Talk to almost anyone in the trucking industry and you’re likely to hear concerns about so many drivers leaving their companies and even quitting the industry altogether! In fact, the ongoing driver shortage is the number one reported issue for carriers, according to the American Transportation Research Institute. That makes difficulty finding qualified drivers a bigger concern than the controversial ELD mandate or hours of service regulations. From coast to coast, the trucker shortage is causing major upsets in the transportation industry.
The American Trucking Association (ATA) predicts that industry revenue will rise 66% or more this year. Yet while the industry is growing as a whole, the number of drivers ready to take to the road is getting slimmer by the minute, making it hard for companies to find the quality commercial driving leads required to meet demands. Furthermore, each time a driver leaves a company, there are considerable costs for on-boarding new candidates and covering the costs of disruptions to the shipping schedule, including potential fees.
Needless to say, retaining commercial drivers in 2017 and beyond is incredibly important for trucking companies, and requires carriers to intentionally commit to retention best practices. What do those efforts look like?? Here are 4 Ways to Retain Truck Drivers!!
1. Treat Your Drivers How You’d Like to Be Treated
We know the trucking industry is an economic behemoth and small solutions may not always solve the big problems, but starting with the basics never hurts. At the end of the day, you’re dealing with real people and their lives on the road, so treating each driver with respect and giving them the time of day is something that can make noticeable differences. It’s no secret that this industry can be stressful, but keeping your cool with truck drivers will not only help to retain current employees, but will also keep your reputation as a great employer from becoming tarnished. When possible, try to treat drivers to small gestures like a free lunch, pay for their showers at rest stops, or maybe even provide them with a gift card for their favorite store on their birthday. These costs will surely pale in comparison to hiring new drivers or covering late fees from brokers.
2. Call to Check in with Truck Drivers Regularly
Calling to check in with your truck drivers at least once a week can be a powerful retention strategy, and something many companies forget about due to its simplicity. Asking about how they are doing and how they feel about their work is a small gesture that can go a long way. Driving can be stressful and isolating. Drivers can often feel as though it’s them versus the world. Showing your support will help drivers feel like they are really part of a team and it can also provide your company with valuable feedback that may help you make better decisions about what drivers really want.
3. Optimize Routes for Time at Home
Although your drivers may be seasoned professionals, it’s still true that most people prefer being at home to being at work. But considering the nature of trucking jobs, getting home is usually something that commercial drivers appreciate even more than average workers. You’ll have a hard time convincing people to stay with your company if they are constantly repressing the innate urge to spend time with their friends, family, and loved ones. A truck driver could be making the best pay of their life, and yet missing out on family events and getting home regularly could be enough to make them give up the financial incentives.
Working with your dispatchers to organize the most cost-effective, yet reasonable route to get your truck drivers home more often will ensure your top talent stays around for the long haul. While it’s the natural inclination of a dispatch department to find as many new loads to gross as much money as possible, you don’t want this to come at the expense of overworking drivers to the point where they are searching for other employment options.
4. Incentivize Drivers and Introduce Bonuses
Again, covering the basics when driver retention is involved is not to say that there’s a one-size-fits all solution, but rather that there things that unite drivers and their companies. Incentives and bonuses are one way that drivers may appreciate just enough to stay aboard for longer than they would otherwise. Not only that, but this will hopefully help underperforming drivers to meet their goals more succinctly, with star employees getting the recognition they deserve. Possible bonuses might include rewards for:
- Safe driving or zero traffic violations
- Low fuel consumption
- On time delivery
- Leadership skills
Keep in mind that what may work well for one company can fall short for another. If retention is your goal, it’s important to respond to the situation and really hear the needs of current drivers. Though leads for new candidates can be found, we know that the most efficient way to run a business is to find the best of the best at the start, and then keep those drivers around for long, successful careers.
Troy Diffenderfer has worked closely with the trucking industry for many years as a Digital Marketing Specialist for Track5Media.