What is the best way to retain truck drivers in the industry?
It’s not easy to retain truck drivers in the industry today. It’s important to know, as statistics from the American Trucking Associations (ATA) in a new report show a significant shortage in truck drivers to meet the demands of companies.
Driver retention is a constant battle for all of us in the trucking industry. Truckers come and go from carrier after carrier, and this is a drain for company budgets and driver morale. What can you do as a trucking employer to reduce driver turnover? Start by ensuring your truck drivers are happy.
Although these logistical conditions don’t necessarily apply to all Veltri drivers, here are some ways we’ve found help keep our drivers happy.
1. Make sure the paychecks and other perks are adequate
The current job market is very competitive, so it’s more important than ever to offer financial perks to your drivers to ensure their happiness and satisfaction. Truckers are no different than anyone else—they come to you because they need a paycheck. Offering bonuses and competitive wages are on of the best ways to retain your truck drivers.
And don’t forget—it’s not always about the money. Simply recognizing your drivers for being hard workers and going above the call of duty is a morale booster in its own right. Try creating some friendly competitions—such as who has the best fuel economy—that also improves your bottom line. You can publicize the results with photos on your company’s Facebook site so they can share their successes with family and friends.
You might even find that drivers will appreciate some branded company merchandise or a personalized plaque. Don’t underestimate your drivers’ pride in their work.
2. Provide comfortable and reliable rigs
It’s no secret that it is up to you as the employer to offer the best tractor-trailers that you can provide. Your drivers are spending a huge amount of time in these rigs. We have found that the main features that drivers want are:
- Reliability and minimal breakdowns
- Properly maintained trucks
- Ergonomics for drivers, i.e. seats that improve posture, etc.
- Trucks with limited mileage
- Semis that meet emissions standards especially when hauling in highly regulated states like California
Also, cleanliness is extremely important for truckers who live in their trucks. Between drivers, use a professional cleaning service to ensure new drivers receive a fresh-smelling, clean truck. By providing your company drivers with new or top-rated equipment, you also reduce the amount of downtime and expense due to costly and sudden breakdowns. It’s a win for both you and the drivers.
3. Get them home on a regular basis
Here’s one area you can really set yourself apart! It is a big issue among OTR truckers, as being away from home is one of the key job requirements. A story in the Washington Post quoted some drivers saying that one of the hardest parts of the job was being away from their family and friends for long stretches.
However, you can make this easier to keep your drivers happy by providing regularly scheduled home time. Examples of this could be one weekend every two weeks, or one week off after being over the road for three weeks.
Whatever you do, try to keep with a schedule so your drivers and their families can plan their own activities. This allows truckers and their loved ones to have some routine in their lives. Instead of always wondering when they can see their family, a driver has a mental note of just how many more days it will be each time they head out. This is crucial in keeping drivers happy, as well as emotionally healthy
4. Communicate with your drivers
After a new truck driver joins your fleet, it’s vital for you to stay in contact beyond the regular dispatches. Since over-the-road truckers tend to be out of sight for weeks at a time, you won’t be able to “catch them at their cubicle.” Yet staying in contact is essential if you want to develop a professional relationship with your drivers. Here’s how to do this:
- Contact your drivers monthly for an interview, either over the phone, over a video conferencing service, or in the office. It’s easier than ever before to do video conferencing and there are several good programs out there to make it easy on both of you.
- Ask open-ended questions during the interview that gives the driver a chance to offer constructive criticism and personal answers. “Yes” and “no” answers simply aren’t very useful for finding out how your driver is really doing. And make sure you are empathetic and understanding, as the drivers are often facing great pressure out on the road, whether it’s hazardous road conditions, weigh stations to go through, or unexpected detours.
- Use a mixture of text and email as well. Text is great for more urgent issues, while email is better for more detailed information that needs to be shared.
Each of us finds the best way to retain truck drivers, but these are some key ways we have found to keep our drivers happy and connected. By staying in touch with your drivers, listening to what they have to say, and using that feedback to make changes for your fleet, your drivers will be happier. And you won’t experience the shortage in truck drivers that other companies are having. Better yet, you will also build loyalty and trust among your drivers.
Find out more about Veltri trucking and our drivers, who are among the best in the country!