In January 2008, Deborah Lockridge, published an article in Heavy Duty Trucking listing the top ten reasons drivers quit one company only to go to another.
Here were the results:
- I don't make enough money.
- I'm not satisfied with my home time.
- I don't like my supervisor.
- I'm not happy with the way I'm dispatched.
- I was set up for failure.
- This isn't what I expected.
- I have problems with equipment or maintenance.
- There are no opportunities for me to advance.
- The company doesn't communicate with me.
- I'm not appreciated.
Eight years later and little has changed. However, we argue that these are symptoms, not reasons. We combined specific case-by-case data from thousands of exit interviews and found that the root cause for turnover is almost always the same. Companies lose drivers when they don’t make their drivers their top priority.
Of course, drivers bear some of the responsibility, but never forget that perception is reality. If your driver turnover is north of 50 percent, it’s mostly on you as the employer. But you can always improve in this regard.
The top ten reasons can be tied back to your competency as a business and the quality of your front line leaders. For each reason, ask yourself the following questions:
- I don't make enough money – Is my operation good at keeping the wheels moving? Does our sales team settle for cheap freight? Do we offer opportunities for increased pay or performance bonuses?
- I'm not satisfied with my home time – Do we have consistent shippers and consistent lanes that keep the wheels moving and still get our drivers home? Is the schedule fairly predictable? Or, do we run all over, willy-nilly?
- I don't like my supervisor – Have we invested in leadership training and coaching for our front line driver managers? Do we allow our drivers to spend time in dispatch? Do our driver managers conduct regular ride-alongs?
- I'm not happy with the way I'm dispatched – Do we demand that our customers treat our drivers with respect? Do we uniformly charge detention for delays? Do we offer weekly guarantees to minimize the variability in pay?
- I was set up for failure – Do we always have enough freight in the hopper in the right lanes to keep our drivers moving and getting home when we promised? Did we give our drivers a reasonable timetable to complete their work?
- This isn't what I expected – Do we accurately portray the job to every new applicant? Do we have a Mutual Expectations Form that clearly states our expectations for drivers and what they can expect from us?
- I have problems with equipment or maintenance – Do we replace equipment on a regular schedule? Is our shop competent? Do we provide preventative maintenance and make quality repairs the first time, every time? Do drivers suffer delays waiting for equipment to clear the shop?
- There are no opportunities for me to advance – Can drivers improve their situation over time by moving to better runs, hauling preferred freight or getting newer equipment? Are drivers encouraged to move into a leadership role?
- The company doesn't communicate with me – Do we actively communicate with every driver on a daily basis? Do we use social media and other means to send messages to our drivers?
- I'm not appreciated – Do we show true appreciation for drivers with little things like thank yous, cook outs, gift cards, celebrations, incentives and bonus plans?
As you can see, you have some low-cost opportunities to eliminate some of the reasons drivers leave.
Here’s one more:
Form a drivers’ council and give its representative an active voice at your executive table. Give them a say in the lanes you go after, dispatching procedures, equipment and maintenance procedures, career opportunities and company communications. If you don’t seek their input in these decisions, you’ll only hear their opinions as they walk out the door.