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why truck drivers leave

Carriers across the country are dealing with high turnover for CDL drivers. While the problem isn’t as severe as some news outlets would have you believe, truck drivers are leaving jobs (or the industry altogether) at a higher-than-average rate.  

Carriers are spending effort, time, and money to attract drivers who may only stay with their carrier for a few months. For many of these carriers, the most frustrating part is not knowing why these drivers are leaving positions so quickly. Here are 3 of the biggest reasons that truck drivers are leaving CDL jobs.  

1. Pay and Benefits

It’s no surprise that pay and benefits are the biggest reason that truck drivers leave one position for another. Carriers are finding that they need to go above and beyond from a compensation and benefits perspective, as offering the industry average simply isn’t cutting it anymore. 

In addition to offering higher pay and better benefits, many carriers have also tried adding a large sign-on bonus to the offer to attract truck drivers. However, many of these carriers have found that offering a large sign-on bonus might attract truck drivers up front, but 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. 

The best thing that carriers who are serious about driver retention can do is offer compensation above industry averages for their geographic area, and couple that with a generous benefits package that includes medical, dental, vision, and even life insurance. These long-term benefits are what make many drivers stay at a carrier for a long time.  

2. Empty Promises

Carriers who over-promise and under-deliver are finding that that model for attracting drivers is no longer solid. Truck drivers have more options than ever before when it comes to which carrier they can drive for, so being honest and transparent are the best things carriers can do during the interview and hiring process if they want to recruit top talent.  

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 can lead to an increase in driver referrals and a positive company culture that drivers will flock to.

3. Bad Dispatchers

As the saying goes, employees don’t leave the company. Employees leave the people at the company. If a truck driver finds themselves working with a dispatcher they truly dislike, it won’t be long before they start looking for a different opportunity. 

Why do drivers care so much about their dispatchers? 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. Instead of randomly assigning drivers to dispatchers, factor in personality types, leadership styles, etc., and you will oftentimes see better relationships form and higher driver retention rates as a result.  

Another tip is to not wait for issues to arise, but instead be proactive and squash them before they happen. Carriers can do this by regularly collecting feedback from drivers about their dispatchers. You may find that multiple drivers have the same complaint about a certain dispatcher, which can help you to address the issue before drivers start leaving. 

Overall, the key to avoiding drivers from leaving your carrier is to remember that this is a driver’s market.  Focus on putting truckers first and remain transparent with job requirements. Offer competitive pay and benefits to continuously stand out against the competition. 

Comprehensive CDL Recruitment Solutions

Ready to start recruiting the right drivers? Our solutions experts are happy to answer any questions and show you how Drive My Way uniquely approaches CDL driver recruitment.

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calculate cost per mile

Calculating cost per mile (CPM) is one of the most common ways that carriers evaluate the financial success of their fleets. Calculating and tracking CPM consistently can give a carrier better insight into their overall costs and how to run their fleet more efficiently. Here’s how to calculate CPM and use it to better your fleet.  

What is Cost Per Mile?

semi truck in the desert

CPM is a simple metric that’s used to show how much each mile on the road is costing your carrier. An optimized fleet will attempt to maximize their CPM and reevaluate this number regularly so that they can continuously find ways to lower it.  

Why Calculate Cost Per Mile?

Calculating and tracking CPM allows a carrier to see how efficiently its fleet is performing. CPM can also be used to inform the rate that you charge shippers. Profitable carriers have load rates that are (on average) higher than their CPM. Being confident in CPM allows carriers to better identify and reduce unnecessary costs while optimizing spending. 

How do you Calculate CPM?

truck lot

Fleets can calculate CPM by dividing their operating costs by the miles their trucks drive. To begin calculating this, you’ll need to first itemize your operating costs and evaluate your current truck mileage. 

Operating costs include any cost associated with running your company. The three main operating costs are fixed costs, variable costs, and salaries. Because some of these costs will change frequently, your CPM will fluctuate. This is why reassessing CPM regularly is key. Tracking it monthly or quarterly is a good place to start. 

Fixed Costs 

As the name suggests, fixed costs are the consistent expenses that more or less stay the same month after month. You will incur these costs regardless of whether your trucks are running miles or sitting on a lot. Permits, insurance, and property lease payments are a few examples of common fixed costs. 

Variable Costs 

Variable costs will fluctuate over time, sometimes minimally, sometimes dramatically. Unlike fixed costs, variable costs are closely tied to how much you run your trucks. Diesel fuel, maintenance, food, and lodging are all variable costs. The more you run your trucks, the higher these costs will be, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. 

Driver Pay 

In many ways, driver pay is a variable cost, but it deserves its own separate category because it has such a large impact on CPM. Typically, driver pay is one of the biggest recurring costs. Like other variable costs, the more miles that trucks run, the more the variable cost increases. 

