otr driver

Hiring and retaining drivers in the trucking industry can be a tricky business. It can be even more difficult to hire and retain over the road (OTR) drivers because you want these drivers to be the best in your fleet. OTR driving represents the most challenging type of driver work, so you want to hire and retain the cream of the crop for this elite cadre. Since it can be a challenge to fill these jobs, you’ll want to think about smart methods to retain them and reduce turnover as well. Here are five tips on how to hire and retain OTR drivers.

1. What to Look For

As we have written about before, good hiring starts with narrowing the candidate pool to those who are the best fit for the job.

There’s no doubt about it: OTR drivers are the best in the business and their work is more challenging than local runs in many ways.

You should look for strong behavioral characteristics that will predict reliability, flexibility, and communication in your talent pool. Yes, these are good attributes for any driver in your fleet, but they suit the OTR job particularly well. Look for someone with strong independence and ability to manage and maintain their own workload and commitments with ease. Demonstration of organizational skills, and the ability to adapt to quickly changing situations is a plus.

Good communication skills are essential, as OTR drivers will be coordinating with fleet managers, dispatchers, and reps from shippers and receivers. Attention to detail is another must, since drivers need to be responsible for reporting their logs with accuracy and consistency. Finally, a knack for learning new skills is especially useful for OTR drivers. Remember, they may have to adapt to quick changes and be adept at mechanical troubleshooting and working with new technology and equipment.

2. How to Conduct the Interview

If you’re interviewing a candidate, they have already passed your first round of evaluation for the job. Clearly, they possess the minimum qualifications and experience, and display some interest for your fleet and the OTR job. During the in-person interview, it’s your job to ascertain whether they are well suited for the OTR runs, or just the other local runs in your fleet. You can start by learning more about their personality and character. Look for the attributes detailed above and ask about specific instances or experiences where they demonstrated those traits.

Apart from the typical behavioral interview, you can also mix it up a bit. You can ask about how they would react in hypothetical situations or what they liked or disliked about previous jobs.

Having an open conversation about career goals, work-life balance, and home-time is incredibly important.

Remember that you’re trying to determine fit and maximize retention. Maybe this candidate isn’t the best for this job if they’re about to start a family, or if they’re looking to move on to a different fleet in just a few months. Consider inviting the driver’s partner or spouse to the interview to discuss important topics openly. Don’t forget to ask about issues which especially impact OTR drivers, like equipment breakdowns or real-time monitoring.

3. Hiring and Onboarding Process

Once you’ve identified a strong candidate, be sure to make a job offer quickly. Remember, the number one reason that drivers decline jobs is because they got scooped by another carrier sooner. You need a quick process for any hire, but especially for the elite OTR drivers. Once you’ve made the hire the story isn’t complete. Your work in retaining that driver starts from day one. Before they start the job, enroll the driver in your orientation and onboarding process. If your fleet doesn’t have formal onboarding, you should really consider implementing one.

Onboarding does a lot more than familiarizing your drivers to company policies and employees. Basically, onboarding will start doing the slow work of embedding the driver into your company’s culture. Remember that most drivers are looking for a meaningful job which speaks to their values and needs.

If your company can start signaling that its values are in line with the driver’s values, it starts to build long-term loyalty and a sense of belonging.

Remind your drivers that they are essential to the success of your fleet and that your company is here to be good to them. Building this relationship will go a long way toward retention.

4. Conduct Employee Surveys

Retention efforts start with the first day but must also be continually reinforced. A great mechanism for improving OTR driver retention is conducting periodical employee surveys. Surveys have a dual function: they help evaluate employee satisfaction and give you the opportunity to give feedback to drivers. Measuring employee satisfaction will give you constant data on what kinds of things employees enjoy and which needs aren’t being met. Include options on the survey for employees to detail their preferences if something isn’t working out for them. Collecting data on employee preferences isn’t enough—you should advocate for your drivers’ preferences as much as you can. Ideally, you’re able to effect some change that impacts drivers. Even if you aren’t, the drivers will appreciate that you tried your best.

While conducting surveys, take the opportunity to pass along feedback to your OTR drivers.

It is a misconception that drivers aren’t interested in hearing feedback from their fleet.

If a driver expresses frustration about negative feedback from the company, it more likely has to do with how that feedback was given. Including positive feedback along with suggestions for improvement is a tried and tested method. Drivers want feedback on their performance to have a sense of accomplishment and to have guidelines and direction for improvement.

5. Training and Professional Development

Retaining OTR drivers means giving them reasons to stick around longer with the company.

Your drivers care about independence and freedom, but also professional success.

If drivers believe they’ll be doing the same OTR run with you for years, they are going to start looking elsewhere. Any retention program has opportunities for further training and professional development. Training could be for more advanced certifications and permits. Maybe your drivers are looking to add hazmat or tanker endorsements to their belt.

In addition, see to it that your company offers leadership and teamwork workshops. These help build strong transferable skills—they benefit any employee regardless of the type of work they do. These opportunities help OTR drivers build more skills that they can use in their current job. Rather than taking these skills from your workshops and then running to a different fleet, drivers will feel grateful that you invested in their professional development. This fosters a sense of loyalty and identity to the company and makes it more likely that drivers will stick around with you longer.

ultimate guide to retaining truck drivers

Ultimate Guide to Retaining Truck Drivers

You work so hard to recruit the best truck drivers for your fleet. The trick is retaining them. This guide is packed with tips for retaining your fleet.

Get the Ebook

truck-driver-turnover

Trucking carriers and drivers are both intimately familiar with the extent of truck driver turnover that exists in the industry. Many trucking carriers have experienced a “revolving door”—constantly needing to hire new drivers because current drivers are leaving the company. Many drivers have also worked for several companies within the span of a few years and very few find a stable driving job that allows them to build a long relationship with the same company.

