How to Build a Truck Driver Retention Program

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It would be great if you had a solid foundation to build on to improve your truck driver retention stats. And when we talk about driver retention, that foundation is the development, implementation, and execution of a truck driver retention program.

What is a Truck Driver Retention Program?

A truck driver retention program is a combination of best business practices aimed at delivering higher retention rates. These practices include benefit packages, perks, compensation, and communication. While these terms are familiar to many in the business world, a dedicated truck driver retention program is much more than that. It is about providing good internal customer service and developing a positive company culture. Above all, a top-down mindset must be adhered to for the program to work.

Why You Should Build a Retention Program for Your Company

If it seems like you're doing everything right but still struggling to meet your profit goals, keep costs down, and grow, you need to look at your turnover rate. If you have neglected to monitor something, it may be that "hidden" cost dragging your company down. 

This is especially true in the trucking industry, where turnover rates are hitting an all-time high at 85% - 90%. That's not drivers leaving the profession. No, it's drivers leaving one company to drive for another. Sure, the 85%-90% statistic may include larger trucking companies, but the same principles apply to smaller trucking companies. Companies that neglect turnover and fail to implement a truck driver retention plan feel the full brunt of this high turnover rate. 

Every time a driver walks out of a company’s  door, it's a double disaster for them. Not only has the company just lost capacity, but one of their competitors could easily gain that lost capacity. Retaining drivers is essential for remaining competitive in the market. 

Furthermore, when you build a truck driver retention plan, you lower the operating costs associated with advertising, recruiting, and orienting new drivers. With a truck driver retention plan, expanding your fleet capacity is easier because you're not hemorrhaging drivers.

New driver recruiting becomes cheaper and more accessible because your current drivers will be telling other drivers what a great company you have and how great it is to work for you.  

Building Your Retention Program

When you start building your retention program, you'll have as much flexibility in your choices as your budget allows. However, there are some core areas you'll want to include no matter what, and we'll lay those out for you here in this guide to truck driver retention.

Truck drivers want to feel like family

Everyone wants to feel valued by their employers. Workers want to feel like they're an essential element in the company and that they are important. When it comes to truck drivers, they are essential at the company and country level. Just think, how much load revenue can you generate without drivers? So make sure they know that you understand  they are essential and show them how important they are to you.

If you want to show your drivers that you value them, provide special perks that make them feel appreciated and respected. Given the current state of the trucking industry and the majority of companies mishandling their drivers, a little here can dramatically impact lowering your turnover rate. 

Truck drivers want to have benefits beyond their monthly salary

A lot of what occurs outside of work — illness, vacation, pensions, etc. — is covered by benefits – particularly health care benefits. A motor carrier can make a driver feel like family by demonstrating that they care about the entire person and their families, rather than just the truck driver who transports freight.

Always remember that your drivers sacrifice time away from their families to help you succeed, so make sure the success's positive effects are returned to them. With the industry's current state, it doesn't take much to provide a better benefits package than your competition.

Don't match your competition. That's not competitive, regardless of business jargon to the contrary. If you want to beat the competition, give your drivers a better benefits package than they will find elsewhere. 

They want to feel they are part of something bigger

Outstanding benefits for truck drivers send the word loud and clear that you value them and their commitment to the company. Drivers want to feel like valued members of your team.

Suppose you provide benefits like health insurance, paid time off for illness, paid sick days, retirement plans, and other perks available to employees who work from homes or from their offices (i.e., people who aren't truck drivers). 

It's crucial to offer more valuable or comparable benefits to your drivers. Doing this will reduce resentment toward their non-driving coworkers, and the workplace will appear more equitable.

Your company needs a clearly defined career path

Workers want to know what their future could look like. A high percentage of your truck drivers do not see themselves as truck drivers forever. Maybe in the future, they can be trainers, supervisors, chief of the maintenance department, or any other position that will make them feel that they have an essential and relevant future waiting ahead of them.

Create a path of advancement and strive to promote from within before looking to hire from outside the company. Doing so has many synergistic side effects that will compound the success of your driver retention program without incurring additional costs. Don't forget: your drivers are already experts in your business operations, and they are the reason you can stay in business.

Give them what they deserve and make sure they know they always have a home at your company, and you'll only grow more prosperous. 

They want to have a healthy relationship with their managers

Good employees leave bad managers. Managers should receive mentoring to develop strong bonds with their teams. The best way to avoid work disagreements and misunderstandings is to communicate effectively. Being a good listener will put your staff at ease even if you don't wind up being best friends. In the end, welcoming environments result from solid working relationships.

An open door policy is the first step, but you can take it even  further by communicating regularly with your employees and monitoring your managers. Additionally, consider using survey apps, suggestion boxes, etc., to bolster your communication efforts further. 

They want to be recognized

Although some businesses believe that recognitions like "employee of the month" are important to employees, this isn't necessarily the case. Instead, employees typically want to be acknowledged for their work as soon as they finish it. If they wait too long for recognition, they may not feel appreciated.

Money is the ultimate external motivator so whenever possible, try to share monetary recognition with your emplooyes.  Everyone works for money, but everyone also works because they want to make an impact. Simple compliments – even if they are only "Hey, excellent work on that project!" – will boost your employees' internal drive. Make this a part of your company's culture from the top down. Set an example for your managers to follow and ensure they know the point and purpose of recognition and compliments. 

High turnover can drag your trucking company down and potentially lead it into peril. Remember that having a good attitude toward your drivers is the first step to securing your and your company's future. Treat your drivers well, give them the best you can, and communicate with them. Be approachable. Your drivers will reciprocate by remaining loyal to your company and dedicated to safely delivering their loads and bringing in the revenue you depend on to survive. 

Look over your annual budget and set aside a sufficient amount to fund a strong retention program. Look for opportunities to broker deals with various service-oriented companies to give your drivers more perks. Meanwhile, please pay attention to your competition. Look at their attempts to recruit and retain drivers, and make sure they aren't outperforming you, or your turnover will worsen. Above all, never forget that your drivers keep you in business.

If you are interested in setting up your own company or joining a virtual carrier that where  drivers are always #1, join us at CloudTrucks. From up-to-date equipment leasing options to same-day pay, route planning, and giving our drivers 100% control of their trips and schedules, we offer an unparalleled truck driving career experience. 

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