Trucking companies know that in an era of driver shortages, a sound driver-retention plan is critical to keeping their trucks rolling. It's easier—and cheaper—to hold onto a trained employee than to recruit and train new ones.
That's true for firms in every sector of the industry, including tank-trucking companies like Plattsmouth, Neb.-based Liquid Trucking. One of the country's 30 largest tank-trucking companies, Liquid Trucking serves the continental U.S. and Canada with a fleet of more than 150 tractors and 280 tanker trailers, specializing in agricultural, food-grade, and hazmat shipments.
To attract and keep drivers, Liquid offers well-equipped trucks and a competitive pay structure. However, in 2014, company officials became concerned that Liquid's turnover rate was out of step with its benefits and culture. Drivers were leaving at a higher-than-expected rate, and the management team didn't know how to reverse this trend.
Jason Eisenman, the carrier's director of human resources, diagnosed the problem as a communication gap. At the time, the company had a very minimal social media presence and no technology specifically designed for driver engagement. There was no system for getting information to drivers, and as the company grew, the staff struggled to keep them in the loop.
That's when Liquid decided to seek outside help. It enlisted Stay Metrics, a South Bend, Ind.-based provider of training and retention solutions, to help it find ways to bridge the communication gap.
NO MORE FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE
Stay Metrics' first step was to implement a series of driver satisfaction surveys to determine what aspects of the job are most important to drivers. That information, coupled with feedback on drivers' experiences with the carrier, provided valuable insights into where Liquid and Stay Metrics should target their retention efforts.
For instance, one of the critical disconnects found in 2015 was that 80 percent of drivers leaving the company did not feel that their experiences with Liquid Trucking matched their expectations going in. Once the problem was identified, Eisenman and his team made it a priority to address the issue, and by 2017, only 17 percent of drivers answered the same way.
In addition to launching the driver satisfaction surveys, Stay Metrics helped its client establish a driver rewards and engagement platform, which functions as a central hub where drivers can find company news, receive recognition, and even complete job-related training. Drivers can also earn points through the platform for various work activities, which can be redeemed for rewards through the Stay Metrics online catalog. For instance, one way drivers can earn points is by sharing practical tips about shipper locations—such as which driveway leads to the delivery bay and whether particular safety equipment will be required—with dispatchers and their fellow drivers to help them make the best use of their time.
How has all this worked out for Liquid Trucking? The results speak for themselves: In the four years since it implemented its multipronged driver-retention program, the company has seen its driver turnover rate plummet from 68 percent to 24 percent.