Truck driving has become more than signing up, getting in a truck and moving freight. Technological advancements have been made in many aspects of the transportation industry, and the driver experience is not a part to be overlooked. A driver is a company’s most valuable team member, regardless of being an independent contractor or company driver. Drivers navigate the roads safely, move a customer’s freight safely and step up to accommodate the busy season. In all the hustle and bustle of logistics, where do companies take time to care for the Independent Contractors and company drivers?

For many truck drivers, there’s more to the job than pay. Pay per mile, accessible equipment and onboarding time is certainly still important, but they are wondering how often they’ll see their spouse or partner, kids and pets. Will it only be on the weekends? Will they be home a few nights a week? They’re wondering what it will be like to work with the new dispatcher, dock workers and everyone else in the company. Who is there to help if there is a breakdown?

Home time, team members and pay can have a negative or positive impact on both a driver’s work life and personal life. Miles come easy for a company or local driver, but they can be gruesome for an over-the-road driver who is gone for 10 or 15 days at a time. Drivers need their pay to be reflective of the states they drive through and the weather they face. When you add in maintenance and fuel, pay and consistent mileage is one of the key factors that determine if an Independent Contractor’s business is profitable. According to the American Trucking Associations (ATA), companies with more than $30 million in annual revenue experienced 78% turnover in the fourth quarter, and smaller carriers saw a 5 percent uptick in the fourth quarter, raising the turnover rate to 77%, just one percent lower than the large carrier rate.

Keeping drivers in the cab with monetary incentives is easy, but drivers also look for genuine respect from their recruiter, dispatcher, IC Coordinator or fleet manager. While the most common methods used to address driver retention are increased pay or large bonuses, the effects of these solutions are only short-lived. Establishing a solid recruiting, driver orientation and onboarding process can also help reduce turnover, make drivers feel appreciated and create a substantial connection between company and driver.

“We’ve made significant investments into the driver experience at Roadrunner Freight, which starts with driver recruitment and the screening process for potential drivers,” says Frank Hurst, President of Roadrunner Freight. “Our recruiting team reports to our linehaul department, and we target drivers in geographical areas that align with operational needs. This allows open and honest dialog about mileage and runs available, and we have a rigorous screening process for all applicants. This ensures we have the runs and mileage available, and expectations are completely aligned.”

Some organizations are just looking to fill a seat in a company truck, but the strategic companies are looking to find the right driver for their individual company. Until recruitment processes include more evaluative way of interviewing prospective drivers, the cycle of filling seats and seeing turnover will continue. Asking the right questions up-front will determine if the driver is a good fit. Learning about the driver’s career goals and expectations for the job will promote transparency between the driver and recruiter, and relationships can build from there.

Orientation and onboarding should set drivers up for success in their new role, and for Independent Contractors, it should promote a successful and profitable relationship between their business and the carrier. Not only does the paperwork matter, but so does introducing the driver to the culture they’ll be immersed in. Giving drivers a well thought out onboarding experience will open the pathways of communication, and these exchanges promote partnership longevity between the Independent Contractor and organization.

“To package it all together, drivers really are the backbone to any transportation business and our customers’ freight would not move without them. They’re the face of the company and see our customers every day,” says Frank. “It’s crucial that we take their feedback seriously and show our appreciation to them.”

Roadrunner Freight, a division of Roadrunner LTL, is committed to providing reliable and cost-effective less-than-truckload service. Through 29 service centers and strategic partnerships located across the country, Roadrunner Freight offers expansive long haul, regional and next day service in all major US markets. For more information, please visit http://rrts.com/freight.