There's a common saying that suggests there are only two certainties in life: Death and Taxes. Well I'm here to argue that the above statement is missing one major component. I believe it should read as follows: There are only three certainties in life: Death, Taxes, and Driver Shortages!
Driver recruiting in today's trucking industry carries countless challenges, including government imposed regulations, age restrictions, safety requirements, and many others. If not managed properly, driver recruiting can quickly become an endless revolving door of drivers entering and exiting. This endless cycle will undoubtedly decimate your precious resources like time and money.
THE SILENT ASSASSIN
Being short on drivers can bring along a plethora of obvious issues like decreased revenue, underutilized equipment, and service failures on customer loads. The only positive about these types of high-level issues is that they are usually easy to see and feel. These issues can quickly be quantified and reported. But what about the little hidden consequences these issues create that are not as easily seen or felt? The ones that aren't as tangible or quantifiable. The negative impacts on company culture, employee enthusiasm, driver morale, and customer satisfaction.
These areas of your business can oftentimes be overlooked, because again, they’re hard to see or feel. "Company culture" is likely a term you've heard before, but may not fully not fully understand. I wouldn’t be surprised if you already have your own preconceived ideas on company culture and you may even question the value that it has on your overall business. I'm here to tell you that without a doubt, company culture is the fabric and bedrock of which your business is built on.
If it's low quality. If it's thin. If it has holes all over the place. If it's not cared for or protected, it will undoubtedly unravel and fall apart. Conversely, if it's built with care, with strong values, with consistency, and integrity, I guarantee that fabric will have the resiliency needed to weather the storms you'll undoubtedly encounter. It will have the strength to stand tall in the face of adversity, and prosper in the long run.
It's extremely difficult, borderline impossible to build a strong company culture when you have high turnover rates and new faces in the office each week. It's very challenging to build a culture when your most tenured driver has only been with the company for a few months. High levels of driver turnover will single handedly erode the core of your company culture and eat away at the fabric that supports your business very similar to how termites operate. They will silently decimate an entire house from the inside without anybody noticing until it's too late!
Drivers constantly leaving your company is similar to an assassin quietly walking up behind you and stabbing a knife into the heart of your company. You might not see it immediately, you might not see it clearly, but believe me it's there. It's slowly killing the moral of your drivers and employees alike. Seeing drivers leave the company, even for reasons that are no fault of your own, ultimately feels like a "loss". These "losses" can give the impression that the company is struggling. That the boat is sinking. If not addressed quickly, that boat will be underwater before you know it with everyone jumping ship.
THE HARD COST OF DRIVER TURNOVER
To this point, we've discussed some of the "soft" costs associated with driver turnover, but now I want to focus on some of the "hard" costs that if not managed can quickly spin out of control and torpedo profitability and ultimately sink your business. Many company owners think that the driver acquisition costs of driver recruiting end once the driver agrees to sign on. That way of thinking is fundamentally incorrect! You must take all costs into consideration from the moment you post your driver advertisement to the moment the driver turns their first mile in your truck. Here are some expense items associated with the life cycle of driver acquisition and onboarding:
Travel Costs ($100 - $1,000)
Hotel Costs ($200 - $300)
Orientation Costs ($400 - $500)
Lunches during orientation ($50 - $100)
Training ($250 - $500)
Advertising/Marketing ($100 - $250)
Recruiter Compensation ($750 - $1,000)
As you can see, the overall costs associated with advertising, recruiting, hiring, and on-boarding can exceed $3,500 per occurrence. Once you understand the true costs associated with driver turnover, it's no surprise why companies are working tirelessly to decrease driver turnover and increase driver retention.
RETAIN OR DIE
Companies that choose to blindlessly participate in the insanity that is high levels of driver turnover and constant driver recruitment are dying a slow, painful death. The companies that are growing and striving are the ones that operate under one golden rule: Investing in driver retention bears far greater returns than making the same investment in driver recruitment.
The bottomline is that quality drivers expect to be part of a quality company. In return for providing a high level of service, quality drivers expect their company to provide them with a "Driver Experience" that is equal to or greater than the level of service they are providing. If there is a deficit between the level of service being provided by the driver and the level of "Driver Experience" created by the company, then the driver will quickly become dissatisfied and will more than likely leave the company. Vice versa, if the driver experience exceeds the level of service the driver is providing then a long term, sustainable relationship will quickly develop.
DELIVER INCREDIBLE SUPPORT
I could talk all day about the different ways you can create an awesome driver experience, but for the sake of time, I'll share with you one incredibly simple, yet impactful principle which will instantly improve your driver experience. This principle is...
DRIVER CALL SUPPORT
I know it sounds way too simple, but I promise you that when you boil it all down, at their core, drivers want nothing more than to feel supported and appreciated while they are on the road. They NEED to know without question, that if they breakdown in the middle of nowhere at 2:00 AM on a Saturday that someone will answer the phone when they call for help. That someone will be there to help source a repair vendor or get a road call out to them. They need that sense of security that while they are out busting their butt and sacrificing time away from their family, that someone will be doing the same for them in the form of 24/7 support. In the mind of a driver, support translates to caring, and caring translates to respect.
When a driver unquestionably feels that their company respects them enough to support them 24/7 then a bond is created that is stronger than anything that the next company can offer them to leave you. Support creates loyalty and loyalty is the ultimate form of retention. If you obsess over how well you support your drivers, naturally your driver experience will increase to an amazing level and no longer will you be fighting to retain your drivers or struggling to attract new ones. Driver Support = Driver Loyalty = Driver Retention = Profitable Company. That my friends is how you fix your driver recruitment problem.