Jeff Crissey

Hold on to what you’ve got

Boyd Bros. takes driver retention to the next level

If the current forecasts predicting a severe driver shortage hold true, recruiting and retention should take center stage as the industry’s top concern for next year and several years to come. While driver recruiting undoubtedly will garner most of a fleet’s attention (and resources), the underappreciated art of retention could become a new line in the sand in the battle for qualified drivers.

Jeff Untitled 1I had the pleasure to witness the real impact of a strong driver retention program during the recent National Driver Appreciation Week when I visited Boyd Bros. Transportation’s terminal in Birmingham, Ala. The Clayton, Ala.-based flatbed carrier was holding a celebration for two company drivers who recently cleared the 2-million-mile mark without a recordable accident. If the banner at the front gate trumpeting Boyd Bros.’ recent recognition as the Truckload Carrier Association’s “Best Fleet to Drive For” was any indication, the company was at the very least competent in the retention arena.

My intention was to cover the story from the standpoint of the drivers’ safety achievements. But as the morning progressed, another story emerged – that of a company whose dedication to its drivers and employees is so strong it’s almost tangible. As driver managers and company executives praised the two longtime company drivers in front of family members and local media, I stole a glance around the room at the other drivers in attendance. Beyond the requisite cash bonuses, small gifts and employee lunch that accompany such recognition, they looked on in quiet pride knowing they work for an employer who truly appreciates their efforts.

There is no better recruiting tool than a good retention.


“We spend one week a year focused on driver appreciation, but we try every single day to let our drivers know how much we appreciate them,” says Gail Cooper, Boyd’s chief executive officer.

Employee recognition is just one approach Boyd Bros. takes in its retention program. Boyd Bros. recently installed a company advisory board comprised of the fleet’s top drivers. The board meets to discuss events in the field, go over shipper issues, voice concerns and make recommendations in the equipment selection process. In turn, executives update the board on the economy, company outlook and goals; the board then shares the information with other company drivers. The driver advisory board establishes what is effectively a chain of command between management and drivers and creates a level of trust and openness throughout the organization. “Drivers will listen to drivers,” Cooper says.

In light of the driver shortage, Boyd Bros. continues to emphasize its philosophy of making sure drivers are well cared for. “It is extremely hard to find good, qualified drivers,” Cooper says. “We stress through all departments that they do whatever they can to help satisfy that driver. He’s a customer too, and all our people treat him so.”

As freight demand ramps up and the available driver pool becomes increasingly shallow, savvy fleets should focus some of their resources inward and invest in retention efforts. If the response at Boyd Bros. was any indication, it’s the little things that go a long way, and there is no better driver recruiting tool than a good retention program. n

Editor’s Note

To see a video of Boyd Bros.’ recent driver celebration, go to Smartphone users can follow the instructions to the right and scan the Mobi Tag to see the video on their mobile device.

Jeff CrisSey is Editor of Commercial Carrier Journal.

E-mail or call (205) 248-1244.