The private fleet advantage

by Mike Millian

A recent Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) panel concluded that to reduce driver turnover, carriers must pay drivers adequately and on time.

While this is no doubt true, the fact that a panel has to point this out would indicate adequate pay and being paid on time is an issue in the industry. To me, this is a sad state of affairs. And we wonder why we have a driver shortage and turnover issue?

It was further commented that pay scales need to be more predictable and reliable. To this point, I 100% agree. The highest turnover rate in our industry, by far, is in the longhaul over-the-road segment.

It is quite common for the turnover rate to hover around 100% in the longhaul sector. That is staggering when you think about; recruiting is constant as you are always trying to stop the churn.

There are a couple of reasons for this, in my view. In this sector, drivers are generally paid by the mile, which means their pay is heavily reliant on the carrier being able to obtain enough freight to keep them rolling and bringing in money. When freight dries up, so does the driver’s pay.

This leads to drivers not always having a reliable paycheck, and during slow times, can lead to a lot of added stress to the driver and his or her family. The second largest factor is the lifestyle, with not as many people wanting to be on the road for days or weeks at a time. If they are going to be, they want to be paid, justifiably, a premium for it. Before I go on, I want to be clear that not all over-the-road longhaul carriers suffer from this high turnover rate.

There are many for-hire carriers out there who have turnover rates well below the industry average, as a result of the way they pay, treat and reward their drivers. Unfortunately, there is still too large a segment that do not follow their lead, and spoil the view of the industry to others, including the current and future drivers we are trying to recruit and retain.

Guaranteed, or more predictable, pay is something the trucking industry needs to come around to. If we ever want any hope of competing with other trades, it’s time we wake up to this fact. The time to talk about it is over, the time to make changes and act is here, and has been for a while. We keep acknowledging our problems and saying what we need to do, but not enough are doing it.

One sector that historically has not had trouble finding quality drivers is the private fleet sector, however, recently our carriers are having trouble filling spots as well. If you are a driver looking for a good place to work, I would encourage you to reach out to some private fleets. Why?

I am going to list some stats that were procured from our 2018 Private Fleet Benchmarking report. According to those surveyed, 70% of private fleet drivers are home every night, with a further 13% only being out overnight once a week.

The average starting wage was slightly over $60,000, with the max pay averaging out to $80,000. Almost 80% of these fleets offer pension plans, while 100% have dental and medical coverage. A further 72% offer incentive pay, which can increase the driver’s base pay. All private fleets surveyed offered driver wellness programs that included mental health and grief counselling, while over 50% also had weight management, exercise programs, and nutritional counselling.

Many private fleets also offer hourly pay-based wages, making pay more predictable. You don’t require a degree in mathematics to figure out what your pay will be. Not surprisingly, the turnover rate of the private fleets surveyed is less than 12%. Seventy per cent of this turnover is a result of retirement, so controllable turnover is even lower.

Private fleets are also willing to hire younger drivers more than before, with the minimum age of recruits averaging 21 years of age. Many private fleets are hiring across the country, including mechanics, service writers, and safety professionals.

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