Turnover negatively impacts both drivers and carriers, yet it persists in the industry. It isn’t just limited to a few companies either but is widespread throughout the industry. Solving the driver turnover problem is a matter of understanding the causes and implementing a few solutions laid out below. Here’s everything you need to know about combating truck driver turnover.

Causes of turnover

To combat turnover, we first need to understand its causes. There are several reasons for turnover that are unique to the trucking industry. Instead of documenting all possible causes, let’s examine some of the most common and important ones for recruiters and fleet managers.

The Driver Shortage

First, turnover is directly related to the CDL driver shortage.

The shortage means there is increased competition between companies for the same small pool of drivers.

Trucking companies can incentivize drivers with higher pay, sign-on bonuses, and other benefits. Offering these benefits is the best practice for each individual company, as we have written about before, but ends up being bad for the industry as a whole. The recruiting process tends to be very quick. As a result, drivers know they could find work very quickly with another employer.

It may be easy to believe that drivers are simply going from job to job looking for the best quick deal they can find. However, it is important to remember that they are just like any other employees—at the end of the day, they are looking for a great job that also lasts for a long time.

Misattributed Challenges

Secondly, drivers may face unforeseen challenges on the job which they attribute to the company rather than the industry. This may be especially true for newer drivers who haven’t experienced problems like equipment break-down, canceled loads, bad weather, difficulty with shippers or receivers, and a host of other problems every trucker encounters.

It’s easy to blame the company rather than the nature of the job when these obstacles arise, especially if the company hasn’t been supportive or understanding.

At the same time, sometimes carriers really do deserve the blame for the driver’s low job satisfaction. Recruiters may have misrepresented the job details during the hiring process. Maybe drivers didn’t ask the right questions or recruiters failed to mention important details. Perhaps the recruiters over-promised benefits like pay and home time, or the company has been under-delivering. Either way, the result is the same: drivers feel cheated by the company and are motivated to look elsewhere for a better job. It’s important to remember that retention starts with good recruiting.

Combating turnover

While there is no cure-all to rid 100% of driver turnover, there are a number of things your company can do to increase retention and keep more drivers month after month.

First, recruiters need to go after the right drivers.

Yes, you want to find good talent, but it’s even more important to find the right fit.

If you think about it, by relying primarily on financial incentives, rival companies can lure away top talent with enticing pay packages. However, if you find the right drivers for you, they’ll stick around with your fleet longer regardless of what the competition can offer. Let’ say only 35% of drivers you hire in January stay till December. Recruiters and fleet managers need to find out which company characteristics persuaded those drivers to stay.

Get creative with potential solutions. Maybe your company offers daily or weekly home time that works well for younger drivers on regional runs. On the other hand, maybe your company is better at attracting veteran drivers who don’t mind OTR runs with home time twice a month. Whatever the case may be, the drivers that stay with your company are the ones who are a good fit. Find out what characteristics they share, how they match your fleet’s needs, and recruit more like them.

Start with Recruiting

High retention starts with good recruiting. Targeting drivers based on the characteristics that make them a good fit is the first and most important step. With this approach, recruiters won’t need to over-promise benefits which the company can’t deliver. There would be no reason why recruiting wouldn’t be a transparent process. Recruiters should aim to paint an accurate picture of the miles, runs, hauls, and regions needed. Be upfront and honest about pay and benefits, especially if they aren’t as generous as what other companies can offer. Think about it—sooner or later the drivers will know for themselves. When they do, they’ll decide whether they want a better deal or not. Why not save time for everyone and reduce turnover by finding a good match ahead of the game.

Build Company Culture

Finally, you’ll want to build some loyalty by forging the right company culture. Pay, benefits, and home time are all important, but not as strong as identity and a sense of belonging.

If you satisfy a driver’s need to feel important, appreciated, and valued, they may overlook a lower pay grade or weaker benefits package.

Engaging in driver appreciation is something that can be done every day and every week, by every employee of your company. Driver engagement surveys are a great way to discover what’s keeping them happy so you can keep doing it, and to show drivers that you really care about them as people and not just as employees.

Driver turnover is a monumental problem facing the industry, and directly stems from the driver shortage problem. Carriers and drivers both suffer when the employees aren’t a good match for the company. Combat your turnover problem by starting with good recruitment. Target drivers who are the right fit and be transparent about job characteristics and benefits. Build loyalty with drivers through engagement and appreciation.

ultimate guide to retaining truck drivers

Ultimate Guide to Retaining Truck Drivers

You work so hard to recruit the best truck drivers for your fleet. The trick is retaining them. This guide is packed with tips for retaining your fleet.

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team truck driving partner

Employers put a lot of time and effort into hiring on new drivers and are always looking for ways to maximize the return on those hires. One way to keep trucks on the road longer each day is to leverage truck driving teams. Carriers often invest in the best trucks and equipment, pay premium rates, and give priority loads to team drivers. In return, they need each team truck driving partner to be stable and hard-working.

Some teams are already established and join a carrier with their team truck driving partner. But not always. Some carriers choose to play match-maker and seek to put together teams from their current roster of drivers. In those situations, carriers find that selecting the right teams to drive tandem takes some additional driver assessments. Here are some key things to evaluate when assigning team truck driving partners.

Compatibility

When putting together team truck driving partners, compatibility is key. The drivers’ personalities need to be compatible.

If the drivers have too many significant differences, they’re going to have a difficult time driving as a team.

In addition, their personal habits must be similar. If one loves driving to loud rock music, and the other needs quiet to keep their concentration, it’s going to be tough spending extended hours in the cab together. If either driver travels with a pet, the other driver needs to be able to tolerate that. Additionally, drivers need to have a general ability to get along, so extreme differences in background, religious beliefs, or what they like to do in their down-time should also be part of the conversation when assigning teams.

