Driving Relationships with the Trucking Industry 

Great Truckers

Surviving a Truck Driver Shortage (Part 2): Retaining Quality Drivers

There’s never been a guarantee that a carrier can find a replacement for a driver who switches companies. But, now with the truck driver shortage, it’s becoming even more difficult and imperative to hold onto quality drivers.

Welcome to part two of my recruiting and retention series. Last time, I highlighted new recruiting techniques. In this post, I’m going to share some of the best retention strategies I’ve seen contract carriers use. After all, recruiting new truck drivers is only the first step; the second is continuing to employ your quality drivers.

Why do quality truck drivers leave?
In my eight years at C.H. Robinson, I’ve learned that drivers are fluid from one company to the next (and sometimes back to an old company again). Each driver has his or her own reasons for switching companies, but some of the big reasons include low pay, too many miles, and not enough time at home.

More recently, many of the carriers I work with have shared that respect and recognition for drivers is becoming more important. When drivers feel unrecognized for the job they’ve performed, it influences where they want to work.

Sometimes drivers can find what they’re looking for with another carrier. Other times, they may leave the trucking industry all together for a more appealing path. Both construction and manufacturing often lure drivers away when the economy is good.

How to give truck drivers what they need
Keeping drivers happy often requires changes at the operations level of a business. I consulted Billy Cartright, executive vice president and COO of Southern Refrigerated Transport, at Covenant Transport Services to get his take on retention strategies. He provided some tips for retaining truck drivers by giving them what they need.

Optimize your fleet
Taking a strategic approach to your customers, lane structures, and fleet can add predictability for drivers. Being able to tell a driver that they’ll be in Tallahassee, FL, in three days, in Minneapolis, MN, in five days, and back home in seven days goes a long way to improving driver happiness.

Offer other lines of service
If getting drivers home more often is your goal, consider ways to reconfigure your fleet with additional services. See how offering more drop and hook or split seating options affect driver retention.

Trust 3PLs for more than deadheads
Rather than only using the third party logistics providers (3PLs) you work with to fill deadhead loads, you can use them more strategically. Take advantage of a 3PL’s size and relationships to find more consistent loads in the lanes you and your drivers want. This again ties to the idea of greater predictability.

Create recognition programs
There are many ways to reward and recognize drivers; often, they involve competitions across the company. Some of the competitions I’ve heard of include safety, service, and even most miles driven competitions.

When in doubt, ask your truck drivers
This is by no means a comprehensive list of retention strategies. The truth is, only your drivers can tell you what is most important to them. Open conversation on everything from favorite shippers to what bells and whistles to get when ordering new trucks helps drivers feel included and respected.

Ultimately, the bottom line for driver retention is driver happiness. Drivers have to be happy to stay where they are. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out part 1 of this series, which focuses on how you can find new, quality truck drivers.


Tony Miller

Do you see coming in the next couple years, a boom in drivers? Since right now there is a driver shortage at some point there has to be a surge in drivers. I guess I go by the belief, what goes up must come down and vice versa. What do you think? Do you think more education in types of cargo DOT training, will influence drivers pay and company recognition?



David Clark

You gotta love these experts on retention strategies. All these guys work for big companies with the worst retention records yet think they have the magic bullet. Retention starts and ends with the driver. Not a mug with the company name on it. I have no answer really but have to laugh when the experts think they do. I know our company retains drivers because we relate to them and live through them and their concerns. Each individual requiring a different approach. If a driver recognizes the company actually cares about their problems, correcting it or not, it goes a long way. Unfortunately since most dispatchers/safety personnel are there to collect a paycheck and have no skin in the game, you think they are worried about giving a driver time or necessarily caring about their problem? Small business is the most prideful business and big corporate companies are always going to think they have an answer to a question. We dont have retention issues and dont want to grow past 50 trucks. I could fill 50 more trucks but then i would lose touch and need to read articles like this on retention that are over generalized dribble. And we have come full circle.



Jose godinez

Load rates are very low, cheappers and recivers Detein to long , to many regulations, not enough places to sleep, and what is worse ELog” brokers take to long to pay.







Ilya Chen

I will never work with Covenant again! When I recall this company, oh! I feel bad!..




Have a closer relation with the warehouses you are sending the drivers to to see why it takes so long to load or unload.



Marius Abrudan

Compensation $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
This will solve everything.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *