Over the last several years an interesting business model has emerged. On-demand services of every kind have sprung up and permeated our culture. Everything from how we enjoy entertainment, order food, and get around town has evolved.
Uber is practically the poster child for this on-demand movement. The whole appeal really boils down to a few things customers want:
- Speedy service
- Affordable prices
For Uber that has meant developing a system that allows its users to have quick and easy access to drivers willing to take them to their desired location without breaking the bank.
Say Hello to UberFreight
Uber is now turning their attention to the commercial freight world. Their goal is to be able to pair available drivers with loads through their app interface. They’ve decided to call this service . . . you guessed it . . . UberFreight. They are already up and running in Texas and looking to expand.
Some in trucking have become fearful that this could lead to an overhaul of the industry and may signal the death of the current system. Could Uber’s involvement eventually lead to driverless autonomous trucks and millions of unemployed drivers? After all Uber does own, Otto, a tech company based in San Francisco that is focused on developing self-driving technology.
Could it one day lead to driverless trucks taking over the roads? Maybe . . . but my guess is no time soon. Uber recently suspended their self-driving program due to a collision involving one of their cars in Arizona. Even if the technology is perfected, it will take time for the general public to accept it and for the full implementation to begin.
As it stands now, UberFreight has no plans to launch autonomous trucks. Instead, they are looking to bring their technology and know-how to trucking by becoming the newest load brokerage company. The sole objective being to pair drivers and loads with the speed and ease they have perfected through their other ventures.
How Does UberFreight Effect Driver Recruiting?
Get ready for a new kind of competition. Uber and a handful of other upstart tech companies are looking to take a bite out of the trucking market with their app-based approach. However, they are essentially a brokerage service, which means owner-operators and small fleets will be the the primary people impacted by the service.
With owner-operators making up a relatively small part of the driver pool, recruiters shouldn’t be in direct competition with UberFreight very often. UberFreight will offer their services to carriers themselves as well, but that would be inconsequential to recruiters. Most drivers don’t own their rigs and would therefore be unable to utilize the UberFreight app unless the carrier or company he/she worked for decided to use it.
Uber is looking to take the same basic business model that has led them to past success and apply it to this new market. By simplifying and streamlining the process of matching available drivers to loads, they hope to carve out a profitable niche for themselves.
Is This Really Bad News for Recruiters?
Companies like truckstop.com have been around for quite sometime without destroying traditional recruiting; UberFreight will be no different. It’s simply a new take on something that has existed for years. Brokerage groups have tried to solve the same basic problem that UberFreight is taking aim at – Get the needed drivers to the loads and get them moving.
What Happened to the Taxi Industry When Uber Launched?
Forbes reported that employment numbers actually rose across the board in the taxi industry when Uber hit the scene. With a flood of drivers entering the market, some found it hard to support themselves in the wide open ride-sharing market and made their way into the traditional taxi/limo services. If more truck drivers do decide to take to the road, using data to find the quality drivers among them will become even more important than ever.
The Upside for Recruiting
Recruiters could benefit from Uber bringing more attention to the need for truckers and be able to pick off any drivers not happy with the locked-in and pre-determined rates that UberFreight will offer.
Over the years, lack of loyalty has continually plagued Uber. Uber drivers are all considered independent contractors with no built-in benefits. Ride-share pricing has become almost identical regardless of the app used for booking. This leads to drivers constantly jumping from one company to another, or even working for multiple companies at the same time.
Recruiters for fleets could capitalize on this by emphasizing the perks and benefits of being a company driver with a support system. Using the data available from Randall-Reilly’s RigDig database could help build a highly targeted audience to distribute this information to.
Trucking companies may actually benefit by adopting UberFreight or developing their own similar business model. When it is all said and done, UberFreight and other companies like them may serve to offer even more ammunition to recruiters looking for qualified drivers.
What it All Means
Most drivers won’t be in a position to use the app (unless their carrier decides to adopt it, which again would not affect the recruiting side of the equation). The roll out of the product will be a slow process as it spreads nationwide. Those owner-operators who are able to take advantage of the app could be tempted to join fleets with benefits. Should UberFreight be a success and pick up steam, it may lead to more people joining the driving force or trying to purchase their own trucks . . . both of which could be a very positive thing for the industry as a whole.
Technology and the rate at which it evolves can be scary. This is only magnified when companies or people begin to feel threatened by it. UberFreight could be the signal for fleets and recruiters to embrace changing technology and adapt with the rapidly shifting times. Finding quality drivers to move freight will always be the goal. UberFreight and companies like them could represent a change that many are uncomfortable with, but in the end, bringing a dose of app-based tech and a sleek modern business model could just be the shot in the arm the trucking industry sorely needs.
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