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Trucker Shortage: Tips For Recruiting and Retaining a Small Carrier Fleet

 trucker shortage

Due to the rapidly growing shipping and logistical needs of U.S. companies, there is a shortage of about 48,000 truckers in the freight industry, making the process of maintaining a full staff of experienced truckers a tedious process—especially for smaller carriers who generally lack the enormous recruitment resources available to larger organizations, such as Walmart and Amazon. Recruiting new truckers may be a daunting task for less established trucking companies, but by implementing a business strategy that emphasizes the recruitment, retention and ongoing development of safe and efficient drivers, carriers can acquire greater stability in their efforts to grow their trucking business. While each situation may require a different approach, the following are several considerably effective methods for recruiting and retaining skilled drivers.

Give Drivers Realistic Expectations

In any industry, retaining good employees requires offering them a transparent representation of the job duties and expectations that come with the position, so as to prevent them from feeling regret after being coerced into a less-than-desirable job. In trucking, this means being upfront about variables like earnings, potential routes, necessary time commitments, and expected workloads.

Take Referrals

Word-of-mouth has long reigned supreme as the most effective method for marketing endeavors, and when leveraged properly, word-of-mouth can also greatly improve a trucking company’s recruitment strategy. Getting drivers involved with the recruitment process using contests or cash incentives allows the leaders of small carriers to reach more prospective drivers, but be warned; if you are unable to articulate that more drivers allows them to make more loads—meaning more work for everyone—some drivers may be reluctant to help bring on new drivers whom they perceive as competition.  

Develop a Social Networking Strategy to Create Interest

Having a presence on social networks is becoming a critical necessity, even in traditional industries like the freight carrying industry, as they offer companies the opportunity to enter a conversation with customers, clients, and employees alike. For freight carriers, social networking can be used to build ongoing relationships with drivers that work with your company, have worked with your company, or may work with your company in the future, creating a pipeline of past, present, and future which, once cultivated, can be regularly tapped to expand operations or respond to a sudden trucker shortage.

Refine the Driver Onboarding Process

Without some time to grow familiar with the procedures of a new employer, your drivers will take significantly longer to become profitable members of the company, instead of costing money as they adapt to a new working environment with foreign procedures, rules, and regulations. To remedy this, the onboarding process should incorporate helpful onboarding procedures, such as an orientation in which new hires meet all of the people they will be working with—allowing them to build trust in the company—as well as a mentoring program that pairs newer drivers with more experienced drivers in order to help them develop their confidence in the role.

Appreciate The Drivers

Feeling appreciated at work takes different forms for different individuals, but to many, it comes down to two things: being compensated fairly and receiving support from a desirable company culture.

  • Pay – Creating a pay structure that keeps the best drivers operating at maximum efficiency while still benefitting new drivers requires the development of complex packages that incentivize high-efficiency driving by rewarding drivers for cost-cutting behaviors like better scores on inspection reports and efficient fuel mileage.  
  • Company Culture – A company that cares about its employees, keeps its employees. Therefore carriers that account for the personal needs of their drivers by doing things like offering a structured work environment that allows for a reasonable lifestyle with adequate home time, and/or promoting better health for their drivers through company-led health initiatives.

Use Data To Learn What Works

Tracking, collecting, and analyzing data is a great way to gain a firmer grasp on what works and what doesn’t work in your company’s recruitment and retention efforts. If you haven’t already, start by getting feedback through interviews administered to current drivers, as well as exit interviews given to drivers leaving the company. With these comments and suggestions in hand, you will know why drivers leave your company and what keeps them around.

To gain a more diverse understanding of how your daily operations impact your retention and recruitment efforts, you can use intuitive trucking software to calculate performance data, such as hours worked, cost per mile, total pay, and on-time delivery records, and use that data to draw conclusions that could aid you in the process of finding and retaining the best truck driving candidates.