Finding great drivers can be tough, leaving driver retention constantly on the minds of many trucking carrier executives. As difficult as finding drivers can be, the next biggest challenge is retaining them. Many of the factors that impact driver retention are outside of a carrier’s control. Things like the economy, the driver shortage, the ongoing pandemic and the fact that in recent years annual driver turnover has been near 100 percentall impact a carrier’s ability to limit driver turnover. Many commercial drivers will change employers for higher compensation, bigger perks, or better hours. While driver pay is certainly a critical aspect, there are other ways to increase commitment from your drivers and reduce the turnover rate. The needs of each carrier is unique, and every carrier is different in their approach to driver satisfaction, commitment, and retention. That said, there are a few retention factors that are universal in reducing driver turnover across the truck driving and transportation industry.
Benefits of Driver Retention
As the gap between the number of drivers and the demand for drivers increases investing in driver retention is a solid way to set you apart from competitors. Before we move on to the ways to limit driver turnover, let’s take a moment to consider the benefits having a solid crew of drivers can provide. First let’s talk about cost, according to Avatar Fleet, the median cost for replacing a driver is around $8,000 dollars with the low end being $5,000 and the high end traveling all the way up to $10,000. That’s a serious chunk of change, one that can and will eat into a carrier’s profit margins.
The influx of e-commerce business presents high demand for shipping companies and truck drivers. While other carriers struggle to maintain positions on their team, focusing on driver retention will allow you to keep up with demand. A move that can help retain business freeing you up to focus on growth instead of maintenance. In the long run, improving driver retention saves your fleet time, money, and labor costs. Not only that, it boosts company morale and improves your driver brand .
Driver retention means investing (and not just monetarily) in your driver fleet. Of course, everyone would like to be paid more, but a true retention strategy goes beyond that. By making an investment in your driver fleet, you are demonstrating respect and appreciation for your people, something that goes a long way when it comes to retaining drivers.
Improve Driver Workflows
During a driver’s day, a lot goes into ensuring Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) compliance. A mobile application or in-cab technology makes completing these workflows throughout the day significantly easier. Additionally, fleet management systems can remind truck drivers to do a start-of-day inspection, submit fuel reports, and record delivery proofs. Implementing new technology to connect dispatchers and drivers can keep everyone working in sync. When tasks are simplified and expectations clear, productivity and job satisfaction both increase.
Ask For, And Act On, Driver Feedback
Just like with employees in any industry, drivers want their voices to be heard. However, communication from the road can be trickier than in an office setting. Unless you have a small fleet with engaged leaders at every level regularly meeting with drivers, you need a process to formally get driver feedback. Consider establishing clear communication channels for drivers to share their ideas and encourage a dialogue during coaching sessions.
Establish a process to act on driver feedback in a way that improves the driver experience in a material way. Most drivers, if they believe you are listening, will tell you what needs to change to achieve a better work environment. Build a process for reviewing and considering driver feedback into your management, planning, metrics, and compensation systems. Make it crystal clear who has ownership of turning driver feedback into actionable strategy and policy changes. Communicate widely the changes and improvements that result. When you engage drivers as partners in problem-solving, it can make them feel like active contributors to the company. Share how you’re applying their feedback — and better yet, the impact of changes they inspired.
Keep Your Fleet Well Maintained
A driver needs a well-maintained rig to perform the job. This doesn’t always have to mean getting all new trucks either. By replacing seats, dashboards and other aging parts that make their tractors comfortable, you could save some money AND keep your drivers happy.
Although the truck is the biggest part of maintenance, that’s not the only component that needs attention. The reliability of their equipment is also high on a driver’s hierarchy of needs. Your company’s entire tech stack can either help or hinder a driver. Breakdowns happen from time to time, but it’s unacceptable for that to happen with any frequency — especially with telematics technology tracking the vitals of each truck. If the system is glitching and the driver’s clutch is popping, it won’t take long for that driver to get frustrated.
Address Driver Amenities
Companies who outfit OTR drivers should consider driver amenities as important as pay. These drivers log a lot of hours on the road, and while a driver’s truck is not home, it should be as close as possible. Consider the ability to use refrigeration and a microwave for healthier meals on the road. Your drivers perform best when well-rested, provide a comfortable mattress, and the ability for a team driver to sleep without crash avoidance systems going off while parked. Other amenities include ride-along policies and pet programs. These are all examples of what should be evaluated in a mission to provide drivers with the highest possible standard of living while on the road.
Make Driver Health And Safety a Priority
Amenities and maintenance go a long way in keeping drivers healthy and safe, but in the era of COVID, health and safety bring on a whole new meaning. Consider a small monthly bonus to offset the cost of additional PPE such as hand sanitizer and masks. Or upgrade your fleet technology to facilitate contactless freight. Allow your drivers to maintain social distance while getting the bills of lading, proofs of delivery, and load docs that make freight go ’round. Drivers don’t want to risk bringing infection back to your company and their families. They just want to do their jobs. Taking these extra steps with their safety in mind goes a long way towards showing your company cares for and appreciates its drivers.
One of the biggest strides you can make in driver retention is to make better hires at the outset. Partnering with Work4 can help you bring in a high volume of pre-screened and qualified driver candidate leads for your driver talent pool. Better hiring starts with smarter hiring. Contact us today for a free trial of our proprietary candidate lead generation system.