Becoming More Profitable

happy truck driver

Once you’ve calculated your fleet’s CPM, you’ll probably be looking for ways to lower it. You can do that by either reducing your operating costs or increasing your fleet’s profitability.  

Reduce Operating Costs 

Calculating your CPM may have highlighted areas where operational costs could be cut. While cutting costs is usually thought of as a positive, think carefully before you decide whether and where to cut your budget. 

Some decisions, such as decreasing driver salaries, may seem appealing because it can dramatically reduce your CPM. However, the long-term effects are likely to make things worse. A decision like this could lead to higher turnover, increased recruitment costs, and a poor company reputation. 

Increase Gross Income 

The other way to grow your company’s profitability is to increase income. Raising load rates is one way to do this. A higher load rate will mean better returns on your loads.  

Another option is to run more miles. In this case, fixed costs stay the same, and variable costs are proportionally reduced. As a result, the CPM rate drops. 

Understanding your carrier’s CPM will make financial decisions related to your fleet much easier to make. To be a top trucking company, analyze your CPM rate regularly to effectively respond to industry or fleet-based changes. 

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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Now more than ever, the ability for carriers to retain truck drivers is key. As the labor market continues to tighten, companies need to reevaluate their recruiting and retention strategies for finding and keeping qualified drivers. 

Some carriers have tried offering large sign-on bonuses as a fix-all for recruiting and retaining 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. Don’t Over-Promise and Under-Deliver

The last thing a driver wants is a carrier that over-promises and under-delivers. Before posting a job, carriers should take the time to look at the job description they’re putting out there and if it matches what the job really is. Make sure that pay isn’t inflated, home time is realistic, and benefits are factual. 

As a recruiter, it’s easy to think that you need to cast the widest net possible to get a good driver. But many times, this strategy leaves you with either no driver or a driver who isn’t a good fit and will lead to increased turnover. Carriers who are truthful in their job advertisements will attract the best candidates. 

When a carrier promises a driver certain perks only to change the rules a few months into the job, the driver loses interest in keeping that job and loses respect for the carrier. After that happens, that driver will let their entire network know exactly what happened. That will only increase the difficulty in filling future jobs.  

The better policy is to be truthful in your job description and during your talks with drivers. Even if a driver tells you, “Thank you, but I’m looking for something different”, that outcome is much better than a driver coming on board, finding out they were misled, leaving and spreading the word about their experience.  

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

Sometimes it takes a carrier posting a job advertisement on Facebook for them to find out that their current drivers are unsatisfied. Maybe their pay is too low, their benefits aren’t desirable, or the carrier over-promises and under-delivers.  

Most times, posting their opinions on the internet isn’t a driver’s first choice. They want to have an outlet to tell their supervisors their feelings (anonymously or not), but many carriers don’t offer this. When that’s the case, a disgruntled driver may look to a social media platform or company review site to share their feedback. 

Instead of waiting to receive public and most likely unflattering feedback on a public social media platform, carriers should ask their drivers for feedback directly through engagement surveys, in-person conversations, or even a quick poll. 

This gives the carrier an accurate pulse on their drivers’ happiness and satisfaction, while keeping everything in-house. It’s also a great retention method because it shows drivers that the carrier cares. 

But collecting the feedback is only step one. It’s important to quickly address the feedback and make improvements when needed. Nothing is worse to a driver than when they provide feedback they were asked for and nothing comes from it. If that happens, there’s a good chance they’ll end up going to social media just like they would have in the first place.  

3. Offer Referral Bonuses and Performance Incentives

Instead of constantly investing in lofty sign-on bonuses to attract new drivers, carriers should implement referral bonus programs and performance-based incentives to retain their current, already-qualified drivers. These programs give drivers the opportunity to be acknowledged for their accomplishments and incentive to help grow the fleet.  

When implementing a referral bonus program, it’s a good idea to disperse the money in installments after the referred driver has been with the carrier for a specific period. Give the first chunk immediately, then the next half when the new driver reaches three or six months. Doing so protects the carrier from having a driver quickly leave after the money is given out. 

In addition, performance incentives should be used to 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 carrier’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.

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Trucking recruiter Skills to master

As a trucking recruiter, you’re all too familiar with the challenges of hiring owner operators and company drivers: ghosting, high turnover rates, and an ever-changing recruitment landscape are just some of your daily obstacles.  

Since you are the first face of your company to interact with drivers, it’s critical to be prepared with the skills that will turn your list of driver candidates into hires. Here are the top 5 skills that every trucking recruiter should master. 

1. Be Strategically Proactive

It’s a driver’s market. If you want to be a trucking recruiter who successfully reaches quality drivers, it’s on you to be proactive. That said, being proactive should be a strategic plan and not just aggressive outreach.  

