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100% Turnover same O same O

Anyone surprised that the latest figures out of the US that suggest that retention rates are on the rise once more with both small and big carriers hovering around the 100% mark. I believe that in Canada we are at lesser turnover rates but still close enough that we are in the same shape, probably 20% less that the US so lets say that were hovering around the 80% average turnover rate, its déjà vu all over again, for what seems the tenth time?

These numbers are of course once again ridiculously high and heading higher, and other than headlines in trade magazines I don’t see all that much being done about it. Every other headline on both sides of the border suggests that drivers are our number one issue in the industry. Bringing new drivers into the industry is hard; the average age of the existing drivers is much greater than other sectors of the economy and a significant threat to the industry etc. Is the perfect storm (Driver Shortage) that we have been hearing about for so long actually right around the corner, who knows?

Certainly the governments on both sides of the border are complacent to say the least they almost seem oblivious to the situation, which in turn encourages it. In the US you’ve got many lobby groups lead by the powerful CRASH and Public Citizen, two railway funded groups with a war chest that exceeds 50 million dollars lobbying against any change that might make trucking even a little bit more efficient. Their role in the process is to gum up every piece of legislation that even hints that it might bring efficiency or common sense to the trucking industry, on either side of the border.

The new HOS rules are a great example of their power, the system is now designed to limit available driving time and of course try and treat everyone like they are working at a 9 – 5 bankers job. They don’t care to understand that this is not a normal working environment and that trying to apply that paradigm will accomplish nothing but the additional clogging of an already clogged highway system. These groups are there as an obstacle to the industry, they fund senators and congressmen with mounds of cash to ensure they go along with their bidding. And they do this in spite of the stats that suggest that the industry is safer than it has ever been in its history with the rule that has been in place for the past number of years! Result is drivers leave the industry they can see that they will be out longer on the road and probably make less money because they will certainly be less productive!
No article of mine on this subject would be complete if I didn’t mention that both sides of the border continue to allow sub standard training of entry-level drivers to exist and to fund it with our tax dollars. I know I have been beating this drum forever but until this situation changes I will continue to bang that drum as loud as I can. It appears that the FMCSA owns my greatest hope for change, but even that opportunity is a little like waiting for 50 layers of paint to dry, the proposed rule has been over 6 years in the making, are you kidding me. Well at least the proposed rule has got to this stage, Canada seems to be waiting for the US to do all the heavy lifting and when their done we can simply suggest that we have to be compliant to their rule and follow like little puppies on their lead. All this of course is mute unless the rule has some teeth on training curriculum because if it comes out the to white washed by some of the lobby groups involved we’ll be no further ahead than we are now. Many people go through substandard training and are unemployable in the industry, these folks end up with no jobs and this situation is paid for by “we the taxpayers” in over 50% of the cases, this does not help the situation when it comes to attracting new entrants to the industry.

The thing to do that many trucking companies don’t seem to understand is that the situation is in their control all they have to do is design a strategy to get control over their turnover and execute. To use a baseball saying, it is time for to play some small ball. The reason for this is that it really is all the small things that add to creating a sense of community within a company that people want to stay in and tell their friends to come over and join in.
I am quite often asked for my advice concerning different aspects of trucking including this situation and quite honestly it always surprises me and it reinforces the simple fact that common sense is really not all that common. If a company wants to know what their drivers like or dislike why not ask them, if you want to know what is the primary issue between your process within the company and the drivers wouldn’t you just ask the people inside the walls, the people in the trenches?

This is a great starting point, I would ignore all the editorial that suggest that the numbers are only getting worst, if anything I would use them as a rallying cry to attack the problem. If a company simply looked at each touch point within each of their departments to see if their systems could be improved to make them more driver centric, I believe they would start to improve their turnover almost immediately. Not to say this is a quick fix because it is not, this takes time but it is all the little battles that sometimes with the war!

Any company that accepts 80 –100% turnover as normal is asking for trouble over the next number of years because the Perfect Storm will find you eventually, of this there is no doubt!

Safe Trucking

Ray Haight

Ray Haight

Mr. Ray Haight has enjoyed a successful career in transportation starting as a company driver and Owner Operator logging over one million accident free miles prior to starting his own company. After stepping down from a successful career managing one of Canada’s 50 largest trucking companies, Ray focused on industry involvement including terms as Chairman of each of the following, the Truckload Carriers Association, Professional Truck Drivers Institute, North American Training and Management Institute and the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities voluntary apprenticeship of Tractor Trailer Commercial Driver, along with many other business interests, he enjoys a successful consulting business, also sitting on various Boards of both industry associations a private motor carriers. He is also Co-Founder of StakUp O/A TCAinGauge an online bench marking service designed to assist trucking companies throughout North America focus on efficiency and profitability within their operations.
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7 Comments » for 100% Turnover same O same O
  1. John says:

    The rules (HOS) are only meant to increase cash flow for the enforcement agency, there is as far as I know no complete study on HOS that support it.
    Turnover will keep being a problem as long as companies treat drivers like any othe employee, drivers as you pont out are not 9-5 so they should not be treated as such. Drivers need to know they are important and that the little extra they did was important. At one company I worked at years ago I would find a $50-100 gift card in my pay envelope every once in a while it was not much but it showed me the company would reward me for doing that little extra for a customer. There was no written policy on this it would just happen it was a reward not something expected by a policy or rule.
    Having been in the driver training industry also I agree standards are to low and most of the good driver training schools would love higher standards but all they can do is train to pass because they will not recieve funding if they do it correctly
    My rant 🙂

  2. Abby Dave says:

    As a small fleet owner (a dozen trucks) if I had 100% turnover I would be toast. My turnover is about 10%, and even that is too much. Our drivers don’t make huge money, about 55k a year, for about 10k long haul miles a month. However, we have almost all new Peterbilts, and trailers, and I try to do most of the deliveries and reloads. I treat my guys with respect, and keep them in the loop about issues regarding loads, dispatch, and most things relevant to their work. For their part, they work hard, take care of their trucks, and keep the BS to a minimum. This has worked for me for 30 years. Why can’t some people get this? On the other hand, if a driver is a serial quitter, I will not hire him(or her) only to be dumped later. I am very grateful for our drivers, who are a great group of people. Thanks, Ray.

  3. Cliff says:

    We all talk about turnover and how low our standards are for professional drivers , these go hand in hand as they both result in lack of respect for our profession.
    We need to raise the standards and there are a few ways to raise the standards by doing the minimum
    1) Don’t allow drivers with International licenses to work more than 30 days in any province (the regulation is 163 days now)
    2) If you work in a province you have 30 days to get that province’s license and do it by taking their tests
    3) You could also redo the professional driving test every time the medical has to be done when renewing your license
    Maybe thus will help professional drivers get some self respect which could generate respect from our industry, this would at least educate drivers that bounce from province to province because the jobs are greener on the other side.

    • Ron says:

      Truck driver is a truck driver – no matter which province or state is your licence from .I’ve driven in Alabama as well in Alberta and all over in USA and Canada- no much difference – use caution and common sense.
      Yes international drivers should be retested and trained.

  4. Tony Godsoe says:

    Hi Ray all of the above comments are true. If Companies want to retain drivers then they need to show the drivers they are all a part of the logistics team, a very vital part. Freight goes nowhere from the shipper or the dock if you do not have a driver. Include the drivers in a lunch break talk session and maybe a video, of how the companies work together. Speak to their office staff about not disrespecting the drivers as some office staff and dispatchers do. More flies will be caught with honey than vinegar. The industry is under paid and over worked and will not attract the younger generation unless changes are made. Drivers need to start making decent pay checks and more home time without being called at home the next day after almost a month on the road which companies do. Driver fatigue is real and abundant, When a driver is stopped at a scale for inspections and is put out of service for some reason he needs to know the company support is there when he calls in not screamed at to find out how long he is going to be. My company does not pay anything for a breakdown regardless if it is an entire day. Also the first hour of wait time is free. My wife works at Horton’s and every hour is paid. Hire a contractor to cut your grass but tell him he must work for the first hour free. Then tell him to sleep in your garage overnite and be working by 5 am. The Americans have it right and wrong but the companies need to show more respect we get it enough throughout the work day from shippers and receivers. Why has this industry gone down hill so much since when i drove back in the 70,s.

  5. meslippery says:

    Tony in my great young trucking life it was if your truck breaks down I will still be paid.
    Till I run out of hours and can sleep.
    Time is money just pay for my time, waiting traffic, weather, breakdown.
    It is time, pay for it or get someone who can avoid all that and do a better job than me.

    If it where to be done that way?? NO Driver Shortage….

  6. Tony Godsoe says:

    Hi Ray as usual another great article, we all talk about the driver shortage issue but i think the major problem is the hiring process. Companies no longer meet potential drivers face to face instead they tell everyone to apply on line or go through a recuiter, who makes high commissions when they get a driver or O/O. The industry needs to back up to the times when a hand shake and a smile and a one on one interview with a person was the way it was done. This applies in all industries especially Trucking. High tech works and is here to stay but people should be seen and heard not just through an on line application. there is less and less human contact in todays world . This topic was covered on a talk show cross canada check up. I would bet that if the transport industry was to start interviewing people again properly the seats could be filled much quicker. Our industry is going through many changes in the next few years, and companies can expand their fleets in my opinion if this is tackled. Logistics have to change with more home time and pay for the drivers, but the middle man such as recuiters are making huge profits when finding drivers who do not stay long with companies anyway, Many major companies have gone back to answering the phone with a real person on the other end to sort out problems for consumers, and they find it works better. Transport companies need to do the same be honest and truthful to people and watch the difference. Tony

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