No matter what they’re hauling, a good truck driver is a fleet’s most valuable commodity.
As the economy continues to rebound, almost every segment is seeking to move product to end users. Yet, the pool of truck drivers continues to shrink, leaving transportation providers with just one truck available for every 12 potential loads.1 Shippers are forced to delay non-essential shipments, or pay a higher price to ensure carriers will be at their plants and distribution centers when they need them.
Fleet operators are facing a rare opportunity. Those that can find a way to expand their capacity by hiring and retaining more quality drivers stand to earn a huge windfall as freight rates are up by as much as 22% over this time last year.2
Here are HUB’s Top 10 ways to improve your truck driver recruitment and retention:
- Recruit right. Driver life doesn’t always mirror a recruiter’s description. Drivers who have been sold a false bill of goods will often quit within the first 90 days and post their experiences on the web, damaging a company’s reputation. Hire only effective, honest truck driver recruiters and train them on the industry being serviced and your company policies. They should relay accurate pay and home-time estimates.
Consider offering referral bonuses to company drivers. Chances are they know someone who is looking. Also, consider posting job openings on social media, utilizing Facebook, state driver boards and more. Contact your local or state-run military/veteran hiring program for drivers.
- Compensate fairly. Take-home pay is most important to drivers working hard on the road to support families back home. Make sure your pay is competitive, and that your advertised pay rate matches take-home pay. Make sure truck driver recruiters are educating drivers on your full payment package, including home time, health insurance, retirement programs and reimbursement benefits. Once on the job, don’t let drivers go for weeks with little or no pay. Never let a company error cause a paycheck to be missed and implement systems to speed up and simplify payroll processing.
- Maintain your fleet. Shabby looking vehicles and poor safety records will hinder your truck driver recruiting and retention. Clean and well-maintained vehicles speak volumes. Make sure your fleet is up-to-date with maintenance and protection. A truck driver will refuse to lose money over breakdowns and poor roadside inspection performance. If truck maintenance becomes a problem, the trucker may start looking around.
- Hire smart. Bad truck drivers are relatively easy to hire. Pay attention to driver background information; don’t hire a worker with a lot of turnover. Review applications closely and make sure the driver is a good match for your company culture. Pay attention to the information you collect, which includes the MVR, PSP and background checks that you sent out to former employers, and use the interview to make sure the applicant is a good fit. If not, you may risk the loss of other drivers.
- Make orientation meaningful. Driver orientation is often a first failure, so set drivers up for success from day one. Don’t put them in front of a screen for six hours of safety videos. Pay attention to the information you collect, which includes the MVR, PSP and background checks that you sent out to former employers. Don’t stress penalties for safety and service issues. Drivers need to understand what the company is doing for them, not what they are looking to take away. Give drivers a positive feeling about the company by introducing them to each part of the operation. Get drivers to work as soon as orientation is completed.
- Train dispatchers well. Train dispatchers to understand the industry and be empathetic to drivers. They need to understand what the drivers are going through on the road. Educate them on issues like breakdowns and continually train them on new industry trends, technology and federal and state regulations so they can properly support your drivers. Have a dedicated dispatcher for new drivers, and an ombudsman on board to resolve any issues that may arise between dispatcher and driver.
- Keep loads moving. Drivers don’t want to be stuck anywhere, even waiting for a load. They want to keep moving. Wait time at the dock or terminal means less mileage, and therefore less pay.
- Stay in touch. Coach dispatchers to show drivers you care by letting them know when to expect severe weather on their route, or inform them of a better route when heavy traffic or an accident are on their path.
- Incentives motivate drivers. Offer cash or gift certificate rewards to drivers with exemplary safety records. At the end of the quarter, drivers will be proud that they have more to show for their mileage.
- Cultivate pride. Create a company identity that all workers can be proud of. Distribute hats, shirts, patches and or jackets with the company logo to office workers, dispatchers and truck drivers. It’ll go a long way in cultivating your brand.
For more information on these and other tips, listen in on the HUB webinar: "How to Attract and Retain Quality Commercial Truck Drivers."