Today’s transportation industry looks very different from just 5 years ago. According to many in the industry, the plentiful driver applicants seem to have dwindled and many new hires are new to the driving profession altogether.
Most carriers openly lament to their shipping customers that there is a “driver shortage” or “it is difficult to keep drivers on right now”. Is this true across the board? Are there just too few drivers? Is it, in fact, too hard to keep good drivers? Many companies are encountering this problem. What about the companies that do not have this problem. What are those companies doing that is working? What’s the solution?
The solution becomes more apparent by looking back at the most recent driver “golden age” about 5 years ago. What was happening in 2011 & 2012…bingo! There were two major trends—e-commerce was making its largest year over year growth leaps and there was still recession. Both trends were good for the transportation industry. The increase in demand for delivery services and the supply of eager applicants looking for a career in the industry.
The e-commerce trend continues, demand is high. However, unemployment is down and so too are available drivers at yesterday’s prices. What can transportation companies do to keep drivers in this market? Is the solution as easy as simply paying drivers more $$$…YES. That might be a tough pill to swallow for some companies, but it is basic economics.
Those companies that are not having trouble finding and keeping good drivers already know this. The starting point is with the driver. Step 1 is to find out how much a driver needs to make to be happy, then adding in the other costs, including profit, then presenting a final price to the marketplace for finished services. Trying to fit yesterday’s market prices into today’s marketplace is a case of the square peg and round hole.
There is one other solution…And that is to hire drivers with less experience. This can be a scary proposition though. It is no secret that less experience or entry level, demands lower pay. Usually less experience results in lower productivity and quality though.
Enter technology, training, and support. If the proper technology is provided to a newer driver it can help quite a bit to make the driver competent in a short amount of time. With electronic route optimization and integrated navigation, more focus can be spent on safety, details, and serving the customer upon delivery. Customer focused training also speeds the learning curve and helps with driver morale. People are happy when they know they can do a good job to help customers. Lastly, new drivers need support. They need backup and to be part of the team.
If you deploy these strategies of higher pay, driver focused technology, training, and support—or you partner with a delivery company that does—than you will benefit from a good workforce, and will not have trouble finding good delivery drivers.