Trucking companies and fleet owners are having a difficult time trying to retain their most qualified and experienced drivers, creating a very costly problem. A truck that sits in the yard because there is no one to drive it is a truck that isn’t generating any revenue. The owner must still absorb insurance and other fixed costs while they wait for a qualified driver. In the competitive trucking industry, clients will quickly shift carriers to companies who can transport their loads in a timely manner.
What does it Cost to Recruit, Hire and Train a New Driver?
Transportation and logistics experts are all in general agreement that it can cost a trucking company $7,000 or more to train a new driver. Trying to find suitable candidates to recruit is difficult. The number of young people who are interested in making a career of being a truck driver is shrinking. When prospects apply for a job as a driver, they must undergo a physical, pass a drug test and not have a criminal record. The cost of screening and evaluating job applications is growing every year. Once a driver is hired, the cost of training a new recruit is probably the highest expense in the entire process.
Why are so Many Drivers Leaving?
Driving a truck for a living is not easy work, and its especially difficult for long-haul drivers who must endure a very disruptive home life. Family men and women who must travel thousands of miles back and forth across the country often lead a lonely life. They live out of a suitcase and go from truck stop to truck stop, sleeping in their cabs and showering while they refuel. Some drivers simply burn out and no longer want to be in the profession.
Unquestionably, the most significant factor that is affecting the ability of trucking companies or fleet owners to retain qualified drivers is job-hopping. Also known in the industry as “churning,” this is the common practice of experienced drivers going from one trucking company to another in the hopes of getting more money or better working conditions. Companies may invest thousands of dollars in grooming an individual to become a dependable driver only to lose him to a competing company that offers a slightly better deal.
How Can Trucking Companies Stop Drivers from Job-Hopping?
Working conditions and low compensation are two of the reasons that drivers opt to go to another trucking company. They know that their services are in high demand and they can engage in something of a bidding war. Its similar to the thought process of a free agent in baseball whos free to shop his skills around to all of the different teams and negotiate a deal that is most beneficial to him.
A big part of the problem is the lack of loyalty between the company and the driver. If there was a closer relationship where the driver felt an attachment to one trucking company, it would be less likely that he would leave. A driver needs to make himself more available, and his employer needs to reward him for his performance and loyalty.
Rather than merely offering more pay for the same work, the company could also use better technology as an incentive. Drivers have to log all of the hours they spend on the job in an hours of service log in order to verify they’re within federal regulations. Any company that removes this time-consuming task and automates it will have a small, but substantial, bargaining chip when it comes to retaining drivers. Fleet tracking and monitoring will help drivers use the most efficient routes and keep breakdowns from occurring often through preventative maintenance, helping drivers perform more work without worrying about being stuck on the side of the road for hours.
For reasons ranging from lost loads and high replacement costs to higher insurance rates and real safety concerns, it is imperative that trucking companies find a solution to the problem of driver retention. There are solutions, but they generally require compromise on both sides.