Driving Style & Preferences

Team drivers need to have driving styles and preferences that work well together. Putting together two night owls or two early birds, and they’re not going to be able to stretch their time on the road. They need to be compatible when it comes to work ethics as well. If one on the team likes to take a lot of breaks, and the other only wants to stop once or twice per shift, they’re going to be at odds.

The team truck driving partners should agree about whether they are willing to drive on weekends and holidays.

Each driver needs to be willing to make compromises on things. Being too rigid will make for tension over the miles. Lastly, their driving skills and experience should be similar as well, though a new driver could benefit from working with a more experienced driver. This could make that newer driver better over the long haul.

Every carrier is looking to maximize the return of time and effort put into developing their drivers. Leveraging team drivers is a great way to do that. Using these helpful tips when assigning team truck driving partners, can provide an addition to your overall strategy to maximize resources and return on your investments. These team drivers can be a long-term solution that will greatly benefit any trucking company.
truckers.

ultimate guide to retaining truck drivers

Ultimate Guide to Retaining Truck Drivers

You work so hard to recruit the best truck drivers for your fleet. The trick is retaining them. This guide is packed with tips for retaining your fleet.

Get the Ebook

3 Ideas for Improving Your Truck Driver Benefits Package

As a recruiter for truck drivers, you know that the driver shortage means that finding the best talent can be difficult. With turnover also being high, retaining drivers can be even more challenging. The best companies are offering great truck driver benefits in addition to good salaries and bonuses. While salary and cents per mile are important figures, drivers know they aren’t the whole package. The experienced driver recognizes that a strong benefits package can be more valuable than sign-on or referral bonuses.

Benefits also build a driver-centric company culture where drivers feel valued and respected. Word-of-mouth about benefits will soon spread to attract other drivers. While there are some industry standard benefits that you should definitely offer, you can also supplement them with your own unique additional benefits that reflect your company and brand. With so much on the line, here are three components to include to improve your truck driver benefits package.

1. Insurance and retirement plans

Providing health insurance and a 401(k)-match plan is an industry standard practice, so you don’t want to skip these for your drivers. Drivers know that the cost of health insurance has skyrocketed, so they’ll be looking for employer-based plans as better alternatives to individual plans on the health insurance marketplace. Any package worth it’s weight should include medical, prescription, vision and dental. Look for insurance policies with reduced premium incentives, low co-pays and a health reimbursement account deposit for wellness. Dental plans should include standard preventive care (such as teeth cleaning) fully or almost fully covered. Vision coverage should ideally cover an annual eye-exam with a low co-pay, and some allowance for prescription glasses or contact lenses.

Drivers will be concerned about the cost of health insurance for their families, so most of your standard packages should provide coverage for their spouses and dependents

Consider including flexible spending accounts, which give drivers the option to put aside pre-tax income from their paychecks to pay for non-reimbursed medical, dental, and vision expenses.

Most trucking companies will include a 401(k)-matching plan for retirement savings as well. Drivers will first be able to place a percentage of their pay into the plan pre-tax. The matching amount by the company can vary based on the percentage. Some companies boast being able to match 100% on the first 4-5% of salary deferred. The exact specifications of your retirement and insurance options will depend on how strong your company is financially. Just keep in mind that drivers will be mindful about noticing whether the company is investing considerable resources into benefits packages for their employees.

2. Lifestyle Benefits

While retirement and insurance are industry-standard benefits, you can craft your own additional benefits based on unique resources and needs.

Many drivers are attracted to benefits which allow them greater flexibility in their lifestyle, both on and off the road.

For example, more drivers would like to be able to work in larger cabins with more personal space. Fleet amenities such as kitchen appliances and satellite radio/TV allow for comfort, cooking, and entertainment. Your company should already be investing in the best truck equipment, and many of these will come fully equipped. A pet policy lets drivers with a canine or feline companion bring them along on the road. See if your company can craft a pet policy with small restrictions on a weight limit and a refundable pet deposit.

Similarly, some drivers would like to bring their spouse or children along with them on the road and view this as a major benefit. Drivers will view a passenger policy by your company as a great advantage when considering their home life and how to spend more time with family.

Paid-time off is another important benefit for work-life balance. Some companies differentiate between vacation time and sick time, while others offer a more general PTO category. These PTO days should increase per every year worked, and ideally, roll over to the next year.

3. Driver Loyalty Programs

Finally, consider creating a driver loyalty discount program, or similar package. Offer rewards or benefits to drivers in the form of points based on credit card purchases, or discounts at select partner locations across the country. For example, your company could partner with a nation-wide hotel or restaurant chain for great deals. Similarly, you could partner with a credit card company to pair with the rewards points. Such perks will help drivers feel valued as they look for places to stay or eat across the country.

4. Tuition Benefits

Finally, some companies have been offering college tuition coverage and college scholarships for drivers and their families. The tuition plan is simple—for as long as drivers remain with the fleet, the company will pay for a portion of college tuition and room/board expenses for the dependents of drivers. As you can imagine, this is a very appealing program for drivers and addresses retention concerns extremely well. In addition, your company can offer a handful of college scholarships every year based on a number of factors. Many drivers will want to send their children to college but will consider the cost of higher education to be prohibitive.

Offering college tuition aid programs signals to drivers that you value them and their families’ priorities and can help give the gift of education

While these options can be financially taxing, they would be considered one of the greatest benefits for drivers in your company which goes a long way toward retaining them and building loyalty.

5. Other Perks

In addition to the standard benefits of insurance and retirement plans, many companies offer other optional perks. These optional plans won’t be used by every driver, but rather depends on their personal and financial situations. Offering these as an alternative will show drivers you value their needs, and it won’t break the bank. Accident insurance and critical illness insurance plans are for those rare circumstances where things go drastically wrong on the road. They communicate to drivers that you want them to know that you have their back.

