18 Ways To Help You Retain Your Truck Drivers

Recruiting and getting good people is fine, until they all decide to quit on you.

Now you’re out money for promises you kept to your drivers as well as the cost of getting them to your trucks in the first place.

This article is going to cover what happens after a driver is recruited and brought onto your trucking family, I’m talking driver retention.

Retention is what you do as a business owner, boss, or recruiter to keep the truckers that you’ve recruited driving for you instead of someone else.

These are 18 tips to keep your drivers satisfied and dedicated.

  1. Incentives For Hard Work
  2. Competitive Pay Per Mile
  3. Updated Equipment
  4. Proper Training
  5. Hire Good Managers
  6. Good Dispatchers
  7. Respect Your Drivers
  8. Keep Your Promises
  9. Get Them Home
  10. Pay On Time
  11. Loyalty
  12. Competitive Benefits
  13. Drivers Talk (be good to them)
  14. Exit Interviews
  15. Surveys
  16. Treat Them Like Professionals
  17. Hire Good Recruiters
  18. Address Driver Health

Tip 1: Incentives for Hard Work

There is a shortage of drivers at the moment, but there are still plenty that can do the work they need to do.

Sometimes you get a driver that strives to go above and beyond, all the time, in fact they make it part of their job to rise above the rest.

These kinds of drivers rarely receive the recognition they deserve.

Don’t be afraid as a company to give some incentives to rise above mediocrity.

These can be in the forms of bonuses, maybe an extended home time once in a while if that is possible.

Not only will you retain a driver, but you will mold them into a driver that is a “doer”, someone who gets out and does more than their best.

My father always told me about his business “give 110%, there are plenty of drivers who settle for 100, so if you want to thrive you can’t be scared to do more”.

Offering incentives is a great way to keep your drivers around, and doing more to get those incentives.

Tip 2: Competitive Pay Per Mile

This is one of the most effective ways to retain drivers.

The pay per mile is part of the life’s blood of a trucker.

If your pay per mile is not on par, or better than other companies, then expect your drivers to consider your job a pit-stop, instead of a career.

It is very common in the industry for drivers to jump ship to another company, simply because the pay per mile is better at a different company.

Tip 3: Keep Your Equipment Up To Date As Well As Safe!

Nobody wants to drive for a company with an outdated fleet that is always breaking down.

Truckers are good at improvising and fixing things on the fly, but that’s not the most glorious part of the job, and if it is happening often you will find a driver seeking new opportunities.

Keeping your fleet safe and ready isn’t just for retention, safety regulators will also slap you with hefty fines, if you’re getting reported.

Keep your equipment safe and running, and everyone will be happy!

Tip 4: Proper Training Programs

Training can save people from a big headache.

Nobody wants to field calls all day, because something wasn’t explained or taught properly.

Having a solid training program that effectively teaches how you do things there will save the confusion, and make those stretches on the road less of a headache.

Tip 5: Hire Good Managers

There are many managers, with many different styles and ways of doing things.

They add a kind of “seasoning” to the meal that is work.

There are many ways to do the job right, and just as many ways to do the job wrong.

Don’t hire a manager that brags about running people off.

Believe it or not, there are managers that think that firing for not doing the job right all the time is a good thing.

A good manager would help someone to grow, not leave them in the dust. Some people need to be let go, that is life, but if you fire everyone you are not retaining, you will surely wind up with empty trucks and burned drivers that will let others know of these things.

Micromanagers are very common, and will have someone leaving quickly.

It takes the right touch of hands on and hands off to make a good manager.

Drivers are not looking to have their hands held like children, and will leave over it.

Let them know about what needs to be corrected and make sure that it is.

Tip 6: Good Dispatchers

We have talked about dispatchers, and some of the things it takes to be a good one in this post.

You want a dispatcher who can not only find loads, even though that is important.

In the field of retention you want a person with good people skills that can talk to your drivers, while managing their time wisely.

The dispatcher is usually the driver’s only form of contact with someone from the company.

You don’t want a person who just sighs off what a trucker is saying.

You want someone who will listen to them.

What they say can sometimes be useful for making improvements to the job.

Tip 7: Drivers Aren’t Robots. Treat Them With Respect.

In business it can be easy to see numbers and think of personnel that way.

Quit this mindset.

Treating your drivers like they are cogs will have them gone.

Everyone has limits, people are not robots, and if you treat them like they are just machines they will find a company that will be more compassionate to them.

We learned the Golden Rule in elementary school “treat others as you would want to be treated” that is how you keep people loyal to you.

Tip 8: If You Make a Promise, Keep It!

