Whether you’re reading this article on your phone, computer, or printed it out on a piece of paper, the trucking industry made it possible. They bring us our food, clothes, entertainment, and even our cars. We are completely reliant on trucks, yet the industry still faces an existential concern: full trailers and empty seats. That is to say, they have cargo to haul, but no one to haul it. It’s the proverbial “trucking problem,” or “trucking shortage” depending on who you’re talking to, and you don’t have to look far to see why.
WHAT’S THE TRUCKING PROBLEM?
Do you want to work long hours away from home for low pay, doing a job that is detrimental to your personal health? Me neither, and that’s the problem the industry faces. Their services are in high demand, but they have a shortage of workers. Luckily there are people working towards creative solutions to the trucking problem.
FINDING THE SOURCE
Mark G Gardner, CEO Avatar and founder of AvatarFleet, sat in the audience of Brisk Insurance’s 2016 Tarwheels Annual Safety Summit taking scrupulous notes on just that: how do we solve the trucking problem? He was a speaker himself, but today we’ll focus on what he learned from others. According to Gardner’s notes, it starts with why drivers quit. There are several big reasons that a driver might leave the industry and a potential solution for each. Let’s take a moment to learn from Gardner and look at a few of the reasons drivers might quit and a few ways to convince them to stay.
WHY DRIVERS QUIT?
Drivers want more money
It’s a no-brainer. If you want employees to stick around, you need to pay them as if you do. However, it’s not as simple as paying drivers more. Companies need ways to pay drivers more without spending more. One of the biggest issues drivers run into is waiting at a destination for a customer who isn’t ready. It costs both the driver and the company time and money. So, if drivers spend time waiting at a customer location, charge the customer for it and compensate the driver.
Drivers want more time at home
One of the primary reasons that people shy away from the industry is that they don’t want to spend days and days on the road away from their family and friends each week. To a certain extent, it is what it is. You can’t drive a truck from your house. However, reviewing back haul options and being honest about home time (or lack thereof) during recruiting can cut down on employees quitting for this reason.
Issues with supervisor and dispatch
Clearly, professional trucking/hauling is anything but a glamorous job. What’s worse, though, is that drivers are sometimes treated like second-class citizens within their company. Supervisors and dispatch are sometimes rude, condescending, or outright mean to drivers, causing them to quit. You need to train drivers on how to work with dispatch and supervisors and vice versa. In addition, when drivers bring a concern about how their supervisor treats them to your attention, listen to them. Hear them out and bring them together with the supervisor to reach common ground.
It seems obvious, yet it’s still a big reason drivers will leave a company or the industry completely. Don’t make promises that you can’t keep. Many drivers will eventually walk because they feel let down by management. They want the company to follow-through on what is promised and less B.S. up front in the recruiting process.
Level of Appreciation
This is the cheapest problem to fix. Drivers don’t feel appreciated and leave the industry as a result. Whether it’s how they’re treated by supervisors, upper management, customers, or dispatch, they aren’t always seen as an equal. Be specific in creating a culture of respect for every employee. Explain to drivers from day one that their role matters to the company and the entire country. Because for the foreseeable future, we deeply depend on them.