I believe strongly that over the past few decades we have done ourselves a significant injustice in this industry by not paying attention to the changes that happened around us as they relate to where our drivers and Owner Operators were being recruited. As our rural based second-generation driver pool started to dry up we continued to treat the new entrants to the industry as though they had the same work ethic and aptitude for equipment as we had experienced for the decades prior. This is not a new train of thought and in fact has been broadly accepted as the major reason for our abysmal record of turnover for quite some time.
The results of our indifference have been played out in the public eye for all to see for far too long now, 100% plus turnover rates and a new cottage industry whose entire service offering is to train us how to treat our own people, it is a sad commentary to a great industry. I believe that the basis of all good Human Relation efforts is really quite simple and goes like this “people stay in situations they like and feel comfortable in and they leave those that they do not like and feel uncomfortable in” think this statement to simple, well let me tell you that there is nothing more illusive than an obvious fact my friends, you can build an entire retention strategy around that simple quote. In fact if you’re not building a strategy around that very thing you are probably ignoring it all together and see the consequences in your turnover numbers and your bottom line. Or you might be one of the companies who think you are being clever by suggesting that you are capitalizing on the turnover situation and have figured out how to win at the game by simply rebranding your failure, success built on human suffering is not the kind of success that this industry wants or deserves.
The fact of the matter is that we have cost ourselves greatly by our shortsighted actions both in terms of bottom line dollars and human suffering. What do you think the cost of having five to six drivers in a truck over its lifecycle is compared to having one or two, what is the effect on that assets value. Consider the maintenance cost when so many different folks are in and out of the vehicles, deficiency reporting that is more a blame game exercise than make sure the equipment is ready to go. What is the efficiency cost to a trucking company when a dispatcher has to retrain their entire workforce over a year as compared to normal attrition, which is maybe five percent, or less? What is the cost to your operation of additional personal to constantly be hiring because of the churning, or additional personnel to be continually plating and UN plating Owner Operators while your fleet stays the same size? What cost to safety, it’s a known fact that a company with high turnover has more accidents incidents and workers comp claims, orientation is continually educating people administration never settles down because everyone is new at the paperwork process and your reputation for service to your customers, how can a company that is retraining an entire workforce over a twelve month time frame provide dependable service, I don’t think it can be done. I think the companies who work this way attract their customers with predatory rates and probably churn their customers in a similar way they do their drivers. The human suffering is an intangible that boggles the mind people don’t want to fail they don’t want to be jumping jobs and have to go home and tell their significant others that their decision to work at a given company didn’t work out, that is some serious stress. Does anyone want to take a stab at how many people in North America have been behind the wheel and earned their CDL’s but are no longer in the industry, my guess is that for every 3 AZ licensed driver 2 are still driving for a living!
So what’s next, will we do the same thing we have always done and end up where we have been for the past three plus decades with our drivers? I ask you to stop and think this one through, if you focus on quality and integrity and make it a cornerstone of your operation you will get quality and integrity, don’t settle for less. You might not get to be the biggest in the shortest amount of time, but was that ever the good goal? Turnover can be managed and beaten it does not need to be looked on as unavoidable evil of this industry, this is a disgusting theory that we have talked ourselves into, we need to start treating this industry and the people who choose to spend their lives in it with a great deal more respect than they have seen from us during our most recent past.
I believe the effect on margin dollars and of turnover in the trucking industry is astronomical and that in fact the industry is losing huge amounts of cash and people because of it. If the cost of turnover could be recovered and split with the drivers half to them and half to the companies bottom line any rational person would make that deal without hesitation, and in reality that deal is sitting squarely in front of many companies and they just don’t see it. Well my friends there is an old saying that goes “Truth and Time Go Hand in Hand” the companies that are trying to do it right and truly understand that their people need to be treated with respect and treated to opportunity to grow and prosper will win the day. Those who continue to keep their heads in the sand and are the primary cause the reputation that we have today time will run out on and their truth will be revealed!
Safe trucking YT
CEO Transrep Inc
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. All posts by Ray Haight