1569 Sherman Ave  Suite 200

Evanston, IL 60201    

Phone: 224-307-4150

Commercial Driver Retention

By Martin Hernandez – Martin-Braack Partners LLC

 Losing drivers is a real issue that could cost your company thousands. Reducing turnover by just a small percentage could increase your profits radically. Trucks sitting in the yard cost you earning potential, $500 to $600 and more a day in lost revenue per unit. Carriers have to make a decision to either pay more for new drivers, or not service customers and lose revenue.

Drivers do not leave carriers because of pay or equipment. They leave because they do not know what kind of company you are, and the culture you have built. These problems can be resolved in the first few days of a driver’s employment with a good orientation program.

Here are some of the most common reasons drivers leave:

Home Time and Personal Time

Home time is probably the most difficult of the turnover causes.  Backhaul loads may be lost and appointments missed. However, carriers are successfully making home time a part of their operation, and a home time policy has become a huge recruiting incentive. One way the carrier can approach this is with training during the orientation, teaching the driver about ways to deal with work-life balance. The driver has to be able to successfully communicate family needs to dispatch and managers, so they feel like they are being accounted for and have some kind of control over a work-life balance. A successful policy also involves training management how to effectively balance driver and operational needs.   

Issues with Management

Drivers often have two bosses: dispatch and the driver manager. Problems with dispatchers are a key reason drivers leave. You should use orientation time as a way to explain how dispatch works, how to talk to and negotiate with dispatch and how to deal with disputes and miscommunications. If you don’t have training and policies to regulate the relationship between drivers and dispatch, you should consider one, the cost is much lower than replacing your entire driver fleet once a year.

Dealing with Demanding Customers

Guidelines for customer service should be covered in your new driver orientation program. Customers who have detention problems put your drivers in a bad position. Drivers need to be trained on how to handle the problem professionally, but they also need to know how to escalate the problem to dispatch and higher if necessary. It tells the driver that their time is valuable and indispensable, and gives them the resources to resolve customer issues.

New Drivers and Company Expectations

The person in charge of recruiting usually gets a bad reputation for promising the world, whether it is warranted or not. It’s very important to find out why the driver left all of his/her previous employers, and what they’re expecting from your company. You can then set expectations properly, and give the driver the kind of resources they need. If their issue was equipment, providing them all the information about dealing with maintenance and your equipment protocols will inform the driver that you have a system in place for that. If their issue was hours, setting expectations, even if hours are not consistent, can eliminate these issues before they start. 

Communications with Upper Management

Drivers like to work alone, but they love being part of the company group. That means they need real information to feel like they’re a part of something bigger. One very important component of your orientation is a time slot to introduce them to as many people as possible, including support staff, maintenance, and management, and for those people to follow up with them whenever they can. When no information is given to the drivers, the drivers will fill in the blanks and feel like management has bad intentions on every decision or policy that effects them. Also, recognizing drivers for extra training on a specific skill/regulation and publicly appreciating them goes a long way.

A Driver Retention Program will Increase your Bottom Line

Companies have denied for years that a driver retention problem exists, but do acknowledge the growing driver shortage. Having a new driver orientation program with custom training will help your company worry more about servicing your customers instead of recruiting drivers.