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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.

Drivers in the Spotlight: 4 Reasons for Their Growing Influence on Supply Chain Management

DriversintheSpotLightPost

Editor’s note: This post originally ran on Connect. Since it’s a relevant topic for the carrier community, we decided to share it with you here on The Road.

The changing competitive landscape in trucking is focusing more attention on the role of drivers in the management of supply chains.
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How Do Your Operational Costs Measure Up?

Trucking Operational CostsYou are likely aware that the last several years have been very challenging for the trucking industry. The combination of many factors, including economic uncertainty, driver availability, volatile weather, and regulatory changes, have all been financially impactful. Are you concerned with how these circumstances may have affected your operational costs? Would it be valuable to understand how your operational costs compare to your competition? If you answered yes to either of these questions, you understand the value of benchmarking.
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Why is it Important to Increase Driver Pay?

Why Increase DriverPayI have been asked by many of my industry peers, “Why is Transport America increasing pay for drivers? Aren’t you just driving up the costs of business for our industry?” The short answer is, “No, because drivers have choices when it comes to careers.” By increasing pay, my goals are to make driving more attractive than the other career options available to our drivers and to put Transport America at the top of the list of truckload carriers that drivers would like to work with.
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- Retired, Transportation Executive

Top Observations on 2014’s Trucking Industry Trends

Top Observations on 2014’s Trucking Industry Trends

TheRoad_2014-Recap

Two weeks ago, we rang in 2015 and closed the books on 2014. The end of the year in my household is always celebrated with family, food, and football. Another tradition I have is to review the year’s trucking industry trends. In 2014, there were two issues that consistently dominated my articles, the driver shortage and regulations.
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- Director of Capacity Development- C.H. Robinson

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