An entertaining option to truck driver retention

Dec. 19, 2014
As more carriers seek solutions to solve the driver shortage crisis, which is now pegged at about 30,000, a new alternative is popping up.
The EpicVue satellite TV service provides in-cab entertainment for commercial drivers, offering DIRECTV service.

As more carriers seek solutions to solve the driver shortage crisis, which is now pegged at about 30,000, a new alternative is popping up.

Raising pay and more home time are among the common solutions put forth, but now some fleets are turning to satellite TV. Boyd Bros. Transportation is the latest carrier to try the entertainment approach.

“At Boyd Bros., we take pride in offering the best benefits to drivers, including the highest flatbed driver pay in the industry, retirement savings plans, schedules that bring drivers home weekly, late model trucks, and the latest communications technology,” said James Watkins, manager of mobile communications at Boyd Bros. “With EpicVue in a sample group of 150 vehicles, driver retention more than doubled over non-equipped vehicles. Our goal is not just to attract drivers but also to keep them, and EpicVue is the first company we found that provides a home away from home feeling for drivers. They also met our needs by bundling their satellite TV service and providing it without any upfront costs.”

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EpicVue offers TV viewing packages that include more than 100 channels of DIRECTV programming including premium channels such as HBO/Cinemax, Showtime and NFL Sunday Ticket. The service is delivered via a monthly subscription fee with a cost of just $49/month for a fleet of 20 or more vehicles with a five-year contract or $59/month for a three-year contract.

EpicVue includes a 24-in. flat screen TV, DVR, off-air antenna to watch local channels and a ruggedized satellite antenna for the rear or top of the cab.

Fuel efficiency and the driver shortage

“We understand the severe and growing problem trucking companies are having with driver turnover,” said Lance Platt, CEO of EpicVue. “We also believe that families and friends bond over the shared experience of TV even if they aren't together when they are watching the latest episode of their favorite show or the big game. If watching TV can help drivers better handle their time on the road away from family then we are happy to be one small piece of the driver retention puzzle.”

The Winegard Pathway satellite antenna attaches to the truck's window. Winegard offers other models as well, including fixed-mount options.

is another company that offers satellite TV for commercial trucking, offering both portable satellite antennas as well as over-the-air antennas. Wineguard is compatible with both Dish Network and DIRECTV services.

There are other options as well, including Tailgater.

Satellite TV, though, is starting to become an option that fleets are turning to in an effort to make life on the road feel more like home for drivers. And the investment, when compared to the cost to hire a new driver, is minimal. For instance, while it is not an apples-to-apples comparison, a recruiting company called CS Recruiting has created a graphic that details the cost to hire a single employee in the logistics industry. According to the firm, it costs $3,200 to interview one candidate. A single job posting generates, on average, 250 applicants, nearly 50% of which are not qualified for the job. And logistics companies spend 16 days on average on the hiring process.

It’s clear, though, truck fleets spend a lot of resources on the recruitment and then retention process.

Fleet Owner recently held a webinar with compensation expert Beth Carroll, managing principal of Prosperio Group. Carroll is an advocate for a “target total cash” model of driver pay. In essence, Carroll argues, it is more attractive to drivers to be told that they can expect to make a total of $50,000 on average with up to an additional $10,000 in performance incentives than it is to be told you pay 48 cents per mile, even if the amounts work out to be about the same.

Listen to the free webinar and hear Carroll explain the target total cash compensation model.

Whether it is increased pay (or a more accurate depiction of pay), more home time or amenities such as satellite TV, fleets are more willing to try to make life on the road more comfortable for their drivers.

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