How the Driver Shortage is Impacting the Food and Beverage Supply Chain

There is one overarching issue that is impacting industries and businesses of all shapes and sizes, including the food and beverage industry: the CDL truck driver shortage.

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There is one overarching issue that is impacting industries and businesses of all shapes and sizes, including the food and beverage industry: the CDL truck driver shortage. Thanks to a changing workforce and poor industry PR, the CDL industry is nearly 50,000 drivers short of demand. The shortage has gotten so bad that it is causing a roadblock in the larger supply chain of other industries. For the food and beverage industry, which traditionally relies on carefully scheduled deliveries to meet demand, this roadblock is becoming a serious issue with lasting consequences.

Many restaurants, grocery stores and other retailers are dependent on truck deliveries in terms of their day-to-day success. If a truck can’t make its delivery to a restaurant because there aren’t enough drivers to get it there, the consequences go beyond simply not being able to make a certain dish one night. Customers might be upset that they can’t get what they came for, and in the age of online reviews, being known for being unprepared can be a nail in a coffin. The same goes for grocery stores. Anyone who has experienced a grocery store being out of a specific product knows the disappointment that goes along with this scene. Missed deliveries mean missed sales opportunities, which could lead to a long-term impact on brand reputation. Simply put, the bottom line of food and beverage retailers is on the line when the supply chain is threatened.

The trucking industry as a whole is actively addressing and working to reverse the effects of the driver shortage as we speak, but these are long-term strategic initiatives that take serious time and effort to realize. For independent carriers and other food and beverage supply chain managers, an effective way to make a difference is to start attracting new drivers to fill these gaps. By optimizing the applicant and recruiting process, new drivers will be able to hit the roads, allowing the food and beverage supply chain to operate to its fullest potential.

Some ways to proactively target new drivers and work towards minimizing the driver shortage include:

Delivering a mobile-first application 

Today’s drivers are social, savvy and part of the modern mobile-first workforce. Instead of sending applicants through a hiring process that involves downloads, printing, signatures and other tools of bygone eras, modern driver recruiters must create a mobile-first recruiting process. This means easily accessible applications with no large downloads, text alerts if an application is read or if there are questions, and near real-time follow-up. After all, CDL drivers are as reliant on their smartphones as the rest of us and the application process should take advantage of this.

Streamlining the application experience

Another side effect of the modern, savvy CDL driver is the lack of time and attention people have for lengthy applications. Drivers no longer have any patience for repetitive applications, wordy answers, or hard-to-understand workflows. If you’re using a DOT-approved application process, don’t ask your applicants to fill in all of their information again and again. Instead, leverage an industry-approved applicant tracking system that seamlessly pulls in this information to auto-fill an application profile with no new data entry required.

Focusing on retention and transparency

One of the more long-term solutions that food and beverage carriers and supply chain managers can implement is a retention-focused hiring strategy. Sometimes, carriers are so desperate to hire new drivers that they ‘hide’ information that might come off as negative to drivers. If there’s one golden rule of CDL driver recruiting, it’s never lie or try to hide something from drivers. The truth will always come out (thanks, internet!) and when it does it will be your driver recruiters that have to pick up the pieces.

Building long-term driver loyalty

Focusing on retention and transparency is the first step towards building long-term driver loyalty. Even though drivers spend long hours on the road, you can still have a fun, collaborative company culture. Promote relationships and social connections between drivers with social media, email newsletters, and website updates. Additionally, make sure you talk with every single driver at least once a week via phone or video chat. This will allow your internal driver recruiters to keep tabs on how drivers are feeling while giving them the sense of community they are missing.