Drivers are said to be one of (if not the most) important asset for trucking companies. Not only are they responsible for the successful and safe transportation of products, but overall act as brand ambassadors for their company, often spending more time with customers than traditional salesmen. The impression they leave behind plays a large role in customer retention as a negative experience can lead to lost future sales while a pleasant and memorable experience can cause a shipper/consignee to want to increase their business together. Knowing this, it comes to question as to why many carriers would hire less than qualified drivers to represent their company. Perhaps to fill capacity restraints? Or maybe because they do not have to pay them as much as they would an experienced/skilled driver? Whatever the case, industry experts agree that the quality of drivers is decreasing.
Trucking company owners agreed that it is becoming increasingly difficult to find qualified drivers to fill their seats, stating that they are lucky if one out of ten drivers will make it to the second round of the interview process. Finding the “downward spiral” to be “extraordinarily concerning,” experts referred to safe, clean, and professional drivers as a “lost art.”
Many find a lack of training to be a large contributing factor to the poor skills demonstrated by drivers today. One company noted that they had added a map reading/trip planning class into their new driver orientation and found that 67% of those drivers (most of which were recent trucking school graduates), could not plan a trip with a road atlas and pencil. As one industry expert added, with today’s technology, such as GPS, drivers do not need to have the same skill sets that they had in the past and training has become brief and the instructions are general. Others noted that companies are too quick to put drivers in the truck rather than training them first and that the days where you needed at least five years’ experience are gone.
Those involved in the hiring process acknowledged that it is the unqualified drivers who are frequently looking for new jobs due to their poor performance, with one respondent explaining that she has seen many driver applications come in listing several different companies that the driver has worked for in only a 2 year span, which she explains is a red flag and wouldn’t even consider them.
Another issue shippers, consignees, and carriers noted was the number of drivers that cannot speak English. As one noted, she has had drivers come to her facility that cannot read or speak English and acknowledged that while many people are multi-lingual, her loaders are not and these drivers cannot follow posted and verbal instructions at her facility.
Appearance does not fall short on the level of poor quality in drivers today. An overwhelming amount of people stated that drivers do not present themselves as professionals, noting examples of poor hygiene, flip flops, no shirts, short pants with holes in them, tank tops…the list goes on. One even presented a case where a driver showed up wearing 5 day old clothes that smelled like garbage and had trash all over their dashboard which fell out when he opened his truck. Consensus was that a driver should act and dress professional as well as take pride in themselves and some carriers even noted that if their drivers didn’t tuck in their shirts or wear a uniform, they shouldn’t bother working.
The severe lack of pride in the job is something many agreed was missing. Truckers morphed from a “knights of the road” mindset to just trying to make ends meet.
Regulations are said to have driven experienced truckers from the industry. Many noted the electronic logging devices set to go into effect this December as well as hours-of-service as the number one example, pressuring drivers to get back before their hours or up or be left stranded/face violations for driving past the required limit.
So who, or what, exactly is to blame for the quality of drivers on the road today? Is it new regulations, driver turnover, carriers choosing quantity over quality, lack of training…?
Overall, those involved in the trucking industry agree on one thing…you get what you pay for, with some stating that they can look at a driver and have a close idea of what a carrier is paying them as well as what the shipper is paying for that shipment. One trucking company owner put it best, “If you want your freight delivered at the cheapest possible price, you get with it an open can of uncertainly. Don’t expect a ‘presentable’ driver. On the contrary, if you want a ‘presentable,’ white glove service, you have to pay the price.” And don’t forget, customer retention is, in part, in your driver’s hands.
With Road Scholar Transport, you can rest assured that a qualified, professional and uniformed driver will show up at your dock. Visit www.roadscholar.com to request an LTL or truckload rate today.