Many long-haul truckers can relate to the frustration of searching for a parking lot while they are running out of time on their hours of service (HOS). A few truckers do reserve their parking spots on a monthly basis, but because it is a highly inefficient practice, it is not a regular occurrence. Most truckers consider the search for a truck spot as being one of the singularly unpleasant situations to contend with as part of the job.
This is an issue that often occurs due to logistical efficiency rather than being about the lack of adequate truck parking lots. It prompted Bryn Wells, a long-term trucking manager, to found Truck Spot, a company that ensures truck parking spots to drivers when they are in need of one.
With two decades of experience in the trucking and logistics industry, Wells has been exposed to several parking situations over time, which he feels has turned dire now with the introduction of the rigid HOS rules after the 2017 ELD mandate. “In my time as a trucking manager, I would go to parking lots. And whenever I went to one, they would almost always say they’re full – whether it’s a truck stop or a private parking lot that is geared towards domicile drivers in a specific area,” he said.
“But if you drive in at almost any time, there would be about 50 percent capacity available. This is because drivers are on the road a lot of the time, and their reserved spots sit vacant. These drivers rented the spot by the month, because they want to make sure that they have a spot when they come home,” he continued.
The complexities behind utilizing empty truck spots led Wells to work on a solution that would smooth the process, opening up truck spot vacancies to truckers in real-time, rather than forcing them to reserve spots on a monthly basis.
“Our idea is to utilize the capacity that is out there to solve the truck parking problem. We developed an app that would allow drivers to not only make their reservation hourly, daily or monthly, but to post their spot as available for sub-leasing to fellow truckers – either hourly or daily – while they are on the road and not in need of their parking space,” said Wells.
For instance, if a driver has a spot rented out by the month in Miami, and he happens to run over the road for a week, he would be able to post his spot for sub-lease to someone else. Wells explained that this would add capacity that has long remained locked away due to efficiency capacity-handling, and would ease drivers of the stress of searching for a parking spot every time their HOS hours are dying out or when they want to take a break.
Wells pointed to studies that show drivers spending almost an hour a day trying to find a parking spot when they are on the road. “That’s a lot of time that drivers just don’t have, especially with the implementation of the electronic logs. They need to be able to stop and be able to park to get their rest,” he said.
Truck Spot runs several parking lots in Florida now, with the price for a spot ranging between $10 to $15 a night. The price point could be brought to perspective by looking at what it costs a driver to search for a spot to park, which usually is more than $15 an hour. Wells explained that Truck Spot was founded in Florida because he has significant experience witnessing the truck parking problem in that state.
Wells also insisted on the need for creating a strong network of truck parking lots in Florida, before venturing out to other states. “The geographical concentration is also to test out how it works, and from a market and branding standpoint to have a good network in one state. The reason is, we want drivers to be able to know that when they come to Florida, they can make a reservation for parking at one of our locations and that it will be convenient for them,” he said.
“From a management standpoint, having a heavier concentration in a specific region makes it easier and more feasible. If the spots are too spread out, it might dilute the brand and our service level. We have more economy of scale when we operate with locations that are within a certain geographic region.”
Though the technology behind the solution is not cutting-edge, and alternate solutions to Truck Spot might emerge in the market within the next few years, Wells believes that Truck Spot now has the first-to-market advantage that would be hard to acquire for new startups.
“Take Uber for example. Though it does have good technology, it is pretty easy to replicate. But Uber’s network of drivers give it the brand value, and so when someone needs a ride, they typically think of Uber,” said Wells. “We want to do the same with Truck Spot, that when a driver needs a parking spot, they would go into our application and make a reservation as they would know they can find a spot there.”