One on one with Max Farrell: How WorkHound is taking a bite out of driver turnover

With nearly a 100% driver turnover rate for truckload drivers, many fleets are searching for any solution that can help them retain their drivers. 

With nearly a 100% driver turnover rate for truckload drivers, many fleets are searching for any solution that can help them retain their drivers. 

In an industry where driver turnover approaches 100% in the truckload segment, any ideas that can curb that mass exodus are welcomed. One company, WorkHound, has been gaining plenty of attention thanks to its anonymous driver feedback solution.

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On a recent company blog post, WorkHound explained why anonymous feedback is a benefit to companies.

“There’s no manager on earth who would say that they don’t value your feedback,” the blog starts. “In fact, it’s precisely the reason that many companies boast about their open-door policy.”

Unfortunately, for many companies feedback can be nonexistent when it is not anonymous. That’s where WorkHound is filling a gap.

According to the company, anonymous feedback promotes honesty, is specific in nature, and is actionable. “When people can open up, they share what they’re really feeling, no holds barred,” the blog notes.

The American Trucking Associations’ Trucking Trends for 2016 pegged the driver shortage at nearly 50,000 drivers. Noel Perry, Trucking and Transportation Expert with FTR, told FreightWaves last month that the introduction of electronic logging devices later this year could result in nearly 250,000 new drivers per quarter needed to make up for the expected productivity drop. With the cost to replace a driver running from $3,000 on the conservative end to as much as $10,000 in some estimates, it’s clear that turnover costs fleets.

To combat this, many experts suggest talking to drivers. The ability to respond to driver concerns – and to do so quickly – can save thousands in recruiting and training costs, and that is what WorkHound, based in Freight Alley in Chattanooga, TN, is helping solve.

“WorkHound started in 2015 with a focus on how to address the massive driver turnover problem,” Max Farrell, co-founder & CEO, tells FreightWaves. “A big part of [turnover] is because drivers don’t feel respected, they don’t have a voice. As we started to investigate this, we realized it was important to give feedback and address the issues at the speed of business.”

Surveying the problem

Many trucking companies conduct annual surveys, Farrell notes, but “if you have 100% turnover, you lose your entire team before the next survey.”

The WorkHound solution allows drivers to submit their complaints, ask questions, or even praise their employer. They can do so anonymously, or if they choose, can identify themselves. Companies are provided with the information to take actions. For instance, if the program identifies concerns over pay programs, the fleet can address that through notifications or training programs. Just as importantly, if a driver identifies themselves, the fleet can work directly with that driver to get to the root cause of a problem or concern.

EpicVue, which provides in-cab satellite TV service, conducted a survey in 2015 and found that 37% of drivers cited a respectful, friendly and understanding environment as the reason they stay with a fleet. Carriers that listen to suggestions were cited by 25% of drivers.

People helping people

“We help companies take action when a driver has an issue,” Farrell says, adding that WorkHound has a Customer Success team that works with fleets to help identify and solve common driver concerns.

“Because we deal with people issues, we feel it’s important to have people [deal with them],” Farrell notes. “We have a Customer Success team to help drive action” by helping identify and solve urgent issues.

Max Farrell, co-founder & CEO, WorkHound

Max Farrell, co-founder & CEO, WorkHound

All the data WorkHound collects is made continuously available to fleets, including trends, issues, positive and negative reports.

Drivers can access the solution through a mobile interface and a weekly prompt asks them for input. Farrell would not say how many companies WorkHound is working with, only that the number of drivers is in the “thousands.” The company just finalized a $500,000 round of fundraising for staff and product development expansion. As to the number of drivers that contribute their thoughts, it varies.

“WorkHound is an engagement platform, and with engagement platforms, you have different levels of engagement,” Farrell says. “Ultimately, what we find is there is enough engagement to [identify issues].”

Finding success

So, the real question is, does the WorkHound solution actually work? Southern Refrigerated Transport (SRT), based in Texarkana, AR, employs over 900 drivers and was the subject of a recent case study. An over-the-road carrier that sent its drivers out for two weeks at a time, SRT was facing $4,000 to replace a driver and losing 10 a week.

It deployed the WorkHound solution and not only decreased turnover 16%, it saved over $580,000.

“What I liked about WorkHound was that it was simple,” Terri Lafayette, recruiting director, said. “There’s a big gap between what [front office staff] does on this side of the building and what goes on on the other side of the building [with drivers]. And I think there have been things that have been [reported] that we wouldn’t have known about otherwise.”

With success stories like that to tell, Farrell feels WorkHound is in a strong place to grow, but he is quick to note the contributions of his co-founder & CTO Andrew Kirpalani as well as the entire WorkHound team.

“He’s ensured that we have stayed focused to create a product that can support not just a handful of companies, but hundreds of companies,” Farrell says. “It’s helpful to have a business partner that understands how to scale.”

These days, those skills are being put to good use.

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