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CCJ study: fleets using driver rewards to combat turnover

_X0A0920_processedA driver shortage, now estimated at 40,000, is causing motor carriers to fine-tune their strategies to retain drivers.

Besides offering better pay packages, benefits and incentives, fleets are looking to influence the human factors that cause and contribute to turnover.

Factors like perceptions and motivational behaviors can be far more complex to manage than drivers’ home time, miles or model year of equipment. Despite the odds, a new wave of products and services aims to do just that.

Driver retention products have a range of options from rewards programs to satisfaction assessment tools and predictive modeling.

Driver rewards

Driver rewards and loyalty programs are used by 45 percent of fleets according to a Sept. 3-4 survey by CCJ. The programs typically work by rewarding points for attaining periodic goals and milestones in categories like safety, compliance, fuel savings and tenure. Drivers redeem their points towards non-cash items.


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Stay Metrics, providers of a driver engagement and research platform, has a new set of products that give fleets deeper insights into why their drivers ...

A growing trend is to have a third parties administer these programs.

Wolfe Trucking, a 36-truck carrier based in Van Nuys, Calif., decided to end its own rewards program due to accounting problems, among other reasons. Drivers were arguing about the amount of points they were being rewarded.

“It almost became a full time job for someone to keep track of all the information and to keep the drivers happy so they wouldn’t quit over the bonus plan,” says Jack Wolfe, chief financial officer.

Load One uses a driver rewards program administered by Stay Metrics.

Load One uses a driver rewards program administered by Stay Metrics.

Approximately 10 percent of fleet that have a rewards program now use a third party, the study found.

“We have found that a well-structured rewards program with obtainable rewards for a driver can truly effect turnover,” says John Elliott, chief executive officer of Load One, one of the five largest ground expedite carriers in North America.

Load One has been using a rewards platform from Stay Metrics for three years. “It is not a magic bullet but it helps to make companies with good culture even better,” he says.

Fleets that run their own rewards program rated the effectiveness a 7.25 average on a scale of 10, with 10 being the most effective. Fleets that have a third party manage their program give their program a score of 7.8.

The study, which had 109 respondents, also found that rewards programs are the most widely used by fleets with between 50 and 500 trucks:

Tim Hindes, chief executive officer of Stay Metrics, says the company’s own research shows that drivers who are engaged in a rewards program — specifically those who login to the rewards site it administers for carriers at least three times per month — have a 24 percent lower turnover rate.


Companies are also starting to use technology to obtain feedback from drivers to identify strengths and weaknesses in their recruiting and retention practices.

Max Farrell and Andrew Kirpalani, founders of Workhound, recently won the Truck Tank competition at GATS.

Max Farrell and Andrew Kirpalani, founders of Workhound, recently won the Truck Tank competition at GATS.

A company named Workhound recently created a mobile app and cloud based management tool. Its app aggregates feedback data from drivers and shares insights that companies can use to better manage their relationships with drivers.

In addition to a rewards platform, Stay Metrics acts as a neutral third party to obtain feedback at critical points in the employment lifecycle of drivers. The company interviews drivers at the 7 and 45-day period of employment as well as conducts an annual driver satisfaction survey, exit interviews and custom research.

Relationship management

Customer relationship management (CRM) software, such as, is a popular way to streamline the sales process. Fleets can now use a similar application to manage driver relationships.

Tucker Robeson led the startup of CDL Helpers, a company that created a cloud-based Fleet Relationship Management application. The app is designed to “keep a rolling log of the interactions” with drivers, Robeson says, to gather useful information and ensure that interactions follow a consistent — and unique — process for each carrier.

Over time, the app is able to benchmark conflicts entered in the system, like a driver being frustrated with a dispatcher, against the long term success rates of drivers. This serves as a useful predictor for how many hours the company has to neutralize the threat before it escalates and leads to turnover, he says.

Predictive modeling

Having more data on drivers may all be for naught without turning the data into insights that lead to quick, corrective actions to achieve better results. That’s the premise behind using predictive modeling.

One of the first companies to approach driver retention from this unique angle was Omnitracs Analytics. In 2005, the company — named FleetRisk Advisors at the time — created a model for fleets to predict which of their drivers were likely to be involved in an accident in the next 28 days.

omnitracsAfter a successful debut, the company created a Driver Retention model that mines thousands of data elements to identify subtle changes in driver behavior. These changes are used to predict drivers that are the most likely to leave.

Its model recommends the topics to discuss with each driver to alleviate the source of stress, anxiety or frustration that is causing the change in behavior and attitude.

