The trucking industry is one of the biggest income-generating industries in the United States.

Statistics show that there are currently about 15.5 million trucks actively operating in the country. These trucks are responsible for generating a revenue of approximately $255.5 billion per year.

Because the trucking industry transports 70% of all the country’s freight, the nation’s overall economy depends on its performance to continue our upward trajectory.

This guide shares six techniques that trucking companies can use to be more successful. Truck drivers and motor carriers can improve productivity, increase efficiency, and grow exponentially by using these six techniques.

1. Employ driver retention action plans

Driver retention is undoubtedly one of the critical elements of a successful trucking company.

By maintaining a low turnover rate, a carrier can maximize its profits by keeping its recruitment and hiring expenses at a minimum level and ensuring that it is constantly generating revenue with the number of drivers available.

It’s important for carriers to put together a driver retention action plan since retaining drivers is currently one of the main challenges in the trucking industry.

A recent survey on driver turnover rate shows that over 30% of drivers could resign within three months of being hired, and about 50% could quit within the first six months. Additionally, carriers might also have a hard time finding new drivers due to the current driver shortage in the trucking industry.

When putting together a driver retention action plan, the following are some points that carriers can consider.

  • Run anonymous surveys to figure out what’s important to drivers
  • Have a tenure-based salary increase program
  • Improve truckers’ work environment
  • Give performance-based bonuses
  1. Manage fuel expenses

One of the key factors that limit a trucking company’s ability to be successful is its growing fuel cost.

If kept unchecked, fuel expenses can lower a carrier’s potential profit and hinder a company from accomplishing many of its growth and expansion prospects.

Vehicle idling — which directly impacts fuel consumption — can be a real problem in the trucking industry. Reports estimate that heavy vehicles that consume $70,000 worth of fuel each year tend to waste about $5,600 of that on idling.

In addition, studies linked to driver behavior show that truck drivers who operate at an average of 65 mph instead of 55 mph consume 20% more fuel than those who don’t.

The good news is that most of the problems that lead to extra fuel consumption and fuel wastage can easily be resolved using ELDs.

ELDs often come with an idle time tracking feature that carriers can use to identify truck drivers who are idling for too long or too frequently.

This information is something that fleet managers and administrators have access to through their fleet management web dashboard. As they identify drivers who are idling excessively, they can take the necessary steps to reduce it. Identifying the problems to drivers and conducting training sessions are proven methods to resolve these problems quickly.

By reducing your fleet’s idling time, you can reduce fuel wastage, which eventually helps you increase revenues and minimize operating expenses.

3. Stay compliant with changing regulations

A carrier’s ability to stay compliant with federal and state laws will impact how successful it can be. By adhering to government regulations, carriers can maximize their profits by avoiding unnecessary fines and violations. Moreover, trucking companies that closely follow rules and regulations also get more clients and contracts than companies that are constantly violating regulations and paying fines.

Moreover, even minor violations can lead to hefty fines and penalties.

According to the FMCSA, carriers who submit falsified records of their drivers’ HOS (Hours of Service) statuses could face dangerous fines that reach up to $2,750 per day. Carriers who submit late IFTA reports could get fined for either $50 or 10% of their total net tax due, depending on whichever is greater.

While it is true that policy and regulatory changes often occur in the trucking industry, it is possible for carriers to keep up with the changes.

To stay informed, they can follow social media accounts of industry experts and visit trucking news sites regularly. They can also invest in training their team and equipping their fleets with the right tools that can help them adjust to the industry’s dynamic landscape.

For example, having electronic logging devices eliminates the problem of falsified logs. Since ELDs are tamper-resistant and record everything automatically, logs cannot be falsified. The Motive ELD solution can also help with automatically calculating the distance vehicles travel in each jurisdiction. Based on this information, fleet managers can easily calculate IFTA reports in just a few clicks — which is otherwise a tedious process that takes dozens of hours and several days.

4. Schedule regular vehicle maintenance

Performing regular vehicle maintenance can prevent potential problems that would interrupt operations.

