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Improving Driver Recruiting & Retention


Trucking fleets of all sizes in the United States are in a constant battle to improve their driver recruiting and retention methods. The proliferation in recent years of “big data” can offer carriers new tools in this ongoing struggle. However, without understanding how best to analyze the data, this potential benefit runs the risk of becoming an even larger problem.

That is where the use of data in retention programs enters the equation. According to Dave Widly, president and CEO of DriverFacts, “The key to listening to what your data is saying to you is having a good process and system in place for data collection and analysis.”

In today’s ultra-competitive business environment, it is not sufficient for a fleet to simply know their annual turnover rates - which experts believe is about 80% industrywide - and basic reasons why drivers are leaving, such as simply seeking out “better pay.”

Using a retention system gives fleets a more thorough investigation of hiring trends. It allows them to become smarter and more selective about the right drivers to hire, while at the same time reducing expenses and increasing profits. The best systems also are used to identify and reward top drivers and managers, making it far more likely they will remain with the company for years to come. Furthermore, it helps pinpoint drivers who may be at risk of termination due to safety infractions or accidents. This could lead to the ability to offer further training and guidance, a far less costly option than termination and finding a replacement.

Although fleets can craft their own spreadsheets from internal data to serve as a basic retention system, they may not be able to bring all the necessary components together to create a system as detailed or comprehensive as what is necessary. Studies show fleets that properly utilized retention systems can dramatically decrease annual costs per hire. That is accomplished through the system’s ability to collect data from multiple sources, all of which is accurate and current. Data collected should include miles driven, accident history and driver preferences, as well as critical government-based safety statistics and information. Combined with direct feedback from drivers and managers, a retention system should further crunch all of the information to help determine why and when truckers are leaving fleets. Having more robust and detailed data included into the retention system will result in stronger findings. Likewise, the data must be accurate in order to ensure the recommendations and conclusions are the right ones for the company.

Fleets should find a retention system that is fully customizable for individual needs. Systems should offer daily retention reports, showing when other carriers are requesting employment verifications, which provides the earliest indication when a driver is searching for another job.  Managers can be notified of these developments instantly by e-mail or text message, ensuring they have a chance to reach out to him or her before it is too late.  Even if there is nothing that can be done to retain that particular driver, this valuable information gives advanced notice of upcoming recruitment needs and alerts fleets when they may be able to prevent an abandoned load or plan to cover the departing drivers’ freight.

Additionally, an ideal retention system should be able to identify competing firms that are pulling drivers away and helps fleets recognize specific locations where it is occurring most frequently. While fleets may not be able to completely control factors such as not enough home time or too much detention time, it is always useful to understand all of the pieces surrounding employment decisions. Just as important, the retention system assists fleets in focusing on the factors and patterns they can control to retain drivers.

“A good retention system will assist you in preventing drivers from leaving, instead of asking why your driver left,” says Widly. “The longer you keep a driver, the more profit you can make on the investment you made to hire that driver.”

For example, in one case study from DriverFacts, a Midwestern-based fleet with approximately 1,000 truckers looked closer at the last 12 months of voluntary departures.

While basic findings showed 79% of those drivers left before reaching one year of service, the retention system reports drill down far deeper into this number. For instance, the system made clear the majority of these drivers left either in fewer than 90 days - or between three-to-six months behind the wheel.

A further investigation uncovered patterns in how demographics and terminal locations impacted the turnover statistics, thus allowing the fleet to make more tailored recruitment and retention decisions, rather than implementing sweeping changes that could have potentially upset long-term drivers that were happy with their current working environment.

Looking ahead, the importance of retention systems will become further magnified as fleets try to lure a younger generation of millennial drivers into the industry. According to a recent survey in Forbes magazine, millennials desire to make the world a better place, have flexible schedules, be their own bosses and have their work and personal lives blend together. In reality, the trucking industry can offer millennials all of these things, provided they are placed in the right position to succeed. A nimble retention system can produce results through data analysis to help executives find these potential hires. And once hired, continued use of data and feedback can help monitor the growth of these younger drivers.

At the same time, the system can pave the way for continued outstanding performance from veteran drivers by providing tips on how to best reward individuals who achieve safety and service goals. This also applies to managers, who should be rewarded not only for their own work accomplishments, but helping retain their drivers.

Another benefit of the retention system is its ability to smooth out potential issues before they become larger problems. Sometimes there can be work conflicts from a generational gap between an older manager and younger driver. With the aid of the information uncovered through use of a retention system, fleets can more strategically pair that manager with drivers with whom he or she better relates. This is a critical component of business success, because a survey from found that the No. 1 item drivers are seeking is a good relationship with their supervisor.

The overall system also incorporates data from human resources, safety managers and risk-management executives, providing a true snapshot of a company’s business to make the most informed decisions.

In conclusion, Widly is confident that fleets who make the investment in a strong retention system will see a return on investment through lower turnover, and less money spent on hiring, compared with wage increases and bonuses for long-serving drivers and other employees.

“If you invest the time, energy and resources in the beginning to build a good retention system on your own or with the help of a software provider, it can help you retain drivers longer, and the benefits are reduced turnover and more profits for your company,” he says.

If you’re interested in learning more about how DriverFacts can help you set the groundwork for a retention system by streamlining your driver data processes, contact Mylene Patterson at 888-844-4730 x804 or

1261 N. Lakeview Ste J526 Anaheim, CA 92807