Small transportation operators, including owner-operators and small carriers, play a crucial role in the transportation industry. Despite their prevalence, small transportation operators tend to be the most vulnerable during economic downturns, as their smaller size means they have less flexibility to weather losses and maintain their bottom line.
The current market conditions, combined with the rising cost of gas and operating and maintaining a fleet, are making it increasingly difficult for small transportation operators to remain in business. This is why it is important for service providers to work with their small carriers and owner-operators to keep their black cars and limos moving, so that they can continue to work at capacity.
Why Small Fleet Operators Are so Important
When small carriers go out of business, it affects not only the carriers themselves but also suppliers, service providers, and end consumers. Small fleet owners often operate in smaller regions, which benefits the residents of these areas. So, it’s important for shippers and brokers to prioritize their relationships with small fleet operators to help their local community thrive.
In addition to small carriers, the transportation industry includes luxury and limousine fleet operators. These operators provide high-end transportation services and cater to different market segments. The luxury transportation market is growing and is expected to continue to do so, driven by the increasing demand for personalized, high-end travel experiences. In order to remain competitive, luxury transportation operators and limousine fleet operators need to focus on providing exceptional customer service, maintaining high-quality vehicles, and investing in technology to streamline their operations and enhance their offerings.
In conclusion, small transportation operators, luxury transportation operators, and limousine fleet operators all play a crucial role in the transportation industry, and it is important for shippers, brokers, and carriers to work together to help them remain strong and competitive in a challenging market.
Current Market Pressures as Economy Slows
The transportation industry, is facing significant challenges due to high inflation, a potential recession, and supply chain difficulties. Smaller fleets, who lack the security of big client contracts, are likely to feel the most pain in a declining economy. In addition to the economic headwinds, the industry faces several other challenges, including a driver, general inflation, rising fuel, and vehicle maintenance costs, a tight market for new and used vehicles, and the need to maintain safety in light of financial belt-tightening.
The used vehicle market is still recovering from the pandemic and a potential recession could further exacerbate the supply shortage. Through the end of 2023, the market for new and used vehicles is expected to remain tight, so operators should maintain their black cars and limos, and protect them with solid insurance. Make sure your policy covers theft, because this is also a growing threat to fleets.
Despite economic pressures, safety should always be a priority. However, when margins are tight, fleets may be tempted to cut safety programs, training, and maintenance. While this may increase revenue in the short term, it could lead to negative long-term implications if the fleet is considered unsafe. Additionally, predictive maintenance can help extend the lifespan of assets and reduce the risk of unexpected disruptions.
What Should Fleet Operators do in a Recession?
Based on the rationale above, we’ve made a quick checklist of recommendations:
- Maintain used vehicles,
- Renew/increase fleet insurance coverage, including coverage for theft,
- Prioritize safety and avoid cutting safety programs, training, and maintenance,
- Implement predictive maintenance to extend vehicle lifespan and reduce the risk of disruptions.
How LimoLive24 Supports Small Fleet Operators
LimoLive is dedicated to building stronger relationships, and stronger business, together. That’s why we are focused on providing consistent, high-quality call management, fleet logistics, dispatching, and upselling. Our limo services, cover more than just call center support, we ensure business continuity in case of overflow and unexpected interruptions. Our staff proactively augments your fleet operations with trustworthy communications and by eliminating delays in customer service—all to help you thrive even in a volatile market.
LimoLive24, in collaboration with your existing livery platform, provides farm-in/farm-out business relationship management. Affiliate management services make it easier for fleet operators to support each other, and the network as a whole.
FreightWaves, Ashley Cocker; “Small Carriers, Owner Operators Remain Lifeblood of Transportation During Market Downturn,” April 2023.
IAT Insurance Journal; “Transportation Industry Outlook 2023: Economic Headwinds Usher in Challenging Climate for Fleets,” December 2022.
Forbes, Mike Gould; “How Fleet Managers Can Address Economic Pressures,” March 2023.