COVID-19 hit the U.S. at full force in March of 2020. Small businesses were among the hardest hit. Many were forced to close their doors permanently. As a company with decades of experience and stability, BYX was able to weather the storm. Sadly, the full ramifications of the pandemic are still unfolding. Even now, we’re struggling to find qualified, reliable workers, and we’re not the only ones. Businesses around the country are facing a frustrating labor shortage, and there appears to be no end in sight. What gives? Read more
It’s late. You’re driving on an open stretch of road, it’s quiet, and your eyelids begin to droop. We’ve all been there, and man, isn’t it scary? Driving is such an ordinary task that it’s easy to forget how dangerous it is. A moment of distraction can easily become your last moment ever. Sleepiness is even more dangerous, and truck drivers who work long hours or night shifts need to be especially cautious. Concerningly, getting enough sleep isn’t always enough to fight back fatigue. Sleep apnea, one of the top five most common sleep disorders, can lead to persistent fatigue and drowsiness. Many drivers don’t even realize they have it.
Sleep apnea is a bigger health concern than you might think.
The most obvious symptom of sleep apnea is snoring. The disorder is more complex than that, however. In people with obstructive sleep apnea, the muscles in the throat relax during sleep to the point that their airway temporarily becomes blocked. They stop breathing briefly before awakening abruptly to gasp for air. These episodes are so brief that the individual often doesn’t recall having ever woken up.
While one night of interrupted sleep is no big deal, people with untreated sleep apnea suffer from a wide range of symptoms that can significantly affect their health and daily lives. There are three main reasons truck drivers should be on the lookout for signs of sleep apnea:
- It leads to more serious health problems.
At first people with sleep apnea may notice nothing more than waking up with a headache, irritability, and snoring loud enough to wake the neighbors. Over time, the symptoms become more serious. They often develop brain fog, insomnia, and intense daytime sleepiness.
If left untreated, it can also lead to or worsen high blood pressure, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Weight gain is another common side effect. All of these issues are often linked, each one magnifying the others. The ramifications go beyond productivity, impacting drivers on every level.
- It endangers drivers and others on the road.
Daytime sleepiness and general fatigue are extremely dangerous when your job entails long hours on the road. Those with sleep apnea are up to five times more likely to get in a car accident than people with normal sleep patterns. Falling asleep at the wheel can be lethal not only to the driver but to other drivers and passengers as well– Especially when the driver is operating a massive truck.
- Irregular sleep schedules can make sleep apnea side effects worse.
Sleep apnea is problematic enough for people working a 9-5. It’s even worse for truck drivers who work night shifts. Odd hours don’t worsen sleep apnea itself, working during the night often leads to increased drowsiness. Drivers are more likely to rely on unhealthy energy drinks to stay alert, further damaging their health in the process.
All truck drivers should be screened, just in case.
If we’re making sleep apnea sound like a big deal, that’s because it is. Fortunately, treating it is much less challenging than living with it. If you or someone you know is experiencing any symptoms that could be tied to sleep issues, like persistent sleepiness, morning headaches, irritability, or loud snoring, visiting your PCP is the first step.
They’ll likely order a sleep study to confirm the diagnosis. Treatment can entail using a breathing machine at night or wearing a special night guard to help keep your airways open. It’s a headache, but it’s much less of a headache than falling asleep at the wheel. For trucking companies like BYX, it’s always a good idea to inform drivers about the common signs and symptoms of sleep apnea. Better safe than sorry.
Gas prices fluctuate by the day. This is nothing new, but the conflict between Ukraine and Russia has caused an exceptionally painful spike. The current average price per gallon in Los Angeles County is currently $5.52, with diesel averaging $5.85, but some stations are charging over $6 per gallon. Trucking companies feel the sting of elevated fuel prices more acutely than most. To fill up a 100-gallon diesel tank costs about $585. If you’re thinking “ouch,” so are we.
Gas prices look very different than they did in recent months. The average prices are up by 57 cents/gallon from just last month. It’s hard to believe that at this time last year, gas only cost $3.73 a gallon. Inflation is hardly a new dilemma, but now its effects are more pronounced than they have been in decades.
Shipping companies use something called “fuel surcharge.” A fuel surcharge is a flat rate that allows the cost of fuel to be incorporated into shipping rates in a fair manner and allows shippers to have a fixed fuel cost they can count. Fuel surcharge is an important part of us continuing to operate our business and is set by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) and updated weekly.
