Driver Retention: Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

Driver retention has been a hot topic in the industry for years. I hear so many drivers asking if they should go and work for a company that has huge turnover rates. Does a high turnover rate mean that it’s a bad company? Not always. Neither does low numbers mean it’s good.

There’s a huge number of reasons that drivers stay with a company and an even bigger number of reasons they leave. Almost 35% of drivers quit in the first 90 days. It can seem like a dream career for some, the open road, good money and you can pick and choose what kind of route you want to do. Though the reality is sometimes far from idea. We’ve all been there, long periods away from home, lonely days with little interaction and sometimes endless problems that just don’t seem to stop.

For The Love Of Trucking

This means that you’ve got to want to be a trucker to make it work. It isn’t for everyone. Just like every company isn’t ideal for every driver. Some despatchers are just plain rude and have no idea how to best support a trucker. Sometimes the routes are just plain boring and the timescales are bordering on impossible. So you think you want to make the switch. Another company that you’ve heard good things about. They can’t be worse, can they? Of course they can. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

Depending on what you like to do, long distance, regional or overnighting play a role. How you like to operate also plays into it, they might not give you a long period of notice for your next job, adding onto the stress of making the load you’re currently hauling. Every company has their own way of doing things, so you could jump straight out of one nightmare and into another.

Big Company, Big Pain

Truckers I’ve known that work for the large trucking companies have had awful experiences too. It’s not just the mom and pop shops that don’t know what they’re doing. Large companies are usually inflexible and it’s their way or not the highway. If you miss their deadlines, paperwork requirements and don’t get everything done perfectly, you could be given the boot. One driver I met who worked for Estes was canned being only 1 hour late to a delivery. Once. They also demand that you get a new DOT medical for absolutely anything that may have an impact, not always telling you exactly what they expect.

Depending on what type of driver you are, companies looking for drivers are a dime a dozen. After years behind the wheel, I’ve worked for some of the best and, most definitely, some of the worst. Though I always tried to remain objective. Was it just their style or were they just outright awful? Then I’d decide if it was the place for me. More than once I regretted it straight away. Hindsight is a beautiful thing.

With the need for 110,000 new drivers needed a year, according to American Trucking Associations, the demand for drivers is high. This should mean that we can pick and choose who we work for, how we operate and determine our own destinies. We don’t have to just accept it for what it is. Though sometimes we have to play nice and just get on with it. I can’t say I’ve always followed my own advice, though.

Change For The Better

However, if you do change so frequently you don’t build up a reputation, you could be doing yourself a disservice. Loyalty to a company can lead to higher pay for the load. More money for time away from home. Better conditions. The pick of the loads. This isn’t always true, though most companies I’ve worked for usually prefer to honor their veteran drivers first. The rest of us get the scraps. So it can be good to stick with a company.

With the advent of the internet, we can ask around and find people who’ve worked for them and try and get an accurate feeling for what they’re going to be like to work for. Not everyone has the same opinions on the conditions though at least we can try and make better decisions.

Nobody can tell you who to work for or what’s best for you, so take some time to think before jumping ship to another company, though sometimes it’s what’s best for you and your career. Good luck out there and stay safe.