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July 23, 2012 8:00 AM, EDT

Letters: Driver Retention, Opinion Correction

These Letters to the Editor appear in the July 23 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

Driver Retention

This is in reference to the article headlined “High Turnover Means Trucking Companies Need New Strategies to Recruit, Retain Drivers” that appeared on page A3 of the Transport Topics Top 100 For-Hire Carriers supplement bound into your July 16 issue.

I get exasperated when I read articles about driver retention experts who provide as their service a single area of retention focus such as driver respect, realistic job descriptions or selective hiring. Each of these is an element of a good retention program, not a stand-alone solution.

Take driver respect, for example. If a driver is on a run where he is home every night, does not work weekends, hauls no-touch freight, drives a newer-model truck and makes $80,000 a year, driver respect will have little influence on his longevity. His driver manager could ignore him for months and then finally call just to tell him he has ears the size and texture of waffles and that driver will not quit. There are other influences retaining that driver (i.e., home time, no-touch freight, equipment and compensation).

An effective driver retention program has dozens of influences, not one or two, that must be monitored, managed and supported by high-level accountability and a continual commitment of resources.

In fact, the amount of effort a trucking company puts into its driver retention program should be at least equal to the labor, resources and capital put into its fuel program. Think about it: A successful miles-per-gallon program that increases average fuel economy by two-tenths of a mile per gallon will reduce osts by approximately $1,700 per truck. A successful driver retention program that reduces turnover saves approximately $5,000 per driver — almost three times the return of the fuel program.

Successful retention requires a focus on all retention influences within the driver recruitment-to-retirement life cycle. The $80,000-a-year job example mentioned above is not a common work opportunity. Trucking companies compete for driver labor on much smaller differentiators because within each segment — truckload, less-than-truckload, etc. — many of the influences are similar.

Because of these similarities, a single retention influence such as lack of driver respect can cause a driver to leave. However, trucking companies cannot afford to allow the failure of one influence to define the sole direction of their retention efforts.

A truly effective driver retention program is constantly evolving. It monitors, manages and redesigns as many retention influences possible to stay a notch above the competition.

Joe White

CEO

CostDown Consulting

Grayson, Ga.

Opinion Correction

My July 9 “Opinion” column titled “Healthy Drivers, Healthy Business” inadvertently contained an incorrect statement regarding employer eligibility for tax credits on wellness expenditures. Wellness initiatives do not qualify for tax credits; rather the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 provides an increase in the permissible cost difference between participants who engage in a company’s wellness program versus those who do not.

Under current law, an employer can structure payroll deductions so there is up to a 20% difference — PPACA allows up to a 30% difference, effective Jan. 1, 2014.

Many observers think the government will move up that date to sometime in 2013, if not sooner. PPACA also permits the secretary of Health and Human Services to expand the allowable differential to 50% in 2014, if it’s deemed appropriate at that time. I apologize for any confusion my earlier article may have caused.

Peter Berg

Account Executive

Transportation Division

TrueNorth

Cedar Rapids, Iowa