Rising Gas Prices May Lead to Rate Hikes Down the Line
Before you panic, BYX just updated our rates at the start of 2022, and we hope to keep them stable for some time. Still, we prefer to be transparent with our customers so they understand why price increases have to happen. It goes without saying that elevated gas prices make transporting goods more costly. The farther the pickup, the more the additional fuel expenses are felt.
The hike isn’t just felt by trucking companies. Every rung of the transportation ladder is effected, including cargo vessels and moving freight by air. Coupled with the existing supply chain crisis and materials shortage, the cost of everything is likely to increase, not just gas prices. Maintaining our fleet, from replacing tires to changing the oil, is more expensive than it was a year ago. Read more
Every business owner knows customer care is the name of the game. Unfortunately, offering the best customer care possible sometimes comes at a cost. While making shipping appointments seems simple at first glance, the logistics behind arranging a simple pickup or delivery is more complex than it appears.
The hidden cost of appointments
Every industry has annoying, unavoidable inefficiencies. The ones shipping companies like BYX deal with, however, didn’t exist just a decade or two ago. Originally, it worked something like this: Delivery companies would make their deliveries in the morning, and spend the afternoon making pickups. The only communication required was a quick phone call to let the customer know approximately when to expect the driver.
Today, expectations are very different. The workflow of a shipping appointment clerk looks something like this:
Say you have a particularly busy week and realize as you’re running out the door that you’re out of both coffee and paper towels. Who wouldn’t love being able to order a refill on Amazon over their lunch break? With Amazon Prime, both items will likely arrive within two days, sometimes even sooner. It’s like magic; addictive magic that we’ve all come to expect. Behind the scenes, it’s much more complicated. In reality, Amazon locations are a pain to deliver to and pick up from, and their methods may not be sustainable.
The basics of Amazon shipping
There’s a reason that your comfy pair of winter boots or last-minute birthday gift arrived so quickly. Most Amazon sellers send their goods to large Amazon warehouses. There are more than 50 warehouses across the U.S., so there’s one relatively close to almost any residential address nationwide. That’s how Amazon can promise 2-day shipping. The goods really don’t have to travel that far. Based on product availability and distance from the nearest warehouse, same-day shipping may even be available.
There’s a dark side to all of this, however. To start, Amazon has a sizeable history of complaints regarding employee welfare and ethics. The corporate giant supposedly installed $52 million worth of air conditioning units in their U.S. warehouses to make working conditions more comfortable, but there’s still room for improvement. For example, warehouse workers at Amazon locations are on their feet all day, and they have extremely demanding quotas to fill.
From a shipping standpoint, Amazon locations are even worse.
From the outside, Amazon’s system appears flawless. While it saves customers time, it costs the drivers who service Amazon locations. At the majority of Amazon locations, wait times are killer. Of our dispatches who have serviced Amazon locations in the past, particularly one of the largest warehouses in Moreno Valley, the wait times were crushing. Drivers waiting to drop off a few pallets expected to wait for two, four, even five hours for a single load.
One hour of wait time is typically offered free. Longer wait times are typically charged at $50 per hour to the shipper. Few payors are willing to pay those detention fees without a fight, however. The shipping companies delivering to Amazon locations then have to rope in other departments to settle the charges. In the end, it renders the shipment a waste of time– particularly when drivers are already on overtime.
To break it down, a driver’s clock in time doesn’t start until they hit the dock. If they arrive for a 12 pm appointment but aren’t serviced until 2 pm, they can’t charge detention for the time they spend waiting in line. Essentially, it ends up costing carriers to service Amazon facilities due to the lengthy wait times and price gouging. When issues arise, as they almost always do, there’s no one to reach out to for help. At the locations themselves, there’s no one around to ensure drivers are serviced in a timely manner. And if there are billing issues? Don’t even bother calling the accounting department. No one will answer. Amazon is simply such a powerhouse that they can make their own rules. Either play their game or don’t play at all. We’ve chosen the latter, for more reasons than one.
Even those of us who avoid working with Amazon aren’t immune to its influence. Virtually instant Prime deliveries make it increasingly difficult for smaller carriers to compete with the digital freight brokerage Amazon quietly launched in 2019. A brokerage which, we might add, consistently undercuts market prices, making matters even more difficult for the rest of us.
The problem with Amazon locations isn’t close to being solved.
With an ultra-complex shipping system like Amazon’s, problem-solving is equally complex. There’s never a respite from new orders, so Amazon never has a chance to fix the structural problems that are keeping their warehouses in a state of delay and disarray. In fact, the problem is only getting worse. The more Amazon grows, the bigger their problems, and the longer the wait times. This is true now more than ever when we’re still facing an unprecedented supply chain crisis.
