Hurdles and roadblocks

In Carrier's Corner, September 20225 MinutesBy Blake NobleOctober 27, 2022

There’s never been a better time to reference the adage: “If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.”

The transport sector is beyond challenging, even at the best of times. Now, however, it feels like we’re being hit from all sides and that, despite the pressure, we will just find another way to keep the wheels turning.

It’s not like the challenges we’re encountering are new. But their magnitude, speed, and “lumpiness” make it difficult to draw a comparison with another time. I could call on a plethora of well-worn quotes to describe the situation: the perfect storm, a case of Murphy’s law, be careful what you wish for, and on it goes.

The industry faces a chronic labour shortage and its impact on labour rates, surging fuel prices, and an uncanny rate reduction the minute the government asks a few questions. There is also the heightened cost of capital and rising equipment and parts prices (and related increases in the cost of fitting them). And that’s before we’ve even turned into Passing on Our Fair and Reasonable Costs Street, and the subsequent pricing sensitivity that’s emerged in many corners of the economy as demand flattens. Whichever way we turn, it’s definitely a character-building time!

It turns out it’s exactly the right time to remind ourselves that we’re only human. The scope of the challenges we face while coping with day-to-day operations will likely wear us down more than we realise and affect other parts of our lives.

I know first-hand that it can be easy to feel as if you’re the only one lodged down a certain hole, and that no one else could possibly understand. But the reality is most of us have myriad individuals who are only a message or phone call away who are likely to have the right experience, knowledge, connections – or simply listening ability – to help us quash the beast currently consuming us.

If you have a financial challenge, it might be reaching out to your accountant – those numbers you’re spending your waking (and sleeping) hours squirming about might look completely different through someone else’s bifocals! Perhaps it’s a funding partner or bank you need to connect with; what tools do they have to crack that nut you’re not trying to break? They might not hold the solution themselves, but chances are they’ll know someone that does.

Perhaps it’s making a connection with another transport operator, someone else who’s got some skin in the game and is likely feeling or has at some point felt that same pain you’re grappling with. And don’t fret if you don’t know any operators yourself – that’s where our industry associations can play an invaluable part in linking you up. The chances are that looking at another operator’s front lawn might help you realise that your grass isn’t looking so parched after all.

Regarding industry associations, the resource and support that these organisations can provide, whatever the circumstances may be, can’t be underestimated. Perhaps it’s a check-in around your cost model or pricing structure, maybe some HR guidance, financial planning direction, or simply connecting you with a relevant service provider you never knew existed. The teams at the NZ Trucking Association, National Road Carriers, or Transporting New Zealand deal with operators day-in, day-out and the chances are you won’t be the first to call with a particular query or challenge.

I started with one adage, so I figure I’ll wrap up with another; “A problem shared is a problem halved.” Reach out – you’re not alone. / /