February 24, 2021 4:30 PM, EST

For Recruiting and Retention, Trucking Companies Should Focus on Equipment, Pay

Driver behind the wheelkali9/Getty Images

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Trucking companies must focus on maintaining good equipment and keeping lines of communication open with drivers to ensure effective recruitment and retention, a new report found.

According to the 2020 Driver Recruiting and Retention Annual Report, produced jointly by Professional Driver Agency and Conversion Interactive Agency, 30.9% of drivers surveyed listed equipment as their top issue of concern, followed by compensation at 27.2% and operations at 13.2%.

As it relates to operations, drivers listed communication as the most important aspect of business operations, followed by planning and disrespect as areas of importance when they are considering staying with or joining a fleet.

“Sometimes in business, and especially in trucking, we’re reminded of the importance of getting back to the basics,” Priscilla Peters, vice president of marketing and training at Conversion Interactive Agency, told Transport Topics. “Last year reminded carriers they must invest in their employer brand. Drivers are always being recruited by another one trying to hire them, so recruiting your current fleet is just as important as recruiting new drivers.”



And ensuring that trucks stay on the road is key for both new and existing drivers, noted Scott Dismuke, director of operations at Professional Driver Agency.

“Equipment dominated from a driver issue standpoint for all four quarters of 2020,” he told TT. “When trucks are in the shop, drivers aren’t rolling. When drivers aren’t rolling, they’re not making money. So we have seen in our data that equipment issues usually manifest themselves into other issues later on. The maintenance departments play a very key role in driver retention.”

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Dismuke noted that while drivers understand that equipment needs maintenance, frustration can mount if they’re losing miles due to poorly maintained equipment.

“It’s really about controlling what you can control,” Dismuke said. “The first thing you have to do is control how long the driver is in the shop. The second thing on equipment that we really started seeing this year — and it was a new data point that we started collecting — was the equipment assignments ... the status of a tractor when it’s assigned to a driver.”

The report also found that retention issues tend to bleed over into recruitment, as drivers who share their thoughts about carriers they’re driving for can wind up informing prospective recruits. In fact, 74% of drivers said they read online reviews when looking for a new carrier.

On that point, Peters noted that companies must build their brand online and on social media. That includes making online reputation management a priority and implementing innovative ways to nurture driver leads.



It also means thinking beyond simply raising pay, Dismuke noted. In fact, the report found that drivers by a more than 2-to-1 ratio are more concerned with how many miles they are getting than their actual pay rate.

“When we’re talking to companies from a retention standpoint and we start talking compensation, almost immediately every carrier starts talking about raising their pay rate,” Dismuke said. “I get that. It makes perfect sense. It’s great from a recruiting pitch. But I think there’s other ways that they could compensate drivers and help drivers.”

Dismuke noted that in addition to pay, drivers consider home time and carriers showing them respect. And those are issues that can be helped with effective communication, he noted.

“From a communication standpoint, drivers must feel a part of the team,” Dismuke said. “And frankly they deserve to be part of the team. I think too often drivers are left out of the communication loop, which leaves them with questions and then oftentimes that leads to frustration.”

And limiting that type of frustration is the reason for the survey in the first place, he said.

“What’s interesting with our data, and one of the reasons why we do it this way,” Dismuke said, “is because we want to get down to a root cause.”

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