High driver turnover often snowballs for trucking companies. You suffer from high turnover and need more drivers. However, you have a hard time finding the right candidate. As a result, you need to hire whomever you can. You resort to hiring poor-fitting candidates who are likely to quit. Subsequently, you suffer from high turnover. Rinse and repeat. We call this the driver problem. The driver problem is complex and has no clear end or beginning, and its negative impacts on your business are widespread.
In December of 2019, AvatarFleet President Scott Rea was a guest on the podcast Recruit & Retain: Trucking Edition. The episode focused on AvatarFleet’s solutions to the driver problem. Rea and podcast host Chad Hendricks discussed the relationship between recruiting, retention, and safety, as well as how the three affect one another.
Click to play the podcast.
“I never have enough drivers. I’m drowning in compliance paperwork. I’m constantly focused on putting out the next fire, accident, or incident. And, we got as many [drivers] walking out the back door as the front door.” That’s how Rea describes the driver problem. None of these problems happen in a silo. Poor retention and recruiting numbers have an adverse impact on safety and accident rates. Thus, it stands to reason, improving one can help improve the others.
Rea says, “How we [get] safety and recruiting singing kumbaya is getting the right person in the door.” Attracting your ideal driver to your job vacancies means something different for each company. However, there are commonalities everyone looks for: clean MVR and background screen results, can pass a road test, and experience with your type of equipment. You want drivers who avoid risk, follow company policy, and treat your customers well. Therefore, recruiting, vetting, and hiring your ideal candidate means fewer accidents and incidents.
As Rea puts it, improving your recruiting process is all about reducing the “friction” with your candidates. Remember, you’re on the wrong side of the supply and demand curve. The ideal driver candidate has several jobs to choose from. That’s why you need a simple, easy, and painless application process. Otherwise, you’ll lose drivers to your competition. It’s time every transportation company invests in a driver Applicant Tracking System like A-Suite. It takes the complex process of completing a DOT compliant application and makes it easy to enter the data on a phone, save their progress, and carry over information from one form to another.
Once you have a better application process in place, you can start improving your strategies on recruiting and marketing. AvatarFleet is currently beta-testing an algorithm that allows you to directly market ads to people who currently have a CDL in your desired geographic region. It’s a very specific form of target marketing. In the meantime, you can improve your recruitment efforts by utilizing landing pages, videos, and texting applicants. Rea says these are “table stakes” for marketing to your prospective drivers in 2020.
You know poor retention numbers hurt your bottom line, but you might not know they hurt your accident numbers too. “The best predictor of accidents is not tenure in the industry; it’s tenure with your company,” Rea says. In other words, regardless of a driver’s experience, they’re more likely to cause an accident once they’ve taken a new job. Rea points out that it’s because of all the distractions that come with learning on the job: “‘This is a new customer. I’ve never been here. Do they have a restroom or should I pull over now? Man, the rest stops are looking pretty full. Should I pull over now and kill 30 minutes of productivity?’ These are the types of things that go on in a driver’s head that’s the other form of distracted driving.”
With new drivers, the problem of job-related distracted driving is only exacerbated. That’s why a product like CDL Finishing School is a great solution. Your new drivers will spend their first eight weeks with one of your best and longest tenured drivers. Any question the new driver has, a seasoned vet is right there to answer. Perfect practice makes perfection. A disciplined eight-week routine makes the desired behaviors habitual and a part of the new driver’s DNA.
Going beyond CDL Finishing School, AvatarFleet has designed a driver career path that will improve retention and safety training. Many drivers either quit a company or leave the industry all together because they feel as though they don’t have the opportunity to advance their career. From LLLC Defensive Driving and Instructor Certification all the way up to Leadership Development, AvatarFleet has products that offer your drivers a reason to stay with you while developing their skills as professional drivers.
The driver problem causes widespread adverse impacts across your company. Fewer drivers often means hiring poor-fit candidates. Poor-fit candidates means poor retention results and more accidents. That’s why we say there’s no silver bullet to solving the driver problem - it takes more than one approach. However, that also means solving the driver can have powerful results. Not only will you have less turnover, but you’ll have a safer operation that can attract and hire all-star drivers.
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