Consider the times and channels that are most likely to be productive for the drivers you seek. Recruiting for local or regional routes? Try calling in the evening to avoid busy loading and unloading schedules.  

Seeking OTR drivers? Make sure there’s a mobile-friendly website for drivers who are looking for jobs while on a driving break. Once you’ve optimized your strategy, continually reach out through multiple channels to engage new leads and reconnect with old leads.

2. Know Your Audience

This might seem obvious, especially to an experienced truck driver recruiter, but it couldn’t be more important. The Commercial Carrier Journal found that the overwhelming majority of surveyed drivers cited inadequate pay as a reason fleets are struggling to find drivers. That’s likely not a surprise. Perhaps more striking is that lack of respect and lack of home time are responses two and three for the same question. 

If you want to increase the number of quality drivers you hire, you need to know their priorities and address their concerns. 

Identify the benefits that are most important to your candidates, and offer those perks whenever possible. Be straightforward about what drivers can expect on the job. Many will find your honesty refreshing and a compelling reason to join your company.

3. Take Advantage of Technology

Gone are the days where a clean, mobile-friendly user interface was a nice, extra touch used by only the most tech-savvy trucking recruiters. According to the 2019 Overdrive Connectivity Report produced by Randall-Reilly, 74% of owner operators use a smartphone to access the internet. Over half of those same drivers use a phone more than any other device to access the internet. 

As for company drivers, 77% use smartphones to access the internet. 65% of company drivers use their smartphones to access the internet more than any other device. With this in mind, don’t just make your recruiting mobile-friendly. Optimize your process with the assumption that most drivers will be recruited first, and possibly exclusively, on a smartphone.

4. Prioritize Your Workload

Coming into a new year or quarter, it is tempting to take on a heavy load, but don’t get caught in the frenzy. Your hours are limited. Take the time to prioritize your leads based on urgency and fit early on to increase your overall productivity. 

Evaluate which candidates are most likely to fit your positions. Are they qualified? Which drivers are really a good match for you? Is your company really a good match for them? Speak with each driver and understand their priorities. Then, be candid if they’re not a good fit.  

Remember, hiring a bad match increases turnover and leaves a bad impression on drivers. Since time is critical, engage your strongest leads first. You’ll be glad you took time to slow down at the beginning so that you can efficiently recruit the drivers best suited for your fleet.

5. Build Relationships, not Just a Sales Funnel

As a trucking recruiter, you may feel like building relationships isn’t the best use of your time, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Even when time is of the essence, you can’t afford not to get to know your potential drivers. 

Taking the time to build relationships and treat drivers like people, not leads, might reveal key information that will improve positional fit. Unsurprisingly, finding a better fit ultimately leads to improved driver retention.  

Most recruiters know that drivers need to have the baseline qualifications for particular jobs, but it goes beyond just having the right certifications and x years of experience. As we know, experienced drivers have the opportunity to choose jobs that meet their lifestyle and goals. Identify what those are and find ways to meet them.  

Drivers who are satisfied with their time at home, model of truck, and who feel they can meet their goals with your company will perform better and stay longer. If you want to increase your carrier’s retention rates, taking the time to build relationships with potential drivers is time you can’t afford not to spend.

Comprehensive CDL Recruitment Solutions

Ready to start recruiting the right drivers? Our solutions experts are happy to answer any questions and show you how Drive My Way uniquely approaches CDL driver recruitment.

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For the better part of ten years, the trucking industry has been faced with what’s commonly been called a “truck driver shortage”. The thought is that there’s simply not enough drivers to fill the open positions that trucking companies have.  

Only recently have people started to challenge that narrative and ask themselves, “Is the issue a true shortage of truck drivers, or is it an issue of retaining truck drivers?” 

How did the “truck driver shortage” start?

There are differing accounts of when this issue started, but most agree that the deregulation of the trucking industry in the 1980’s kickstarted what we know as the “truck driver shortage”. Among many other things, less government involvement in the industry meant that carriers could pay drivers less and afford them less benefits.  

This helped to create the conditions that the industry finds itself in today. Fast forward to today, and due to a variety of factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s a huge demand for moving freight and subsequently a huge demand for truck drivers.  

Couple that with fewer drivers on the road due to tight insurance requirements and suspensions from the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse, and the drivers who are left have the upper hand in which company they’ll drive for. Many carriers have already found out that truck drivers aren’t in a position where they have to accept poor working conditions, low pay, and subpar benefits anymore.  

This tight labor market isn’t just an issue known by people in the transportation industry anymore. It’s been making headlines for the better part of two years. Time Magazine, CBS News, the NY Times and more have covered the issue. Late night host, John Oliver even did a 24-minute segment on the “truck driver shortage” in early 2022.


Do truck drivers not want to work anymore?

A common misconception is that truck drivers, like a lot of other workers in our country, don’t want to work anymore and are exiting the industry. The fact is that there are many drivers who do want to work. They just have more options for where they can work and won’t hesitate to make a move if they find a carrier that’s offering better pay, a better work environment, and better home time

This leads to the metric we hear about all the time; driver turnover. Many people talk about it, but there’s a common misconception as to what it actually measures. The American Trucking Association, (ATA) who calculates the metric, clarified the issue in a recent blog post. 

“Turnover is not an indicator of people exiting the industry (we know, because ATA created and tabulated the metric). Rather, it more accurately measures drivers moving between carriers. It captures churn within the industry—not attrition from the industry. While retirements and exits account for a small percentage of turnover, by-in-large that is not what this figure is counting.”

In the trucking industry, turnover (as calculated by the ATA) measures drivers leaving one carrier for another, not drivers leaving the industry all together. 

This means that while there are drivers exiting the industry, it’s not happening at the rate that we’re led to believe. Instead, drivers are switching from one carrier to another for better pay, benefits, and routes. It’s not that there’s a shortage of truck drivers, it’s that drivers are in control of where they can sell their labor to.  

How will the “truck driver shortage” be resolved?

Since the problem isn’t a shortage of drivers, but a problem of retaining drivers, the solution is simple; make working conditions better for truck drivers. If you look at any data around truck driver happiness, you’ll see that there’s a laundry list of issues that frustrate drivers.  

Long wait times at shippers/receivers, lack of parking, little home time, and no input on company/driver policies are just a few of the issues that are causing drivers to look elsewhere for employment opportunities. 

It’s not surprising that the carriers that have an answer to these problems are also the ones with the highest driver retention rates.  

What can recruiters do?

Recruiters should focus on what they can control. This includes knowing your positions inside and out, making sure the driver’s first impression of your carrier is a positive one, and being communicative with candidates from start to finish. 

Another great practice for recruiters and HR professionals is to conduct exit or stay interviews with your drivers. This will give you extremely useful information as to why drivers are leaving your carrier, or why they’re choosing to stay.

While recruiters and HR professionals aren’t usually the ultimate decision-makers for things like pay, benefits, and work perks, that doesn’t mean they can’t influence those decision-makers.  

Do some research on what competitors in the area offer drivers in terms of pay, benefits, and home time. If your carrier doesn’t match up to them, make it a point to try and talk to management about making some changes.

The Bottom Line

Referring to the problem that the trucking industry is facing as a shortage of truck drivers shifts the blame off of carriers and onto truck drivers. Instead of focusing on improving the conditions that drivers are faced with, (low pay, sparse home time, demanding deadlines) calling it a shortage simply writes off the issue as “truck drivers are too picky and don’t want to work.” 

As more and more carriers begin to see that investing in their drivers’ happiness is the way to increase retention, the industry should begin to see those turnover numbers drop.  

Comprehensive CDL Recruitment Solutions

Ready to start recruiting the right drivers? Our solutions experts are happy to answer any questions and show you how Drive My Way uniquely approaches CDL driver recruitment.

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work anniversaryAs truck driver retention continues to be an issue across the industry, companies should take every opportunity to show their drivers that they’re appreciated for the work they do day in and day out. One of the best ways to show your carrier’s appreciation is to take time to celebrate a driver’s work anniversary.  

A lot of work anniversary ideas on the internet rely on things you can do in an office setting. Since this doesn’t apply to truck drivers, here are 5 things your team can do to celebrate truck driver work anniversaries. 

1. Cash Bonuses

There’s no substitute for cash. Rewarding drivers who’ve stayed on with your carrier with a monetary bonus is a tried-and-true way to show your carrier’s appreciation and increase the likelihood of them staying on to celebrate another work anniversary next year. 

2. Gift Card

Aside from cash, gift cards are another great option. You could go with something universal that would work for almost anyone, like an Amazon or Target gift card, or you could go for something a little more personalized.  

If you happen to know that a driver is a huge fan of the outdoors, get them a Cabella’s or REI gift card instead. This signals to the driver that your carrier knows who they are as a person, and not just a number. 

3. Gifts

Gift cards and cash are great, but to certain drivers, there’s a chance they’ll come across as a little impersonal. Instead, think about a gift that would make your driver’s life easier on the road. A nice pair of UV blocking sunglasses, a high-end insulated tumbler, or a subscription to a streaming service like Spotify or Audible are all great gifts.  

Another option for gift giving is to go with something personalized. A custom piece of company swag with the driver’s name on it can signal a sense of belonging as part of the team.  

4. Time off

It’s hard to overstate the value of an unexpected day off. Rewarding loyal drivers with a surprise extra day of vacation or PTO can be the best way to celebrate, especially if you know the driver has a family/children they can enjoy their time off with.

