Time to Get Serious

I have a real issue with carrier complacency when it comes to driver turnover. When I look at a motor carrier that has excessive turnover I see any number of things that ring of several serious issues that may threaten the company’s very existence. When operating with high turnover, there are always CSA scoring issues. This also comes with deteriorating marketability to the available insurance markets which equate to higher rates and there is a direct correlation between high insurance rates and operating ratios. There is also a direct correlation between high turnover and accident rates in that professional drivers want to work for safe companies. Conclusion; if your company has high-turnover and poor CSA scores and is facing a tightening insurance market, you better hope the current excess capacity that the industry is currently experiencing stays around for a long time because when it does slow down, and it will eventually, you’re going to seriously be up against it.

How do I know this? TCA’s InGauge has data from over 170 carrier profiles with granular, detailed, comparable data points that reveal what I have just stated as fact. No more speculation or conjecture is required as this is now factual and predicated on hard data. Being an unsafe carrier is terrible for a trucking company’s business which both threatens the public and severely limits the return on investment and profitability.

The good news is that it is never too late to start doing the right thing which is investing in a better safety program, tightening the policies and processes and beginning a culture revolving around doing the “right things right”. The biggest issue here is the commitment to change which includes getting everyone’s buy-in and getting things started – change scares people but change you must if you’re going to win when it comes to lowering your driver turnover. So if you’ve decided to do this, the place to begin of course is with the senior management team. They have to understand and buy into the reality that living in a company with excessively high turnover is a losing proposition with a limited future. After that, you’ll need to get all the folks inside the walls onside and that can be a bit of a sales job in its self. We call it the ‘WIIFM’ = “what’s in it for me” and there are many nice WIIFM’s that come with this. For instance, back to InGauge data, we know that companies with lower turnover have fewer accidents and their CSA results are in much better shape than those folks with high turnover. Lower CSA scores and accident rates mean lower insurance premiums which just so happens to be a direct correlation to a better than the average operating ratio and profitability.

We also know that bringing a safety-first culture into a company typically brings in tighter management practices in every area of business. Companies that operate in this fashion usually have a higher ‘truck to inside worker ratio’ and they embrace technology at a quicker pace than their competition which is another direct correlation to above average profitability. We also know that these companies typically pay their inside workers a higher than average wage than most companies. Please keep in mind that no one comes to work with the intention of failing at his or her job. It just doesn’t happen. However, here we are in many cases with turnover numbers that would make a longshoreman weep.

If you can’t convince your people inside the walls that every departure from your company, whether voluntary or not, needs to be taken personally, you need new people. Every day, many folks have to go home and tell their family that they don’t have a job and that the next paycheck isn’t coming and that sucks. We all know that most can pick up another job pretty quickly but that’s not the point. It’s disruptive and it is a change and people don’t like change. People like routine in a comfortable setting. Companies call them job jumpers and refer to the situation as driver churn. You can give it all the labels you want; they left because you didn’t give them a good enough reason to stay. You have to make your company sticky; sticky as in setting yourself apart from the competition.

It’s a paradigm shift that you need and here’s one that fits. Are you a motor carrier that simply requires drivers to fill the seats and move the freight or, are you a motor carrier that differentiates itself from the competition by the quality of its workforce? Think about it because both of these situations have the same amount of people working in them. For which one would you want to work?

I know where I would want to hang my hat. Don’t take me wrong here as the transition is not an easy one but nobody ever told you that running a business would be easy. A challenge yes it is. In my mind it is indeed a challenge worth taking but only of course if you want to be safer and make more money. If you’re interested in discussing this further, please go to www.tcaingauge.com/retentionscore and fill in the questionnaire and let’s see where things stand.

On a final note, the Truckload Carriers Association ‘Bridging Borders’ session is back for a second year after rave reviews of year one. It is happening in Mississauga on November 14th. It’s a half day event that brings insight into all sorts of issues from US legislative happenings, carrier benchmarking platforms, Canadian Trucking Alliance happenings and also my driver retention project plan. If you can fit this one in, it would be well worth the effort. You can look at the agenda at https://www.truckload.org/events/bbb/. Hope to see you there.

Safe Trucking!

Ray J. Haight

About Ray J. Haight

Areas of Focus: Operations, Recruiting & Retention, Human Resources With a career spanning four decades, Ray has been involved in all facets of the North American Trucking Industry.