The good news: your trucking company is expanding and ready to hire more drivers.
The bad news: good drivers are in short supply and driver turnover is at an all-time high.
Hiring and keeping qualified drivers is a big challenge for even the largest trucking fleets. Trucking companies listed “driver shortage” as their third greatest concern in a 2013 survey by the American Transportation Research Institute. “Driver retention” ranked No. 7 on that list. According to the American Trucking Associations (ATA), the driver turnover rate for large trucking companies was 97% last year.
Replacing drivers who leave your company is expensive. The ATA estimates that turnover can cost trucking companies as much as $5,000 per driver. If your company loses five drivers this year, you may spend as much as $25,000 to recruit and hire new drivers.
The answer to hiring and retaining good drivers is to make them feel well-compensated and respected. Below are several tactics your company can adopt to achieve this. You do not have to pay the biggest salaries or offer the best benefits in order to keep drivers. You do, however, need to invest some time, thought and money into most of these steps:
Explore new payment methods
You need to be more creative than just paying your drivers by the mile. The average per-mile pay rates for most trucking modes have barely increased since 2008. Many trucking companies are now recruiting drivers by offering performance and sign-on bonuses. Some fleets offer as much as $6,000 up-front to hire an experienced driver. Another approach is scrapping per-mile pay entirely in favor of hourly pay. That way drivers are paid for everything they do, including loading and unloading. This approach can also promote safer driving. If you are not paying by the mile, the driver will not be in a rush to deliver a load and move on to the next haul.
Create performance incentives
You want employees who work hard, arrive on time and drive safely. Why not reward those behaviors? Some trucking companies have found success in offering drivers bonuses every six months for meeting fuel efficiency and safety goals. This is a win for both the drivers and the fleet owner. Good driving habits help reduce fuel and equipment costs, improving your company’s bottom line.
Give them the tools they need
Do what you can to ensure each driver’s success. Develop an orientation program that trains new drivers on how your company operates. Provide a warm welcome by introducing drivers to everyone on your staff. If possible, pair each new driver with a mentor within your organization. Steps like these can increase drivers’ comfort levels with your company and build greater loyalty.
Provide good benefits
The cost of health insurance is a huge concern to all employers. Many trucking companies are now passing the expense of insurance premiums along to their employees. Paying for your employees’ coverage can set your company apart. You can attract young, healthy drivers who do not want part of their paychecks to go toward health insurance they seldom use.
Other benefits like paid vacation days, sick days and 401(k)’s will appeal to drivers who have families. Programs that offer employees some equity in your company like an Employee Stock Ownership Plan are another option. As a small fleet owner, you will need to prioritize the benefits you offer your people. Give some thought to the kinds of drivers you want for your company and fashion an attractive benefits package around their needs.
Budget some money toward retention
Instead of spending $5,000 each time you replace a driver, set aside some of that money for initiatives that help recruit and retain the best drivers.
Make them feel valued
All truck drivers have horror stories about companies that demand long hours with moderate pay and no respect. Do not become one of those companies. Build a team-oriented culture that embraces your drivers. Offer drivers the same benefits and perks that you provide your office employees. Keep an open line of communication with drivers and solicit their ideas. When a driver has a problem, address it promptly. Show you care about your drivers’ family lives by providing perks like two days of home time after every 3,000 miles of service.
With today’s capacity shortage, good pay and benefits are not enough to retain the best drivers on your team. Drivers want to be valued and to play a part in your company’s growth.Sources: www.truckinginfo.com, Transport Topics, American Trucking Associations, American Transportation Research Institute