5. Award

When you’re celebrating a driver who’s been with your carrier for 5, 10, 15 or more years, consider getting them a trophy or plaque to commemorate the milestone. These types of gifts can be used for any driver, but to keep their status, it’s a good idea to only give them out to drivers who have been with your company for a long time.  

There’s no rule that says that you have to do a plaque or basic trophy either. As with other gifts, take the driver’s personality into the equation. For example, if you’re celebrating a driver who’s a big UFC or wrestling fan, consider getting them a custom championship belt instead.

If you plan on going this route, make sure to supplement it with another gift, like cash or a gift card. Awards are nice and all, but drivers will also want something they can get some use out of as well.  

The key to celebrating your drivers’ work anniversaries is to not go at it with a one size fit all approach. Just like you wouldn’t give the same gift to everyone on your Christmas shopping list, you shouldn’t do the same with the drivers in your fleet.

Comprehensive CDL Recruitment Solutions

Ready to start recruiting the right drivers? Our solutions experts are happy to answer any questions and show you how Drive My Way uniquely approaches CDL driver recruitment.

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slip seating

The philosophy in the trucking industry for regional and OTR was always “one driver, one truck.” As with many things in the industry, recent regulatory and economic changes have made that norm less practical for many companies.  

Equipment efficiencies and financial incentives are pushing some companies to implement slip seating. There is, understandably, some driver resistance to this new way of doing things. This is why it’s important to understand the pros and cons so you can evaluate whether it’s right for your company.  

What Is Slip Seating?

Slip seating is when multiple drivers share a truck. Drivers don’t have a single cab that they are solely responsible for or that is reserved for their use. 

In the trucking industry, slip seating has not historically been the norm, especially for regional and OTR drivers. While there are good financial reasons for employers to use it, slip seating often comes at the expense of employee satisfaction.  

Pros

Better Equipment Utilization 

As a recruiter or fleet manager, you have a responsibility for the overall financial health of your company. From that perspective, slip seating often makes good economic sense.  

First and foremost, it allows for greater equipment utilization because you can drastically reduce the amount of time that a truck will sit empty in the yard while its designated driver is not on shift. Slip seating allows a company to make more runs in the same amount of time without buying more equipment.  

Tax Incentives 

In addition to time efficiencies, there are tax incentives to using slip seating as well. You can take advantage of these incentives if you account for the depreciation of trucks as an asset. According to Duff Swain, president of the consulting firm Trincon Group LLC in a FleetOwner article, trucks can be depreciated over a 3 year period.

The best way to maximize profits while minimizing expenses and taxes is to drive at least 700,000 miles per truck in three years. Realistically, 700,000 miles over three years is not feasible for a single driver. So, to reach optimal mileage, slip seating is a must. 

Cons

Driver Dissatisfaction 

Perhaps the biggest downside is that many drivers don’t like it. It might be easy to dismiss driver concerns under the pretense that they will soon adapt to new policies. However, think twice before making your decision. 

Driver complaints are legitimate and could affect not only company morale and reputation, but also, the company’s bottom line. Driver happiness is a huge driver of retention. 

Why are drivers so against it? Drivers who are a part of a company that utilizes slip seating cite messy cabs, the inefficient use of time required to move belongings to and from different cabs, and less well-maintained equipment as their top concerns. In these cases, since no driver views the truck as their own, they may be less likely to treat it with the care and cleanliness they would if a truck was their own.

Maintenance & Health 

In addition to driver concerns, employers should consider that slip seating increases the number of miles driven on each truck. As a result, routine maintenance or repairs may come up more frequently.  

Health concerns should also be a top consideration, especially in light of Covid-19. Multiple drivers using the same enclosed space in rapid succession means that disinfecting and other health safety protocols should be a high priority before each driver change.  

The Bottom Line

There are clear benefits and drawbacks to implementing slip seating in your fleet. Ultimately, it’s a company decision. Also keep in mind that this decision doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Some companies may find it advantageous to use slip seating for some trucks, but not for their entire fleet.  

Just keep in mind that it’s very likely that if you implement slip seating, any increased financial gains will be offset by increased driver dissatisfaction. If you still find it viable to go with slip seating, the next question you should ask is “Where can I make that satisfaction up?” 

Providing monetary bonuses, implementing recognition/incentive programs, and providing career-building opportunities are just a few ways that companies who use slip seating are still able to have high driver satisfaction. Ultimately, most people are willing to put up with working arrangements that aren’t ideal if they like their job and the people they work for. 

Comprehensive CDL Recruitment Solutions

Ready to start recruiting the right drivers? Our solutions experts are happy to answer any questions and show you how Drive My Way uniquely approaches CDL driver recruitment.

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Everyone wants to feel appreciated while at work, and truck drivers are no different. This is why having driver incentive and appreciation programs are so important for carriers looking to recruit and retain top talent.

Here are some of the best types of truck driver incentive programs, the best practices for putting them in place, and an interview with representatives from an industry leader in driver recognition and incentives, Paper Transport.

What Are the Best Types of Incentives?

When putting together driver incentive programs, there are a few things to keep in mind. Think about what is a perceived benefit to your drivers, and what your overall company goals are. Striking a good balance between the two is where the best incentive programs will be created.

Are you falling short with on-time deliveries? Are your fuel efficiency metrics not being met? Is turnover too high? These are great places to start designing incentives to encourage change. Here are the three key types of driver incentive programs.

Additional Compensation

This is usually the go-to for any driver incentive program. Reward your drivers with cash if they achieve a stated goal within a certain time frame. That can be either a raise in their hourly rate, or an additional check that goes on-top of their normal take home pay. Cash rewards are fairly standard, and you can use them at any time, even as part of the hiring process to encourage drivers to stay with the company.

Recognition Rewards

Giving drivers something other than a financial incentive can sometimes be the greater influence on positive behavior. A certificate, their name on a plaque somewhere prominent, or even a mention in a company newsletter to acknowledge their accomplishment could be more impactful than money could ever be. This type of reward is something they’ll have forever, and the memory and sense of appreciation that go along with it might last far longer than the bonus ever would.

Catalog Programs

Some companies choose to have achieving small milestones accumulate points over time. Drivers can then redeem these point for items in a catalog. These types of programs can help change behavior consistently over time since drivers might be working towards a new gadget that they’d love to have. Or even better, something that they know that their spouse would really love as a gift.

Incentive Programs Implementation

Measure consistently

You should be able to easily measure any progress toward driver goals objectively. Be sure that the rules in place for your programs are clear as to how results are tallied, and by when. When the time frame for achieving them has passed, everyone should be able to see where they landed in relation to the goals.

Be fair

Fairness should be built into any employee program. Otherwise drivers will become disinterested in the program and stop applying themselves towards it. Of course, nobody is trying to be unfair with their incentive programs, but problems with fairness could arise that you would never think about.

For example, say your carrier has an incentive program where drivers who go X miles without an accident get some sort of financial reward. While a good idea in theory, it could be seen as unfair if your carrier has drivers doing different types of runs. This goal would be much easier for local drivers who spend most of their time in suburban areas than it is for OTR or regional drivers who mostly drive on congested highways.

The solution for a program like this would be to have a tiered or scaled approach for the incentive depending on the variety of the runs and types of drivers you have. There’s always a way to be different and still keep things fair. This is the best way to avoid disengagement with your programs. It also ensures that each driver feels a sense of belonging to the overall company goals.

An Interview with Amber Long and Cate Whitman

Cate Whitman, Marketing and Communications Manager, Paper Transport

We were able to speak with Amber Long, Recruiting Operations Manager and Cate Whitman, Marketing and Communications Manager with Drive My Way client, Paper Transport. For years, Paper Transport has been an industry leader in terms of driver happiness and incentive programs.

Amber and Cate spoke to us about the different truck driver incentive programs they have, which have been the most successful, and their new “Accelerate” driver finishing program.

What incentives does Paper Transport offer to drivers?

“We offer several incentive bonuses to our drivers including PSP inspection, referral, monthly MPG, and CSA bonuses, as well as “Driver of the Month/Quarter” bonuses that are based on our driver scorecards. Using the scorecards, drivers can see where they rank monthly in metrics like safety, performance, and productivity.

Aside from those traditional “bonus” incentive programs, we also offer our drivers a wellness program with an onsite nurse practitioner. The nurse comes in to do check-ins and follow-ups with drivers about any medical or health concerns they may have. This is a program that was started during covid, and we’re planning to keep around. It’s just one more way that we try to provide support for our drivers.”

Amber Long, Recruiting Operations Manager, Paper Transport

Out of all the incentives you offer, which do you think resonates with drivers the most?

“The “Driver of the Month/Quarter” is the most motivating. In addition to receiving a cash bonus, like they would with our other incentives, these drivers receive an engraved crystal truck trophy, and the director of Paper Transport has been known to send steaks to their homes.”

When it comes to having successful incentive programs, what do you think the key is?

“One thing we always try and do is look for ways to improve our truck driver incentive programs and make our drivers happier. The “Driver of the Month/Quarter” award is one program we’ve improved on since it first started.

Originally, we only gave out a small number of these awards to the drivers who ranked at the very top. This was fine at first, but as Paper Transport grew, we realized this now meant that we weren’t featuring an appropriate number of drivers relative to how big our fleet was becoming.

We decided to give out a greater number of these awards so we could recognize even more drivers. This gives them more incentive to have a good scorecard since the awards are much more attainable now.”

Aside from traditional incentive programs, is there anything else Paper Transport does to make drivers happy?

“One thing we always try to do is make our drivers feel welcome at our corporate offices. That’s why we have our offices open to all Paper Transport drivers in case they ever want to drop by and meet their managers or anyone else within the company. We also have an in-office gym and showers for the drivers as well.

Aside from that, we have a finishing program for new drivers called the Accelerate Class A CDL Training Program.”

What is the Accelerate program?

“The Accelerate Program is Paper Transport’s finishing school. This is for drivers who have completed CDL training and hold their CDL A but have little to no actual experience behind the wheel.

The program is a 3-weeks long, with a one-week in-class orientation and two weeks on the road, one-on-one with a driver trainer. The training is completely paid for, and while the drivers are in orientation, they get a private hotel and their own rental car. For drivers and trainees of opposite genders, the trainee will have their own private hotel during on-the-road training.

We started this program to make our new drivers more comfortable and confident while on the road. Some carriers throw new drivers out there without the support or one on one treatment these new drivers need, and that’s not what we wanted to do.

The biggest benefits to our drivers with this program is the one-on-one time with a trainer and the guaranteed pay after they complete the program.”

Who trains these new drivers in the accelerate program?

“We recruit drivers from our own fleet. Interested drivers apply for the driver trainer position and go through the normal interview process.

If they have a good attitude and no issues on their MVR, we’ll bring them into the “Train the Trainer” program where they learn how to mentor and educate the drivers who will be coming through the Accelerate program.

Once they pass that, they’re ready to be driver trainers. As an extra incentive, these drivers receive an additional $100 per day on top of what they would be making on the road.”

 

Truck driver incentive programs are one of the top ways to help drivers feel recognized while helping carriers meet their goals. The types of incentives you can implement are varied and can take some time to get them just right for your fleet. When you’re ready to put an incentive program in place, follow these guidelines and you’ll see success in no time.

truck driver incentive program checklist

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lease purchase trucking company

Recruiters work hard to find the best candidates for their open jobs. Using all available resources, they need to need to differentiate their job postings from others that might be very similar. So it’s important to find out what your potential drivers are looking for in a new job and what can help your company stand out from the others.

In some cases, it takes more than just switching up your recruiting tactics. Sometimes it means adding a new lane to your business strategy. This new lane could be becoming a lease purchase company.

The Basics

trucking endorsementsMany CDL drivers are looking to advance their careers by owning their own trucks. However, this is a big step and requires a significant financial investment up-front. While some drivers are fine with buying their truck the traditional way, others may be looking for a more financially-friendly way to purchase a truck. This is where lease purchase agreements come in.

A lease purchase agreement is a legal arrangement between a driver and a carrier, where the driver leases a truck from the carrier for a set amount of time while driving for the carrier and making payments on the truck. Once the payments are made, the agreement is met and the driver fully owns the truck.

Lease purchase agreements can be a great solution for both drivers who are looking for a cheaper way to own their own truck and carriers looking to bring quality drivers on board. Drivers interested in lease purchase options are usually more experienced and serious about trucking as a long-term career. Two things that every recruiter loves to see in a driver.

If your carrier owns a number of trucks and is willing to get into the business of selling them through lease payments to drivers, this model might work for you. And if so, this is where you start setting up your strategy to enter this new aspect of your business.

This type of arrangement can bring in new leads for your recruiting efforts, as many drivers are interested in becoming an owner operator someday. But it also adds a level of complexity to your business. It’s essentially having a small business within a business, as the drivers are seeking to become their own company with their own vehicle.

Rules and Regulations

Becoming a lease purchase company requires a carrier to follow a set of federal guidelines that spell out all of the considerations of leasing. These rules inform all aspects of the leasing agreements. When drawing up all the various policies, paperwork, and contracts needed to lease trucks to your drivers, it’s important to understand the regulations that come with these transactions.

Transparency

As mentioned earlier, becoming a lease purchase carrier a great way to differentiate yourself from the competition. And unfortunately, it’s also an opportunity for carriers to put out deceptive marketing messages—ones that might make it seem like it’s an easy way for a driver to own their own truck with little work on their end.

The federal truth in leasing regulations have been put in place to stop that and protect both drivers and carriers entering into a lease agreement. These laws ensure transparency on all aspects of the lease.

Be sure to be clear and forthcoming about every aspect of the lease purchase agreement with drivers. That includes the terms, the payment schedules and all of the specific details of the lease. This will help you avoid any confusion later, or worse, lawsuits.

Risk

Like with anything, there is a level of risk associated with becoming a lease purchase trucking company. There’s always the hope that everything goes right, but sometimes they won’t.

All of the terms of the agreement can be as specific as possible, and everyone can enter into the agreement hoping things run smoothly. But, that’s unfortunately not always the case.

The driver might not be able to keep up with the payments, and then the carrier is put in a position of needing to reclaim the truck. Additionally, the driver might unfortunately have an accident with the truck while it’s still under lease and not fully owned.

