The Driver Shortage R.I.P.?

Posted by Mark G. Gardner on March 29, 2019 in the category Retention

www.avatarfleet.comhubfs20181109-How to Find Good Truck Drivers

Well it’s finally happened. The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics just published a lengthy report suggesting that there is no evidence of a driver shortage in America.

If you’ve been in the trucking industry for more than 20 minutes, this news seems contradictory. You’ve probably seen several headlines proclaiming not only a pervasive driver shortage, but in some cases predicting the doom of the entire industry.

I’m going to give away my age. In 1989, I wrote one of the first definitive white papers on this subject. Through our research, we concluded that the nature of the job was not appealing to young job entrants. Embarrassing now, but we thought we were genius.  With an impressive degree of prescience, we also predicted that the baby boomers would begin retiring within the next decade. Looking back, our recommendations were sophomoric at best. We suggested that the industry needed to turn its attention to women and immigrants. That idea frequently started showing up in articles on the subject. Really?

It’s Not a Driver Shortage - It’s a Driver Problem

It wasn’t until 2012 that we changed our tune. While working with dozens of clients who all had 100 percent driver turnover, we had an epiphany. Maybe there wasn’t really a driver shortage. Maybe there was something much bigger. We formed AvatarFleet on the premise that there is a driver problem in America, and we proudly declared that we were the ones who could solve it.  

We broke ranks with the general industry consensus and the dozens of monthly publications touting the driver shortage. And for several years, we were dismissed as misinformed optimists. Now, a decade later the feds have just sided with us. And they are right.

There are bananas in the produce section, brassieres in the lingerie department and booze at the corner tavern. If there truly were a driver shortage, there would be widespread shortages of products everywhere we went to shop.

It’s easy to believe in the driver shortage when you’re spending tens of thousands of dollars every month recruiting drivers. But let’s face it, the only reason recruiting has to move at such a hectic pace is because drivers are leaving to go somewhere else at such a hectic pace. That’s why we focus most of our energy on driver retention.

Today’s Driver’s Problem is Tomorrow’s Driver Shortage

Here’s the irony. Up until now there hasn’t been a driver shortage, despite the tons of ink spent promoting.  We said it and no one believed us. Now, the government is saying it too. Maybe people will believe them. But the timing of this study is almost comical. Things really are about to change.  The demographic shifts we discussed back in 1989 are starting. More than 60 percent of today’s over-the-road drivers will be retired or dead in the next 10 years. This will cause a shortage. A real shortage. But this time, when the industry begs for relief it will be like the boy who cried wolf. Shippers will point to the study and say it’s a hoax.

None of this has changed our expert opinion nor the recommendations we provide to our clients. Despite this finding, you’re still spending way too much recruiting drivers who leave you within six months. If you’d like to improve results and reduce your costs, download our ebook:

75 Strategies to Help Increase Driver Retention

Related Posts: