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trucking dispatcher relationship
The trucking dispatcher and driver relationship is one of the most important relationships to keep a fleet running smoothly. Unfortunately, it’s very easy for dispatcher-driver relationships to become strained. Tension can arise from small problems that escalate as a result of poor communication or different priorities. Some challenges in the trucking industry require large investments of time and money. Fortunately, this isn’t one of them. There are several ways for a trucking dispatcher to improve their relationships with drivers without spending a single dollar.

1. Promote Clear Communication

Communication and miscommunication are at the heart of strained trucking dispatcher and driver relationships. Dispatchers and drivers are doing two entirely different jobs and may not see eye to eye. As a result, clear communication is absolutely essential to bridge that gap. Set clear expectations for drivers and their roles. Dispatchers typically have a higher level vantage point, so they may need to clarify some of their decisions to drivers. 

One of the best things a dispatcher can do is prioritize transparency.

Drivers don’t need a detailed analysis to explain every decision, but they should have a general understanding of why dispatchers are making decisions in a specific way. Transparency at all levels is a great way to build trust. There will inevitably be times that dispatchers must ask drivers to do things they don’t want to. If a driver understands the constraints that dispatchers work with and has a history of respect with the dispatcher, they are much more likely to willingly take on less pleasant loads when necessary.

MNS1 Best Carrier for Driver CommunicationDrive My Way customer MNS1 Express was recently recognized as the Best Carrier for Communication by Chad Hendricks, host of the Recruit and Retain podcast. Chad praised MNS1 Express saying:

“This is the first time I’ve called drivers from any company and had every single one talk about their dispatcher in a positive way.”

Good dispatcher and driver relationships play a huge role in retention, and MNS1 is leading the way.

2. Walk A Mile In Their Shoes

otr truckOne of the best ways to improve dispatcher-driver relationships is by creating more common ground. Most dispatchers have never been CDL drivers, and most drivers have never been dispatchers. Both sides need to have a basic understanding of what the other is doing in their day-to-day life and to get to know each other. If you are a dispatcher and haven’t been a driver in the past, ask to go on a ridealong for a day. You don’t have to get a CDL to get a glimpse of your drivers’ typical workload. Take a few days to see the day-to-day responsibilities of your drivers. 

Beyond understanding their job, get to know your drivers personally. It builds better company culture and makes daily communication much more pleasant. Demonstrate to your drivers that they are more than just a worker. A friendly relationship also goes a long way when challenging situations arise. It also allows communication to go in both directions. If there are things you wish your drivers knew, tell them! A mutual understanding of each other’s work and respect goes a long way toward facilitating open communication and improving the trucking dispatcher relationships with drivers.

3. Don’t Create Impossible Situations

dispatch memeMutual respect and understanding can only go so far. Even in the best relationships, drivers won’t be happy if they are regularly put in impossible situations. An impossible load is one that looks good on paper but has very little room for error or unexpected incidents. Think twice before accepting this kind of load.

The profit is often tantalizing, but if you’re compromising drivers, the cost is too high. Drivers who regularly face impossible loads will quickly become frustrated, and you may start losing drivers

Instead, try to give drivers (and yourself!) a small compliance cushion. That way, when things do go wrong or there are unexpected delays, everyone has a little breathing room. This eases the tension for everyone. Drivers will appreciate not being penalized for things out of their control, and as a dispatcher, you’ll have more happy customers receiving on-time loads.

4. Give and Take Feedback

employee feedbackLike any hard-working employee, truck drivers want to feel respected and appreciated. To help develop a climate of respect, make the trucking dispatcher and driver relationship a partnership. Ask drivers for feedback throughout the year and make sure to implement their suggestions when possible! Drivers will feel good knowing that their input matters, and it’s an important way to build social credit. Then, once you’ve developed a rapport, you can give drivers constructive feedback as well. Mutual respect is the foundation for good feedback and communication.

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

connect drivers

Crafting messages that connect drivers during the time of Coronavirus is a balance of content and delivery. Each time you communicate with your fleet, look for ways to emphasize the value your employees bring. Then, choose the channel that is best suited for the message you are sending. Here are 8 best practices for effectively communicating messages that connect drivers.  

Craft the Message

1. Keep It Positive

Everyone is experiencing the pandemic a little differently, but it’s not easy for anyone. In a June 2020 survey of nearly 250 million American adults, the Household Pulse found a dramatic increase in anxiety, depression, and worry directly correlated to COVID19.  As an employer, you can be confident that at least some of your drivers are among those numbers.

More than ever, this is a time to keep your messaging positive. Recognize quality performance and create opportunities to build c  omradery among your team.

Keep content upbeat and treat drivers with respect. Share company highlights and successes, especially if you can attribute it to the work of your team. Small gestures quickly add up and can make a big impact on drivers.

2. Put People First

National job uncertainty has been a hallmark of 2020. With that in mind, it’s more important than ever to show drivers that you care. Making people a priority is more than a feel-good gesture. In times of economic uncertainty, high driver turnover rates are more costly than ever. Make it a priority to keep drivers that you have and to recruit with retention in mind. To be successful, launch or renew efforts to get driver feedback on what they need. Then, be proactive in implementing changes for their health and wellbeing. 

3. Prioritize Transparency

With information changing so quickly, communicating with transparency requires a delicate balance. The good news is, drivers also know this. Be as accurate as possible, but also honest about the uncertainties you are navigating. Prioritize sharing information with drivers that will affect their jobs or lives. In your communication, be realistic and honest about what your company is and is not able to accommodate. When drivers have questions, listen to understand rather than to respond. Focus on setting appropriate expectations and de-escalating frustration or tension.

4. Be Clear and Consistent

In addition to transparency, consistency is critical during uncertain times. It’s so important that in 2019, Harvard Business Review found that consistency is one of the three key elements of building trust.

In the trucking industry right now, transparency is a way of giving drivers something stable to rely on. Have policies in place for personal protective equipment (PPE), sanitizing resources, and sick days. Unfortunately, no one can control the outcome of this disease or how different economic sectors will respond. That said, veteran and new drivers should know what they can expect from you. Be proactive in communicating measures for their health and safety before it’s an emergency.

Fine Tune Your Message Delivery

5. Give Praise in Public and Private Ways

To connect drivers during Coronavirus, the message delivery is almost as important as the content. To recognize drivers, take a two-fold approach. Be public with praise on social media in addition to internal kudos. Highlight drivers who are doing quality work during this time, and call attention to their hard work! Hero campaigns are a great way to do this. 

Public recognition is most meaningful as a way to connect drivers when it is paired with private or internal recognition as well. Drivers will quickly see through any companies that praise in public and don’t value drivers in private. In addition to external marketing campaigns, take time to reach out to drivers individually. Share your appreciation directly with drivers who are doing good work. Listen for signs of stress and other challenges that drivers are facing. Support drivers in any way you can. Good employees are your most valuable company resource.

6. Sending to One or Many?

There is a lot of information to communicate right now. Within that flood of content, identify dissemination best practices. In short, not every message is for every driver. Some information is best shared with your entire fleet as a bulk message. Other instructions or resources might only be relevant for a subset of individuals or even a single person. Consider carefully who needs to hear which pieces of information before sending anything. 

7. Contact Drivers on Their Terms

Choosing to use the platforms drivers prefer is a form of respect, and it’s good business. Our Drive My Way Driver Happiness and Retention Survey found that 64% of drivers prefer to speak with recruiters by phone with email being the next closest option. Now, other platforms using video calling or other technology may also play a role in training or fleet communication.

64% of drivers prefer to speak with recruiters by phone. Email is the next most popular communication channel.

Choosing to communicate based on drivers’ preferences is a small way to accommodate your drivers and increase job satisfaction. Similarly, reach out to drivers at times that work for them. Attending to details like communication channel and timing turns the driver – manager relationship from a one-way chain of command to a conversation. 

8. Air on the Side of Over-Communicating

hiring truck drivers

Communicating with the mobile, widespread workforce that is truck drivers is no small job. Add to that challenge the flood of information and misinformation that is swirling around Coronavirus. The bottom line? It’s hard to overcommunicate with your fleet right now.

