The truck driver shortage for the over-the-road or long-haul truckload segment is nothing new. It continues to worsen, reaching a record high of 60,800 by the first of 2019, according to the American Trucking Association (ATA). The association mentions many barriers to entry for new drivers, including age requirements, CDL testing standards, strict drug and alcohol testing regimes, and most importantly, safe and clean driving records.
The Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has exacerbated challenges to finding, hiring and keeping truck drivers as drivers challenge pay, working hours and shipper detention times that delay driving time. Truck drivers are worth their weight in gold these days. And, while driver retention has been a more or less constant issue for many truckload carriers over the years, the pandemic and resulting capacity crunch mean it’s more important than ever to retain valuable driver assets.
So, how do you keep your truck drivers happy and keep them trucking over the miles? Make their lives easier by giving them the tools and perks they need to smooth the way for your freight and improve earnings in the process.
Here are a few tips to get you started.
Stay connected with your truck drivers. With long-distance truckers being away from home for long periods, it is essential to stay connected beyond regular dispatches. Keep in touch via phone, text, email, or video conferencing every few weeks, asking drivers to provide insights into their well-being and any operational issues or concerns.
Provide truck drivers with equipment and tools to do their job well. Consider making drivers’ lives easier by providing reliable, properly maintained trucks to help them avoid breakdowns.
Also consider a tool that improves driver satisfaction and retention, so they never miss a request.
Take a look at tools that enable communication with the back office, the ability to scan and share documents, speed time-off requests, streamline driver settlement and provide load-sharing details, payments review, load history authentication and real-time trip planning.
A mobile app can assist truck drivers and provide them the ability to:
● Make being on the road easier. With access to trip plans, drivers can reduce stress and improve customer service quality by reviewing accurate ETAs for each load stop and remaining on track for loads’ on-time service. The app also provides contacts with information in one place, including payments of past loads, shipper/consignee contacts and more.
● Reduce driving distractions. Avoid numerous check calls by using the technology to let managers know whether a load has been picked up, where it is now or whether it was delivered.
● Get paid faster. Upload critical load documents such as a bill of lading and proof of delivery. This reduces the risk of missing critical documents and improves invoicing and driver settlement workflows.
● Get more of what they want. Drivers can set preferences to increase the likelihood of getting loads that cater to them. Preferences can include sleeper berth, preferred truck stops, and routes to avoid when the driver calculates their trip plan.
● Make the most money, by reducing deadhead miles, and planning schedules based on their Hours of Service to make every mile and every dollar count.
Make sure to incentivize truck drivers. Retain your truck drivers by paying them well. Let them earn miles and money. But, you may boost goodwill by engaging truck drivers in simple contests and awarding gift cards—contents like maxing out their fuel economy or driving the most miles. While offering bonuses and competitive wages may make sense, just acknowledging drivers for their hard work via text or email helps keep them engaged when far from home.
Give truckload drivers some peace of mind. Truckload drivers are a special crew who are away from home for more extended periods. Consider sticking to a schedule and giving them regularly scheduled home time. Time at home can help give their lives more structure. A driver with a clear notion of how much "off-time" they have is a much happier driver.
As tighter truckload capacity continues to drive truck drivers' demand, it is more important than ever to give drivers the tools they need and help reduce “points of contact” during the COVID-19 pandemic.