Three Simple Reasons Drivers Quit – Part Two

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In our last blog on driver retention, we discussed three common reasons drivers quit. We showed you a few methods based around these reasons that you can use to retain more drivers. In this article, we’re going to take a step back, though. What’s the big deal with retention, why are so many drivers quitting, and how do we stop the driver shortage?

If you ask most people in the industry, they would say we’ve been dealing with a driver shortage for the last decade. The American Trucking Association reported that truck driver turnover was ninety-six percent in 2019. It doesn’t look any better for other industries. It’s no wonder that people think there just aren’t enough drivers. You don’t need me to tell you that good drivers are hard to come-by, but the truth is we aren’t suffering through a driver shortage.

There’s Not a Shortage, But There is a Problem

When you go to the store, there are groceries. When you go to the pump, there’s fuel. When you need a ride to work, there will be a bus pulling-up to the stop. Goods are being delivered and services are being provided. If not by you, then by your competition. If there were a shortage, we would see empty shelves at the stores and cancelled bus routes. There would be no one to fulfill these essential services. So, there’s no shortage of drivers, but clearly there’s a problem. We call it the driver problem.

“I never have enough drivers. I’m drowning in compliance paperwork. I’m constantly focused on putting out the next fire, accident, or incident. And, I have as many drivers walking out the back door as the front door.” That’s how Scott Rea, president of Avatar Fleet, describes the driver problem. It affects nearly every transportation company in the nation, large or small.

The difference between a “driver shortage” and a “driver problem” probably sounds nit-picky. Afterall, you’re suffering the same results, right? You have a hard time finding and retaining quality drivers. That’s true, but it’s actually an important distinction to make. If it were a driver shortage, you’d be helpless. You would need government intervention or a mass arrival of new drivers to the job market. However, since you have a driver problem and not a shortage, you have solutions at your disposal.

Solving Your Driver Problem: Stop the Revolving Door

The driver problem is a complex one. As such, there’s no silver bullet to solving it. There are so many factors that one, single action could never completely solve the issue at hand. However, a good place to start is with retention. Currently, you race to fill positions as drivers quit. Your company has a revolving door with drivers coming in and out. It’s time to stop the revolving door. Focus on retention so you can keep the good drivers you already have.

Remember the three common reasons drivers quit? They’re attention and respect, pay issues, and a voice at the table. It’s important to know why drivers quit because, with that knowledge, you can start improving your retention from the source. But when drivers do quit, where do they go? Usually, they go to drive for another company in the same industry. They’re looking for better treatment, more respect, less pay issues, and all the things they couldn’t get from you. The irony is, they almost never end-up in a better position.

Churn vs. Turnover

While your company may suffer from high turnover, that’s not the full story for the transportation industry. The vast majority of truck drivers that quit one company don’t exit the industry; they move onto another transportation company. It’s called churn, and it works in your favor.

Since most drivers are shuffling from one company to another, you have a chance to stop the shuffle at you. They’re looking for better treatment, more respect from their management, and a company that values their drivers. Give that to them. Treat your drivers better. Where your competition falls short, you can succeed.

Where Do I Start?

So, we’ve said that you need to treat your drivers better in order to solve your driver problem. That’s easier said than done, of course. Again, there’s no silver bullet. You need a plan to change your company culture and you need to stick to it. You need employees at all levels to buy into the plan. You need to get to the source of your driver problem and stop the revolving door. Here are three good places to start.

Make a Declaration

Declare from the top to the bottom of your company that you will solve your driver retention problems. Change starts at the top because people do what they think their boss cares about. Make it clear to your entire company that retaining all-star drivers and treating them well is a top priority. To really get your message across, assign driver retention evaluation to the highest possible executive. Everyone in your company will know you’re serious and that this isn’t just another flavor of the month.

Tie KPI to Retention

Create driver retention key performance indicators for all levels of the company. Give bonuses, raises, and promotions based on these KPI’s. This way, everyone realizes that driver retention is part of their job.

Create a Driver Check-In Process

You need to get yourself and front-line leaders face time with your drivers. Remember that drivers quit when they don’t feel like their voice is heard. Give them an opportunity to speak their mind with driver check-ins. Spread the workload across all your departments, from dispatcher, to pay-roll, to managers. Even if the check-ins only last a few minutes, you’ll have a better chance of solving issues for your drivers that would otherwise go unnoticed and cause them to quit.

Turn Your Front-line Leaders into Retention Experts

Your dispatchers, managers, and supervisors interact with your drivers every day. They have the most say in whether a driver stays or quits. You need them to be experts on driver retention, and our Leadership Development Course can help. The Leadership Development Course is designed specifically for front-line leaders in the transportation industry. It provides them with the knowledge and skills necessary to reduce turnover and improve your drivers’ work-lives.

Remember, there is not a driver shortage, but you may personally experience one if you don’t solve your retention issues. If you want more drivers coming in than are going out, it’s time you got serious about retention.