11 Ways Canadian Trucking Companies Excel At Driver Retention

In the United States, retention for trucking companies is dismal. But just to the north in Canada, most carriers claim a 40 percent truck driver turnover rate or better.

Why? After attending Truck World, the largest trucking trade show in Canada, we walked away with a huge number of actionable ways Canadian companies keep their drivers engaged and motivated to stay loyal to the company.

Here are 11 things Canadian Trucking Companies do to keep their retention rates among the highest in North America.

1.  Training

An adept, accomplished workforce doesn’t happen by itself. The strongest companies know that an upfront investment in training will pay off enormously.

Training software, such as CarriersEdge, is a great way of building a strong, capable team, and many companies require certain levels of training before any driver hits the road. Your drivers will feel valued when you know you’re interested in their personal development, helping your retention rates stay high.

However, despite any level of training, missteps are inevitable. One carrier uses the “Five Whys” method to learn how to prevent mistakes. By asking “why” five times, you can get to the root of why something happened, not just alleviate one symptom.

Another carrier does weekly benchmarking on driver skills. This evaluation praises where drivers are thriving and where they can improve.

2.  Find Culture Fits

Trucking is a people business. Several Canadian companies prioritize this notion by making cultural fit a requirement to join their company. When a prospective driver is interested in joining, many carriers will ask about their cultural fit.

Cultural fit includes how they’re personality will fit with that particular company, as well as how their driving skills will fit the position. Carriers are up front in discouraging drivers looking for a local driver job when all they offer is long haul opportunities.

Companies also believe that a good cultural fit has to be trainable. Each company has a unique operation and they want the best drivers that are coachable, yet confident in their ability.

3.  Democratic Truck Selection

A truck is a huge investment. More than that, it’s the tool that will be most widely utilized throughout your company on a day-to-day basis. Making sure your drivers feel comfortable with it is directly related to retention. After all, no one wants to drive an awful truck.

One trucking company got five truck manufacturers to send their best model to the headquarters of their company. Drivers were asked to stop by and provide their feedback about what they like and don’t like about the trucks. The company then used that feedback to make an informed choice about their next purchase.

When drivers like the trucks they drive, they’re more likely to stick around. It’s as simple as that.

4.  Incentives

Everyone likes to be rewarded for a job well done. That’s why many companies are stepping their game up when it comes to incentives.

Many companies offer sign-on bonuses and also provide drivers a safety bonus and utilization bonus when specified quotas are met.

Another company offers a fun way of saying thanks to drivers who stick around: rings. At five, 10 and 25 years, drivers receive rings so they can flaunt their accomplishment in style.

5.  Setting Expectations

As with any job, it’s hard to meet expectations if you’re not quite sure what they are. That’s why setting expectations is crucial, especially with the first 90 days.

Many companies noted that 30-, 60-, and 90-day calls are important to hitting expectations. More than that, some companies set up an anonymous feedback system so drivers can report their feelings without fear of retribution.

One company requires expectation agreements, where each driver sets a formal arrangement with the company on what their expectations are. This removes any ambiguity on what a driver needs to do to stay on board.

6.  Company Email Accounts

Sometimes it’s the little things that matter with retention. One simple thing companies can do to make drivers feel like part of the team is giving them a company email address. It’s an inexpensive way of building team loyalty and giving communications an official tone.

7.  Mentorship Programs

Having a mentor on the job is key to retention. When drivers have someone on their side they can talk to, small issues get extinguished before they turn into something larger.

One company assigns a mentor to each new driver and schedules calls for them to touch base. Another company takes this a step further and requires everyone in the company to complete 1-on-1 in-person interviews to build collegiality around the company.

8.  Empathetic Dispatchers

Drivers are out on the road for 14 hours a day, and, often, their only communication comes from dispatch. That can seem isolating, especially when dispatch is not familiar with what drivers experience.

One company hires drivers to be dispatchers for their company. This brings a unique level of experience and additional empathy—when there’s a mutual understanding on both sides of a phone line, drivers feel more comfortable.

9.  Accessible Staff

Many drivers might know the name of the CEO of your company, but how many have actually met him or her? When everyone in your company is accessible to everyone else, there’s a transparent, open environment—and that means incredible retention.

One company says that their executives take the time to meet everyone in their company and listen to them. Then, they take this feedback to optimize their company’s growth.

This accessibility doesn’t have to be rigid, either. One company has a little fun with their “Learn to Drive Week,” where they offer office staff the opportunity to take the wheel (to varying success). It’s a hoot for the drivers, and the office staff learns more about what it really takes to be on the road.

10.  Build Strong Relationships

One carrier tracks when drivers will be near the office and “surprise” the drivers at the nearby truck stops. They buy the drivers a coffee or meal and chat about non-work topics to build rapport.

In the office, different departments block time to call newer drivers so that they have multiple relationships inside the office (payroll, maintenance, operations, etc.) for when any issues arise.

11.  Collect Feedback

All the feedback in the world isn’t useful if it’s collected under duress. When there’s threat of retribution for speaking their mind, drivers just aren’t open to provide feedback.

Many Canadian companies continuously get feedback from drivers. Whether learning about orientation, different departments, or overall areas of improvement, companies are looking to improve. Several carriers embrace anonymous feedback from drivers.

When drivers can let headquarters know how they really feel and action happens, retention rates climb, drivers stay happy and companies save money. It’s a win-win.

driver retention, truck driver retention

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