Miles down, total compensation flat among Best Fleets finalists

MARKHAM, Ont. – Drivers for the Top 20 Best Fleets to Drive For put fewer miles under the bumper than the year before, but saw a small increase in their pay.

That was one trend identified through an analysis of the Truckload Carriers Association’s (TCA) Best Fleets to Drive For program. Driver compensation averaged $65,405.18 (all figures U.S.) among 2020 finalists, on average miles of 108,777. That translates to a “real rate per mile” of 61.77 cents, up sharply from the 53.29 cents drivers from the Top 20 fleet earned the year before while grossing $65,148.91 over 122,244 miles. But their total compensation was only negligibly higher.

There are a couple possible explanations, noted Mark Murrell, one of the program’s founders and administrators. Drivers could be taking advantage of pay increases seen in 2018 to run fewer miles. Or, it could be that electronic logging devices (ELDs) are reducing their miles.

“We definitely saw a continuing shift towards stabilizing that pay, with guaranteed pay, more pay for waiting time and waiting time pay kicking in sooner,” Murrell told Trucknews.com in an interview.

Another interesting trend is that driver turnover was down significantly, at 31.11% for Top 20 finalists from 44.07% among 2019 finalists. This could be because there was a greater representation of smaller fleets among the Top 20 this year than in the past. Smaller fleets tend to have lower driver turnover than mega-fleets.

Murrell said driver turnover scores took into account that fleets with expansive new-entrant driver programs naturally tend to experience higher turnover. But interestingly, fleets with a moderate-sized new entrant driver program experienced less turnover than those who don’t have any form of program for new entrants at all.

As always, this year’s race was extremely tight. Within the Top 20 winners, two separate packs of six fleets were each separated by less than 1% in total score. Total scores ranged from 88% to 55%. The two grand champion fleets – in large and small fleet categories – will be unveiled at the TCA’s annual convention in early March.

Five companies that appeared in the Top 20 last year dropped of the list this year, “and those tended to be larger companies,” Murrell said. “They’ve been good, solid companies, but they just got beat on the programs.”

In some cases, driver satisfaction was down noticeably. Two Canadian fleets appeared in the Top 20 for the first time: Fortigo Freight and Wellington Motor Freight. Wellington (and America’s Service Line) pulled the rare feat of leaping straight into the Top 20 without first being recognized as a “fleet to watch.”

Eleven of the Top 20 have appeared on the list for five or more consecutive years, and this year Motor Carrier Service of Northwood, Ohio, became the first fleet make the Top 20 for 10 straight years.

While the finalists have been revealed, and the grand champions selected, there’s little downtime for those running the program. Work is now underway to prepare for the awards presentation at the TCA Convention.

“There are 50-odd things that need to be done,” Murrell said, citing everything from the preparation of press releases, to publishing the results booklet and ordering trophies, to coordinating and preparing winners for the grand reveal. The Top 20 winners – including grand champions – won’t find out who is crowned overall winners until the announcement at the TCA Convention in March. The full list of Top 20 winners and the top fleets to watch can be found here.

James Menzies

James Menzies is editor of Today's Trucking. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 18 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at james@newcom.ca or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.

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