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Do you as a trucking company CEO honestly believe that there is a truck driver shortage, or just not enough drivers working for you?

Many truck drivers, or commercial vehicle operators as they are now being called by some motor carriers, don’t stay with one company for long. They leave and go elsewhere quicker than they can be replaced. They give new meaning to the phrase ‘the grass is always greener’.

But what if the drivers you have, and want to keep, don’t leave?

NO MORE SHORTAGE!

The revolving door of drivers coming and going is often caused by one simple but overwhelming factor: the attitude of the CEO and how it drives the company culture and guides the operations people, their mindset and how they treat drivers.

When the attitude isn’t driver-centric, it makes drivers unhappy, motivated to leave, and believe they can do better at yet another company.

A simple and absolute acceptance of this fact should occur between the trucking industry top executives and their leadership teams who run these motor carriers.  Fix this problem and you will see the retention percentage begin to improve as long as the employers that these drivers work for adopt a Drivers Are Really Everything culture — and live by it.

What problem is being addressed?  The driver shortage or the turnover (lack of retention) which causes a shortage at your company. Are drivers really everything at your company, or just a piece of the revenue generating program?

All of the conversations about driver pay, lack of respect, not enough home time, and on and on are all a direct result of the value placed on drivers by the CEO. This attitude, be it positive or less than desirable, flows through not only the organization, but also affects how the drivers are treated by everyone in the supply chain that they come in contact with.

Survey results that describe the characteristics of great drivers and what drivers like and don’t like and why they stay or leave are fine; it’s a start. However, the winners of this game will provide an environment, a philosophy, a way of doing business that exceeds typical best practices by adopting new ways of doing business with the shipper/consignee/driver /dispatch/payroll-settlement/safety employees and the drivers.

Predictive assessment tools are used by some companies to test for a prospective driver’s attitude, a measure of integrity, intelligence and skills. Results that might correlate into a driver being safety minded and just an all-in-all great driver won’t make-up for a bad culture or for a work environment that isn’t what these great drivers need to be happy and successful.

FACT. The “great places” to work, according to surveys conducted regularly by Forbes, Fortune, U.S. News, Glassdoor, Crain’s and others, reveal criteria that ranks job satisfaction with a focus on work environment, working conditions, trust of leadership, culture, and work life balance.

Drivers, like most everyone else, seek to work with great people in a trusted comfortable, environment – the equivalent of Drivers Are Really Everything(DARE) philosophy.

How many trucking companies will pass the test when the recruiter tells prospective drivers about the great place their company is to work for, but that their driver turnover is significantly less than the industry standard of 80 or 90%?  Really?

True or not true? Drivers want to know the real issues about a company and avoid being told the good stuff that make the drivers feel good but are seldom delivered in treatment, home time, compensation, fair dispatching without favoritism and on and on.

Again, drivers leave because they are not happy.  Why? They go to work at companies where they believe they will be happy and all their concerns will be dealt with properly and fully. But the “truth in recruiting” presentation has to pass the “so what” test.  Facts, not promises. Truth, not mismatched expectations which only reveal themselves after the driver signs on and goes through orientation or handles the first load.  Then reality sets in and promises made and not kept make drivers unhappy.

Why do some companies enjoy very low turnover?  An example is a small regional carrier in Illinois with 33 drivers (50/50 employees/owner operators) which has lost only one driver this year.  They don’t recruit because they don’t have to – it’s a nice place to work.  Ownership is involved! They talk to their drivers every day and they make sure that the drivers:

  1. Know how important they are to the organization
  2. Are treated well by the other employees, their customers and receivers

They do not tolerate any abuse or lack of respect or any issues that the drivers will stew about while alone in the truck or at the truck stop talking to other drivers.

Why do most private fleets and some carriers with dedicated operations enjoy turnover in the 15-30% range? Because they do the right things to keep drivers happy.

If your company is struggling with retention (and therefore recruiting), and you are serious about solving this issue for good, start with these three steps:

  1. As CEO of your company, you should also be the force behind continuous improvement of the culture of the company including staying in tune with your drivers’ experiences to learn how to create and maintain a great working environment.
  2. Train everyone that comes into contact with drivers to be respectful. In other words, BE NICE!
  3. Become more innovative in your business practices by exceeding the best practices of other carriers to give you a real competitive advantage over other carriers in order to attract more and better quality drivers.

The really great companies that enjoy very low driver turnover realize that creativity, innovation and very different levels of thinking and execution are necessary to make a real transformation. They become the standard by which all other carriers are measured.

How does your company measure up to being a “great place” to work?  What kind of treatment of drivers do you practice?  What innovative strategies are you using to really make a difference in attracting and keeping drivers?

How do you know your company is a great place to work?  Because you as CEO think it is?

Ask your customers what your drivers say about your company!

If you want to create an Intelligent Driver Retention SystemSM and are willing to rethink your driver retention practices take the Driver Turnover Assessment.  I can tell you in five minutes why you lose drivers consistently. Connect with me on LinkedIn or email me at norris@rredinc.com for your free copy.