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One of the big myths of driver retention is that a fleet needs to increase pay to better retain drivers. But the facts don’t bear up under scrutiny: 7 of the top 10 reasons for driver turnover are unpredictability and communication. Those “soft” problems trigger people to quit. And retention problems cost your fleet $5k to $15k per driver, according to HR company, Compli.

So if you’re looking for ways to improve driver retention, you should start by fixing those trigger events. You know it's a high-stress environment. Drivers and managers are human. Buttons will get pushed. Problems and complaints will arise. Miscommunications happen.

You have to help those people fix those problems fast, before they're allowed to fester. Training — specifically, training that helps drivers and front-line managers navigate your fleet’s processes and expectations — is the answer.

What Triggers Drivers to Quit?

There’ve been a lot of studies about the reasons for driver turnover. For the sake of a recent one, we’ll use this recent survey from DriverIQ.


Driver iQ Recruitment and Retention Survey, Q1 2018


The first thing that jumps out at you should be that the top reason drivers leave is Total Compensation. But didn’t we just say that it’s not usually about pay?


Would You Take a New Job for Less Money?

In this market, drivers don’t leave a job for less money unless there’s extenuating circumstances. Better pay is nearly always the result of a new job these days. But we'd argue it's not the trigger that made them start looking for a job.

That's like saying the No. 1 reason people die is death.

Here's another analogy: In sports, the coach has to manage the players and the skill, because they can’t coach the scoreboard. Likewise, you need to manage the triggers, not the result after that driver has already left.


Manage the Departure Triggers with Better Training

You can’t control the pay your competition offers drivers, so smart companies look at the factors they can control. Let’s look at the actual triggers. What pushes a driver to look for another fleet?

Quickly, you’ll see that it comes down to managing expectations and providing drivers and managers a way to deal with their problems. Both of those can be accomplished with training.


Unpredictability Pushes Your Drivers to Leave

The DriverIQ survey points to:

  • Lack of Steady Miles
  • Unpredictability of Home Time
  • Unpredictability of Paycheck
  • Gap between Promised Pay and Work Needed to Make It

Drivers expect miles, but you don’t deliver and their paycheck suffers. They expect to get home, you don’t route them that way. They envisioned life with your fleet differently than it’s turning out, and that makes them upset enough to listen to the siren song from another fleet.

So the solution is training for your managers and your drivers.

  • How should a manager or dispatcher deal with a frustrated driver?
  • What should a driver do when they feel their manager isn’t taking care of business?
  • What should a driver do to complain about a shipper?
  • What’s the resolution and appeal process for equipment problems?
  • How can a driver request more consistent and predictable home time?
  • To whom can a driver turn when things are just harder than they need to be?

If you’re serious about improving your retention, you need to think about all the complaints and frustrations you hear about, and coach your managers to be positively eager to fix them. Everyone needs to be trained to know those answers, and everyone needs to know those answers actually work.


Communication Pushes Drivers Out the Door

Other reasons for quitting a fleet include:

  • Lack of respect as truck drivers
  • Problems with supervisors
  • Issues resolving problems
  • Lack of communications

Like the unpredictability problem, these are all “soft” problems that reflect your culture and your training. Fleets who think the problem is between the drivers’ ears, or because "millennial drivers are snowflakes," are the fleets who keep paying to replace drivers while their competitors eat their lunch.


Training Isn't Just for Safety

However, you can easily fix these so-called soft problems with training.

  • Coaching with Confidence: ITI offers base training material for having firm but constructive conversations, and recommends customizing it for your company.
  • Easy Fixes to Common Problems: What are the most common headaches faced by different roles. How do you fix, delegate, or up-level them? We have the assets and expertise to provide guidance to build a custom course for your company.
ITI's Professional Services team has sat in your seat before, and has tried-and-true methods for providing custom training to drivers and front-line managers that can dramatically reduce headaches, frustration, and driver turnover.


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