In addition to insurance, consider offering a CDL legal defender plan to drivers. Your team of lawyers can represent a driver and their claims in the rare possibility of a legal scenario. Offering short-term disability means if drivers get injured on the road, they have financial peace of mind. This extends to drivers who must be away from work for a short period of time. Some companies offer voluntary life insurance plans for additional financial security. Engage in conversations with your drivers about which of these optional benefits would be useful to them.

ultimate guide to retaining truck drivers

Ultimate Guide to Retaining Truck Drivers

You work so hard to recruit the best truck drivers for your fleet. The trick is retaining them. This guide is packed with tips for retaining your fleet.

Get the Ebook

thank-you

One of the biggest complaints from truck drivers is not about salary or benefits, but rather that they don’t feel appreciated by their fleets. Drivers want to feel like an integral part of the team, not just another number or a cog in the machine. National Truck Driver Appreciation Week in September is a great time to set aside and show drivers your appreciation, but it doesn’t have to stop there.

Driver appreciation can and should be a year-round activity. After all, appreciation is a key component of driver retention. So whether you’re a recruiter, dispatcher, fleet manager, or executive, take some time to show your drivers how much you and your company value them. Here are seven truck driver appreciation ideas you can use anytime.

1. Use Social Media

One of the simplest ways to show driver appreciation is by shout-outs on social media. Many fleets engage in these already and highlight different drivers individually. Make yours more meaningful by making the social media posts personalized to each driver. You can include the reasons why you think this driver is unique and special and has made an impact on the job and the company. Testimonials from other drivers and company leadership about their work will make the posts more unique. Photos are a must, but if you want to go the extra mile put together a quick one-minute video of gratitude.

2. Gift Giving

Gifts for truck drivers seem like an obvious choice to show appreciation but be careful as these can go horribly wrong. If you choose generic gifts or don’t put much thought or meaning behind the gift it can end up backfiring.

Just like Christmas gifts to extended family, the trick is to make each gift personalized to each driver.

Something that will help the everyday lives of truck drivers will also help them feel valued. For example, some drivers may be passionate about healthy eating options, so consider a crockpot or recipe book. Others may be interested in the latest tech, so Bluetooth headsets or XM radio would be good options. Gift cards are okay but find out what the driver’s favorite restaurants or stores are first.

3. Truck Servicing

Maintaining and cleaning the equipment is an essential part of the job for drivers. Arrange to wash windows or tires or find other simple ways to clean and service the trucks before the drivers can get to it. Leave a friendly note of your gratitude to surprise them. Even gift cards for truck servicing or cleaning will be appreciated. Don’t forget that a clean and well-maintained truck is a great marketing tool, and thus is a benefit to both driver and company. Drivers will also appreciate anything you can do to make sure the receiving company will be unloading the truck so that they don’t have to.

4. Thank You Notes

Sometimes the simplest ways of showing gratitude are the most effective. Hand-written thank you notes are a time-honored tradition of showing thanks all around the world. Make sure to make your notes personalized to each driver, highlighting their strengths and what makes them such a valuable part of the company. Having it signed by multiple people increases the impact. Ideally, a note like this could come directly from company leadership. Notes on special occasions like birthdays or workplace anniversaries are a must, but a surprise note out of nowhere is even more special.

If you want to go the extra mile, consider writing one note for the driver and a separate note to send to their families.

They are usually the ones behind the scenes supporting the drivers and sacrificing home time for the job, so a note to them will be much appreciated.

5. Treat Lunch

Another simple way to show your appreciation for drivers is to just cover a meal for them. Taking them out personally to lunch when they are in town will be something they will look forward to and boast about. Find out what some of their favorite restaurants are and let them know it is covered by the company. For greater impact, you can have company leadership cook and serve a meal for many drivers together all at once. Inquiring about favorite dishes or bringing your own homemade recipes adds a special touch. If you’re unable to schedule something to treat a driver to lunch, arrange for packed lunches for drivers to take on the road with them.

6. Giveaways

While the occasional small gift will be much appreciated, you can create some buzz and excitement about giveaways that fosters more engagement. This works best for larger and more expensive gifts. Usually, giveaways will be used for special events or occasions such as National Truck Driver Appreciation Week. That said, you can pleasantly surprise drivers by engaging in this at any time during the year. Drivers can enter into drawings to win prizes covered by the company, such as new tech or gadgets. Make sure to highlight the winners and encourage more people to enter the drawing next time. Giveaways can be a popular way to build some driver engagement.

7. Solicit Feedback and Send Encouragement

Drivers want to feel part of the team and that means listening to their feedback and acting on it. Nothing will make a driver feel more engaged in the company than seeing their suggestion implemented. Ask them to propose ideas for potential solutions to challenges faced on the job, and the appreciation will take care of itself.

Making feedback and encouragement a two-way dialogue will boost engagement and show your gratitude to drivers.

Inform your company’s leadership about accomplishments or efforts by individual drivers and copy the drivers on email. Texting or emailing drivers every once in a while also keeps morale high. Best of all is encouragement and appreciation which is publicly viewed and recognized.

As you may have noticed, most of these appreciation ideas are not objects or things. While gifts and tangible objects are nice, most people place greater value on more abstract acts of gratitude. Showing appreciation doesn’t have to be time or cost extensive and can be done at any time. Acts of appreciation should focus on showing drivers that you respect them and their contributions to the fleet. Showing truck driver appreciation establishes trust and respect and builds loyalty to your company.

Quick Guide to Truck Driver Appreciation

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Quick Guide to Truck Driver Appreciation

Truck driver recognition is a great way to show your drivers they are appreciated. This quick guide helps employers learn about truck driver appreciation and how to make drivers feel valued.