Drivers’ viewpoints are shaped primarily on their day to day experience on the road or hear from other drivers. That may not be the whole picture. Because drivers have often not earned the respect they deserve, some may think they are being singled out unfairly. Take the time to listen to their concerns and empathetically explain any increased regulations and reassure drivers that they are valued as part of your team.

driver happiness and retention survey

FREE SURVEY REPORT

Driver Lifestyle & Job Happiness Survey

We surveyed over 400 CDL truck drivers nationwide to discover what makes them happy in their career and life. Access the survey report to see the results.

Get the Results

truck driver stats

“Know your audience” is one of the key mantras of the business world now, regardless of which industry or market one is in. Truck drivers are the lifeblood of the transportation industry. They literally connect the industry’s different players together through the mobile nature of their workers.

Knowing more about the average truck driver and their work and lifestyle can help employers recruit and retain workers. It will also help them connect and empathize with drivers on a personal level and foster a more positive work environment. A positive relationship between management and drivers feels good, but also leads to more productivity, motivation, and loyalty from drivers. Here are 7 truck driver stats every employer needs to know.

1. There are 3.5 million truck drivers in the US.

Even though this is a very large industry and workforce, there is a considerable driver shortage. Out of these, only about 1.6 million are heavy-duty tractor trailer drivers. To complicate matters, driver turnover is significantly high. Treat your drivers well and remember that the labor is not easily replaceable.

Only about 6% of all truck drivers are women (about 200,000), although this number is on the rise.

This remains a largely untapped market for potential drivers and is a contributor to the driver shortage.

 2. The average truck driver age is 49.

Knowing the demographic and social profile of drivers will help you connect with their interests, values, and lifestyle.

The average truck driver is middle-aged and been through plenty of other jobs and work experience. Treat them with respect like mature professionals, not rookies.

The average driver is also most likely married or has been married in the past. They most likely have children. Family time is an important factor that drivers consider when deciding who to work for.

 3. The average driver workweek is 70 hours in an 8-day period.

This should give some idea of how taxing the driver work schedule is. Seventy hours is much higher than the 44-hour workweek of the average American.

Additionally, the average driver works 8 days before taking a day off. This means an average of eight days without seeing family, unless there are special benefits with companies offer.

Providing a more appealing working schedule package will help differentiate your company from the rest of the crowd.

4. The average number of miles logged by a driver in a single year is 100,000 miles.

This is another staggering example of truck driver stats that you need to know. Miles logged paints a picture of how much time a driver spends on the road in just one year. Being behind the wheel for such a long time has implications for driver lifestyle and health.

Investing in cabin amenities for drivers will go a long way in appealing to their needs in the truck itself.

While not everything can be done behind the wheel, employers can make sure drivers are comfortable with the latest amenities such as ergonomic seating and satellite radio.

5. The average yearly earnings by a driver is $41,000.

This isn’t a very significant number for the tremendous amount of labor put in by truck drivers. There are constant pressures on employers to cut operating costs in the different aspects of the business. Too often, the hit is taken on labor itself. By creating efficiencies in other areas of the business, or cutting costs in other ways, employers can attempt to raise the salary offering for drivers.

Offering better compensation for drivers will significantly attract them to your company more than the competition.

Due to the driver shortage, drivers will have no hesitation going to another company for work if they feel like they are not being compensated as well as they deserve.

6. The projected employment growth for tractor-trailer drivers from 2016-2026 is 6%.

The truck driver stats on job outlook over the next 10 years is comparable to most other occupations. However, it remains to be seen if this will cover the increase in the demand for goods transported over the roads.

It is likely that the driver shortage will remain an industry factor for a considerable period of time.

Basically, the growth in drivers may not be higher than the growth in the number of jobs, so make sure you’re doing all you can to attract and retain drivers.

7. The number of nights away from home for the average driver is 240 nights.

That’s almost 2/3 of the year away from home. Considering the age and demographic profile of truck drivers, most of them likely have a family they’d like to spend time with.

Employers can’t change the intrinsic nature of the job, which is that drivers will be on the road and away from home. They can however, offer benefits packages which address the drivers specific home life and schedule needs.

