Last month, we attended the Ohio Trucking Association (OTA) Annual Conference. The conference offered opportunities to connect with other professionals in the transportation industry, rally advocacy support for carriers all over the state and learn how to solve the driver problem that all companies face. Trucking companies all across the nation are feeling the pain of high driver turnover. They have the need for more and more quality drivers, but have a hard time finding them. If this sounds familiar to you, you’re not alone. Here are three lessons learned this year at the OTA Conference that can help you overcome the driver problem.
Simply put, freight is moving. The shelves are stocked because goods are being delivered every day. If not by you, then by your competition. In fact, there’s more freight to move than there are drivers. According to Anirban Basu from Sage Group, Inc., freight traffic has soared to new heights since a major lull in 2009. National trucker employment is up. Truckers are making, on average, over $4 an hour more than 9 years ago. That’s a great start, but driver pay hasn’t kept up with inflation. This raise gets driver wages closer to where they need to be we’re going to start attracting folks outside of the industry to drive professionally, but we’re not there yet.
It comes down to the law of supply and demand. Your supply of drivers is less than the opportunities your customers demand each day. If you want more candidates, you must create a job that will attract more drivers. If you keep your job and operations model the same as it was five years ago, you’ll watch your candidate pipeline dwindle. The pipeline shrinking will only get worse with unemployment staying below four percent. You have to drastically change to get better results.
It’s one thing to attract and hire solid drivers. Getting them to stay is something else entirely. If you want to retain the best of the best, you have to create a driver-centric culture and improve your driver experience. Remember, your most in-demand driver can find a new job in less than 24 hours. Treat your drivers like you want them to stay.
Bob Pacanovsky presented eight simple steps to improve your relationship with your drivers: The 8 Principles of Black Tie Hospitality Leadership. Here’s a quick summary of what the principles are and how to put them into action.
Your drivers are the lifeblood of your company. If they don’t have support and respect, they will find a job that gives it to them. Use these 8 principles everyday and your driver retention can only go up.
The OTA is pushing four legislative bills that would help solve the driver problem that could use your support:
These bills could deepen your pool of driver candidates. You would have the opportunity to reach more quality drivers than ever before. Plus, they would make it cheaper and easier to train them using existing products like CDL Finishing School. You can’t afford to sit around and wait for them to pass, though. You have to act now. Support the OTA’s Team 88.
Freight is moving, and if it’s not you, it’s someone else. There’s plenty you could start doing today to recruit, hire, train and retain more drivers while your competition sweats over the driver problem.
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