Disrespect of drivers at shipping dock outweighs carrier appreciation

By Kevin Jones on

With National Truck Driver Appreciation Week coming up, let me be the first to say ‘thanks, driver’ – but also that I’m not sure this official celebration is worthwhile. If trucking companies really want drivers to be happy and productive, it’s time to get tough with customers.

Drivers rate lack of recognition ahead of home time as a reason for leaving a carrier, according to a recent survey.  BB&T/Transplace graphic

Drivers rate lack of recognition ahead of home time as a reason for leaving a carrier, according to a recent survey. (BB&T/Transplace graphic)

Here’s how I see the big picture: NTDAW isn’t so much about trucking companies’ making a special effort to recognize and honor their drivers, it’s about reminding the public why drivers are so important. Necessary, but hardly appreciative.

Carriers, after all, had better show appreciation to good, professional drivers every day, and not just by throwing a barbecue once a year. Maybe drivers will be lured to a carrier whose annual event is bigger and better than anyone else’s, but that’s only because the ribs always smell sweeter at the other terminal.

For many long-haul drivers, in fact, an annual party at HQ is just a reminder they can’t make it, or that attending will cost them some mileage revenue. Carriers realize this, of course, and many use the occasion more for special recognition, to reward the best of the best.

And I’m confident drivers appreciate any party they actually participate in. I’ve been to my share of trucking hoedowns, and a good time was had by all—though local staff always outnumber drivers.

My point is that NTDAW is more a reminder to those disenchanted drivers that, indeed, they are not appreciated. With TL turnover rates at 100 percent, it’s hard for carriers to make their case.

So why bother? Simply, PR.

The enumerated and enthusiastic points on the NTDAW “event ideas” sheet emphasize the importance of inviting politicians and policy makers (and freeloading journalists—there goes my picnic plate) to meet truck drivers, the genuine backbone of the American economy, and so to make a good impression.

Protecting the industry from misinformed regulation is absolutely critical, and winning the hearts and minds of the highway-sharing public is very, very important. But that’s not ‘driver appreciation.’

If trucking companies want to show drivers some love, how ’bout getting the message to customers? After all, long-haul truck drivers spend more time on the shipping docks than they do at their home terminals.

Sit around any truck stop driver lounge and, most likely, you’ll find that drivers aren’t complaining about their companies; they’re upset with the way they’ve been treated that day by shippers and receivers.

Shippers know this, that’s the aggravating part. I sit in on a big shipper event every year, and sessions on carrier relations are always well attended and lively at the Transplace Shipper Symposium. The latest event was no exception.

According to a BB&T survey of 4,000 drivers, pay was the leading reason most leave their jobs, followed closely by the “lack of recognition or respect,” at more than 30 percent, BB&T trucking analyst Thom Albrecht told the many Fortune 500 company reps. Notably, that sensitivity to disrespect is a bigger problem for drivers than not getting enough time at home.

“As an organization, you’ve got to get across to your people to treat these folks with respect,” Albrecht said.

So why aren’t carriers doing more to let shippers know they need to shape up? Or do shippers just not care?

We’ll go into some detail on driver dissatisfaction, customers and the Golden Rule(s) in Part 2 of this post.

Kevin Jones

Kevin Jones is Senior Editor, Trucking Media, and writes from his home in Little Rock, Ark. His Fleet Street blog features whatever strikes his fancy and has at least a little connection to trucks, or drivers, or highways. Or David Allan Coe. (Google "the perfect country and western song" if you're not nearly as old as Kevin is.) You can also keep up with Kevin by following his Twitter feed (@KevinJonesCCJ) or just drop him a line: kevin.jones@randallreilly.com.

