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Your Fleet’s Reputation Matters

What kind of reputation does your fleet have? Perhaps the more important question would be, what kind of reputation does your fleet have with drivers? Drivers’ opinions are important and can really impact the effectiveness of your recruiting. The one group of people you cannot afford to have a bad rep with is . . . the very drivers you are trying to target.
Past driver interactions and your current drivers satisfaction are major factors that can’t be overlooked. Drivers talk to and trust one another about issues that are important to them. If a driver with a bad past experience or a disgruntled driver on your fleet could end up costing you the new drivers you need.
You may ask yourself, “how much could it really matter? Is one driver’s negative opinion really enough to keep other drivers away?” The short answer is yes. But don’t take my word for it, let’s take a look at what the drivers themselves have to say
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Drivers help other drivers find work.

When we think about truck drivers most of us think of one person out on the road. Most tend to think of truckers as solitary people with most of their interaction coming from a CB radio. While that is true to some extent, truckers do spend an awful lot of time in the cab by themselves, they also have plenty of time for interactions when they pick up or drop off loads are stop in at a truck stop.
During these stops and interactions truckers . . . talk. One of the things they talk about is work. – how they’re doing, how the fleet is treating them, and if they like it. These interactions are why your fleet’s reputation and a good word of mouth matters. When a driver is looking for work (a new fleet), one of the primary sources of information is other drivers. After all, who better to ask?
Where do you go to find a driving job (Overdrive)

Source: Overdrive Connectivity Study[/box]
Where do you go to find a driving job (Truckers News)

Source: Truckers News Connectivity Study

Those are pretty sizable numbers – nearly half of those interviewed in the Overdrive survey and a third of those in the Truckers News survey look for work through word of mouth (aka – other truckers). Doing everything you can to make sure you take care of your drivers and keep them happy not only helps you maintain content drivers (and boost retention), but could help your recruiting efforts for new drivers.
If a driver is happy and has nothing to say but good things, that will naturally attract other drivers to your fleet. Everyone wants to be part of a company that people love. So, what is it exactly that you can do to keep drivers happy? Let’s hear what the drivers have to say.
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What do truck drivers look for in a job?

The recent Randall-Reilly + CCJ survey, What Drivers Want, asks a variety of questions to a diverse group of driver to try and figure out what drivers find valuable.
How long have you been a driver?

Source: What Drivers Want

Of those surveyed, 60% have been driving in the trucking industry for over 20 years. That means that most of the drivers we talked to have been around the block and very experienced.
What did our survey reveal? While the study covers a range of topics and issues, I’m going to focus in on a few key ones here.
Why do drivers think fleets have problems?

Source: What Drivers Want

When asked this question there were of course some obvious answers like time off the road and driver pay. And while driver pay was the number one answer at 74.9%, the number 2 response might surprise you. The second most common answer given was fleets don’t respect the drivers or the job they do: 73.7%.
Some other top answers are:
Fleets don’t support drivers while dealing with shippers or law enforcement: 59.1%
Driver don’t feel like part of the team: 56.6%
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What can we learn from these results?

It’s not at all surprising to find out the number one reason drivers think fleets are having trouble getting new drivers is that they don’t pay enough. If we surveyed 100 different industries I’m sure wanting more pay would be close to the top of the list in every single one.
What is somewhat surprising are some of the other most common answers dealing with respect, support, and a team atmosphere. Your fleet may not be able to raise pay across the board, or drastically reduce time on the road to guarantee more home time, because in the end trucking is a business and to make money and keep the country running, someone has to get the trucks from point a to point b.
What you can do is address the other areas of concern. Ultimately drivers are saying they are under-appreciated, and that is definitely something that can be fixed. You must avoid looking at drivers as numbers on a spreadsheet. Your drivers are people with lives and families just like the rest of us.
They all have their own reasons for driving, but they all want the same thing – respect and support. Take whatever steps you can to provide those very basic things to your drivers.
Work on trucker/dispatch relations and do all you can to ensure that your drivers receive the support they need in tough times like dealing with a difficult shipper or when they get into scrapes with officers. Let your drivers know they are valued and an important part of the team, because they are (or at least they should be)!
These simple gestures and change in the way you approach your driver relations can do wonders. Happy drivers can be more productive and less likely to jump ship to another fleet, leading to a higher driver retention rate. In addition to better morale and retention, it could lead to a bump in recruiting as well.
When other drivers see how well your fleet treats its drivers, or when they talk to one of your drivers, they will see that drivers matter to you and that creates a positive buzz around your fleet.
Pay, routes, and home time will always be factors that are important to drivers, but you should never stop trying to find ways to improve their experience working for you. In the end, giving them the support and respect they need and deserve can set your fleet apart and help you retain quality drivers AND gain the new drivers you need for the future.