Recruiters are pulling out all the stops to recruit top truck drivers in 2021. However, a trucking executive says retaining qualified over-the-road drivers is just as crucial as carriers compete with e-commerce and last-mile delivery companies that offer more home time.
Long-haul companies like flatbed carrier P&S Transportation, headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, are using surveys from Stay Metrics, now owned by Tenstreet, to improve driver engagement and retention.
With its acquisition of Stay Metrics last fall, Tenstreet, a leading software-as-a-service company based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is making headway in the areas of driver engagement and retention. The company stated that the strategic alliance will provide trucking companies with “a more extensive driver dataset in one unified platform, making it easier than ever for carriers to make informed decisions about their business.”
Scott Smith, chief executive officer and co-founder of P&S Transportation, said his company values the data obtained through Stay Metrics survey products, which survey drivers from their first impressions through their early experiences and ongoing tenure to help carriers address drivers’ concerns.
“We were early adopters of using data to help us decide which areas we could make substantial changes to help retain drivers,” Smith told FreightWaves.
Tenstreet still offers legacy Stay Metrics survey products for companies like Smith’s that want a deeper dive into the analytics and allows for customization.
Smith said his company, which operates 15 locations across the U.S., with a fleet of over 1,300 trucks and access to more than 3,300 trucks throughout the PS Logistics network, is struggling to compete with the uptick in e-commerce and last-mile logistics jobs amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Those jobs often can get drivers home every night.
“Every company is different in what their problems may be, and the survey data helps show which areas we need to improve in to keep drivers,” Smith said. “We are mainly an over-the-road company, and we struggle with work-life balance to some extent, detention and shipper issues.”
To help retain drivers, Smith said his company has teams that concentrate on every category of driver satisfaction to measure if P&S is “trending up or down in certain areas.”
“If we are trending downward in a certain area, we try and stay on top of it weekly so we can address the issue to find out where our drivers are experiencing problems that may cause them to leave,” he said.
Detention time is a problem in the flatbed industry, Smith said. Extending drivers’ time at the docks means fewer miles truckers can legally drive in a day.
“As an industry, I don’t think some of our shipper partners have done a good job of respecting our drivers’ time, and I think we need to do a better job of holding them accountable,” Smith said. “Nobody wants to charge detention — we just want to be loaded and unloaded in a timely manner.”
Stay Metrics survey tools allow carriers to tweak the surveys to ask drivers certain questions, from which companies like P&S can glean information based on survey feedback.
While the trucking industry has been talking about a driver shortage for more than 20 years since Smith co-founded his flatbed operation, he said this is the first time it has really hit home as more truck drivers are choosing local delivery routes that allow them to be home every night.
Recruiting new drivers is expensive, but Smith said the Stay Metrics tools allow carriers such as his to survey drivers to evaluate their experiences in the hopes of retaining seasoned drivers.
“Stay Metrics & Tenstreet help us identify where our drivers are having a problem and then allow our teams to come up with a solution on how to fix it,” Smith said. “Sometimes it’s hard to understand why drivers decide to leave, but with the driver shortage, these surveys provide us with an opportunity to hopefully fix the situation before this happens.”
Tenstreet launches new Insights service
Tenstreet recently unveiled its new Insights service, which also surveys drivers and gathers actionable feedback to keep them on board before they decide to leave for other carriers.
Insights differs in that it combines the power of Stay Metrics surveys with the efficient nature of the carrier and driver platforms available through Tenstreet.
“It uses a standard survey set of questions based off market research making it easy to adopt, and is a perfect way to get started using surveys to improve retention,” said Leah Kelly, director of marketing and communications for Tenstreet.
Want to learn how Insights could shine a light on your drivers’ behavior? Contact Tenstreet to learn more.