Want to keep good drivers? Make it easier for them to do their jobs, experts say.  -  Photo: ACT

Want to keep good drivers? Make it easier for them to do their jobs, experts say.

Photo: ACT

Often, reasons for leaving that drivers identify as pay may have more to do with disruptions and uncertainty and confusion that affect pay, rather than the pay package itself. So it makes to ask how things look from their point of view on the operational side of your business. What is that experience like for drivers? Are they facing headaches such as long wait times at shippers and receivers or too much downtime for maintenance that end up affecting their paycheck?

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How Can Trucking Fleets Keep the Best Drivers?

Why Do Truck Drivers Leave — Really?

Invest in Truck Drivers’ Lives to Improve Retention

Listen — and Respond — for Better Driver Satisfaction

Three Things to Focus on to Retain Truck Drivers

A company may have a very high advertised rate per mile, explains Mark Murrell, co-founder and president of CarriersEdge, which administrates the Best Fleets to Drive For program.  

“But if they've got all of these operational disruptions, and the drivers can’t do the job that they actually want to do, it gets frustrating after a while, he says. "The Best Fleets that are doing really well in those areas are removing those roadblocks and basically smoothing the path for drivers to just do the job that they want to do.” 

But you won’t know what the problems are if you don’t take a proactive approach to listening to your drivers — and having true conversations with them about their concerns. 

Fixing Driver Frustrations 

American Central Transport listens to its drivers a lot, says Phil Wilt, ACT president and CEO. 

The company for several years has been using WorkHound, a communications survey tool that lets them communicate with drivers weekly. They send out a text blast to drivers and provide a link drivers can use to score their experience on a scale of 1 to 10. They can also leave anonymous comments. 

“Our goal is that if you’re frustrated or even happy, we’d like to know those things, so we know what to do more of, what to do less of, or at least to address the problems,” Wilt says.

Of course, not every problem can be fixed. But ACT at least listens to the drivers and explains those things that cannot be changed, and why. Just knowing their concerns are heard can make a difference. 

The most common thing ACT hears from its drivers is frustration with a customer. For instance, the load wasn’t ready or there were shortcomings at facilities. About 95% of its business is as a contract carrier, which means drivers are in the same place over and over, something that Wilt says probably helps with retention. 

Second, drivers report concerns about getting miles. That provides an opportunity to talk about it and discuss how freight has fluctuations that are supply and demand based. 

ACT also gets suggestions. A recent one from a driver asked if badges or decals could be provided that show years of service.  

Rounding out the top communication received from drivers is praise.  

“We get a lot of praise, ‘Best company I have ever worked for,’ or Wish I had come here before’,” says Wilt.  

More Ways to Communicate with Drivers 

About seven months ago, ACT started using an outside service to check with drivers, by call or text, for the first six months. Wilt says that helps new drivers get over the hump and adjust to the industry and lifestyle.  

The company also has live Zoom meetings once a month with drivers.  

“We have planned things we want to share and be transparent about what is going on in the freight market, what’s going on with customers, things that they need to know, upcoming events here at the organization,” Wilt says. 

But it also is a platform where drivers can ask questions.  

The call is recorded and goes out to drivers through an app, so if someone is driving and can’t make the call, they can still have access to what was discussed. 

Custom driver apps are another tool many fleets are using for communications and to help make drivers’ jobs easier. 

Prime Inc. uses what Director of Operations Jim Guthrie calls a really strong phone app and the latest and greatest in-cab communication technology. With that app, a driver can pretty much do anything they need to over a smartphone, he explains, from communicating with their fleet manager, to scanning paperwork, and everything in between.

 

About the author
Wayne Parham

Wayne Parham

Senior Editor

Wayne Parham brings more than 30 years of media experience to Work Truck's editorial team and a history of covering a variety of industries and professions. Most recently he served as senior editor at Police Magazine, also has worked as publisher of two newspapers, and was part of the team at Georgia Trend magazine for nine years.

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