Driver shortage is the biggest issue in the trucking industry right now. According to the American Trucking Associations (ATA), America’s trucking industry is going to need 900,000 new drivers within the next ten years.
Apart from driver shortage, carriers also have to deal with the driver retention problem. Large truckload carriers now have a driver turnover rate of 94% — which is a 20% increase from the driver turnover rate in the first quarter of 2017.
Effective driver recruitment, however, can help fleets lay the foundation for lower turnover and higher retention rates. Here are 5 driver recruitment tips that can help fleets with the driver shortage and retention problems.
1. Shortlist drivers with similar values
Before you look for drivers, first define the qualities and values that fit your company.
A good strategy is to profile your best drivers who are happy and have been with you for a long time. By getting to know their background, personality traits, work ethics, and various other characteristics, you can create a unique set of requirements that will determine which candidates are a perfect fit.
Truck driving is so much more than just getting behind the wheel and driving. It’s also about being part of a culture that thrives on trust, acceptance, and mutual respect.
Recruiting drivers who have similar values and are more likely to fit in your company’s culture and environment would have a positive impact on the driver turnover rate. For example, if you are a trucking company that relies heavily on technology, it makes sense to prefer tech-savvy drivers. Similarly, if fleet safety is your #1 priority, hire drivers with superb safety records. They are more likely to stay with you.
2. Offer competitive packages
Many drivers leave carriers because of low pay. Although driver pay has increased significantly in the last few months, many drivers still feel that they are not receiving enough salary.
You are more likely to retain drivers and maintain a good retention rate if you offer competitive pay to your drivers.
Find out what other trucking companies are offering. Then make sure your offered package is at least in line with industry standards. On top of a good package, consider adding health and wellness benefits to attract more qualified drivers.
3. Don’t forget non-monetary incentives
While a competitive salary package is important in all industries — trucking is no exception — retaining good drivers may also need non-monetary incentives.
Do you regularly organize company events or team-building activities? Are top performers rewarded with formal recognition? Electronic logging devices now allow fleet managers to identify the safest and most efficient drivers in the fleet and reward them. If you have a performance-based reward system, make sure that candidates know about it.
It’s important to highlight all the non-monetary incentives that your business offers during the driver recruitment process.
Whatever you offer, be sure you remain truthful above all else. If there’s one thing that can ruin your chances of retaining new drivers, it’s breaking their trust with promises you can’t keep.
4. Set clear expectations
One of the biggest reasons why drivers leave after joining a trucking company is because their expectations are not met.
It is a good idea to have an expectations agreement — a brief agreement that lists the expectations that should be met by both parties. You should review this agreement and discuss it with the driver regularly — at least, once a month — to make sure that both sides are satisfied.
It also helps to have a mentor program, so someone stays in touch with the new drivers — especially during the first two to three months.
Early driver turnover is a significant issue, which can be resolved easily by setting clear expectations and regularly checking with the driver to make sure that both sides are satisfied and happy.
5. Driver training and onboarding
Driver training is now more important than ever. The influx of new technological products, such as the ELD and dashcams, and ever-changing regulations have made it slightly more difficult for drivers to get up and running right away.
However, if you have a thorough driver training and onboarding program, the new drivers that you hire may feel more comfortable and be less likely to quit. Make sure new drivers are familiar with the fleet’s internal workflow. Arranging meetups with other employees over lunch or dinner is also a good idea to make new drivers feel welcome.
Drivers also need to be trained for the specific ELD solution that you are using. That’s why it is important to not only have a training system for the electronic logging device but also to use an ELD solution that is very driver-friendly and easy to use.
An effective driver retention strategy begins with the driver recruitment process. Shortlisting the right drivers for your fleet, offering competitive packages, and setting clear expectations right from the start are a few ways to improve the turnover rate and survive amid the growing driver shortage problem.