How to Combat the Wage War in Professional Driving
Trucking companies are desperate for more drivers and are pulling out all the stops to find them. According to a recent report from the National Transportation Institute, 2018 has been full of massive increases in driver wages in an attempt to win what some have described as a war for truck drivers. This increase is overdue as industry pay has lagged behind inflation since deregulation in 1980. However, if everyone is increasing wages, you’re just keeping up with the Joneses - your increase isn’t special because everyone is doing it.
Now more than ever, you need effective and efficient ways to recruit, train and retain new drivers. Throwing money at a problem has never been the real solution. You need to get creative and smart. You need to get surgical and solve what really hurts drivers...and we don’t mean their aching backs and joints.
Through our years of exit interviews with professional drivers, we’ve learned that they leave a company for the following five reasons:
- Quality of Work/Life
- Competency (pay)
- Attention & respect
- A voice at the table
- Equipment, routes, loads
While you see plenty of trucking fleets boasting “more home time” and “good pay”, these vague platitudes are not satisfying the need of the professional driver. Simplify your plan of attack to sustainably grow the fleet through three components: Pay, Pitch and Process.
The gripes with pay are never about the cents per mile; it’s been about consistency. We will continuously beat the drum until the industry changes - there are too many factors outside of the driver’s control that affect his or her paycheck. The rise in guaranteed pay programs, salaries or weekly minimums are finally starting to grow in the industry because carriers are finally realizing it was a flawed system. You have all the technology you need to measure a driver’s performance and reward his productivity in a more accurate methodology than cents per mile.
Keep your pay and home-time package simple. It’s great that you offer detention pay, layover pay, tenure bonuses, etc. but it remains less than clear to understand “what am I going to make this week?”
One of our client’s drivers was looking at his settlements sheet and told us: “they’re screwing me, I just don’t know how.” It wasn’t true, but the settlement sheet was so complicated, you need a PhD to understand it.
Without clarity, the mind will assume the worst.
Your pay and home-time package should so simple, a nice old lady who’s never driven a truck sitting at a Denny’s could understand it in one bite of oatmeal.
"Your pay and home-time package should so simple, a nice old lady who’s never driven a truck sitting at a Denny’s could understand it in one bite of oatmeal."
What you need is an efficient system of recruiting, hiring and retention. You need to create a position for a Driver Champion who owns the mission to create a driver-centric culture where drivers come first in every aspect of the company. The Driver Champion evaluates every aspect of driver interaction: candidate, orientation, pay process, load planning, dispatching procedures, customers, etc. As they evaluate every process, they should ask the question: how can this be easier and simpler for our drivers?
The wage war is on for truckers, and while raising wages and bonuses are always good, it can’t be your only course of action if you plan to grow or even maintain your current fleet. Change your way of thinking about building process for recruiting, hiring and retaining drivers.