7 comments
Curtac
Curtac

Funny thing about your posting, I have seen both sides, and unfortunately I have seen more on the driver challenges than shipper / carrier challenges.  I am sure if you ask 100 people independently and not in a collective group within a room, you will get a variant of answers all adding up to we need to be more respectful of each other.  Drivers do not need to be wearing a $2.00 pair of shower flip flops as they jump out of the truck and hop up onto the doc run through the warehouse to the office and then run back through again past a number of moving forklifts.  Then to jump off of the dock down onto the ground and hop into their truck while waiting to have their truck supplied with the next load.  I personally watched this happen as did the workers compensation inspector I was walking with at the time.  The risk that the driver put the shipper in was huge, not to mention their own lives.  I have seen the yard after a number of drivers leave the docks and the docks look like an open trash can.  No, the trash did not come from the wind blowing through from the ware house. Getting what you give is an old statement that more times than not proves out to be true.  Yes, there are some who do not appreciate other people and will give anyone a hard time, that is to be expected in this world.  We need to simply remember to be kind to one another and that every person counts / matters and they should be treated with respect.  Being kind to a driver or a shipper who is not kind back is tough, but to be the better person is in fact making you the better person and an example to be noticed and followed.  Free food, parties, little perks in the mail or in an envelope as the driver pulls away, works the same from the drivers to the staff. I have been doing the following for the last 12 years. I have garbage and recycle guys who show up at my home every Tuesday morning.  I know their names, I know about their families, and I know what they like to eat and drink. I leave two cooler bags of soda and water and cookies every Tuesday on the back of my gate, one for each company that comes to our home. I never have any challeges with the trash cans or recycle bin being left at the street and if i am late getting the trash or recycling out, the drivers will circle back and take care of me during the day.  Yes, kindness does work and it works in both directions.  Cheers.  Curt.

SmithsonCat
SmithsonCat

Shippers/receivers need to be held accountable for delays in loading/unloading.  These equate to dollars.  Fees should be passed on to the broker, shipper and receiver.  Efficiency people!  That will get our economy back on track, not complacency.

MileHiMoose
MileHiMoose

I think it is Called Code 59 or Code 159 of The U.S. Code, that there is Punishment for any and all Shippers, and Receivers that force Drivers to pay for Loading or Unloading. Or cause them to be delayed and not be compensated ! A Log Book is A Log Book. No One Should be allowed to cause a Driver to lose Wages just because your Receiver or Shipper is Screwed up, or has Spent too much of their Company Funds on Advertisement Like Football and Nascar. Most of that money is collected by and from drivers and they call that and them Lumpers. Most of it is Tax Free Collected Funds... O.M.G.

MichelleWalsh
MichelleWalsh

My husband just left a company for this very reason. Granted, the carrier company was horrible in and of itself, but the fact that he spent 13 hours sitting on a dock and NO ONE at the company would call the receiver and rattle their cages about getting him unloaded...simply unacceptable. Shippers and receivers need to understand that every minute a truck driver is sitting still is a minute he is NOT making money. Walmart was, by and away, the worst of the worst. They like to run their stores on barebones crews so they can save a dime or two, and of course, everyone else pays for that with their time, be it customers waiting in crazy long check-out lines in the store to the truck driver wasting his day sitting on their dock waiting to be loaded or unloaded. The fact that the carrier company maxed out detention pay @ $96 was total crap. The author of this article is right, they need to start coming down on these shippers and receivers and penalize them for holding their drivers up. 

Buckstar
Buckstar

The industry will never change. As long as someone is willing to roll out of their bed into a sleeper birth for 30 some low cents a mile, trucking companies have the attitude that drivers are a dime a dozen. Until the Federal Government actually does something to require a fair pay for all work (14 hours a day), you'll just see the same crap going on forever.

kcame1
kcame1

the shippers dont care  they all ways think they will find more trucks, the driver  need to tell shipper they want be back.  we have to be loaded& unloaded fast  in order to move freight.   all shippers

texan2thebone
texan2thebone

 @Curtac is correct.   If driver's want respect they need to dress and act the part,  the "kid at the playground" conduct and "homeless chic"    doesn't cut it.    An impression is made before words are spoken  through appearance,  and this includes how one approaches and how one leaves cements that impression.    There is no excuse for leaving garbage or waste on a lot unless there is no where else to place it.   Drivers may need to use the facilities,   please make them available.

 

At the same time,  customers should be ready to do business at the time they ask the driver to be there.    Several times I have been ignored for up to 20 minutes after my appointment time while clerks shuffle papers or the entire office staff exercises and cheers.   You are wasting my time,  and that will guarantee if you go past the 2 hours granted to you I will be requesting payment.    If the load is on or off before you go to lunch or break,  please take the extra time to complete the paperwork so I can leave.     I can understand the occasional problems,  but  outright discourtesy and rudeness are not called for.  

Must Clicks

Events