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truck driver leads

There are two main approaches to bringing in truck driver leads in the industry. The first focuses on sheer numbers. Cast as wide a net as possible and you’ll have dozens of potential leads to consider for open jobs. The second focuses on lead quality over quantity. This can be a more time-consuming and tedious process, and you’ll have to narrow the search a bit. Then you focus your efforts on the high-quality applicants to convert them to drivers for your fleet.

Taking the quality approach ultimately wastes less money and time. While we aren’t going to solve the quality versus quantity debate, we do know that there are a few things you can do as a recruiter to increase the quality of your leads. Here are four strategies to focus on to improve the quality of your truck driver leads.

1. Narrow the Candidate Pool

Focusing on quality means that not every job applicant should receive the same amount of time-investment on your part. Once you narrow down the pool of candidates, you can focus more on the high-quality leads rather than lose time and energy on candidates who are not a good fit for you.

Finding the right fit can be made easier by using qualifying questions in the job application and initial contact.

There are many questions you can ask to decide whether candidates are a good fit for your organization and for the jobs you have available. Consider asking about years of experience, type of experience, driving record, region of operation, and preferences about home time. After learning this information, you can easily sort out the candidates who don’t fit the profile your fleet is looking for. Narrowing the pool as early in the game as possible will save you more time, energy, and money on not pursuing leads who don’t meet your criteria. You can and should save these leads for future reference as you may want to contact them in the future.

2. Lead Scoring

Now that you’ve narrowed down the pool, you can focus on the leads who are strong prospects for the job. Eliminating them using qualifying questions is just the first step though. The leads who are remaining aren’t all equally suited for the job.

You have limited time and resources to spend on pursuing a lead, so use lead scoring to help prioritize who to talk to first.

You can assign lead scores based on some of the same criteria which are attributes of the jobs you are trying to fill or based on the attributes of the drivers themselves. Which of your truck driver leads has experience with ice road trucking? Who only drives local? Which ones prefer over-the-road or team driving? Match these with the jobs you are looking to fill. Assigning each prospect a score will help you keep track of how much time and energy you should invest in pursuing them. Follow the highest scoring leads first and soonest, at the expense of the lower scored ones if needed.

3. Understand Why Drivers Decline Jobs

Okay, so you’ve eliminated the leads who aren’t suited for your fleet, and you’ve prioritized the rest based on your lead scoring system. Now you need a method to contact them fast. The longer you take to contact your prospects, the more likely it is they will be driving for a different fleet. We’ve written earlier about how the top reason drivers decline jobs is because they recently accepted another position which was offered to them first. This is another reason to implement lead scoring and prioritization.

Why are drivers declining your CDL jobs?

Understand why drivers aren’t accepting your job offers and how to improve driver recruitment.

4. Contact Drivers Quickly

Losing your leads to the competition is bad enough but losing top candidates is worse. If you wait too long, you’re more likely to lose the best candidates first. Then, you might be stuck with the prospects toward the middle or bottom of the pool. Use your lead scoring system to prioritize which leads to contact first. Then, focus on improving your contact rate. Start the conversation with prompt initial contact. After, follow up with more details and questions at a convenient time for them. Keep moving each lead through the recruitment pipeline, but start from the top of the list, and focus your energies there.

Focusing on truck driver lead quality over quantity has many benefits. Although the approach requires having a much more methodical recruitment system and some start-up cost, it can end up saving you time, money, and energy in the long-run.

You want to make sure you are not wasting time by pursuing the drivers who are wrong for your fleet. Regardless of which approach you take, there are strategies you can use to improve the quality of your leads. Narrow the pool, prioritize prospects using lead scoring, understand why drivers decline jobs, and contact drivers quickly. Each of these strategies helps maximize the chances of your fleet landing quality drivers.

The Quick Guide to Employee Value Proposition

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Employee Value Proposition

This free guide helps you create your employee value proposition and also effectively communicate it to drivers.

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4 CDL Truck Driver Retention Strategies

Recruiting great drivers is tough enough, but retaining top drivers is even tougher. While the driver shortage is the main obstacle to recruitment, turnover is the reason it is difficult to retain truck drivers. It’s no secret that the industry faces high turnover rates. According to some surveys, over 50% of newly hired drivers will leave their carriers within the first six months. Implementing strong driver retention strategies is critical to the success of your fleet.

Apart from offering higher and higher salaries and compensation packages, the real answer to the turnover problem is driver engagement. Drivers who are engaged with the job and the company are better and safer drivers and are more likely to stick around for longer. Here are four CDL truck driver retention strategies to maximize driver engagement.

1. Listen to and Act on Driver Feedback

Drivers want to feel like their voice matters and that they are being heard. Having strong communication with drivers is just the beginning. Make sure everyone in your organization, especially dispatchers, are aware of the importance of good communication with drivers. Fleet managers should regularly solicit driver feedback on a variety of issues, especially the types of jobs, routes, hauls, and schedules they prefer. Asking drivers for their feedback on how satisfactory the job has been so far also shows that the company cares about them as individuals. There are dozens of questions you can ask in driver engagement surveys.

However, asking drivers for their feedback isn’t enough. Acting on driver feedback is what distinguishes a great company from a good company.

Fleet managers should always aim to improve something for the sake of a driver’s preference unless they have a very good reason not to. And when you can’t act on their feedback, let them know why that’s the case. You’ll be surprised how understanding and appreciative they’ll be that you made the effort. When you interact with drivers as partners in problem solving, it will make them feel more engaged with the company and valued as employees. This strengthens driver loyalty and makes it less likely that they will leave the fleet.

2. Training and Professional Development

One of the reasons drivers will leave a company is because of inadequate training or because they feel their professional needs aren’t being met by the company. By making training and development an integral part of the relationship with drivers, truck driver retention will naturally increase. In addition to preparing them for the road, a proper onboarding and training program signals to employees that you can invest in their careers. They’ll be more likely to stick with your company if you provide continual professional development opportunities after the initial training.

