How To Find Truck Drivers—And Retain Them: 25 Key Tips

How To Find Truck Drivers—And Retain Them: 25 Key Tips

It’s hard to figure out how to attract truck drivers during a labor shortage. These tips can help you recruit and retain drivers for the long haul.

Written by bobtail

The U.S. has struggled with a shortage of truck drivers for years. In 2021, the American Trucking Associations placed the deficit at more than 80,000 workers; the boom in e-commerce amid the COVID-19 pandemic may have exacerbated the gap. At least, that’s the popular narrative.

While 3.36 million truck drivers hauled freight throughout 2020 (and even more if you count self-employed drivers), there were more than 10 million CDL holders around that time. How do you account for the imbalance—which implies that millions of people who could be truck drivers are simply choosing other employment?

University of Pennsylvania labor expert Steve Viscelli has a theory. “There is no shortage of truck drivers,” he told The New York Times in 2022. “These are just really bad jobs.”

If that’s true, the question for employers—who must not only recruit drivers but also keep them on the team—is how to make the job better. Here’s our take on what smaller carriers can do to meet this goal.

How To Recruit CDL Truck Drivers: Tips For Growing Carriers

Small fleet owners have some hiring advantages over large carriers: namely, company culture and values. Small businesses have more freedom to accommodate driver requests, and drivers know it. But culture alone isn’t enough to outbid the competition.

To reach the recruitment leads that turn into career-long employees, you need to tackle three related challenges: finding a pool of potential drivers, sending an attractive message, and offering a compensation package that can compete. Here are some tips for all three efforts.

How to Hire Truck Drivers

Messaging That Attracts New Employees

Setting A Competitive Compensation Package

How To Retain Truck Drivers Once You Hire Them

Once you figure out how to recruit drivers, the next step is to keep them on your team. Driver retention is a serious challenge in the trucking industry. According to one survey, retention topped 100% in 2019. The key is to keep your drivers happy. Here are a few tips that can help with the three most important elements of a satisfying workplace: communication, support, and incentives.

Communicate with your team, listen, and adjust policies when you can.

Provide the tools and services that make life on the road easier.

Allow for a healthy work/life balance.

Show appreciation with incentives and pay increases.

Navigating The Trucking Labor Market In 2022

Anecdotally, it isn’t easy to find new drivers as we publish. In July 2022, trucking company owner James Gonzalez, of Galveston, Texas, told the Washington Post that hiring was a nonstarter.

“It’s so hard to find people—especially someone who knows what they’re doing,” Gonzalez said. “I’ve been doing this for 20 years and can’t think of a time it’s been this tough.”

But as we mentioned at the outset, millions of CDL holders in the U.S. aren’t driving trucks. Enticing these workers back to the trucking industry may require employers to offer higher pay, more comfortable working conditions, and a raft of new incentives. Remember, you’re not just competing with other trucking companies for drivers; you’re competing with every employer, including those whose jobs keep workers close to home.

Experiment with the tips listed above to improve driver experiences, and you’ll be more likely to keep your company growing.

Frequently Asked Questions About Hiring Truck Drivers

Still have questions about hiring and retaining drivers? Here are answers to a few frequently asked questions on the subject.

Why is it hard to find truck drivers?

It hasn’t always been this hard to hire drivers, and not all companies are having a hard time with it. Like all economic signals, labor supply and demand fluctuate constantly. But according to the American Trucking Associations (ATA), if trends don’t change, we could see today’s estimated driver shortage double by 2030.

The ATA offers a long list of potential reasons for the shortage, which help to explain why some employers are struggling to hire. Here are just a few:

The tips listed above can help to counter these trends. The trick is to remain committed to the hiring effort, always ready to try a new recruitment strategy.

Why do truck drivers quit?

There are probably as many reasons for quitting as there are drivers who quit. But according to the ATA, these factors often play a part:

In mid-2022, there’s another reason that may lead drivers to seek other employment: The current hot labor market is providing lots of options. Maybe drivers are finding work they prefer closer to home.

How do you increase driver retention?

Hiring is just one piece of the workforce puzzle; you also need drivers to stay on your team. The simplest way to boost retention is to provide great workplace experiences. Unfortunately, meeting that goal is no simple task. Hopefully the ideas we outlined above can get you started.

Maintaining Cash Flow For Recruitment And Retention

You may have noticed that a lot of these tips require you to spend more money. Hiring can be an expensive proposition, and when you need new drivers now, it’s important to have reliable cash flow. That’s not easy when your customers operate on net-30 or net-60 terms. Factoring with Bobtail provides a solution. This easy-to-use app allows you to upload rate confirmations and bills of lading—and get funded for outstanding invoices that day.

We don’t lock you into restrictive contracts or enforce volume limits. It’s a simple, quick way to keep cash flowing so you can focus on your workforce. Now that you know how to attract truck drivers and keep them on your payroll, start getting funded. Sign up for a free trial with Bobtail, or call us at 410-204-2084 for more information.

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