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Retaining Truck Drivers Should be No Problem for Trucking Companies

Dec
9,
2009
6

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:

  1. 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?
  2. 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!
  3. 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?”
  4. 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.

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By: Allen Smith

Allen Smith is a 37 year veteran who started at an early age in a household goods family moving business. He began driving straight trucks in 1977 and moved to the big rigs in 1982. His experience within the industry includes; owner operator, company driver, operations manager, and owner of a long distance HHG moving business, taking many of the long haul moves himself when needed. Allen Smith, a truck driver advocate who is driven by the desire to help others succeed within an industry where injustice, unrewarded sacrifice, and lack of respect and recognition exists. Allen and his wife Donna are hosts of Truth About Trucking ”Live” on Blog Talk Radio. Other websites include AskTheTrucker, TruckingSocialMedia, NorthAmericanTruckingALerts, TruthAboutTrucking, and many Social Media websites. In 2011 Allen and Donna hosted the first Truck Driver Social Media Convention, designed to create unity and solutions for the trucking industry. This is now being extended through the North American Trucking Alerts network as those within the industry join forces for the betterment of the industry. Allen strongly supports other industry advocates who are also stepping up to the plate to help those who share honesty, guidance and direction. He believes that all those involved in trucking need to be accountable for their part within the industry, including drivers, carriers, brokers, shippers, receivers, etc… The list of supporters and likeminded people grow daily, networking together and sharing thoughts and ideas for the betterment of trucking. He has coined the popular phrase "Raising the standards of the trucking industry"

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6 Responses to Retaining Truck Drivers Should be No Problem for Trucking Companies. - Post a Comment

  1. Mick

    Bravo! Well said. Thank you, Allen.

  2. Allen Smith

    Thanks. A simple, easy solution for a problem that should not exist in the first place.

  3. Tanya Bons

    This is so very true. You do get what you pay for and there is a lot of cost in training people, why not train them right and keep them?

  4. Michelle

    I have been struggling with some of the very problems you described in your article. I drove local & in-state for several years, then got promoted into an office position. I still drove part-time for an owner-operator friend of mine, but had to stop in 1999 due to an injury and she later sold her truck to take up a different occupation. In 2009, I lost my full-time job after more than 20 years of service (loyal through 2 buyouts). I thought, okay, I’ll go back to driving a truck. It was not as easy as I’d expected. Even though there were plenty of driving jobs available, no one would touch me because it’s been nearly 11 years since I drove a commercial vehicle. I haven’t forgotten how to handle a big rig. I can put our 27′ 5th wheel travel trailer anywhere it needs to go–forwards or backwards. But I have the “Trucker’s Plague” because I have not driven in the past 1 to 3 years.

    Fortunately for me, along came a owner-operator who needs to retire from driving and contacted my brother-in-law (who is a CDL examiner) looking for a driver. My brother-in-law put us in touch with one another, and today was my first day back in a tractor-trailer. I felt like I’d finally come home again. It’s not the prettiest or the newest rig on the road, but it’s certainly not the worst (I have driven MUCH worse). I have no illusions of what to expect, as I have driven dump trucks, concrete mixers, and gasoline tankers. Fact is, I love trucks! I have since I was a little girl. I am thankful that there are a few folks out there who still will hire someone who doesn’t fit the “required experience” mold for one reason or another. I will be a good driver for this man; I don’t mind running hard & my work history shows that I am loyal. The way we’ve worked it out, if he’s making money, I’m making money so it behooves me to make lots of money for him. 🙂

  5. Isaac

    One of the reasons these trucking companies use the revolving door business model is simply for union busting. Having a revolving door ensures that the unions will have a tougher time gaining a foothold within that particular trucking company because the drivers are never able to get fully organized.

  6. Michael

    I started driving when I was 19 years old. I drove bobtail salt water tankers, blowing natural gas pipelines. I was able to drive tractor trailers when I turned 21 in 1981. In a few years I could back up almost as fast as I could go forward. Because the oilfield locations were so tight we back into some locations in the dark. What fun. In the mud, snow, and dust. In 1987 I went to work for a common carrier hauling crude oil, gasoline, asphalt, cement, fly ash, and liquid fertilizers. After a divorce in 1989, I worked with an oil buyer hauling oil and dispatching for another 4 years. I was a business owner for two years, then back to the oil field hauling condensate and water. I hired on driving a refer trailer for 8 months, and back to the oil for another 4 and a half years. Back to a refer trailer for 3 years and then dry van for 3 years.

    Wow over 20 years in a truck, over 12 years as an interstate driver and they want 6 months to 2 years verifiable experience in the last 2 to 5 years. Really! How stupid do they thing you are. Doesn’t any one need a driver that just needs a little honesty…Because we give up so much. Two marriages, children growing up, and our time.

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