Staying on top of vehicle maintenance prevents your fleet from experiencing freight delivery delays and allows your company to be viewed as reliable. 

Two things can happen during transportation delays: either the cargo remains with the damaged truck until it is fully repaired and can resume its operations, or the load gets picked up by another vehicle to be taken to the destined location.

However, the vehicle breakdown still delays your delivery and places your company’s customer satisfaction at risk.

Preventative maintenance helps your company reduce unnecessary expenses by allowing your mechanics to replace damaged parts before the condition escalates into a full-blown mechanical disaster.

Another option you can use to accomplish these inspections without delay is to equip your fleets with ELDs (Electronic Logging Device).

Some ELDs have a vehicle diagnostics feature that allows them to actively monitor the presence of vehicle maintenance issues through ECMs (Engine Control Module) of trucks.

These devices would automatically send real-time alerts to the fleet manager’s ELD dashboard whenever defects and fault codes are detected. This automated process ensures that carriers are always on top of vehicle maintenance issues, and such problems don’t cause delays, customer dissatisfaction, or missed business opportunities.

5. Streamline organizational communication

Improving your organization’s current communication process can benefit you in several ways. It makes fleet management easier, and can give your customers a better experience throughout the delivery process.

By keeping both your drivers and your customers satisfied by the way you communicate, you are effectively decreasing your company’s driver turnover rate and increasing your company’s customer satisfaction rate at the same time.

An effective way of streamlining your carrier’s current communication systems is to use ELDs that are equipped with messaging and GPS tracking features.

With these features, essential documents can be captured and transferred quickly. Recorded conversations are also time-stamped to improve recordkeeping and prevent fraudulent claims.

Additionally, the GPS tracking feature allows fleet managers to update their customers of their cargo’s current location effortlessly. Because fleet managers can determine the locations of their vehicles without calling their drivers, truck drivers can continue driving with fewer distractions on the road.

6. Structure driver performance goals

Another way to minimize your company’s operational expenses and driver turnover rate is to create a set of performance goals for drivers to achieve.

There are several ways that your trucking company can benefit when establishing a clear-cut performance standard for your drivers, such as: 

  • It can help your drivers improve their driving behavior
  • It gives your company an objective standard to determine whether your drivers should get an increase in pay

Some examples to include in your driving performance goals could be to minimize engine idling time, lower average vehicle speeds, and reduce instances of unsafe driving events.

By reducing the number of high-risk driving events, your fleet can minimize the number of possible road accidents and improve its overall safety score.

Because an incentive program rewards drivers who are efficient with their fuel usage and those who operate safely on the road, the simple gesture of appreciation would also help improve the driver retention rate in your company.

To ensure the enforcement and proper monitoring of these performance goals, you need tools that effectively track and measure driver behavior.

A tool that can accomplish these tasks is an ELD.

Motive ELDs also have a driver scorecard feature that helps improve fleet safety by tracking dangerous driving behaviors — such as hard cornering, excessive acceleration, and hard braking.

Using these features, you can proactively monitor your fleet’s driver performance, identify high-risk drivers, and coach them to help improve their driving behavior.

Bonus tips

In addition to the points mentioned above, the following are a few more tips that drivers and carriers can use to be more successful:

  • Invest in driver training
  • Develop relationship-building programs
  • Put together a feedback system
  • Organize recreational activities
  • Advocate healthy living
  • Establish driver management and alert initiatives

What’s next?

Although the six tips that we’ve covered seem straightforward, it can be quite challenging to actively enforce these strategies if your company’s fleets are not equipped with the proper tools.

Investing in ELDs not only serves as a means to further your company’s growth initiative but is also a timely requirement for the upcoming implementation of the ELD mandate this December 18.

Because acquiring ELDs would satisfy both your regulatory compliance needs and your plans for growing your company, it pays for you to start equipping your fleets with these devices sooner rather than later.

If your drivers are still using paper logs to comply with the Hours of Service rules, try Motive.

Request a free demo today to learn why over 1,000,000 registered drivers and 60,000 carriers use and love Motive. If you have any questions, call 844-325-9230 or email us at support@gomotive.com.