I am sure we all have been wondering about these things:
- When will inflated equipment costs start to level off?
- Are the driver and technician shortages getting any better?
- Is there a plateau for driver and technician wages?
- How long will diesel prices stay this high ($5.623 per gallon nationwide)?
I don’t have the answers to any of these questions and unless someone else has a very accurate crystal ball, I don’t think anyone does. For the most part, all these things are outside our control.
Now seems like a good time for each of us to look inward at our own businesses and focus on things we can control. When it comes to drivers, we know we must pay them competitive wages—or we run the risk of losing them to other opportunities that pay better. However, I believe drivers stay or leave based on reasons that have to do with more than just money.
I think the equipment fleets have available for their drivers and the way that equipment is spec’d plays a role in attracting and retaining drivers. I am not implying that all your trucks must be the latest models—given the current semiconductor shortage, we know that isn’t even possible—but your vehicles do have to be well-maintained. Drivers want to drive; when your equipment is maintained properly, it’s less likely to break down.
Trucks also need to be spec’d with some basic creature comforts. Consider upgrading seats to premium options and make sure the radio is upgraded. Also consider adding items that improve safety, ergonomics, and drivability. Items such as predictive cruise control make the driver’s life a lot easier. Now also is a good time to look at routing. Are there changes you can make to get more of your drivers home more often? In survey after survey, drivers have indicated that time at home is something they value.
Fleets also need to foster good relationships between drivers and technicians. Technicians also need to listen to what drivers are saying about how the truck is operating and what might be going wrong with it. What’s the root cause of a problem that a driver has brought to the technician’s attention, and how fast can a repair be made to get the truck and driver back on the road?
Successful fleets are making investments in their drivers and letting them know how important they are to the organization. This is true not just for drivers but also for technicians. I’ll share my thoughts on how to retain your techs in my next blog.
Gino Fontana, CTP, is COO and EVP at Transervice Logistics Inc. Prior to this recent promotion, he was VP of operations at Berkeley Division and Puerto Rico. He has more than 35 years of experience in the transportation and logistics industry with both operational and sales experience.