Category: driver shortage

Improving Driver Retention

improving-driver-retention
For carriers, keeping good drivers can be a challenge.  Whether there’s a driver shortage or an abundance of them, trucking companies want to keep drivers who are dependable and are going to stick around.  Carriers need to look for new ways to not only find reliable drivers but also to keep them happy.   Hint:  it’s not just about the money.

The trucking industry has been on a rollercoaster ride with a trucker shortage, massive layoffs, and a pandemic, and that’s just in the last year.  The coronavirus has left carriers and drivers alike closing up shop with their return uncertain.  Drivers who deliver food and essential freight are working overtime while others can’t find any loads.  When the dust has settled on this economic shutdown, drivers everywhere may be scrambling for work, giving carriers a good crop to choose from.

The Money

For most people, money is the most important part of their job.  After all, people need to support themselves.  Offer good pay, benefits, and bonuses.

Give Them Time At Home

If possible, give drivers a schedule that allows time at home.  This is particularly important when recruiting new, young drivers as hours away from home are the main reason that they turn elsewhere for employment.  Life on the road doesn’t appeal to everyone and for people with young children, long hauls are a deal-breaker.  One of the most underutilized groups of drivers are women and looking at ways that drivers can have shorter hauls may open up interest from younger or female drivers.  Many companies are now offering shorter routes and flexible schedules so employees can have more balance between work and home.

Show Them Respect

People want to feel respected.  If you treat drivers with respect and let them know that they are valued members of the company, they’ll take pride in the work they do for you.   Your place of business should be professional and welcoming to both men and women.

Create a Safety-Conscious Environment

Understand the safety concerns of all employees because their safety on the road isn’t just about avoiding accidents.  For women, long hauls are particularly dangerous but there has been much concern with trucks being robbed on the road during the coronavirus shutdown. It’s important that safety procedures are in place to protect drivers on the road. Offer seminars and training on how to stay safe out on the road by carrying pepper spray, parking in well-lit areas and other safety strategies that they may not be aware of.

Create a Team Atmosphere

Creating a team atmosphere makes drivers feel like they’re part of something and may make them want to stay with your company.

High turnover costs carriers money but if it is viewed as a puzzle with many pieces, they can improve driver retention, save money and have happy drivers.

At Direct Freight Services, we help shippers find carriers to bring loads to their destinations.  From short routes to cross-country, Direct Freight gives shippers the tools they need to find reliable truckers to carry the load.  For drivers and carriers, Direct Freight’s database of currently available loads will keep your trucks rolling.  Go to Direct Freight today to find out more about how this vital tool can help you.

Low Rates During the Coronavirus Pandemic Are Hurting Drivers

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On May 1st, a convoy of more than 70 trucks gathered on Constitution Ave. in our nation’s capital to protest the low freight rates that are crippling an industry already damaged by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Rates have fallen to unsustainable lows with truck load rates down from an average of $1.79 per mile in Feb. 2020, to an expected $1.51 in May.  The protesters aren’t asking for changes in the rates but rather, more transparency when it comes to freight brokers.  Drivers have the same overhead they had before the virus hit―truck payments, insurance premiums, fuel costs, repair bills, etc. It is all still there.  Despite the lowered rates, many freight brokers are charging the same commission as before so the protesters are asking for more government regulation.  The drivers are asking that Congress require brokers to provide transparent transaction records upon service completion and eliminate clauses that keep drivers from accessing them.  

There have been some ease of restrictions for drivers who are hauling freight that’s considered essential, the 14-hour limit has been waived so the restriction doesn’t prevent necessities from being delivered quickly, but it’s not enough.  With the closure of bars, restaurants, and many stores, freight isn’t moving like it was before the pandemic so there are fewer available loads and many carriers and drivers, especially smaller operations, are really struggling.  Drivers who can find loads are barely breaking even.  With the major hit to the number of loads, drivers are finding it more difficult to fill deadhead miles and are returning with empty trailers.    For others, it’s more profitable to park their trucks.  

Of course, those who do get loads are opening themselves up to getting the virus.  With so many drivers prone to obesity and who smoke, they may be at greater risk for developing severe symptoms or even dying from the disease. Many owner/operators have chosen to stay home over contracting the virus driving through “hot spots” in states where the virus is more prevalent.  

As we gain control over the virus and the country begins to open up again, there may be lasting damage to the trucking industry.  Even when demand grows in this country, much of the freight comes from overseas, leaving us dependent on the re-opening of other countries so recovery may be slow getting off the ground.  When it does, there’s a real fear that after businesses begin to reopen and the demand for drivers climbs that many drivers will simply not return.  

