February 1, 2019
The New York Times published an article this past summer on the changing demographics of American truck drivers. Fleets no longer consist only of middle aged men getting ready for retirement. Though those long-time truckers are still the largest number by age group in the country, they are quickly exiting the workforce. In order to maintain/grow your fleet, you need new, younger drivers - people who can grow and stay in your company for years to come. All of this to say, you need a CDL Finishing School.
Finishing School teaches new drivers how to become professional drivers. It’s a rigorous and necessary extra eight or more weeks of classroom and road training after a student receives his or her CDL. It lays the groundwork for much better driving behaviors while getting new drivers accustomed to longer periods behind the wheel of a truck that Truck Driving Schools don’t offer them. In fact, other schools don’t even come close.
Regardless of age, truck driving is hard work and takes thousands of hours of behind-the-wheel practice to master. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that six weeks at a training school simply doesn’t offer enough preparation for what over-the-road trucking entails. It’s up to you to provide the extra curriculum.
The biggest catch-22 in the trucking industry is that companies need new drivers, but they require two years of professional driving experience. Hiring experienced drivers who have accidents doesn’t solve any problems for you. A CDL Finishing School program provides a structured curriculum that will turn newbies into seasoned professionals who are comfortable with your operation and equipment. It’s well documented that tenure with the company is much more predictive of accidents than years of driving experience.
Finishing school creates opportunities for your Instructors to mentor new drivers. During their behind-the-wheel training, it’s baked into the curriculum for new drivers to ask questions and learn more than they would normally compared to just going through a two day orientation. A recent study shows that the number one reason employees stay with a company is because of the people. Be structured about constructing those mentorships so those opportunities are more than just random events.
All too often, a driver is hired, assigned a truck, and given the keys after a two day firehose of information. That’s not what drivers want - especially younger drivers. If you want to retain the best drivers, you need to provide opportunities for them to build relationships with other members of your company. It can be lonely on the road and it’s likely many drivers only know voices, not faces. Finishing School gives drivers the opportunity to get to know the company. They’ll meet dispatch, work with managers, and learn about the company history. Slowly but surely, you’ll have a fleet of drivers who are not only well-trained, but have formed deep relationships throughout the company.
It’s difficult to find new, competent drivers, and it’s only getting harder. It you want a steady and consistent process to recruit, train and retain good and reliable drivers, you will need to have a CDL Finishing School program. This is your farm system. It’s an effective way to get folks behind the wheel with the necessary amount of training to safely get the job done.
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