Getting to the ‘Root Cause’ of Driver Retention

Posted: June 22, 2021 • By: Scott Dismuke, Director of Operations, PDA

Let me guess, truck driver turnover is going up and you are having a tough time recruiting new drivers.  If I had a nickel for every time, I have been told, “I’ve never seen anything like what is going on right now” in the last few weeks, I would be a very rich man.
 
How are you combating truck driver turnover right now with everyone raising pay, guaranteeing pay, and increasing sign on bonuses?  Do you know what your drivers are saying?  More importantly, could you drill down to the root cause of a driver’s issue?
 
If you have answered no to some, or all those questions, let’s talk about a couple of reasons why it’s important that your driver data gets down to the root cause of the problem.
 
PDA has been collecting driver data for nearly three years.  When it comes to compensation, do you know that drivers have consistently complained more about miles than they have pay rate?  Sure, drivers, like the rest of us, all want to make more money, but when you get paid by the mile and the miles are not there, then does the cents per mile really matter?
 
According to PDA data, over 80% of drivers that complain about miles may not be efficiently managing their miles and hours of service.  They improperly manage their hours of service, run out of hours, they do not properly set their ETA/PTA correctly and they sit.  When the weekly paycheck arrives, they do not like their pay, and they do not understand why they are not the making money that you promised.
 
Yes, cents per mile matter, just look at today’s market.  It makes for a very sexy marketing campaign. But if drivers are not logging miles, that cents per mile increase you just gave is not going to matter.
 
If you know which of your drivers struggle to manage their miles and manage their hours of service, then you can proactively communicate with that driver, provide them additional training, reduce their frustration, and set them up for success. 
 
When it comes to home time, drivers have made it abundantly clear that it is one of their top priorities when looking for a job.  According to the most recent PDA/Conversion Interactive Agency driver survey, over 70% of drivers listed home time as one of the most attractive things to them as a driver.
 
Do you know what about home time is a priority to your driver?  According to PDA driver feedback two things matter the most when it comes to home time.  Number one, they want their home time honored and number two, they want a different home time.
 
What does “want a different home time” mean?  It usually means one of two things.  The driver either wants a local job so they are home daily, or they want a dedicated, or different route, that gets them home at a different time than what they are currently receiving.
 
If you know which drivers want a different home time, and not just more home time, again, it allows you to proactively communicate with that driver and address the issue.  Most of the time, you can get the driver on a different account, the driver gets the home time they are looking for and you keep the driver in your truck.
 
Getting down to the root cause of an issue matters because it allows you to make the most informed decision before you make a big, companywide policy change.
 
So, before you sit down and decide to raise pay and change your home time policy, make sure you have the data on your side.  Are your drivers maximizing their miles so they can maximize their paycheck?  Are you getting drivers home when you tell them you will?  If you do not know the root cause to your driver feedback, you may just be treating a symptom and not addressing the real problem.
 
 


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