Driver shortages . . . it's a huge topic of discussion at every trucking conference, including the recent CCJ Spring Symposium held in Birmingham which was co-sponsored by Double Coin Tires.
According to Todd Spencer, executive director of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), it's a matter of paying drivers what they are worth.
Speaking to a room full of fleet executives from across the country, Spencer said truck drivers should be among the best paid blue collar workers in America, given their vital role in the U.S. economy. But instead, he said, driver salaries have remained relatively flat for many years - not keeping up with inflation.
"It's a matter of will" on the fleets' part, he argued. Several fleet representatives at the conference expressed agreement with his sentiments, but said they are presently facing serious price pressures from their customers.
A panel of fleet executives discussed what their companies are doing to retain drivers.
Patrick Cozzens (pictured to the left), president of Modern Transportation, said his company deploys a detailed scoring system to analyze applicants. For instance, he said if applicants have a record of jumping from job to job, they are more likely to quit within 30 days and, thus, receive a lower score.
Cozzens said Modern Transportation also works closely with their customers to normalize delivery schedules and develop consistent work loads for the drivers.
Angie Buchanan, vice president of safety and human resources for Melton Truck Lines, said preparing the families for what's ahead is critical. The fleet pays for spouses to attend orientation sessions and encourages spouses to interview the company. The company has set up social media pages specifically for spouses to stay in communication with the company and other families.
Cozzens agreed that involving the families is critical, noting that his company has a quarterly newsletter for spouses and children, as well as essay contests and other activities for the children.
He said Modern Transportation's absolute focus on safety is also valued by the drivers and their families. The safety message is emphasized by the senior drivers who train the new ones and is continually reinforced by company policies and training programs.
Sometimes, Cozzens said, it's simply a matter of paying attention to the drivers' pain points and making changes such as shifting the delivery date of end-of-year bonus checks from Jan. 15 to Dec. 15 (in time for Christmas shopping).
These respected fleet executives shared many more valuable insights during the panel discussion, and I encourage you to reach out to them to learn more best practices in driver retention.
At Double Coin Tires, we applaud innovative fleets like Modern Transportation and Melton Truck Lines, as well as America's truck drivers who keep this country's economy moving.
For our part, we work diligently to contribute to driver retention by providing products such as the RLB400 closed shoulder drive tire that deliver a smooth ride, dependable traction and many miles of hassle-free driving.
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