Many companies now offer extended time-off, flexible work schedules, or even offer to have couples travel on the road together. Getting to know your driver’s schedule needs will help you craft a package tailored to their needs and retain them for longer.

driver happiness and retention survey

FREE SURVEY REPORT

Driver Happiness & Retention Survey

Are drivers happy at work? What makes them happy? Drive My Way surveyed over 400 CDL truck drivers nationwide to discover what makes them happy in their careers and life.

Get the Results

why truck drivers leave

For the last several years, employers across the country are trying to reverse the problem and understand why truck drivers leave CDL trucking jobs. The truck driver shortage has caused employers to constantly reevaluate and improve how they attract, hire, and retain truck drivers. An abundance of effort, time, and money is often spent to find and hire a few drivers. When that driver leaves, the employer wonders if all of that effort was just a waste of time and money. Here’s a list of 3 reasons that truck drivers leave CDL trucking jobs.

1. Pay and Benefits

In the competitive job market, pay and benefits are becoming increasingly important for truck drivers. Companies are finding that they need to go above and beyond from a compensation and benefits perspective, as average simply isn’t cutting it anymore.

In addition to offering higher pay and better benefits, many companies have also tried adding a large sign-on bonus to the offer to attract truck drivers.

However, some of those companies have found that offering a large sign-on bonus might attract truck drivers up front, but then lead to low driver retention down the line.

This is due to the mentality of some truckers staying long enough to collect the bonus, then transitioning to the next company offering the same large check.

We asked our driver community if a good salary or a large sign-on bonus is more important to them when searching for a new job. The results of our poll are below.

2. Empty Promises

Companies are finding that they can no longer over-promise and under-deliver anything as truckers will quickly leave the company and share the details around the empty promise with their network. Drivers want to work for an organization that respects their opinion, values them as an employee, and knows their name instead of just their truck number.

In this job market, drivers demand transparency and honesty. They are sick and tired of being burned from companies in the past.

Employers who are transparent in nature with pay, benefits, job role, home time, etc. often reap the benefits. They may see more sustainable driver retention than those who exaggerate in a job description to get drivers in the door. In addition, if the truck drivers trust the organization, they won’t be shy to share this approval with their network. This builds an organic driver referral program for the organization.

3. Bad Dispatchers

As the saying goes, employees don’t leave the company. Employees leave the people at the company.

If truck drivers find themselves working with a terrible supervisor or dispatcher, it won’t be long until they start looking for a better opportunity.

The dispatcher is the primary representative for the company, and sometimes, a trucker’s only contact. Companies that spend time carefully matching dispatchers and drivers may see increased driver retention. Factor in personality types, leadership styles, etc., and you will oftentimes see better relationships form.

Companies who ask for dispatcher feedback from their drivers will be able to proactively correct or improve situations quickly.

Overall, companies that remember that this is a driver’s market will accel. Focus on putting truckers first and remain transparent with job requirements. Offer competitive pay and benefits to continuously stand out against the competition.

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 shortage

Truck driver shortage increases are continuing to cause pain for companies across the United States. Currently, the shortage of truck drivers throughout the country is up to 48,000. It will likely continue to increase and is estimated to reach 175,000 by 2024.

To deal with this overwhelming truck driver shortage, some companies believe that they simply need to hire more drivers before other companies do. Unfortunately, this is a small band-aid on a much larger issue. Here are two reasons why fixing the truck driver shortage will take much more than just hiring more truck drivers.

1. Drivers and Employers Aren’t on the Same Page

There are not enough drivers to go around. But, there is also not enough time in the day for companies to find qualified drivers for their jobs. Day after day, recruiters face the process of sorting through the weeds to find drivers that meet their requirements. An overwhelming 88% of fleets report that most applicants are simply not a fit for their jobs.

This results in time wasted on both sides. Drivers are frustrated because they can’t find a company that meets their professional qualifications and personal lifestyle preferences. Employers are frustrated that they can’t find drivers that meet their needs.

fix-truck-driver-shortage

To spend less time searching for qualified drivers, employers need to make sure their job descriptions are accurate and optimized for their ideal driver. Exaggerating pay, benefits, or home time only results in retention issues and a damaged company reputation. Consider including driver testimonials, offering a driver referral bonus, or utilizing digital marketing to reach a broader audience. Each of these ideas can help increase the number of potential candidates that match the company’s ideal driver target market.

