The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) released their annual study on the industry’s top issues earlier this month. According to an article by FreightWaves, “Motor carriers, who made up 51% of the 2,000 respondents, overwhelmingly picked the driver shortage.” This is not surprising. The survey results were the same last year and signs point to the problem only getting worse. It sounds like doom and gloom, but we have good news for you: there is no driver shortage.
You Can Solve The Driver Problem
You might wonder, how can we say there’s no driver shortage? Are we completely ignorant of the problems facing the industry? On the contrary, the industry faces a HUGE problem. We call it the driver problem. Think of it this way: when you go to the store, are the shelves empty? When you go to the gas station, is there fuel at the pumps? Until freight rots at the docks, there isn’t a shortage. Rather, the industry suffers from pervasive retention issues.
Goods are delivered to stores because there are enough drivers to haul them. If goods aren’t being hauled by you, they’re being hauled by the competition. You might have a shortage of drivers, but the industry does not. Blaming the macro environment isn’t productive - control what you can control. High turnover and a lack of qualified drivers are big problems to fix but the good news is they are fixable. You can join our clients who choose not to participate in the driver shortage by creating a driver-centric culture.
The Best Drivers Want to Work For The Best Companies
If you suffer from a lack of quality leads and struggle to retain the drivers you already have, it’s because you’re not doing enough to attract the drivers you want. The best drivers want to work for the best companies. They want to work for a company that puts the needs of its drivers first and keeps drivers at the center of all decisions - a driver-centric culture. You’re in a zero-sum game with other carriers. Drivers can quit one company and accept a job with another all in that week. That’s why you have to differentiate yourself by putting your drivers first.
How to Create a Driver Centric Culture
Creating a driver-centric culture is a long road. It won’t happen overnight, but you have to start somewhere. There are steps you can start taking today that will help you attract and retain quality drivers.
- Change comes from the top
Start with a declaration from the senior leadership team. Make driver retention and driver treatment a top priority across leadership and, as a result, your company as a whole. Reinforce the message that retention is important by assigning driver retention performance to the highest possible executive.
- Treat your drivers like people
You might think you already are, but if your drivers are quitting in throngs, you can do better. One of the top 5 reasons that drivers quit is due to poor treatment and lack of respect. As a leader in the organization, your employees watch how you interact with drivers. Do you greet your drivers by name? Do you address their problems and concerns in a timely manner? How are drivers treated by dispatch? Giving drivers the attention and respect they deserve can go a long way in improving retention. Do not tolerate anything but white glove service for your drivers.
- Create a career path for drivers
Help drivers improve their position in your company. Here’s an article where we describe a four-rung ladder for a driver career path, but for starters, we recommend taking a look at a driver-trainer program like LLLC Defensive Driving Certification. Programs like this one allow inspire drivers to be safer by creating a reward system for the proper behaviors. For those who want to become instructors, show them the path to become a trainer. If you create a viable career path, the best drivers will be attracted to work at your company and will want to stay.
These tips are just the beginning. For a more in-depth look at what you can do, check out our ebook 75 Strategies to Help Increase Driver Retention. Regardless of where you start, change is difficult. It’s not fun to take a long, hard look at why drivers quit your company. The result, however, could mean that you solve your personal driver shortage while your competition wonders where all the good drivers are.