Every three months or so, drivers should be eligible to engage in professional development seminars, workshops, and opportunities to connect with other drivers and learn from them.

One simple example is a mentorship program. Fleet managers can pair new drivers with experienced veterans based on their needs. The experienced truckers can mentor the younger employees on the joys and challenges of being a truck driver. This is a benefit for novices as it will help them improve and address their weaknesses. It is also a benefit for the veteran drivers who can also find mentorship extremely rewarding. Suddenly you’ve taken something that’s of benefit to the company and made it personally meaningful to employees. Retention will take care of itself once you’ve helped drivers feel more professionally engaged in their careers.

3. Equipment and Maintenance

There are few things drivers can’t stand more than having to deal with faulty equipment and vehicles. From their perspective, they’ve been hired for the driving job, not the maintenance job. Investing in quality equipment and providing maintenance is one of the best driver retention strategies.

If you don’t invest in quality equipment and trucks, it will frustrate your drivers for several reasons. First, it signals to drivers that the company isn’t willing to spend money on the trucks which drivers will be operating and often living out of. The optics can look really poor if your company is perceived to spend considerably on other areas at the expense of equipment and trucks. Second, drivers will be frustrated if fleet managers routinely expect drivers to address maintenance issues on the equipment. While the occasional minor maintenance issue might be fixed by the drivers, fleet managers shouldn’t expect that to become the norm. This is one of the top reasons why drivers decline jobs or leave jobs.

In addition to having regular inspections conducted, there are many things fleet managers can do to address maintenance issues. Implementing a fleet preventative maintenance plan will help you tackle the issues before they grow.

Some ELD solutions also automatically monitor fault codes through connection with vehicle diagnostics. The ELD will alert fleet managers about maintenance issues directly. Remember that drivers aren’t expert or trained mechanics. If drivers perceive that the expectation is to either deal with driving faulty vehicles or repair them themselves, it won’t be long before they start considering leaving. Make sure your drivers know you stay on top of maintenance issues and watch truck driver retention become easier.

4. Driver Safety and Empowerment

Part of a fleet manager’s responsibility is to ensure safety and improve the working conditions for drivers. Building a culture of safety is necessary baseline that every company should strive for. You can signal to your drivers that safety is a priority by investing in compliance measures and driver coaching, rather than paying regulatory fines. If you emphasize to drivers that their actions matter, they will feel empowered to make safer decisions.

Back up your words with rewards and recognition for safe drivers. You should try to use the carrot more than the stick. Incentivize good behavior rather than punishing bad behavior.

Drivers with the best safety scores and lowest unsafe driving behavior can be offered financial or other rewards. In addition to encouraging drivers to be safer on the road, it also boosts loyalty and retention.

5. Use Technology to Your Advantage

Embrace new technology like front-facing dashcams and electronic logging devices. In case of accidents, these devices can help you see things from the drivers’ perspective. Protect your drivers from false claims when they aren’t at fault. Building an empowerment culture for drivers goes beyond just protecting them.

Solicit driver feedback on what which working conditions they’d like to see improved. You’d be surprised at how many small requests from drivers you are able to easily fulfill.

For many, it may be the hours on the road, the number of stops allowed, home time etc. Finding small ways to keep drivers happy, or having them know that you’re trying, goes a long way to building loyalty and retention.

Drivers leave jobs for many reasons. Higher salary and better benefits are not the only factors which affect driver turnover. Building an engaged and loyal driver base can be easier than offering the highest salaries. Often, the small things add up and drivers will realize they are happier at your company than at a competitor who pays more but doesn’t care more. Implement these four CDL truck driver retention strategies to help your drivers stay for years.

ultimate guide to retaining truck drivers

Ultimate Guide to Retaining Truck Drivers

You work so hard to recruit the best truck drivers for your fleet. The trick is retaining them. This guide is packed with tips for retaining your fleet.

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In an industry like trucking, it can always be difficult to find new talent. This is especially true given the ongoing driver shortage. Truck driver recruiters need to constantly use a mix of old and new tactics to search for, select, hire, and then retain qualified drivers. Here are some of the best ways to recruit truck drivers using sound practices.

1. Try a New Spin on Old Methods

On the one hand, recruiting tools like job boards and referral programs bring tried and tested results. On the other hand, all your competitors are doing them as well. This means you’re losing the advantage of doing something special. Try a new spin on traditional methods to distinguish yourself from the competition. Most companies will offer a sign-on bonuses and a retention bonus for every year drivers stay on the job. Try offering a bonus for every six months instead. Posting job ads on a generic job board only goes so far.

To reach a specific audience, look for niche job boards that are industry-specific or demographic-specific.

Employee referrals are also a great way to connect to new drivers using your current drivers as resources. Why stop there? Use crowd-sourcing to find even more diverse talent. Internal referrals usually bring more of the same type of employee or talent. If you extend your finder’s fee to those outside the company, it will increase your chances of reaching a more diverse candidate pool. When using referrals, take care to structure the rewards properly. What will really incentivize your current employees to refer someone else? Maybe it should be a cash bonus, but maybe it could be a few extra days off or a chance to win season basketball tickets.

2. Harness Social Media

If you’re not using it already, advertising through social media is a great tool to reach drivers. Facebook even lets you advertise your jobs to specific people based on their region, demographics, or interests. The power of social media comes not just from the business side, but from the personal side as well. Encouraging your current employees to share job ads on their social media profiles will dramatically increase the number of people who view them. While you can’t force your employees what to post or not post on social media, you can incentivize it. Including social media recruiting outreach by employees in your referral program will help you reach more people than if you just posted on the business side of Facebook.

Some ads only reach those who have already expressed an interest in trucking jobs, but you can also use social media to reach passive job candidates who aren’t searching just yet.

