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The Newsroom

Many companies focus on the cost of recruiting, but don’t often think about how much they’re spending – or not spending – on retention, which ultimately feeds into the need to recruit.

So, what does focusing on retention look like? What metrics do you need to pay attention to?

As Dirk Kupar, Co-Founder and CEO of TruckRight, and Perry Olson, Owner of Windom, MN-based Fortune Transportation, discussed during last Wednesday’s Essential Driver event hosted by the Truckload Carriers Association, it’s about much more than cost-per-lead and cost-per-hire.

Much more, in fact.

“My approach to recruiting and retention is this: retention is what proactively matters. Recruiting is a by-product of whether retention works, or not,” says Olson, who revealed that day-to-day, he spends more time evaluating the factors associated with retention than the issues tied to recruiting.

So, what can you do to mitigate the risks of driver turnover? What data can you analyze and learn from to put a hard stop to this seemingly endless cycle of drivers coming and going? How can you be proactive – not reactive – as our industry battles with the highest driver turnover ever?

The answers may surprise you.

Consider If the Problem is Beginning at the Recruiting Stage

At Fortune Transportation, Olson stresses that his recruiters aren’t told to focus on how many seats they’re filling.

If you’re taking this approach, it could potentially be what’s causing the problem. “Are recruiting folks making promises you cannot keep?” he asks. “I think that’s a large industry issue. Within each organization, it’s critical that you’re putting out a message through the recruiters that becomes reality.”

Analyze Why Drivers Are Leaving in the First Place

Whether it's through completing formal exit surveys or noting comments after a heated departure from an irate driver, sometimes it’s easy to identify the data behind why drivers leave for the competition.

Other times, it takes some detective work – some sleuthing, if you will – to notice any seemingly hidden patterns that are leading to your driver turnover.

“If retention is failing, it’s important to identify what’s not working and address it upstream,” says Olson.

The answer isn’t always in black and white.

“So, if a driver leaves Fortune, and says it's because of a 'family issue', the truth is that they didn't make it home for the softball game when they said they were going to. So maybe that's related to a shipper that doesn't load on time. Or maybe it's a dispatcher not putting enough focus on getting the driver home when they promised they would, or maybe it's a scheduler that's not being efficient."

Other data to consider can include everything from terminal locations to a domicile area, to driver managers, truck type, a dispatcher, home time, shippers, and missed loads. There's no end; you just need to be willing to dive deep and spot patterns.

Oftentimes, says Olson, a driver will tell you they are leaving before they head out the door – without really telling you.

“No matter how long a driver is with you, they were telling you before leaving they were going to do so,” says Olson. “After a driver quits, scroll through emails from that driver’s name, and there is a lot of info that's going to pop up you may or may not realize. And when you do that a few times, you can see the shipper, the receiver, the dispatcher, the terminal…whatever it might be…the correlating reasons will float to the surface – that’s why it’s so important to involve your entire staff.”

The key, he adds, is addressing those issues as soon as you define them. This brings us to our next point.

Follow Through When You Say You’re Going to Do Something

Those driver surveys you send out? There are metrics within those, too. So, pay close attention to the feedback you get.

Don’t bother if you’re not taking steps to act on the feedback your drivers are giving you. You need to show that you’re being proactive, and doing what you can to alleviate their concerns.

“For us, we put quite a bit of stock into them, and try to figure out where a driver is going, what they are looking for, to know what we didn't provide them with or what it was that popped in front of them that made them want to go elsewhere.”

Kupar agrees that follow-through is key.

“Having a survey and having suggestion box…if you can’t effectively show the responses to them, don’t waste your time! The driver will know quickly, ‘You got my answer, but you didn’t do anything about it,'" he says.

It’s no secret that the number of U.S. truck drivers leaving their companies for other motor carriers is on the rise. The question is, what are you going to do about it?

Start by taking a good, hard look at the data behind why drivers are leaving, spot patterns, and with your management team and driver feedback, take proactive steps to stop the endless cycle. Above all else, remember this: data speaks.

It’s up to you to listen to it.

To watch the full discussion, click here