Lasting benefits will emerge in the Covid-19 fight

Mike McCarron

March felt like it had 120 days. Most Canadians passed the time social distancing while stressing about health, family and finances.

Truckers, meanwhile, have been out there on the front lines.

Fleets are in high gear finding ways to protect drivers and move freight.

Truck drivers have gone from nobodies to reluctant heroes. Though many have underlying health conditions, they’re risking their lives so grocery stores stay stocked and other critical products get delivered.

Never have I been so proud to work in this industry.

When the lockdown ends — and it will — our performance in this crisis will have many long-lasting benefits.

Still working

Nearly half of Canadians live paycheque to paycheque. Combine that with record household debt and many people were on the edge financially before coronavirus.

As an essential industry, a lot of us in trucking can still work. Unfortunately, not every carrier has the liquidity to survive for long. Hopefully the aid supplied by the feds will soften the blow.

Better brand

Judging by the thumbs-up I get from my neighbors on my daily escape from captivity, trucking is suddenly sexy. It’s like folks finally woke up to the fact that truckers deliver their food and other essentials.

Our response to the disruption of daily life has given the industry a boost. As a result, we’re going to attract more talented people to the profession—and get more public appreciation down the road.

Personal plus

While working from my kitchen table I’m checking in with customers (and industry pals) to make sure they’re OK. Typical five-minute yaks have turned into long, personal, soul-searching conversations. Without an ounce of selling, I’ve learned more about my customers in the last month than I ever have. Deep, personal relationships make for better bottom lines.

New fleets emerge

Fleet owners who used to only work “in” the business are now working “on” the business. I’ve spoken with many industry leaders who believe fleets will emerge from this more efficient, streamlined, connected to their customers, and profitable.

Remote workforce

I could never get my head around the notion of staff working from home. But staying connected throughout this crisis is critical to supporting each other, and technology is showing old-school farts like me that people can be apart and still work together. Being nimble and open to new ways to collaborate will make our industry more attractive to younger generations.

I had never heard of Zoom until a month ago. Now it’s central to my work and social life. Not in a million years would I have thought my monthly poker games would be played virtually!

Leadership

The Canadian Trucking Alliance in conjunction with the provincial associations have been outstanding leaders. Their boards have stepped up like never before. The daily updates, working to cut government red tape, and fighting to keep our drivers safe (and fed) have made an undeniable difference.

For carriers questioning the value of being a member, the proof is no longer needed. #ThankATrucker

Political currency

Truckers getting regular shutouts from the prime minister, premiers and MPs across the country is definitely a first.

Frankly, I think it’s more than lip service.

Many industry insiders feel that our pleas to level the playing field have largely fallen on deaf ears. I’m hopeful the industry’s new political currency will translate into more respect and a stronger reception on Parliament Hill.

I also take comfort from knowing that we’re all in this together, and that our industry is showing just how important we are in the daily lives of Canadians.

The other good news is that, just like truckers, the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy have been deemed essential services. So we’ve got that going for us.

Stay safe by staying home!

 

Mike McCarron

Mike McCarron is the president of Left Lane Associates, a firm that creates total enterprise value for supply chain companies and their shareholders. He can be reached at mike@leftlaneassociates.ca, 416-551-6651, or @AceMcC on Twitter.

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  • Another great newsletter Mike, you are a professional inside and out and have loads of emphatic and amazing experience, well said from top to bottom,you are truly one of the good guys in this industry, stay safe my friend, best wishes going forward in the trying times!

  • Just lip service from politicians and regular folk… neither could care less about truckers. Government offers nothing to us for safety and insurance won’t cover us for covid. Whole thing is a complete joke.

  • Many changes are coming much easier to send night calls to overseas dispatch centers. More sharing of dispatch and safety workers between 2 or 3 smaller companies than in the past. This needs to be done to protect truck drivers and hopefully make the companies more money. When this is done I hope that trucking has more status and insurance companies come up with a plan for smaller companies and new drivers for all transport. The Federal and provincial government needs to work on this for trucking ,busses, wheelchair taxis and non profits. Many truck drivers are getting sick now and some are finding out that they have no coverage for C19.

  • Within 2 weeks of this ‘being over ‘ everyone will be back to running us down and running is off the road to gain a tenth of a second

  • Well said, I hope you are correct in raising the status of the industry. Maybe we will see some better rates and pay for drivers when this is over.
    This may also make more companies make a plan for emergency such as this as it could happen again