There are many ways you can use digital marketing and recruiting to your benefit. Paid ads are just one of several options. When posting paid ads, try to write an exciting hook to catch the audience’s attention. Drivers are bombarded with ads from trucking companies which all look and sound the same. Anything you can write that differentiates you from the rest will be an advantage. Specifically, remember the power of multimedia: photos and videos make the content more engaging and will capture someone’s attention more than just text.

3. Look Beyond Your Core Demographic

You definitely need targeted advertising to those who are most likely to consider truck driving. But it would be a mistake to limit yourself to just that demographic.

It’s a good idea to balance reaching your current core demographic with making yourself appealing to future potential demographics.

Don’t just focus on those who currently apply to truck driver jobs. Women in truck driving is a growing demographic which would be crucial to tap into. This is essentially 50% of the job market which not all companies are reaching. Women with similar interests and backgrounds also consider working as drivers, but sometimes get discouraged by the industry. Make sure all your advertising is gender-neutral in language and can appeal to everyone. Take special care to reach women in trucking groups and tailor your recruiting message to them as well.

When interacting with different audiences, make sure you tailor your message to their perspective and address their needs and concerns.

Veterans are another demographic who often consider truck driving as a job. Go the extra mile by marketing to prospective drivers where they already exist, like veteran specific job boards or social media groups. Some of the best candidates for a new driving job may be someone who applied for a previous position which you already filled. Just because they weren’t suited for that job doesn’t mean they were a bad candidate in general. Keep in mind old leads and keep in touch with them in case something more suitable for them comes up.

4. Good Marketing is Good Recruiting

Don’t forget that a major part of recruiting is just plain old-fashioned marketing. Your company needs to be able to appeal to drivers before they will consider applying to work there.

In fact, you should be reminding the marketing department that they have two different audiences to market to: the customers and the employees.

To this extent, make sure there is a dedicated hiring page or careers page on the company’s website to shepherd those interested in working for you. In addition to your website, all your marketing channels should have engaging content which makes it attractive to work there. This will be particularly true on social media and other digital marketing channels.

Driver-centric content will show your prospective employees that the company cares about drivers needs and values.

People want to work in a culture and environment which supports and values them. It isn’t enough to foster a people-first environment where drivers will want to work; you need to market this as well. Highlighting driver experiences, testimonials from current employees, driver appreciation events, and a culture of professional development will go a long way toward making the right impression to your ideal job candidates.

Streamlining the recruitment process is a marketing tactic in itself. Make the application quick and easy for job applicants by making it mobile-friendly is a must. While conducting interviews, go out of your way to address concerns with some candidates will have. Contact your prospects soon, often, and on the phone so that they don’t get scooped up by competitors. These tips may sound like obvious ones, but you’ll be surprised by how many industry recruiters don’t engage in these practices. Make these practices routine, and you’ll impress drivers enough that they’ll want to sign on with your fleets.

Recruiting in an industry like truck driving can be particularly challenging. These are some of the best ways to recruit truck drivers which we recommend since they combine the old-fashioned with the latest methods. Using these methods will add strength to your recruiting methods and help you find the best drivers for your fleet.

ultimate guide to truck driver recruiting

Ultimate Guide to Truck Driver Recruiting

Current ways of recruiting truck drivers just don’t work anymore. That’s because recruiting isn’t a transaction. This ultimate guide helps carriers recruit for retention.

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As a recruiter, you get barraged with job applications. The ratio of job applications for each open position can be overwhelming for recruiters to deal with. Sifting through dozens of applications and remembering each and every candidate can be exhausting, not to mention time-consuming.

Yet, it can be extremely helpful to contact truck drivers faster and speed up the hiring process. It goes without saying that if you don’t contact job candidates fast enough, you’ll lose them to someone else. There are also many other reasons to contact truck drivers faster during the hiring process and maintain open lines of communication and dialogue.

1. You Won’t Lose the Top Candidates

The most important reason to contact truck drivers faster is that this way you’re less likely to lose the top candidates to your competitors. In fact, according to data by drivers matched through Drive My Way, the top reason candidates declined job offers is because they just accepted an offer by someone else.

Being scooped by rivals is especially risky for your top candidates. One recommended solution is to assign a “decide-by date” for candidates. This way you can focus your immediate time and attention first to the top-tier prospects, then to the second-tier prospects, and so on.

Categorize your prospects into tiers, type of jobs, or other characteristics. Otherwise, you risk drowning in an overwhelming number of candidates whose details you won’t remember. It may seem intuitive that a slow hiring process improves the quality of those you hire because you have more time to gather information and feedback before deciding. However, there is a trade-off as well. Slow hiring can also have the opposite effect because the longer you take, the lower the quality of new hires will be.

If you take too long to hire, you may have to pay new hires more because they will be bid on.

So, if your company is the first to approach and hire them before other companies have a chance to offer them something, they will most likely accept your initial salary offer. Contacting truck drivers sooner lowers the chances that they will be scooped up by rivals, or that rivals will drive up the salary negotiation process.

2. A Window to Communication on the Job

A big reason to contact truck drivers faster and often during the hiring process is that it is a strong indicator of workplace communication habits within the company. This is a reason often missed by recruiters because it has more to do with marketing than with HR. This goes to the heart of the dual function recruiters play in organizations.

In addition to facilitating the hiring process from point of contact through placement, recruiters also play a role in persuading top talent to join their fleets. The speed and flexibility of the hiring process can indicate to job candidates that the organization communicates with its employees well and makes decisions quickly.

A candidate might impress you by arriving early and proactively sending a thank-you note. Similarly, your company can impress candidates by contacting them quickly and offering as much information as possible.

According to a survey by the platform 15Five, only 15% of employees are “very satisfied” with the quality of communication within their companies. This leaves plenty of room for improvement, and any way to signal that your company values communication will be noticed by truck drivers.

