The Covid pandemic was just weird for trucking. The first few weeks were crazy hot, everyone scrambling to get supplies in place and then the shutdown hit. Trucking ground to a halt and rates plummeted. It was a very scary time for all of us. Some of our clients were able to get forbearance on their truck loans and we all just hunkered down. We actually advised our clients to park their trucks since most loads were paying about $1 a mile. Then over the next month more and more freight started hitting the market. PPP was released and it saved a number of our clients (and us) Anne and I could have survived but the employees would have been gone. That toilet paper everyone was out of had to come from somewhere and slowly the markets began to pick up. Rates started to recover and we got our clients moving again. By summer rates climbed to record highs and those rates were sticky for the next 18 months. Then March 2022 hit and rates started to plummet again. All the free money had dried up, inflation was rampant and fuel prices were killing everyone, both consumers and truckers. A curious side note. Rates today are very similar to 2019 and actually a bit better than they were pre-pandemic, they just seem low because we we all got used to actually making money and today, expenses in trucking are about 50% higher than what they were just three years ago. It is a very tough time for small independent truckers.
The issues we are dealing with today are directly related to the events of the past 30 months. Because times were good, so many new trucking companies were created. Also, because there was so much freight, so many new dispatch companies were created. We never viewed these new dispatch companies as direct competition as, in general, the owners of these companies had zero experience in trucking. I have to say that after seeing their posts on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok I have reached a breaking point. What bothers me is that their trucking clients trust them with their financial security and they just do not understand the business. They mostly could get away with it when the market was red hot but I suspect times have changed. There are good dispatch companies out there, they are just few and far between. We do not do anything magical, we provide a service that any owner operator could perform on their own, we just bring a lot of knowledge and experience to the table that took years and a lot of mistakes to acquire.
I think I am going to transition this blog into something that more directly reflects the space we are in today. I hope to be able to provide insight and advice on moving truck profitably in this environment. I don’t care if you are a dispatcher, a small fleet owner or a new owner operator who has never booked your own loads before. I want this to be a place that helps. If you have questions related to living in a truck, especially teams, we will still be here for that also.