2020 was a transformative year for online shopping and, subsequently, the shipping industry. Truckers are in demand more than ever, but they’re also in short supply — which is why it’s more important than ever to develop good driver retention strategies in your fleet. Rates for truckloads are up 40-50% and have been skyrocketing since July 2020 because shippers have been desperately trying to replenish their retail inventory to keep up with rising demand.
As you can imagine, drivers have multiple offers and employment choices in this booming retail market, making driver retention more important than ever. Not only are annual driver turnover rates for truck drivers soaring, but the industry is also facing a shortage of available drivers.
While higher driver pay, better benefits, and nicer trucks are all helpful tactics for retaining your best drivers, the secret to retention is building a strong company culture they want to belong to.
5 strategies to improve driver retention
We’ve rounded up a few best practices from Motive customers on how to build a best-in-class company culture to retain top drivers and tips for how you can implement these same principles in your fleet for 2021 and beyond.
1. Maintain good relationships
When drivers are constantly on the road driving across the country, it’s a challenge to stay connected to the company. It’s important for your back office to maintain a strong relationship with drivers that isn’t taxing for them.
With tools from Motive’s next-generation GPS tracking portfolio like Follow Mode, Proximity Search, and Location Sharing, dispatchers can cease the everyday “where are you?” calls and focus on planning driver routes that pay more and get them home faster.
Businesses that automate visibility see a drastic increase in employee satisfaction and have a trend of retaining their best drivers for many years. While this reduces the mundane calls that drivers don’t like, it’s important to also check in with them and communicate consistently with them to maintain a strong relationship.
2. Ask drivers for their input
Ensure that drivers have a way to provide input and contribute to decision making for new software or operational changes. If you pick a new piece of technology without consulting drivers, it will create an uphill battle for your management team—and make user adoption extremely difficult.
For example, Canadian Motive customer Business Done Right International Ltd. (BDR) understands that drivers are critical to the business and strives to make driver retention a priority. When BDR’s drivers were frustrated with their experience using Omnitracs IVG, BDR management was receptive when drivers said they were downloading the Motive Driver App.
Incredibly, they now have a driver retention rate of 92%.
It’s important to let drivers test out changes so that they can tell you how they will be impacted. This will ensure that your fleet understands the viewpoint of the driver and will help you make a better holistic decision.
3. Arm drivers with the right tools to be successful
Drivers typically plan their day in the moment. They’re figuring out the next turn, truck stop, weigh station, or parking place in real time.
The more time they spend worrying about these various manual tasks, the less time they spend on the road doing what they do best. Drivers sign up to drive, not worry about managing paper documents or calculating their hours of service.
Give drivers tools like document scanning, weigh station bypass, or even navigation to help automate mundane tasks and simplify their daily experiences. This will contribute to your drivers’ overall happiness and efficiency, improving your fleet’s overall driver retention.
4. Invest in drivers’ best interests
Drivers are smart, savvy business partners for any fleet. When addressing topics like driver safety and dashcams, it’s important to involve drivers in the process. If you try to implement new products, such as dash cams, without driver buy-in, they may resent the decision and push back—leading to possible churn and a strained relationship with management.
You can avoid this by being upfront and explaining how new products can benefit drivers, including exoneration from blame after a collision or using it to showcase safe driving behavior.
Drivers get real-time coaching in Motive’s Driver App from the AI-powered Smart Dashcam’s video footage so they can learn how to avoid unsafe events in the future. This ensures that they can review their events on their own and be more prepared in the next coaching session.
Too many fleets try to implement policies without driver buy-in, which creates distrust and hurts the relationship between the back office and drivers.
5. Show appreciation and be transparent
It’s important to show appreciation for your drivers so that they understand how critical they are to the transportation business. Recognizing drivers that are doing well, whether in weekly team meetings, on a leaderboard, or to your management team is an easy way to show that you care, and thus improve driver retention.
Create driver incentive programs for fleet safety and compliance, and reward drivers with high safety and compliance scores in the form of a bonus or recognition—and be transparent with top performers to encourage others to take action and improve their performance.
Encourage them to work together to create a more trusting and team-oriented culture, giving drivers a reason to stay with you for the long haul. On the flip side, you can also show drivers your appreciation by taking the time to customize a coaching program specific to them. This tailored approach can help drivers perfect their craft with personalized coaching for areas of improvement, rather than a generic approach to behavior modification.
At the end of the day, drivers are critical to the global economy. There’s not a single country that can get by without drivers transporting needed goods. Between driver shortage concerns, high driver turnover rates, and the high demand from circumstances created by COVID-19, it’s more important than ever to hold onto your best drivers.