3. Give Feedback on Resumes or Interviews

The traditional method is that a candidate applies, you review their materials, and schedule an interview. Some companies may touch base once or twice, or at times, the candidate only hears back once you’ve made a decision. But most candidates want to hear how they did, whether good or bad. In a LinkedIn survey, 94% of respondents said they want to receive feedback on their interviews.

Employers are afraid of upsetting candidates or gaining a bad reputation such that they avoid giving feedback entirely. However, if done right, you can give candidates extremely beneficial feedback. Talk about both positives and negatives, and you can maintain or even improve your company’s reputation.

Let them know that you were impressed by their materials and experiences. Then, lead with strengths before weaknesses. Inform them about what you liked or which skill or experience made them particularly strong. When addressing weaknesses, take care to phrase it delicately. “I would have loved to have heard more about….”, or “I didn’t get the chance to learn about…..” usually works best, regardless of whether the message is over phone or email.

Candidates might surprise you. Many people will thank you for the feedback, even if they aren’t the best match for the positions. This can boost your company’s reputation among truck drivers, and the good karma may come back to help you with a prospect highly suited for your fleet. Contact your prospects faster to give them feedback on how they did.

4. Start Talking Numbers Early

One final reason to contact truck drivers faster is to start talking about salary and compensation. Usually recruiters may mention numbers only with an offer and expect candidates to accept or negotiate for a higher salary.

If you start mentioning numbers mid-way through the recruiting process it actually has several advantages.

Bringing up the numbers early on signals your interest to your prospects. This makes it less likely that they will accept another offer by someone else. Second, the nature of salary and compensation becomes more transparent. Your prospects have very little idea if your offer is in line with their skills, what salary is typical at the company, and other factors that go into deciding the compensation package.

Most companies think it is in their interest to keep their prospects in the dark. In reality, it may be more beneficial to be transparent. Most candidates aren’t just looking for more money, but they want to know that they are being paid fairly. If your package is the best the company can afford to pay them, your prospects will want to know that.

A PayScale survey found that 82% of employees who were payed lower than industry average but whose employer was open about their salary were satisfied with their jobs.

It even helps to show your math: how did the company reach that figure? Contact truck drivers faster and be open and transparent about pay and benefits early in the game. Doing so will help you gain trust and build a stronger reputation for your company.

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What do truck drivers look for in jobs? What are the most important traits to them? These are the questions that pester recruiters in the back of their minds. Recruiters know that there is a driver shortage, and that truck drivers are looking for the best jobs they can find. If drivers aren’t happy then, they will quickly move on to finding another job with another fleet. We’ve written previously about the top factors truck drivers want. Here are some of the top traits of the best trucking jobs as drivers see them.

1. Salary and Compensation

Have no doubt about it—drivers are looking to be compensated well. Truck drivers are in high demand, and they know it. The salary and benefits of different jobs depend on a number of factors which may sometimes be out of your control. That being said, make sure you do everything you can to ensure that drivers are being paid well for the type of job they are taking on.

Compensating drivers below the industry average will raise red flags and impact your company’s reputation.

In addition to salary, there are many financial incentives you can consider, such as sign-on bonuses and paid time off. Some companies give their drivers a bonus for every year that they stay with the fleet. Make sure that drivers are receiving a simple pay statement that is easy to understand and has the accurate amount. Drivers don’t want to waste time following up with the payroll department for company errors.

2. Home Time

This is one of the most important traits of the best trucking jobs. The ideal trucking job doesn’t take OTR drivers out on the road for more than a week. If the run is local or regional, even better. While drivers realize that OTR jobs are necessary, they will expect their work schedules to reflect the sacrifice in home time. Ideally, there is a considerable amount of home time of several days between jobs.

Don’t forget, the average driver works 8 days straight before taking a break. Anything the company can do to shorten that schedule, or to add more home time after that schedule, will be something drivers will appreciate.

Most drivers will have families hoping to see them every week. Even truck drivers currently without families will crave downtime after being on the road for that long.

3. Mileage

The number of miles offered on a given job is one of the traits of the best trucking jobs. Some drivers may feel that the shorter the run, the more desirable the job. But, that isn’t always the case. Other drivers enjoy OTR jobs, and would rather have a longer job which pays more. It is completely up to driver preferences.

Most importantly, drivers will be upset if the advertised mileage doesn’t match the real mileage.

Similarly, if the other traits of the job are not what they were advertised to be, drivers will not trust your company. Word about company reputation can spread like wildfire.

4. Equipment

Truck drivers are often frustrated when dealing with shoddy equipment. Drivers routinely warn other drivers to stay away from companies just because of the reputation they have over equipment. A big factor in determining what’s a good truck driving job is the state of their trucks and equipment. Are the truck models recent and well maintained? Or are they falling apart?

Truck drivers don’t want to be held liable for maintenance failures on the company’s end. Nor do they want to have to spend time repairing the truck while they should be on the road getting to the next destination.

While your fleet doesn’t need to have the latest and greatest truck models, you should make sure they are well-maintained. Invest in quality equipment and truck drivers will consider jobs from your company to be some of the best.

5. Respect and Communication

Perhaps the biggest sign of a good job for truck drivers is how well they are treated by the company. Drivers view themselves as working professionals just like in any other industry. They are looking to be treated with respect by the company and by their peers and supervisors. Having respect for drivers means valuing their time and effort they put into the work.

Put most simply, drivers just want the company’s representatives to treat them they way they would like to be treated.

A big component of respect is how well the company communicates with drivers. Having an open line of communication where both parties feel their concerns are heard and understood will go a long way toward earning drivers’ trust. Make sure dispatchers and others are not speaking to drivers rudely or taking them for granted.

In addition to some of the monetary factors, things like respect and strong communication from the company are what make for a good truck driving job. Keep these traits in mind that drivers look for, and soon your company will be known for offering some of the best trucking jobs.

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