For this very reason, we avoid servicing their locations. While it’s tough to imagine swearing off Amazon Prime altogether, we encourage fellow consumers to give their business to small, family businesses as much as possible. At the end of the day, your neighborhood shop is probably more sustainable than Amazon’s convoluted system.
If you’ve gone to a new restaurant, picked a hotel, or hired a plumber lately, the odds are good you stopped by Yelp before making a final decision. Yelp reviews give buyers a sense of security and can help businesses get their name out there, but reviews aren’t foolproof. Anyone can leave a Yelp review, and one disgruntled customer in a bad mood can ruin a business’s reputation. So is it still worth it to list your business on Yelp?
The stats behind Yelp reviews are telling.
While concerns about unfair reviews are understandable, avoiding Yelp entirely is tough. 91% of people read reviews before choosing where to take their business. Yelp also has over 178 million visitors on a monthly basis. If you’re not on Yelp in 2022, you’re practically invisible to the majority of your potential clients or customers.
Visibility, however, isn’t the only factor that matters. Stars matter, too. The vast majority of consumers, 82% to be exact, avoid visiting businesses with an average rating of less than 4-stars. If you only have a handful of reviews, just one bad review can bring down your rating. Even if your average rating is high enough, customers expect written reviews to be mostly positive.
In essence, being on Yelp is practically mandatory in this day and age, but it doesn’t come without risk. Read more
Time Magazine published an article in late 2021 claiming that the truck driver shortage is a fallacy. As a decades-old trucking company, we beg to differ. While their statistics are on point, Time lacks perspective. To clear things up, here’s an insider view on one of the biggest issues plaguing America’s supply chain issues today.
The claim: The driver shortage doesn’t exist.
To start, TIME’s infamous article covered some indisputable basics: America’s supply chain is struggling, leading to frustrating delays over the holidays and ongoing product shortages. The crisis began months ago, and yet our favorite muffin at Starbucks and the new smartphone we saved up for remains stubbornly unavailable.
Many experts have cited a truck driver shortage– the largest we’ve seen in decades, as a strong contributing factor to the recurrent delays, but TIME says it doesn’t exist. To be specific, their article stated that:
If our headline seems melodramatic, that’s only because the news hasn’t covered this nearly enough. Central Freight Lines, also known as CFL, was founded in Waco, Texas in 1925. Nearly a century later in 2020, it won the title of Carrier of the Year from GlobalTranz. Yet, despite 96 years of excellence and expertise, just announced that they’re ceasing operation.
The logistics giant stopped picking up freight on December 13, and aimed to make all remaining deliveries by the 20th. While BYX is alive and well, the downfall of CFL is proof that no LTL carrier is immune to the effects of driver shortages and rapidly rising expenses.
Where did CFL go wrong?
Truth be told, it didn’t. The climate for logistics companies has turned increasingly volatile. The company’s announcement may come as a shock, but in reality, it came after years of struggling to remain profitable. Jerry Moyes, CFL’s owner, took up the reigns as CFL’s interim president and CEO in July, 2021 in an attempt to reduce expenses, pouring as much money into it as he could, but it simply wasn’t enough. Read more
In the past year, companies of all shapes and sizes have been hit hard by uncertainty, shutdowns and unpredictable demand shortages. Now, we’re also facing a prolonged supply chain crisis. It’s been a long time coming, but the COVID-19 pandemic made matters substantially worse.
With the supply chain issues forecasted to continue well into 2022, what’s a business owner to do? While completely safeguarding your business from complications is impossible, these eight steps will help you get through today’s crisis and prepare for future disruptions. Read more
Go to a department store and try to buy a dress for a wedding. Can’t find one? It’s not just you. The shelves have been picked clean of countless different products, from clothing to certain food items and takeout boxes. The items that we used to take for granted seem to be in short supply. Prices won’t quit climbing. But why? Our global supply chain wasn’t built for e-commerce in the first place.
To Start, the System Was Already Struggling
When a customer placed an order 20 years ago, they expected to receive their package in a couple of weeks. Now, we get antsy if it’s been a couple of days. The global supply chain, however, has struggled to meet the demand for more and more products to be delivered faster than ever.
While ordering a product online might seem like the easy option, there’s more to it behind the scenes. The process to actually manufacturer a product, sell it, and deliver it to your doorstep is complex. First, the supplies to produce the product need to be shipped to the manufacturer. Then, the products have to make their way through a complicated import and export system to make it to U.S. retailers. Then, products are shipped, often being passed through many hands before they make it to your door. Read more
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