Six simple steps to better retention

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TransCore, a provider of load matching services, announced CarrierWatch, which provides shippers and freight brokers with an immediate online method of validating and monitoring carrier credentials. Carriers can register their services at no charge. Subscribers can search the CarrierWatch database using as many as 60 different criteria, TransCore says. For more information, visit

ACS will provide its TripPak Express drop box document collection service to Werner Enterprises, which is retiring its proprietary drop box network. Werner had considered expanding its own network but decided instead to use TripPak, which has boxes in more than 1,500 locations, to reduce out-of-route miles and time delays.

State of Idaho has launched a website ( that combines the trucking-related services of the state police, transportation department and tax commission. The website features links for permitting, IFTA filing, paperless hazmat endorsements, license renewals, CDL record searches, road and weather reports, maps, safety regulations and other information and services.

Maverick Transportation has acquired Scottsboro, Ala.-based Parrett Trucking Inc. The 140-tractor flatbed carrier, which uses primarily owner-operators, will be operated separately under the name Parrett Trucking LLC. President and founder Mike Parrett will remain as president of the new company.

Once again, recruiting and retaining drivers is the No. 1 issue facing most carriers. And with a surging economy creating jobs, the situation will only worsen. The cause of turnover varies, and solving the problem usually demands considerable study followed by action. But top management usually lacks the patience for study. Executives want to act now. While there is really no substitute for digging into the heart of what’s wrong, here are six steps you can take if you feel compelled to address your retention problem immediately.

Reach out to recruits. Assign each new recruit a manager outside of operations to act as a mentor. At small carriers, that mentor might even be the owner. Large carriers can draw on managers in finance, sales and maintenance – any manager who wants to do more than pay lip service to retention.

Start by calling a recruit at home the week before orientation to make sure the deal remains closed. Then make time during orientation to get to know each recruit before he goes out on the road. Follow up with two to three telephone calls a week during the first month. Yes, this takes effort. But you will develop bonds with drivers and familiarize the entire management team with drivers’ problems.

Minimize time spent in orientation classrooms. If drivers were good at learning in a classroom, they probably wouldn’t be driving trucks. Drivers, like most adults, learn by doing. They emerge from orientation dazed and confused.

Make training hands-on as much as possible. A driver won’t focus on how to complete a trip envelope, for example, until he must submit one. Have drivers run practice loads in your yard. If a shipper is providing two or three loads to the same destination, have the new drivers run these loads in a pack with a driver trainer who can help them out once the loads are delivered. As much as possible, treat the first 30 days as one big hands-on training session.

Thoroughly clean and repair tractors assigned to new drivers. It’s sad but true that a trucking company with an empty truck often will park it in the yard for several weeks – perhaps even right next to the shop – and not have it clean or in working order when the carrier finally gets that driver. If this happens in your operation, stop it.

Never lose a driver over a pay issue. You can’t control the weather, your customers or the highway patrol, but you can control how your drivers are paid. Drivers quit over pay issues. Either they don’t understand the settlement sheets or they can’t get the carrier to resolve a pay issue. Add a review of the driver’s first paychecks to your hands-on training. Then adopt a policy that any pay issue not resolved within 24 hours of being submitted by a driver is automatically resolved in the driver’s favor. That should get results within your organization. True, drivers will take advantage of you on occasion. But your drivers’ faith that you will always be fair will more than offset that worry in the long run.

Keep information up to date. Your fancy computer system is only as good as the quality of information you enter into it. If you haven’t reviewed all active customer records recently to ensure the information is accurate, do so right away. Complete and accurate information in operations makes everything run much more smoothly. And as needless mistakes drop, you will find more time to deal with real issues.

Honor home time. Drivers forget many things, but they will always remember missing a child’s birthday or being kept out on the road for a week longer than promised. State your home time policy clearly to drivers and dispatchers and honor it consistently. Consider guaranteeing that commitment by paying a bonus if the driver misses home time or is asked to cut it short. A bonus serves two purposes. It eases a driver’s pain for lost home time. Perhaps more important, it establishes a true penalty for asking a driver to forego home time, thereby discouraging dispatchers from doing so.

These are steps you can and should take. None costs big dollars, and each improves your operation. So what are you waiting for?