the board, and Tim Allen calls you to re-offer the freight, please consider that freight closely, because Tim is trying to cover the freight that we are close to giving back to our shipper.  Usually that freight is not the greatest freight, but remember, a day lost can never be made up.  Have a great day, and be safe!

  1. jpdubois
    June 10, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    This blog rules. The information is timely, valuable, and the insight provided by Jason and Len allows us to adjust our attitude and goals to operate better and more profitable for ourselves, the company and the agents that serve us so well.

    The Economy trucker series covers a great deal of data in one short missive and is my personal favorite.

    But… in the doom and gloom, prospects and plans and hope and wishes I would like to “respectfully” interject additional topics for discussion. During the meeting I would have offered the following comments. Mercer has enjoyed the success it has because of the elite nature of the people associated with Mercer, from the very top to the newest owner operator hired. This is reflected in the very personality of the Company. This personality is unique and is what attracts customers, employees, and operators. Now in trying to adapt to present economic times every effort should be made to maintain this elite and unique personality. What I mean is some Coordinators may misinterpret what is said and decide they have to become more aggressive and forceful to get a load moved, or an agent will interpret this as a licence to book freight with no effort to educate the shipper as to fair rates or superior service.

    As discussed before every operator has different needs and wants and being able to satisfy those wants and needs or failing indivually has been the hallmark of Mercer and to ratchet up the pressure to reduce broker offered loads introduces a new factor. A call from Tim to reconsider a load based on new information would be welcome, but a call to apply pressure would be offensive.

    And that’s all I have to say about that….

    • Heidi VT
      June 10, 2009 at 3:31 pm

      JP- first send my regards to Joyce, I broke my foot 2 years ago, bless her!

      Question, is a call from Tim welcome if it is a first time offer because the coordinator refused the load? I completely understand the thought about pressure being applied to offerings, how distasteful. More importantly, I also understand the trust factor between a contractor and coordinator. However, unless the two share a brain one can’t make a decision for the other without the occasional mistake in judgement. If the preferences are set to offer it, it should be offered right?

  2. Big John Kelsey
    June 10, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    I would like to add something into this discussion but I don’t want it to be misunderstood or to feel I am stepping on any toes (a problem I seem to have of late). Sorry but I have never learned to be politically correct.

    I fully understand that with some recent reductions in operations there has been a requirement to increase board sizes. We all know that can’t be helped. It is what it is.

    The problem is that coordinators get so tied up with calls that loads are missed. It’s not their fault, it’s just the way it happens. When they get 3 or 4 on hold and more calling, empty, loaded, load info. I would run out at 5pm screaming!

    Is it possible that maybe we could set up a special line manned by floaters or whomever to field just the loaded and empty calls. Maybe that would free up a little more of the coordinators time to work with us on freight. Maybe we’ll pick up on some of those missed loads.

    Just a thought and a respectful suggestion.

    • Jason Schaftlein
      June 11, 2009 at 8:24 am

      Hey John, thanks for the comment. I coordinated for a little more than six years, and I have ran out of here screaming. It is the hardest job in this building. As a coordiantor, I ran anywhere form 35 to 48 trucks. I found that the truck count didn’t matter as much as the type of drivers on your board. My old board, in particular, was full of teams that prefered to run long freight East to West. So typically, my trucks were on loads for 2-4 days. This is a much more managable situation, because it limits the amount of trucks that you have to load per day. Some other boards may be full of drivers that prefer to run short hauls everyday that are 300-600 miles long. This is a much busier situation, because you are looking for a load for every truck on your board every day. So the make-up of the board, is much more important than just the truck count.

      Something we are doing to free our coordinators up, is utilizing the contractor web more. Yesterday, we opened up the preselection option to all users. This will make the coordinator busier at first, because drivers will have a lot of questions about the process, but will eventually work well. We are also planning on allowing the driver to go into the “dispatched loads” option of the Contractor Web, and do load, empty, and check calls.

      We want to free up more time for the coordinators to be able to actually have some time to conversate with their drivers each day. And we hope that this Contractor Web will encourage that.

      • June 12, 2009 at 12:29 pm

        Jason , I love the idea of allowing us to log in our loaded and empty calls and check calls , cant wait to see it , great job so far keep up the good work !
        (now I dont have to justify to the wife why I need wireless internet,lol)

      • Jason Schaftlein
        June 12, 2009 at 1:50 pm

        Glad I could help Cory. Thanks to happy drivers like you, I don’t have to justify to Heidi, why she does all the work while I blog all day!

  3. denny 8002
    June 13, 2010 at 7:36 am

    hard life jason is it lmao where i sign up

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