For a long time the road haulage industry has struggled to attract young talent. With the average age of a lorry driver in the UK currently at around 55, there is clearly room for some fresh faces – not only in the driving seat but throughout the sector as a whole. Fortunately, in the last few years the younger generation have started to make their mark. This has helped provide modern solutions to issues in our historic industry.
We now have greater transparency of the responsibilities of HGV drivers expressed through YouTube vlogs, a wealth of information about the industry via sites such as our very own TrainingMentor.co.uk, and a vast array of smartphone apps all seeking to improve the working experience for hauliers and drivers. It’s in this latter market that a couple of young entrepreneurs have started to make waves with their app: Avail. Avail is an innovate product designed to modernise the recruitment process for those looking for HGV driving jobs.
A win/win for road transport
Avail is the brainchild of Erin Short and Callum Clark, who have both worked in the transport industry. Erin was a part-time HGV driver and Callum worked as a logistics manager. Their combined experience helped them to identify a gap in the market for a product that could save hauliers money while helping drivers earn more and easily secure work. Avail works by using an online portal and app to connect drivers with transport companies, who can make big savings by paying a small fee of £7.50 per contract instead of the average £4 per hour that traditional recruitment agencies charge. Drivers also benefit from Avail’s unique system, which sets a minimum wage for each contract, allowing both haulier and driver to share in the financial benefits.
Callum Clark, C.O.O of Avail
Training Mentor: Why did you start Avail?
Callum: Avail was started out of a mixture confusion and anger of the current way agencies operate and how temporary workers are supplied. It’s just an outdated system that needs to be evolved or the industry will get left behind. We started to think that there must be an easier way for drivers to find work and get paid fairly. And so we developed the concept for Avail – an app which helps drivers find work, and hauliers find drivers.
How have you found the journey so far?
2019 has been very exciting. We began fully trading focusing on the North West as a pilot phase and steadily expanding nationally. We currently have over 2,000 drivers using the platform. They can access roles from over 20 hauliers, including one of the largest companies in the sector, The Green Group. This June, we received £350,000 of investment – including £300,000 from the Northern Powerhouse’s Mercia Equity Finance fund. This funding will enable us to further develop the platform and app.
What’s been the hardest thing about getting Avail off the ground?
The misconceptions of the recruitment industry have been the hardest thing for us to overcome. Yes, there are many agencies across the sector who do questionable work and bring the reputation down. But there are even more great companies who are driving the sector forward and revolutionising how recruitment works. On a tangible level and like any other start-up, gaining investment is a long process (we have been very lucky to work with the Northern Powerhouse’s Mercia Equity Finance fund), and from a tech aspect, the development of the app has been hard going. It can be difficult for someone not from a coding background to understand the jargon which comes with app builds.
Why should more people use Avail?
We have saved money for every haulier we have worked with (on average £4,000 per driver). We’ve also increased wages for every driver using the platform, so we’re really proud of what we have achieved to date. The drivers on our platform don’t pay anything as it’s our mission to improve the lifestyle and earning potential of HGV drivers in the UK. Hauliers using Avail pay £7.50 per day per driver. We honestly believe we are changing the nature of the industry and driving it forward, especially for the next generation of drivers who have grown up with tech and the surge of the gig economy.
Find out more about Avail and register as a driver or haulier using the following links.