Trucking Turnover: Can We Turn It Around?

Posted February 12, 2018

Right now, for every 10 drivers you hire, only 1 will still be driving for you in a year.

Yes, you read that right, trucking as an industry has a 90% turnover rate. What a waste of time and money for a trucking company.

Now a 90% turnover rate doesn’t mean that a trucking company replaces all its drivers each year, but instead each quarter you might replace 45 drivers while 155 drivers keep driving. So even while it seems like you have a solid team of drivers the churn is large enough to cost you a great deal of money.

To put it into actual dollars the average cost of hiring a driver is $8,200.  A trucking company with 200 drivers and a 90% turnover rate spends $1.5 million a year just to keep capacity steady. In order to stay in business trucking companies then increase the rate they charge shippers making turnover a costly problem for all of us.

Right now, V&S Midwest Carriers Corp.has a 32% turnover rate. 32% is a pretty significant difference from the industry standard of 90%. Yes, we still have to work hard to attract great drivers, but the drivers we do find stick with us.

Why?

Because driver turnover isn’t a driver issue, it’s a company issue.

We recruit in the same application pool as every other trucking company out there. Yet, our turnover rate is substantially less. What’s the reason?

Our secret: attract a great driver and keep them.

It sounds pretty simple, but it’s obviously harder than it looks. When Dave Van Handel founded our company in 1986 he was a truck driver. He knew what it was like to live on the road and support a family. This knowledge of trucking drove the way he built the company, and the way we still run it today.

We believe that trucking is a career.

Professional drivers have a tough, but rewarding, job. Each day they navigate through traffic, construction roadblocks, inclement weather, equipment malfunctions, parking difficulties and other drivers and motorists. Each pickup and delivery has different variables that require specialized training or immediate calculations and decisions. Career truckers know the industry, the road and are worth being fairly compensated. They take pride in their equipment and deserve respect for safely hitting the road every day and delivering freight. Drivers that view it as the career it is, and are treated well, are happier in their jobs and stay longer in the profession.

So what do we focus on when attracting and keeping our a great drivers?

Spend the extra time to find the right driver.

We want to recruit the best drivers. Best means that they are reliable, safe and a good fit for our company culture. This last one is important because if you only have the first two you’ll probably have a driver that moves on very quickly.

Drivers need to know that they are more than a glorified road robot delivering freight. They want to work with a team that invests in them –  not only as a driver – but also as a person. To do this properly a driver really does need to fit with the company’s culture and enjoy coming to work.   

Realize that job satisfaction is mostly unrelated to pay.

Shocking, I know!

A paycheck is important, and being paid fairly is part of the package, but it’s not the only thing.

In one of the first-of-its-kind surveys OdinText used an advanced analytics software platform to analyze comments posted to TruckersReport.com. They found that the biggest factor in job satisfaction was the extent to which a trucking company culture was “family-oriented,” followed by truckers being given sufficient time at home.

The other interesting thing to note was that largest predictor of dissatisfaction was also not money but carelessness, closely followed by untrustworthiness. Examples for these negative areas were: forced illegal activity by driving more than allowed number of hours, lack of respect, lack of care for drivers’ work conditions or personal lives, instances of breach of contract and lies.

This isn’t new news for us.

Once someone is hired they are part of the V&S Midwest family. Every driver is known by their first name, not their trucking handle. Our team needs be comfortable calling with a problem so we can get to work and help troubleshoot it.

Building personal connections isn’t a waste of time. It’s the glue that holds our work family together.

The culture that we have at V&S Midwest Carriers Corp. has taken years to build. It merely puts data behind our approach and reaffirms that we continue to head in the right direction.

Keep driver engagement high.

When we find a great driver that fits our company culture and comes on to the team we want them to have all the tools they need to succeed. We want our drivers to feel like we have their backs – because we do.

Their success truly is our success.

As a result we aggressively update our trailers every 4 years so drivers are using the best equipment on the road. We actively look for ways to help our drivers cut fuel costs for to increase profitability. Technology is a tool to make our drivers jobs better. We look for ways to drive innovation and develop the most useful applications. Drivers who deliver safely and stay within speed limits are rewarded.

Work should be as meaningful as possible as we serve our customers and give back to our communities. As a small, family-owned company we live in this community too.

We also recognize that life is more than driving a truck. While our focus is efficiently moving freight we choose to do that job every day with joy. This choice affects the way we view problems and obstacles and allows us to enjoying solving them together.

Fun and work are not mutually exclusive.

It also drives our decision as a company to ensure that our drivers have adequate home time to keep their personal relationships strong as well. Although trucking is a job that requires time away from home, we each need to cultivate the home relationships that keep us our best selves. After all, it’s the reason we do this job.

This balance between work, family and fun is integral to keeping drivers engaged.

According to American Trucking Associations Chief Economist, Bob Costello, “Fleets continue to tell us that competition for good, safe and experienced drivers is fierce, pushing wages higher in hopes of attracting the best talent,” Costello said. “…demand for drivers will continue to outstrip supply – eventually even leading to supply chain disruptions.”

At V&S Midwest Carrier Corp. we continue to work on finding and retaining the best and brightest. We will continue building a trucking a culture that attracts drivers – both to our company and the profession.

You should too.

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