If you ask the experts, they’ll tell you that 2012 saw one of the best years in the trucking industry since the economic downturn of 2008/2009. Forecasters say that the economy will continue to rebound. Yet many trucking companies continue to struggle. Why?
Trucking companies have faced driver shortages for years. As they try to rebound along with the economy, the growing (and unmet) demand for qualified truck drivers is putting the brakes on many of them being able to seize the opportunities that the current economic upturn offers. That’s especially true for smaller trucking businesses.
A nationwide driver shortage
A recent article in CNNMoney said that 11 million Americans are unemployed, yet 4 million jobs remain unfilled. They continued to list the 10 most difficult jobs to fill. Number one was software developers. Number two was truck drivers.
A large pool of experienced drivers are getting ready to retire at a time when fewer young people are choosing to enter the field. Add to that an average long-haul driver turnover rate of 98% in 2012 and it’s easy to see why the continued shortage of drivers has trucking companies looking for creative ways to attract newcomers into the field.
Companies are recruiting right in the driving schools, often hiring candidates before they’ve even finished their courses. Many are sweetening the pot with higher wages and improved benefits. And, any smart trucking business owner is working hard at making his or her place of business simply a great place to work.
3 Tips for keeping drivers happy (and retaining them
Nothing beats a great place to work: Yes, you’ll need to compete in wages and benefits to attract new drivers. However, if money is the only enticement, you may attract drivers, but you won’t keep them. Even more than money, nothing keeps a driver loyal to your business than making it a great place to work. As an owner, look for ways to recognize your drivers for their work. Listen to them and make drivers feel like an important part of your company. And, ensure that they have the tools and resources they need to do their job effectively.
Keep your promises: However you slice it, a paycheck is a promise. It may seem obvious, but making sure that your drivers are paid accurately and on time is critical to keeping them. Cash flow management can be a tough balancing act for smaller trucking companies who are struggling simply to make payroll, let alone compete with the wages and benefits offered by larger companies. To make sure that you always make good on your payroll promise, have back-pocket plans in place for times of cash flow lows. That can include things like a business line of credit, factoring your freight bills, load advances or a factoring line of credit.
Trucking Fuel Cards: Fuel cards provide a secure and simple way for drivers to pay for fuel, repairs, scales, hotel rooms and other necessities, and to receive cash. For personal safety, they’re also a better option than asking drivers to carry large amounts of cash to cover expenses.