April 5, 2023

Strategies For Recruiting And Retaining Quality Drivers

Trucking is a crucial part of our infrastructure, with truckers driving millions of miles on American highways every year.  In the last 100 years, trucking has dominated the transportation industry, easily shutting out trains and air freight for raw tonnage being delivered in the United States.  Anywhere roads are, trucks can get there, from hauling raw materials such as metal ore and lumber to delivering finished products from factories to stores and other businesses.

Truck drivers are vital to the industry, requiring the mental endurance of long hours on the road, combined with the know-how to handle tens of thousands of pounds of freight at highway speeds in all sorts of conditions.  But there is a difference between just any truck driver and the driver that can make the grade when it comes to being at that sweet spot of skill, endurance, intelligence, and know-how.  For any trucking business, these drivers are a valuable asset.  But how do you go about recruiting and retaining quality drivers?  Let’s take a look at just a few methods you can use to draw in these kinds of drivers.

Incentivize Your Recruitment Strategy

Not all trucking companies are equal.  Some rely on recruiting green drivers fresh out of driving school, while others specifically look for drivers who have had time on the road and know the business inside out.  Those kinds are drivers are the ones to keep.

Benefits for Drivers

In order to compete with other trucking companies, you are going to need to sweeten the pot if you want to keep quality drivers.  These kinds of drivers might be owner-operators or have gotten a lot of hours driving for other companies.  Either way, they have expenses they need to cover, such as healthcare, retirement plans, profit-sharing, and other benefits such as paid vacation time and other incentives.  You’ll get the attention of some great drivers who are willing to hold out for the best offer, and benefits are a great way to do this. If you are a new company, providing some of these benefits might not be realistic just yet, but make them a goal. Adding benefits for your drivers is like eating an elephant, you need to do it one bite at a time. That may mean you do something like add a retirement plan this year and wait a year or two to add medical benefits.

Create a Company Culture That Drivers Want to Join

There’s an old saying: Bad management loses good employees.  In the trucking industry, nothing could be closer to the truth.  Trucking is a difficult profession, with the promise of long days and nights on the road, bad truckstop food, expensive showers, and dealing with Port of Entry rules and procedures.  The company a trucker works for should be a support system and a refuge from all the tedious and frustrating moments of their day.  A positive work environment that supports its drivers is going to earn a lot of respect among drivers.  Here are some examples of what good corporate culture looks like for drivers.

  • Holiday pay
  • Reliable dispatchers
  • New equipment
  • Good communication with management
  • Terminals with snacks, showers, rec-centers
  • Pet-friendly facilities

Competitive Pay

Truck drivers are hired to do a tough job and for their hard work and dedication, they should be compensated for what they do.  You can offer the shiniest trucks with all the bells and whistles, but a driver who has been on the road knows that at the end of the day, they are here to get a paycheck.  Pay can vary, depending on the job, and a matter of only a few pennies on the mile can mean the difference in getting a capable driver and getting an outstanding driver.  Another way to incentivize pay is negotiating pay per mile along with fuel expenses.

Improved Schedules

If you asked truck drivers what their most disliked part of the job is, nine times out of ten, they would probably say awful schedules.  Truck drivers are on the road, driving the miles through terrible weather, traffic, and dealing with the exhaustion of being responsible for a massive vehicle.  What they run into too often is a schedule that only sees delivery times and locations as numbers and letters on a piece of paper.  Bad schedules leave drivers hustling to make dock times, stuck at distribution centers waiting for loaders to finish loading the freight, and then trying to meet their deadline while driving at a safe speed and being compliant with DOT regulations.  Good schedules allow wiggle room so that truckers can get where they need to go safely and legally.

Invest in Training

Some of the best drivers out there work their whole lives for the companies that trained them. Training schools and programs allow trucking companies to get recruits early on, train them on the equipment they will be using, and make sure that any bad habits they picked up from other companies are as limited as possible. Truck driving school can be prohibitively expensive for some people too, with rates going from $15-30 per hour for a typical course.  With the hours required to get a CDL, new drivers could be looking at thousands of dollars just to get licensed.

Offsetting those costs by training and hiring new drivers can get you a larger pool of potential drivers, who you know have been trained right. Established drivers might be less inclined to take jobs with other companies they will have to retrain for anyway so long as they continue to get refresher courses at your company. A little bit of training, and even updated training for veteran drivers, can go a long way to getting and keeping good drivers.

Ensure Vehicle Maintenance

One of the best draws for good drivers is going to be good, well-maintained equipment.  The moment every driver dreads is when their truck sputters and dies on the side of the road and they are left either trying to get it running themselves or waiting for a tow truck to haul them off to the nearest garage.  Worn-out and poorly maintained vehicles are the bane of every truck driver’s existence.  Most people would be surprised to know how long companies go without regular oil changes, brake inspections, tire replacements, or even just making sure their fleets are tuned up and ready to go.  Knowing that your trucks are reliable and well-maintained is one of those things that will draw good drivers to your company.

Contact Us to Learn More

The trucking industry attracts a lot of different people from different backgrounds.  Some might just like the freedom of the open road and the cab of their rig being their office.  They might appreciate the ever-changing landscape of the highway, or cringe at the idea of sitting behind a desk in an office building all day.  Many truckers have an independent spirit that echoes back to the days of the pioneers and trappers, men and women who want to work hard and have something to show for it at the end of the day.  These kinds of people can be the asset your company is looking for when it comes to hauling freight wherever it is needed and getting the job done right.  Contact us to learn more about how to recruit and retain quality drivers for your trucking business today.

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