At a time when most industries are overwhelmed by too many workers vying for too few positions, the trucking business is dealing with just the opposite. A driver shortage that began several years back shows no signs of abating as aging drivers retire in droves and new drivers are driven from the market due to high regulation and inadequate wages. While the industry is currently short 20,000 drivers, that gap could rise to more than 114,000 by 2014 if conditions don’t change, according to the American Trucking Association.
Whether it’s by raising wages or covering the cost of pricey training programs, attracting drivers in today’s market calls for some costly investments. However, it beats the alternative of an idle fleet and zero income. If transportation business owners play their cards right, offering the correct combination of perks can significantly reduce turnover – and the chance that they’ll have to put their truck business up for sale.
Drivers aren’t all that different from business owners. They want to enjoy fair pay, job security, and an occasional day off. If they can’t get what they want from your company, they’ll job-hop to another trucking business – or to another industry.
Owners who want good drivers to stick around are going to have to make it worth their while. Obviously, it’s easier for a large company to afford better pay and benefits. However, even if a small or medium operator can’t afford the best wages on the block, it may be possible to lure drivers with perks such as a bonus for bringing in new recruits, a relatively flexible work schedule, or compensation for downtime when there are no loads available. At the very least, team members want a competitive wage and health insurance for their families.
Even with many young adults looking for work, the trucking industry has struggled to attract young drivers. The next generation simply isn’t interested in the old-fashioned trucking lifestyle of weeks spent on the road. One way to make the industry more alluring is by offering the latest technology. Today’s recruits are looking for ways to access the Internet, electronically track their hours, and communicate through social media. Technology alone may not be enough to lure a new driver to the industry, but for drivers already interested in the trucking business, offering the most up-to-date gadgets and systems can give a company a competitive advantage.
Drivers are the trucking industry’s most important assets. Yet many companies treat their drivers more like equipment than human beings. While replacing drivers may have been easy in the past, today’s freight transportation companies don’t have that luxury. Obviously a company can’t cater to its drivers’ every whim, but it can make an effort to prioritize safety, provide a comfortable working environment, and reward good behavior. Over time, caring for drivers can lead to an improved safety record, higher levels of compliance, and a lower turnover rate.
Not only are these benefits good for business, but they’re also good for trucking company valuation. Happy drivers often lead to happy shippers, which can result in a higher price and increased buyer interest when it comes time to put your trucking business for sale.