According to the American Trucking Association, the truck driver shortage “will hit a historic high of just over 80,000 drivers.” For smaller fleets the turnover rate is about 77% and larger fleets averaged 89% (ATA).
NATMI-Certified Safety Specialist, Buddy Walls says “We have to make sure the right company culture practices are in place to retain experienced, safety-conscious drivers and decrease driver turnover.”
There are 3 main things you can do just within the first 90 days to greatly increase your odds of retaining drivers.
#1 Set expectations
Set expectations during recruiting calls and orientation. All drivers have their own priorities, whether it’s home time expectations, no slip seat, number of miles, if it’s force dispatch, etc. Upon recruitment, very few people ask the new hire driver what their priorities are. Let them know exactly how it is. Don’t just tell them what they want to hear, or you will lure them in with one expectation only to find out they will be unhappy with how the company actually operates. Care about what they think, start creating a rapport. You are outlining your expectations so there are no surprises. Allow them time to ask questions, and don’t give them an unrealistic expectation of their priorities.
#2 Use the golden rule
Most trucking companies need to improve and take more time with their driver orientation program and do a road test. Most rush through and push their drivers right out the door. Don’t just run them through like herding cattle. You must value your employees as people, and not treat them like a truck number. If you herd them like cattle, they will move on as naturally as herds do.
#3 Implement Bonus Programs and allow time off
Stairstep retention bonuses based on years of service and pay it quarterly and annually and increase it gradually. The average cost of losing a driver is around $8,200 including the truck sitting on fence not generating revenue, truck payment, insurance, etc. You can pay out a lot of bonuses before you hit the expense cap of a truck sitting empty. Do not be penny wise and pound foolish.
Give out safety bonuses. Not only do drivers appreciate the extra cash for clean inspections and no accidents, but it increases your bottom line by improving your safety scores. With Carrier Software’s CSA Safety Improvement Program, you get daily emails to notify you of new inspections in real-time. You can also get driver scorecards and points analysis to objectively view the driver’s overall affect quickly and easily on your company’s safety scores and which drivers have the most on-road safety problems.
Referral bonuses are a great way to address driver grievances through third party influence. If a driver is getting a referral bonus on a fellow employee, the stakes are higher for that employee to get them to stay. It also gives them a sense of fellowship with their employees. It gives drivers something to look forward to.
Time off and vacation time are key. Give them good vacation time and time for home emergencies, they deserve it. Make specific policies regarding what constitutes emergencies. Stairstep vacation time that coincides with their years of service. You are generating loyalty with that driver by showing that you care.
Implementing these policies will put you on the right path to earning loyalty within your fleet that will last for years to come. If you need help objectively looking at your fleet to determine who should get certain bonuses, but you don’t have time to develop a certain of safety parameters, Carrier Software can help you. Click here to learn more about how our CSA Safety Improvement Program can help service your company’s needs.