Omnitracs Analytics, which is a subsidiary of mobile software provider Omnitracs, continues to expand the data sources to make its predictions more accurate and timely. For instance, it can now identify patterns in the messages sent by drivers and by driver managers through the in-cab MCP platform.


Putting more intelligence in truck routing

Predictive analytics has changed a lot since Omnitracs Analytics built out its first models. The amount of data has increased exponentially along with the speed, ...

Certain words and the frequency of messages are highly predictive of turnover and critical safety events, says Dean Croke, vice president of Omnitracs Analytics.

Advanced predictive models of this type require a lot of data to produce meaningful results. To date, fleets that are using this technology have been on the large end of the spectrum.

As the driver shortage continues, the market for technologies and services designed to help fleets diagnose and treat the causes of turnover are likely to continue gaining traction.

Greg McClain
Greg McClain

A rewards program for drivers is a nice tool to have. Its' not better than having good paying freight loads but its' an added perk. You are out there doing your job and if you are associated with a sound carrier like Load-1, for example, it is nice to get a little pat on the back. The good companies are not always the companies that don't advertise for driver openings and are not always the ones that take care of their drivers. The good companies are the ones that work for you - and add a few perks here and there to add to your pay check or settlement each week.


I guess after I turned eighteen I don't need attaboys or toasters I work very hard I just want fair pay

Go home and pat your son on the back

Greg McClain
Greg McClain

@jimtexasmoves  If you indeed work hard and you get fair pay then what is your issue on others getting what works for them? It sounds to me that you aren't getting fair pay. If that's the case - do something about it and take action instead of just complaining. If you don't like how you are being paid or treated take action regarding your situation.


I'm not complaining for me

I own my own company and only run peterbilts

The thieving that's going on doesn't affect me it's trucking future I'm concerned with and all the people taking advantage of drivers that don't know better

College boys that come up with scams to try and con people to stay on the job

Just treat them fair and pay them good money for the sacrifice of running the road and never getting quality time at home

You'll give that money to a third party thinking your doing something good why don't you give it to the people who deserve it

In 42 years I've Sean every scam you can through at me. You may think it is a good idea but 5000 others have already done what you think is a bright idea

Greg McClain
Greg McClain

@jimtexasmoves  While I am all for these perks I share your concern for the future. That is why I have the feeling that if you want to change things in life, society, your community, in business - you start with yourself. Do what you are doing, run a clean business, take care of yourself and take care of the people around you. While we might not be able to control or change the industry as a whole we can certainly change how we ourselves do business in the industry. I, myself, am becoming much more involved within the industry and working to develop a 'new code of conduct' for a lack of better words. We can all find ways to do our part.

old retired trucker
old retired trucker

There is nothing new. As a Safety/HR person for over 40 years, with a computer it may be easier to track and keep records, BUT THERE IS NOTHING NEW! These companies, both Carriers and the "we will fix all your problem companies' are just recycling what has been be done and/or tried for 30 years. There are enough of us old retired SAFETY GUYS out here floating around that could save them a lot of time, trouble and money, IF WE HAD A CHANCE. 


There isn't a driver shortage. It is propaganda by the large carriers because they want more trucks so they can get a bigger piece of the pie. The same reason they buy up other carriers.  If there was such a big driver shortage then rates would be a lot higher to accomadate the "big shortage" Bad thing is all of the trucking websites are falling for it. And if everyone keeps voting for the politcians  that are pushing these trade agreements then the American trucker isn't going to have to worry about it because there is plenty of drivers across each border that will haul their junk. Wake up America you are being screwed by both the Democrats and Republicans. Vote for someone anyone that is against free trade.


You keep your toaster

Just like I told the bank

Why don't you thieving college pricks pay a good wage and keep your damn toaster

You can always tell where the good companies are they never have to advertise for drivers

The rest of them are too busy trying to figure out how to line there own pockets then they cry to the advertisers we can't find drivers

College boys make me sick

old retired trucker
old retired trucker

@jimtexasmoves WOW!!! You are so right. It is just like all the phone and cable/TV companies. Spending MILLIONS on trying to get new customers with the limited time "deals." Why not take the advertising money and give their current customers a better service at a better price? They would end up with more customers than they can handle. 

The companies that take care of their Drivers do not have a shortage! Those that "say" they have or are making a better deal is wasting their money and telling lies! 

BETTER DONE THAN SAID, is still a true statement!!!

Aaron Huff is the Senior Editor of Commercial Carrier Journal. Huff’s career in the transportation industry began at a family-owned trucking company and expanded to CCJ, where for the past 14 years he has specialized in covering business and technology for online and print readers and speaking at industry events. A recipient of numerous regional and national awards, Huff holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Brigham Young University and a Masters Degree from the University of Alabama.