This has legal implications on the lease company as well, if the driver can’t cover the costs to repair. Additionally, the carrier will need to ensure that the proper insurance and maintenance is being done on the truck throughout the lease period.

Do Your Homework

Knowing what your potential drivers are looking for, helps you develop the best set of tools to recruit the best candidates. As your company grows and expands your recruitment efforts, consider looking into becoming a lease purchase trucking company.

While not right for all carriers out there, this model can bring new leads to your hiring office, and new revenue streams to benefit your bottom line. But it’s also a complex business, with a decent amount of risk involved. As with most things, it’s good to do your homework to make sure you make the right decision.

lease purchase driver job description

Lease Purchase Driver Job Description Template

Is your job description written for the lease purchase driver? Making sure to lead with information that lease purchase drivers are specifically looking for is extremely important.

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driver feedbackThe trucking industry is years into the “Driver Shortage”, and carriers are still having a difficult time hiring and retaining top talent. Drivers now have a lot of options for which carrier they work for, and they’re choosing to work for ones that have a proven track record of listening to their drivers.  

That’s why in today’s labor marketplace, any carrier that wants to recruit and retain top talent needs to collect and utilize driver feedback. But how do you collect drive feedback? What are the benefits to collecting it? And, once you do have it, how do you utilize it for your business? 

Why Should You Use Driver Feedback?

Driver feedback can help carriers solve the two biggest problems facing trucking right now: recruiting and retention. 

Nobody enjoys working somewhere where they have no input in what goes on; especially truck drivers. This type of environment can lead drivers to become actively disengaged and eventually start looking for another job. 

On the flip side, when drivers feel their voices are being heard, they’re more likely to stay. In Drive My Way’s Happiness and Retention survey, we found that a strong company culture where drivers feel valued is the second leading reason that drivers are attracted to working for certain carriers.  

We talked with Bryce Kjellander, Recruiter with Stevens Trucking about why collecting driver feedback is important to them.  

We collect feedback from our drivers because they’re at the front lines and can be a huge asset when it comes to staying on top of maintenance issues. One of the main ways we communicate is by having an open-door policy with our drivers. This includes everyone at the company from the top down. Secondly, as a company we use an anonymous software service that allows drivers  to give input to the owners and upper management. We’ve been using this tool for about a year and a half now with a lot of success. Throughout this process we have received all kinds of feedback, some of which we have been able to implement. One of the ideas we are looking at incorporating is setting up an inbound service lane for all of our trucks and trailers to pull into so they can be checked out before leaving the yard. Our goal is to help catch some of the minor stuff that could have been missed when guys are in a hurry to get back on the road.”

Gathering Driver Feedback

driver feedbackPutting up a suggestion box in the break room probably won’t be enough to get the kind of feedback your carrier needs to really make a difference. You’ll want to create multiple avenues for drivers to share their thoughts.  

A suggestion box is one way. Others could be having an open-door policy with drivers, holding monthly/quarterly meetings, or using anonymous feedback services.  

Anonymity is a huge part of collecting driver feedback. While some drivers may be fine putting their name with their feedback, many won’t be. Having options for both is the key to collecting as much as you can. 

Another reason these anonymous feedback services work well is because drivers can use them to submit feedback from anywhere. This is very important in trucking since drivers will probably be on the road when an issue occurs. 

Exit Interviews are another great way to gather honest driver feedback. These are interviews done with a driver who’s planning on leaving your company. While the drivers may be leaving simply because of a better pay package, there could be other factors that led them to leave that you’re unaware of. Having productive exit interviews with drivers can help you uncover those reasons. 

Utilizing Driver Feedback

This is the biggest part of the equation, and one that many carriers may fall short on. You’ve collected all that driver data, but that’s only half the battle.  

The first step is to analyze the feedback you’ve gotten. Do you see any trends? Are multiple drivers citing the same issues time and time again? You’ll want to gather your results and plan to meet with decision makers in your organization to see what can be done.  

From there, you can begin the process of implementing solutions to the feedback you were given, just like Stevens Trucking did with their inbound service lanes. You may not be able to work on every issue raised by a driver, but just communicating that it was received shows drivers that your carrier is listening.  

As for how to communicate, consider having a monthly or quarterly email that goes out to all drivers containing all the feedback you’ve received and the steps the carrier is taking to address it. You can also hold monthly zoom (or in-person) meetings or call the drivers who gave you feedback directly. 

As the “Driver Shortage” continues to roll on, carriers are finding it necessary to change their operations and policies in order to attract the best drivers. That’s why the carriers that actively seek out driver feedback and implement it into their businesses have a huge edge in the fight to recruit and retain top talent.  To see what other factors drivers consider when looking for a new job, check out our Driver Lifestyle & Job Happiness Survey below. 

driver happiness and retention survey

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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.

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