The protesters in Washington, D.C. are looking for fairness, that if load rates are less during this time, freight broker rates will be less too.  They aren’t looking for Congress to step in and do something about the declining rates because, even with all the punches this virus has inflicted on the trucking industry, there’s still the belief that with recovery of the American people, recovery in the economy, recovery of our nation, will come the recovery of the trucking industry.  

Direct Freight Services is a web-based load board that can make finding profitable loads easier.  It has many helpful features like full credit reports, load filtering, payment expectations, and broker authority information.  Whether accessed online or now through our easy-to-use Direct Freight app, Direct Freight helps you find the right loads. Go to DirectFreight.com and start searching for those high-quality loads today!    

The Driver Shortage and Recent Layoffs: Making Sense of It All

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Despite the shortage in certified truck drivers that has been raging on in recent years, last year brought big numbers in layoffs throughout the entire trucking industry.  Left and right, drivers lost jobs and carriers large and small closed doors. In December 2019, 3,500 truck drivers lost their jobs with a total of 6,600 for the year.  Many that managed to keep their jobs saw  rates slashed.

More Than Drivers Affected

Carriers aren’t only cutting drivers.  Many positions being cut in the trucking industry are administrative and non-driving positions.

The downturn in the trucking industry has a far-reaching impact. Carriers stopped adding to their fleets, purchasing 64% fewer new trucks than the prior year. Popular engine manufacturer Cummins announced that in Q1 2020 it will lay off 2,000 employees, and Volvo Trucks is laying off 700 people in January.

Ups and Downs

The trucking industry has a history of ups and downs, and often where the trucking industry goes, the economy follows. The economy has been on an upswing but a decline in the demand for trucks usually indicates that it’ll soon go the other way. The Great Recession that began in 2008 was preceded by a downturn in the trucking industry in 2006. Unfortunately, this is not a tried and true indicator of an impending recession. While a national recession is almost always preceded by a recession in the trucking industry, the reverse isn’t always true. In fact, the trucking industry experiences twice as many recessions than the national economy so trouble in the trucking industry doesn’t necessarily mean that the country will go through an economic recession.

Slowing in the Manufacturing Sector

Since the trade war with China reached a stalemate and tariffs were implemented, manufacturing has slowed.  Tariffs cost consumers and importers $1.4 billion a month with $165 billion in trade being directed to other countries, demand for goods has slowed and along with it, manufacturers aren’t producing, retailers aren’t buying, so carriers have less to ship.  Jobs up and down the supply chain have been affected.

Light at the End of the Tunnel

Whether such a dramatic downturn will turn around quickly or we just see more of the same for 2020 still remains to be seen.  The hope is that 2020 will bring a light at the end of the tunnel. Talks with China are progressing.  If the US and China come to a deal on trade so tariffs are lifted and the U.S., Canada, and Mexico come to an agreement on NAFTA, there should be an upturn as manufacturing speeds up again to meet the demand, and freight begins to move again.

If you’re a driver who is looking for freight, Direct Freight Services can help you find loads to keep your truck on the road.  Direct Freight Services is a full-service load board that allows truckers to find loads and companies to post their available loads. The Direct Freight website also has many useful features such as a mobile app, mile calculators, fuel price data, weather conditions, turn-by-turn truck-specific routing and more.

To see how Direct Freight can get you back out on the road, go to DirectFreight.com today!

Sources:

https://www.businessinsider.com/trucking-bloodbath-truck-drivers-december-jobs-report-2020-1

https://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t17.htm

https://www.businessinsider.com/cummins-confirms-2000-layoffs-at-truck-engine-manufacturer-trucking-downturn-2019-11

https://www.businessinsider.com/trucking-bloodbath-truck-drivers-december-jobs-report-2020-1

https://cdllife.com/2019/volvo-announces-mass-layoffs-due-to-lack-of-demand-for-trucks/

https://www.businessinsider.com/trucking-bloodbath-ata-truckers-potential-2019-8

https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/trump-trade-war-cost-americans-14-billion-per-month-last-year-2019-3-1028002357?utm_source=markets&utm_medium=ingest

https://www.npr.org/2020/01/16/797100293/china-trade-deal-a-truce-awakens

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2020/01/16/usmca-senate-vote-mexico-canada-trade-deal-replace-nafta/4471596002/