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I spent the past few days in Orlando at the annual Truckload Carriers Association conference. I attended some very informative workshops, known as Trucking In The Round. I was impressed. Several professionals shared best practices worth acting on. As conventions go, I highly recommend this one. There was a lot to learn.

I also did the lawnmower thing in the exhibit hall, going up and down the aisles and meeting with people anxious to sell their goods or services to the trucking industry. I wanted to learn more about their offerings, but I was also on the hunt for a really great sales person. I figured if I could find one, I might steal him or her away for my own business. I came up empty.

I challenged the providers to explain their value proposition in a sentence of two. I was amazed how everyone stumbled on such a basic question. I would role play as an owner, claiming to have 500 trucks and then ask, “What can you do for me?” Or, what problems can you solve for my business?” Anyone staffing a booth at a trade show should have a compelling elevator speech ready.

They not only stumbled, they often cited their ability to improve driver retention. Of course, we exist to solve the driver problem, which is primarily rampant driver turnover. So we’re always interested in anything that might improve retention. But I can honestly say, some of the bodacious claims I heard stretch the imagination. I was told, by various suppliers, that bank financing, on-board computers, regulatory updates, better trailer flooring and a dozen different software programs would all improve retention. Really?

It may be true that these, and other services, can provide ancillary support, but as I review the specific reasons behind voluntary turnover that we’ve uncovered through exhaustive industry analysis, I’m having a tough time making the connection. Drivers quit when the job no longer provides them with the rewards and activities they want out of a job (e.g. compensation, respect, schedules, home time, treatment, tractor age, lanes, freight, maintenance, etc.).

There was one notable exception: Beth Carroll of Prosperio Group.

She provides expert analysis and guidance on compensation plans. Now here’s someone who can actually make a difference in driver retention, yet she was about the only provider there not making such a claim. I also attended her Trucking In The Round educational session and realized that she is the real deal.

If you want to improve driver retention, call Beth, or call us. You can still spend your money on new trailer flooring and better bank financing for tractors, but don’t expect those services to help you hang on to your drivers.

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