An underlining theme of the TCA Profitability Program (TPP) Retention Project Plan is not pinpointing the “bad guys,” as going down this path is a waste of spirit. There is no one I know of that goes to work and tries to fail. There are, though, a large volume of people that trucking companies set up to fail, starting with their new drivers and their margin generators — dispatchers.
Trucking companies, by and large, are approximately 90% privately held by truck count; the barriers to entry into the business are minimal, which lends itself to many situations wherein. A driver sensing the opportunities available starts with one truck and grows from there. That was not my situation, but not far off, as my father left me three trucks when he unexpectedly passed. I tell you this because it might not differ from many stories out there.
To get from one, two, or three trucks to what would be considered a trucking company takes drive, hard work and it takes trust in oneself. When you look at this situation, what you won’t see is start-up entrepreneurs that have HR prerequisites. You don’t see communication training, conflict resolution, etc. And at one to three trucks, why would you? It’s when things take off that it gets problematic. When you own a hand full of trucks and, the market you serve decided they want more from you, you start to grow out of necessity.
Most of these challenges are outside the walls. The finance community, bankers, new customers, OEM’s, fuel companies, and others all want you. A new entrepreneur must make competent decisions regarding all of these necessities, or they may never make it. So, what comes last it is the relationships inside the business because you don’t notice them slipping away. My business went from not measuring turnover, to when we did, seeing a staggering number — 120%. We were busy patting ourselves on the back for having 200+ trucks but we were burning through 240 people a year. Yikes.
There are only two ways of countering this issue from the company’s perspective. One, hire more drivers faster. For a while, many companies were very good at this countermeasure. That was until an interruption in the supply of new drivers was slowed down by a few factors, including COVID as driver testing facilities were not issuing new drivers licenses, older drivers decided this would be an excellent time to slow down or retire, and so on.
Two, take a good hard look in the mirror and ask yourself how you transit this company you have built into one that people want to come to work for and stay for the long haul. This second option is much more complicated. If you’re looking for a method of reducing turnover by outsourcing it to another company, you will never get it under control. If you own it, you can change it. If you need help, I’m here to lend a hand. Let’s get started retaining drivers, today.