If you’re in the business of having high turnover, then by all means make plenty of promises you can’t keep.

If you want your drivers to stick around, and keep driving your rigs, then honesty and promises you can keep good on are the key to success.

Breaking a promise is making a lie, and nobody will put up with being lied to.

Keep your promises you make within reason so you can keep honesty a top part of your communication.

Honesty will go a long way with a driver looking to make a career with you.

Tip 9: Get Them Home As Often As You Can

Times are tough in the industry with a huge driver shortage causing people to be overworked and frustrated.

If you can remedy this situation with more home time than your competitors your drivers will be loyal.

They are people often with families that just want to be home and stretch out.

Give your drivers adequate home time.

You will reduce the chances of burnout, and increase your chance of retaining them for a longer time.

Tip 10: Pay on Time

There is nothing worse than getting home to spend time with your family after a long stretch on the road, and realizing that the fruits of your labor haven’t even ripened yet (in other words, hit your bank account).

Guys and gals that get home want to have money to spend, and if you’re not consistently paying them on time, then it can become a problem.

Issues arise sometimes, and that can be forgiven, but if nonpayment becomes a habit your drivers will absolutely seek a place that does pay them on time.

If you are handling payroll in house and this is becoming an issue, there are payroll companies that will handle this for you.

No more late pay for drivers, and they will be more comfortable having that income being consistent.

Tip 11: Be Loyal To Your Drivers, And They Will Return The Favor.

You’ve heard the phrase “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”, this is how you should be treating your drivers if you want them to stay.

Listen to what they have to say, and work to make improvements based off of that.

Tip 12: Competitive Benefits

Just like pay per mile, your benefit package has to be appealing.

There are many companies in trucking that offer very good benefits to their drivers.

Great benefits means that they are keeping more money in their pocket, which is always a good way to keep them happy.

If your drivers are getting to keep more, because they drive for you, then they will feel inclined to stay with you.

Tip 13: Be Good To Your Drivers, And The Word Will Spread (free recruiting)

If you want free recruiting, then treat your drivers right.

Use the tips above, and you will more than likely keep them working for you for a long time, and if a driver is happy, then they will absolutely tell other drivers about the job.

That word of mouth can go far and attract more drivers to get in your cabs and stick around.

Tip 14: If A Driver is Leaving Find Out Why

Do not just let a driver leave without giving a good exit interview.

This will not always be possible as some people just leave without warning, but an exit interview should be crucial if possible.

Keep a standard list of questions, and ask those questions. Record the responses you are given. If there are similar trends as to why drivers are leaving, then look into them, and work on remedying them.

You could find a key to your retention woes, and stop as many drivers from leaving if you fix it.

Tip 15: Surveys

People want to be heard, and you should want to hear what they have to say.

If you were selling a product, then you would want feedback from people using your product, so you can work on it and improve.

Retention can work in a similar fashion.

Your drivers are the life’s blood of the company, so they see many things, things people would not think about if they were not on the road all the time.

Give a system to provide feedback from your drivers. They will be happy to have their voice heard, and you will be happy to have some helpful tips to make the job better.

Acting on these suggestions will absolutely increase retention with your drivers.

Tip 16: Treat Them Like Professionals

Not just anyone can be a truck driver.

They are professionals, many of them with years of experience on the road.

Don’t be the person that treats them like this is their first job at a fast food joint.

Give them space and freedom to do the job their way (within reason).

Micromanaging a trucker is a fast way to get them gone.

They have knowledge out on the road, so let them use it!

Tip 17: Hire Good Recruiters

Like your managers, recruiting has right and wrong ways to do the job.

A good truck driver recruiter has these skills and traits.

Hiring the right recruiter to bring on drivers can help with retention.

Good recruiters find good drivers without feeding them BS that might have them throwing their hands in the air and finding new places to work.

A good recruiter can find the driver that fits your needs, and makes sure that your company fits their needs.

Tip 18: Address Driver Health

Being well makes people happy, and this is no secret.

Your body is a machine, just like a truck. It needs fuel and proper maintenance to keep it running right.

Pushing for wellness is a big way to keep drivers happy on the road, and makes them want to stay.

It is highly recommended to input a wellness program into your business to help with retaining drivers.

It does not have to be an extravagant or rigid system full of rules.

Doing as little as keeping some information such as healthy habits and foods when out on the road will increase wellness.

These are 18 great tips that you can utilize in your company to keep your drivers driving for you. If you work to fit these in, then you may start seeing more of your drivers becoming more dedicated, and not wanting to leave.

It is a process, but it is worth it to keep loyal employees on your side!

Written by: Quinn McCoy