High driver turnover often snowballs for trucking companies. You suffer from high turnover and need more drivers. However, you have a hard time finding the right candidate. As a result, you need to hire whomever you can. You resort to hiring poor-fitting candidates who are likely to quit. Subsequently, you suffer from high turnover. Rinse and repeat. We call this the driver problem. The driver problem is complex and has no clear end or beginning, and its negative impacts on your business are widespread.
The Relationship Between Recruiting, Retention, & Training
In a Podcast, AvatarFleet President Scott Rea described the relationship between recruiting, retention, and safety, as well as how the three affect one another:
“I never have enough drivers. I’m drowning in compliance paperwork. I’m constantly focused on putting out the next fire, accident, or incident. And, we got as many [drivers] walking out the back door as the front door.”
None of these problems happen in a silo. Poor retention and recruiting numbers have an adverse impact on safety and accident rates. Thus, it stands to reason, improving one can help improve the others.
There's a thin line separating the need for compliance and revenue in the Transportation Industry. Although many strides have been made regarding training and awareness in the safety realm, there still exists a dark side where Carriers find themselves making difficult decisions concerning hiring and retention choices.
Those whose businesses have never required them to deviate from their hiring and retention criteria have lived a blessed life. Empty trucks, rising operation costs combined with a shrinking driver industry have placed ownership and management in some very difficult situations.
This pressure consistently affects a number of departments and has a negative impact on morale and the cohesiveness of the owner’s team. This will also create very real exposure to negligent hiring and supervision.
I have had the pleasure working for both extremely progressive companies and a few carriers that managed by exception. Either way, this ongoing scenario complicates a vast majority of today’s safety, recruiting and operations departments.
My 40 years of transportation safety experience have time and again proven true in the following observations:
- Disregarding hiring and retention policies is truly playing Russian Roulette with your company’s success. The chances of exposure to litigation in our industry today is not a matter of if, but when you will be faced by a highly trained plaintiff's attorney who will understand the full scope of negligence.
There is no overestimating the importance of good, thorough trip planning to make safe, on-time deliveries. Technological advances have made this part of the driving process much more efficient and easier in recent years. Gone are the days of calling up a customer on the phone to get directions to their facility or squinting at a worn-out paper map. Companies need to make sure drivers are fully using the array of devices and smart phone apps that are available.
Some of the tech now available to drivers includes:
- GPS navigation devices. Make sure to get a truck-route specific device so that you don’t end up on a non-truck route with a costly ticket. Remember, you get what you pay for. A good GPS device can be worth its weight in gold.
Smartphone apps that are free and a must for any driver include:
- Google Maps (It’s always a good idea to have a Rand McNally Trucker Atlas on hand too)
- Google Earth: Overhead look at the property you are traveling too, including driveways.
- Google Street View: What the property looks like from street level.