equipment

Attracting and retaining the best truck drivers requires many things from trucking carriers. Carriers compete over providing better pay, greater benefits, and more home time. There may be one factor which carriers are forgetting: the quality of their equipment. Using the right equipment can increase driver satisfaction and improve your carrier’s efficiency. In fact, drivers routinely cite equipment quality as one of the top factors they look for in jobs, along with a top reason they decline jobs. If you’re keeping older model trucks around, drivers will be less likely to feel comfortable and safe in those rigs. Here are 3 ways in which your equipment can either help or hurt your truck drivers.

1. Safety

Safety is probably the way in which equipment can either help or hurt your drivers the most. Older model trucks will be more likely to be worn down and require more maintenance. They are also less likely to be enabled with the latest safety technologies to protect your drivers and freight. Safety is the biggest reason to invest in newer trucks.

All drivers want to feel safe in the equipment they are operating, but this is particularly true for newer recruits to the industry.

Investing in the late model trucks makes your carrier more attractive younger drivers and women drivers. Look for models with collision mitigation technology, which provides brake assistance and blind spot detection warnings. Another useful tool is lane departure warning systems, which warn the driver when their truck begins to move out of its lane unless a turn signal is on. Automatic braking can activate the vehicle’s brake system when sensors detect vehicles ahead in close proximity, or any other situation where a collision is imminent.

2. Comfort

You may have expected us to write about driver safety and driver efficiency only. The truth is that comfort is equally if not more important, from a driver’s perspective. Remember that truck drivers spend a majority of their time in the cab of their truck. It essentially functions as both their “office” and their “home”. Can we really blame drivers then for prioritizing comfort? Many manufacturers have taken this into account and allowed for more room in the cabin. Manufacturers are also using fleet amenities like foam mattresses, premium audio system, and extra storage drawers. Ergonomics has seen a large push in truck designs.

If you’re sitting in the same truck seat for hours and using the same controls, you’d want the interior to be as comfortable as possible.

Ergonomics allows for the seat cushions, gears, steering wheel, and driver controls to align optimally with the mechanics of the human body. This creates an intuitive and frustration-free experience for the driver, who is able to focus on the task instead of becoming distracted and uneasy. Invest in late model trucks to find these features and advertise your comfortable cabins to attract more drivers.

3. Efficiency

You may think of improved efficiency as a best reason to invest in good equipment. That’s strictly from a carrier’s perspective though. If you take a driver-centric approach, you’ll think about safety and comfort first. Nevertheless, in an industry where many drivers are paid by the mile, reducing unscheduled stops and downtime improves driver satisfaction. Late model equipment that is well maintained minimizes the chances of breakdowns and delays, increasing the efficiency of your drivers and your fleet.

You don’t want your carrier to gain the reputation of being frequently delayed because of mechanical issues.

This reputation will spread to shippers, receivers, and potential new drivers. Drivers also don’t want to stuck fixing mechanical issues on the road because the carrier didn’t take responsibility for it properly. Some manufacturers can provide drivers with a replacement truck, which puts driver back on the road faster. While this increases the chances of making an on-time delivery, it still isn’t ideal. The best solution is to upgrade your equipment to late model trucks and improve your fleet’s efficiency by minimizing maintenance issues.

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truck driver satisfaction

Recruiters know that truck driver satisfaction is essential to ensuring long-term retention. Sometimes we naively believe that good pay, benefits, and home time are the only ingredients that go into the perfect satisfaction recipe. A 2017 study by TruckersReport.com, along with software firm OdinText, showed that this isn’t the case at all! The study used text analysis to evaluate comments on TruckersReport.com discussion boards. For veteran drivers, pay grade came in fifth among factors that influence job satisfaction. For both veterans and novices, one of the leading factors was if the company culture is ‘family-oriented”. While great pay and benefits are necessary for drivers to be satisfied with their carriers, it’s obvious that they aren’t enough. Here are 6 ideas to improve driver satisfaction and retention.

1. Equipment

Drivers don’t want to deal with shoddy equipment and recurring maintenance issues. Good equipment is one of the most cited factors that influence driver satisfaction with their carriers. Investing in newer model trucks and quickly resolving maintenance issues will signal to drivers that your carrier employs professionals who care about safety and image. Consider also investing in trucks with larger cabins with fleet amenities, such as kitchen appliances and satellite radio/TV to allow for more options during down time for drivers.

2. Ride along programs

Truck driving can be a lonely profession and hobbies can go only so far in combating boredom. OTR drivers have it particularly rough as they often go several days or even weeks without seeing their loved ones.

Including a passenger or pet ride along program shows your drivers that you care about their personal lives and happiness.

A pet policy lets drivers bring their canine or feline companions on the road with them. Spouse ride along policies gives drivers the flexibility to spend more time with their significant other without losing time away from the job. Driver satisfaction is guaranteed to improve if drivers get to spend more time with who they care about.

3. Health incentive programs

Truck driving has the reputation of being one of America’s “unhealthiest professions”. While drivers may not fault their carriers for the inherent risks of the job, they appreciate any efforts carriers make to minimize those risks. Many companies have been engaging in incentive programs to help drivers meet their health goals. These could be as simple as providing healthy sack lunches or break rooms with healthy options. On the other hand, they can be as ambitious as onsite fitness centers, discounted gym memberships, or wellness days with physicals and health assessments. There’s no doubt about it—overall driver satisfaction with the career and the job increases when drivers are healthier, so there’s no downside to prioritizing health.

4. Safety

Truck drivers know that the job comes with inherent risks of crashes and other dangers on the road. When carriers prioritize safety as a top concern within the organization, drivers take note and it will have an impact on their satisfaction.

Carriers can take many steps to address safety in their procedures and policies.

In addition to what the law requires, carriers can institute their own regulations for time behind the wheel, rest time, maximum speeds, and the rest. Make sure that equipment is well maintained and showcase to drivers that the company values their safety. Consider providing drivers with free hands-free devices for use where permitted, or a hassle-free streamlines maintenance request procedure.

5. Professional development

Trucking isn’t just a job for drivers, but a career path along which the current job may just be a stop on the road. The sooner recruiters realize that drivers have career ambitions and won’t stay in the current driving job forever, the sooner they can help facilitate process within their own carriers. Perhaps some drivers are looking for additional endorsements and certifications to make specialized runs. Carriers can help provide training for these and groom drivers toward those jobs with the same company. Other drivers may be looking to switch regions, or runs. Still other may eventually hope to become owner-operators, or retire and become trainers. All these jobs could be provided through your carrier. Drivers value loyalty so if your carrier invests in their professional development, they will reciprocate by sticking with the same company and being even more satisfied with the company.

6. The “little” things

The results of the study suggest that one of the biggest factors impacting driver satisfaction is the company’s culture. Drivers often look for carriers which are family-oriented.

What this really means is that family and loyalty are things drivers value. They are looking for carriers whose values align with their own.

If carriers value family, then your carrier will naturally offer benefits like strong home time, a pet policy, paid time off, or college scholarship funds for family members. Similarly, drivers want to be respected and treated like professionals. When recruiters, dispatchers, and fleet managers treat drivers like people and not simply leads, driver satisfaction will soar through the roof.

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upgrading-fleet-amenitiesA great way for companies to stay competitive in today’s hiring market is to offer unique benefits that prove to drivers that they are willing to go above and beyond.

Companies can stand out from the competition by investing in fleet amenity upgrades in order to create a more comfortable, home-like atmosphere in the cab.

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