November 22, 2022
How the Trucking Industry Will Change in 2023
Without a crystal ball, no one can predict 2023 changes and trends for the trucking industry with 100% certainty, and there are many conflicting opinions on what it could look like. Add in a national discussion about how and when the economy can successfully bounce back from the complicated impacts of a long pandemic and it’s hard to say anything with complete certainty.
Fortunately, much of the chatter on possible changes and trends can be helpful to owners-operators as they hunker down and prepare to make it through economic hardship.
Here are a few trends you should be aware of to help you plan more effectively for 2023.
1. Recession Talk Could Alter the Horizon
The United States could hit a proper recession and, as a result, commerce could either stay the same or slow down. Even the experts don’t know. The way unemployment rates seem to be heading (or how the federal partners are trying to get them to head with increased rates), no one is sure of the future, especially since retail spending has remained fairly the same despite interest rate increases.
Either way, change is in the air, so it’s time to buckle up and get your finances in order. All storms eventually pass and the person who prepares the most usually fares the best. If you were in the industry during The Great Recession that started in 2008, reflect back on one or two ways that helped you save money or that got you through the rough patch. You can also use the many resources on our website and listen to our Haulin Assets podcast for financial tips and tricks to help you weather hard times.
2. Chip Shortages Will Probably Continue
Chips are one way the industry is improving its technology for more efficient service and business. Chip technology improves business, which improves the overall market in the long run — something that’s long overdue as the industry emerges from the bumps of pandemic years.
Thanks to a multitude of complications such as too much demand and not enough supply, a chip shortage continues to get in the way of new technology and manufacturing. This means new trucks might not be delivered to all fleets — at least, not in the timeframe that businesses are used to. The past year has shown a fairly consistent 6–12 month wait for new vehicles and there are no signs yet on when delivery times will improve.
However, with e-commerce continuing to steadily increase and people shopping from home more, drivers are becoming more essential than ever before. People will still need the strong arm of this industry to do the heavy delivery lifts for essentials like medical equipment and groceries, regardless of a shortage in chip technology.
3. Keep a Clear Financial Head
This could be the year you learn the most about how to become a more financially efficient, frugal, and creative owner-operator. Maybe it doesn’t sound fun; after all, the emotional experience of dipping into an emergency fund can feel discouraging. But, it is not a bad business skill to learn if you haven’t had to before. They say the most valuable lessons that stick with you are forged through fire, and there’s nothing quite like the pressure of having to be financially creative to increase your business savvy.
As motivational speaker and salesman Zig Ziglar said, “Success occurs when opportunity meets preparation.” Any project change manager who has led a large workplace change will tell you that people adapt to change more quickly — even if they don’t want the change to happen — if they feel prepared and informed from the start.
As an owner-operator heading into a tumultuous economic time, do yourself a solid by thinking ahead. Bolster your emergency fund now, learn to negotiate for fairer pay, and get creative on how to minimize costs. You can find some great ideas in our Money Saving Tips for Truckers and the 2022 September Financials episode of our Haulin’ Assets podcast, both of which explore how to keep a clear head with your finances, even when you experience a bad month.
Remember the Silver Linings
While not all of these trends are positive, there are a few silver linings to keep in mind.
One is that driving doesn’t seem to be slowing too much. The industry is still seeing a lot of supply chain backlogs and drivers are needed to keep up with demand and help things get back to a new normal. It’s very possible that owner-operators could continue to see steady demand for jobs in 2023.
And two, sometimes you learn the most valuable lessons of business when you go through the downs — not just the ups. While these experiences aren’t necessarily fun, they can deepen your business acumen. The trucking industry will always go up and down, but it’s the tricks and tips you learn going through a hard time that make you the seasoned, prudent owner-operator that carriers need on the road today.