2. Employers are Focusing on Hiring, Not Retaining

Some employers have figured out how to attract qualified drivers for their jobs, but retaining them is another story. In this market, employers who offer great benefit packages, competitive pay structures, and performance incentives see a better long-term retention rate for drivers than companies who are just average.

However, aside from the pay and benefits, drivers also want to work for companies who treat them with respect, offer challenging and meaningful work, value their efforts, and find a way to get them home with their families more.

In other words, retaining qualified drivers in this market requires companies to consistently and creatively implement ideas to make sure their drivers are happy and engaged with their work.

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

retain truck drivers

It is no surprise that America has been struggling with a truck driver shortage over the past few years. Now more than ever, the ability to retain truck drivers is key. Companies need to reevaluate their recruiting and retention strategies for finding and keeping qualified drivers.

Some companies have tried offering a large sign-on bonus for drivers. Too many are then faced with turnover once the bonus is collected. Other companies have promised drivers home time and great pay, but fall short of delivering these perks.

In order to start attracting, hiring, and retaining qualified truck drivers in this competitive market, employers should apply these tips to their driver recruiting strategy to give themselves a competitive advantage.

1. Value Drivers by Being Honest and Respectful

The last thing a driver wants is a company that over-promises and under-delivers. Before posting a job, companies should take the time to reevaluate the perks of the job. Make sure that pay isn’t inflated, home time is realistic, and benefits are factual.

Truck drivers are looking for a job that meets their qualifications, but they are also looking for a job that meets their lifestyle.

vanveenjf-1125254-unsplash

Drive My Way’s research shows that more drivers are requesting to travel with a pet or spouse. Similarly, drivers are looking for home time, and are placing more value on maintaining their health while driving. Companies who are truthful in their job advertisements will attract the best candidates. Look for drivers who not only meet the qualifications, but are also happy with the lifestyle that the job offers.

When a company promises a driver these perks but then changes the rules a few months into the job, the driver loses interest in keeping that job and also loses respect for the company.

After a driver loses respect for a company, that driver will let his or her entire network of drivers know exactly what happened. That will only increase the difficulty in filling future jobs.

2. Ask Drivers for Their Feedback Before They Post It Themselves

Sometimes it takes a company to post a job advertisement on Facebook to find out from their current drivers that something is unsatisfactory. Maybe their pay is too low, their benefits aren’t desirable, or the company over-promises and under-delivers. Drivers want supervisors to hear their opinions. They are willing to share feedback—the problem is, most companies never ask. Companies that retain truck drivers value input from all divisions of the fleet.

Instead of waiting to receive this feedback on a public social media platform, companies should ask their drivers for feedback directly through an engagement survey, an in-person conversation, or a even a quick poll.

This gives the company an accurate pulse on their drivers’ happiness and satisfaction with their jobs. It is also a great retention method because it proves that the company cares.

After collecting the feedback from drivers, companies should have a plan in place. It’s important to quickly address the feedback and make improvements. Nothing is worse than providing feedback to a company and never seeing anything come from the survey.

3. Offer Referral Bonuses and Performance Incentives

Drivers are looking for more than just a lofty sign-on bonus. To retain truck drivers, offer opportunities to be involved with a community. Acknowledge drivers for their accomplishments (no matter the size), and give areas for growth. Drivers with these opportunities, they are more willing to refer a friend to a job opening at their company. They will also be more engaged with their work.

Instead of constantly investing in replacing drivers, companies should implement referral bonus programs or performance incentives to retain their current, already-qualified drivers.

However, don’t let your referral bonus or performance incentive program fall into the “large sign-on bonus trap.” Focus on incentives that are linked to retention instead of incentivizing quick turnover.

When implementing a referral bonus program, give the money out after the referred driver is with the company for a specific time. Doing so protects companies from granting it immediately after a new driver starts, but having the driver quickly leave. In addition, performance incentives should reward drivers for maintaining good safety measures, fuel efficiency, and time management skills over an extended period of time. These not only help drivers stay focused on the company’s goals, but also reward them for living out the mission.

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