Guest Post: 4 Ways to Retain Drivers in 2017 and Beyond
Ask almost anyone in the trucking industry and you’re likely to hear about their concerns over drivers leaving their companies or even the industry. The driver shortage is real and causing major upsets from sea to shining sea.
While the trucking industry is growing as a whole, the amount of drivers ready to take to the roads is getting slimmer by the minute, making it hard for companies to find the quality commercial driving leads they need to continue meeting demands. Not only that, but each time a driver leaves a company, there are considerable costs of on-boarding new candidates and covering the costs of such a disruption to the entire shipping cycle. Needless to say, retaining drivers is on the minds of most trucking companies every day of the week.
With reports from the American Trucking Association (ATA) predicting that industry revenue will rise to 66% or more, retaining commercial drivers in 2017 and beyond means you’ll need to get ahead of the curve.
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 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 a gift card for their favorite store. These costs will surely pale in comparison to hiring new drivers or covering late fees from brokers.
2. Call to Check In Regularly
Calling to check in with your drivers at least once a week can be a powerful retention strategy, and something many companies don’t consider. Asking about how someone is doing and how they feel about their work is another 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 can also provide your company with valuable feedback that may help you make better decisions about what drivers really want.
3. Home-time Optimized routes
Although your drivers may be seasoned professionals, it’s true that most people wouldn’t choose to work if they didn’t have to. That said, getting home often is something that commercial drivers can appreciate more than others. You’ll have a hard time convincing people to stay with your company if they are constantly fighting the innate urge to spend time with their friends, family, and loved ones. A driver could be making the best pay of their life, but missing out on family events and getting home regularly could be enough to make them throw it all away.
Working with your dispatchers to organize the most cost-effective, yet reasonable route to get your drivers home 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
Incentives and bonuses are a few things 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. It’s important to take a well-thought-out approach to the situation and listen to the needs of current drivers if retention is your goal. Though there are leads for new candidates to be had, we know that the most cost-efficient way to run a business is to get the best of the best right from the start.