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How fleet maintenance is central to driver retention

5/19/2022

A great way to keep truckers happy and engaged is by upgrading the vehicles they drive.

Amid the Great Recession, a movement that is affecting just about every industry to one degree or another, businesses of all sizes are coming up with ways to ensure that their workers don't join the mass exodus. Motor carriers — as well as those who need truckers to transport goods — are certainly among them. From raising wages to improving workplace conditions, companies are going to various lengths to retain commercial drivers. In short, they're trying to keep them happy and satisfied, with the hopes of encouraging more applicants to join the fold.

But as an executive vice president of a logistics firm points out, keeping more truckers behind the wheel isn't all about showing them the money; it's also about showing them respect — by improving the trucks they drive.

Writing for FleetOwner, Transervice Logistics EVP Gino Fontana notes that upgrading and keeping service vehicles in good working order is a way to show respect for truckers because you're investing in their happiness.

"I think the equipment fleets have available for their drivers and the way that equipment is spec'd plays a role in attracting and retaining drivers," Fontana said. "I am not implying that all your trucks must be the latest models — given the current semiconductor shortage, we know that isn't even possible — but your vehicles do have to be well-maintained.

Trucks on the road are advanced in years
Much like the nation's infrastructure, the commercial trucks on the road are getting long in the tooth. Indeed, the average age of light trucks — meaning those whose payload capacities are no higher than 4,000 pounds — is over 12 years old, according to the most recent figures available from IHS Markit.

Part of the reason why motor carriers hold on to trucks as long as they do stems from their cost. While the price can be wide ranging, FreightWaves reports that the typical commercial truck costs between $100,000 to upwards of $200,000. Due to the supply chain issues that have diminished the availability of automobiles of all kinds — including passenger vehicles — prices are expected to keep rising.

As Fontanta points out, however, going the extra mile to keep truckers happy doesn't have to mean overhauling all your old trucks for brand new ones. Or even buying one that runs on electricity (as an increasing number of organizations are doing). But there are some small things that can make a world of difference for truckers.

These include:

  • Upgrading seats so that they're more comfortable, focusing on ergonomics.
  • Optimizing the radio so it's smartphone and bluetooth compatible.
  • Installing predictive cruise control, which can also improve the gas mileage of trucks.
  • Implementing advanced safety features that minimize crash risk, like blindspot monitoring and brake assist.

Additionally, Fontana says motor carriers should encourage drivers and technicians to be more communicative. When on-staff mechanics know the needs of the vehicles truckers are hauling, they can attend to small  issues before they become major problems.

Truckers want to feel valued. You may tell them that they are. Proactively maintaining your service fleet is a way to show them their happiness is a priority.

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