Recently, concerning the problem for trucking companies to retain drivers within their employment, an industry leader commented that no trucking company wants a “revolving door.” That statement is actually both true and false. The many decent and well respected trucking companies in the U. S. work extremely hard in keeping their drivers from finding another driving job elsewhere. It is also a fact that no company can keep every employee satisfied at all times. Regardless of the past 128% plus turn-over rate among drivers, there are those companies who do work diligently in keeping their drivers as employees. However, to say “no trucking company” wants a revolving door is simply not true, and there are thousands upon thousands of drivers who know this.
We know that there are those “starter” companies, as well as countless other trucking companies, who continually rotate drivers through their front doors. These are the companies which have the sole purpose of moving both the highest paying and cheapest freight, using the cheapest labor as possible. Who are the cheapest labor? New CDL students and drivers.
For years, there have been discussions on the trucking industry problem of retaining drivers. This problem should not even exist, and does so, due to the direct actions of the companies themselves. I recently read a comment stating that the driver turn-over rate is now down to a 56% overall average . . . but it is not because things are better, it is due to the state of the economy. Drivers are not leaving employment because of the poor job market. As soon as the economy gets back on its feet, which I do not believe will be any time soon . . . the turn-over rate among professional drivers will go right back up to where it once was.
To retain drivers should be a fairly simple task for a trucking company. Professional truck drivers do not ask for much . . . the companies keep the turn-over rate and retention rate going in order to continue the rotation of new and lower paid drivers, thus making more on their bottom line. Simple fact. There are 25-30 year veteran drivers who have not driven within the past one year, who are being turned away from trucking companies and not being hired. They are being told that they do not have the required verifiable driving experience for the past year . . . what about the verifiable driving experience for the last 24-29 years? Obvious reason, they would rather hire a new, inexperienced driver with 3 weeks driving experience, over a veteran driver with many years of OTR experience . . . cheap labor.
The pro driver with the 25-30 years experience will demand a CPM rate of .38 plus per mile, while the company can get away with paying the new driver a measly .22 to .24 CPM, sometimes even as low as .13 CPM. They can continue to rotate these new drivers out and keep the influx of lower paid drivers coming in . . . it’s all about the money, nothing about the safety.
Over the road trucking companies enjoy talking about the importance of safety and how the driver is their primary asset, yet they will turn away a years of experience veteran driver, and settle with a 3 week driver trainee . . . all because the veteran, for whatever reasons, has not driven within the past one year. This is another segment of the scams of OTR trucking, and they wonder why retaining drivers is so difficult. It is not difficult at all . . . it is done on purpose by the very companies who say they are working to try to solve the problem of driver retention. Let me help those companies out . . .
You want to retain drivers? Very simple . . . since most long haul drivers are paid by the mile:
- Pay them a good and livable CPM wage – Starting point: .38 CPM plus – NOT .22 CPM and definitely not .13 CPM . . . could you live on that?
- Give them MILES! – I know this may be a shocker to some of you, but since they are getting paid by the mile . . . GIVE THEM MILES!
- Let them have their home time – When you tell a driver that you will have them home every two weeks, then get them home in two weeks. If you guarantee home on weekends, then get them home by the weekend. Also, don’t let them arrive home at 3 A.M. Saturday morning, and dispatch them on a Monday pick-up load where they have to leave home by 12 noon on Sunday . . . do you really consider this “home on weekends?”
- Treat them with the respect that they deserve – Many companies advertise that the driver is their most important asset . . . really? Then treat them as such.
Your drivers do not ask much from you . . . they want to drive and earn a good living to support themselves and their families . . . the exact same thing that you want. Drivers can even live without Number 4 above, if you will at least give them the other three.
To bring down the trucking company self-made driver retention rate, the companies will have to stop their actions which are causing it in the first place. Secondly, give the drivers what they need, want and deserve . . . it is very simple and would greatly reduce this problem that should really be no problem at all.
© 2009, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.