How Commitment Impacts Your Truck Driver Retention Strategy

truck driver retention strategies

By: Ray Haight
Creator, Driver Retention Masterclass

Ray Haight Masterclass WorkbookCommitment throughout your organization is important to the success of improving truck driver retention, especially among the ownership and management teams. These two teams set the example for all others in the company.  Before a company can work on a driver retention strategy, both teams must:

  • Analyze the costs associated with poor driver retention
  • Recognize that significant planning and effort, affecting the entire company, must be undertaken
  • Understand this effort is warranted by the significant savings and service benefits that will result from improved driver retention.

Improving Driver Retention is a Strategic Cultural Change

Improving driver retention at a company is strategic because you will be transforming your company from one that is a victim of all that is harmful about high driver turnover into one that is a positive, a supportive, and a service-oriented place to work. A company where employees, drivers, and owner operators all want to work.  The changes you make extend well beyond your driving fleet.

Commitment Starts at the Top

Commitment is one of the most critical ingredients to the success of any effort intended to bring long term improvements to the way business is done. With driver retention, this commitment must come from the directors of the company. It must be very visible – and active. It must be genuine, and it must be unwavering. After all, people throughout the company will have important roles to play, and their commitment must be inspired and supported by the commitment they see in their leaders. In short, your company leaders must be seen to walk the walk and make the same commitment that is being asked of the rest of the company departments.

In addition to fostering commitment among the staff, the senior-level commitment must be lasting. Improving driver turnover does not happen overnight.  It is a lengthy project that will eventually create a new culture in your business.  Because of this, the commitment must be unanimous among all company leaders.

It is important that the leadership team speak and act in unison on the need for the company to make the significant changes necessary to reduce driver turnover. At the senior management level, this means that a personal commitment must be mandatory and delivered by each member of the management team. Like a lot of strategic planning initiatives, it would be a good idea to make positive and supportive engagement a part of the personal performance criteria for managers during this project.

Overcoming Leadership Obstacles for Strategic Change

Achieving and maintaining commitment among the leadership team is not something that can be accomplished just by asking for it. There are very natural and predictable obstacles along the way. Perhaps the most common is the difficulty people have adapting to change. This is natural.

As people, we crave stability. Introducing a new idea, a new process, or a new direction leads people to naturally question and resist the change. This is why the management team must clearly explain how the change will bring about real benefits for the company and its employees. Get your employees to see that as a company you have agreed to undertake reasonable steps to achieve great results. You have agreed to change

Turn Agreement to Change into a Commitment to Change

Once you have your team in agreement to make the change, you must quickly transition that into a commitment to reduce driver turnover. Simply stated, you need to be a company who is committed to making your entire workforce a strategic advantage for your company.

Achieving and maintaining commitment will require you to regularly re-visit your plan and objectives to remind everyone that the change you are undertaking is worth it. You do this to reinforce the commitment among the team, so you do not fall back into old habits. Even once you believe you have commitment, it is important for you to be on the look-out for any creeping in of the old habits.

Benefits of Making a Commitment & Taking Action

By getting your entire leadership team on board with this strategic change, two things will happen:

  1. You’ll create a culture throughout the organization that sees and comes to expect a management team that means and does what it says.
  2. You will deliver proof to the management team that they can achieve significant results by working together – and they can use this approach to be successful in other important projects.

By making a commitment to your driver retention strategy, you will be on the path to becoming a safer company.  Companies with less turnover are known to:

  • Pay less in insurance premiums
  • Have lower CSA scores
  • Be a more profitable company.

Make the Commitment to Improve Driver Retention

Many companies talk about the need to fix their driver turnover problems.  Few take the steps to actually fix it.  If you’re on the fence about taking the first step, what is holding you back?  You will always be too busy.  You will always have a new software program to install, a new acquisition to look at, or a new vacancy on the leadership team.  Those are excuses you can always use to not tackle this strategic problem.

Maybe the reason you are ignoring the problem is you are personally resistant to change.

I’ve heard it all when it comes to the excuses. But the time to act is now. You’re entirely too smart to be the only thing standing in your way.


Ray Haight Vertical Alliance InstructorRay Haight is the creator of the Driver Retention Masterclass.  He has spent his entire life in the trucking industry.  He inherited the small trucking company his dad built. He logged over one million accident free miles as an owner-operator.  Over the course of 16 years, he grew the company to a fleet of 50 trucks, primarily focused on refrigerated freight.  He then found himself with a unique opportunity to merge with another company.  After the merger, he became the President and COO of a fleet of 300.  And like many trucking companies across the nation, the fleet faced a growing epidemic … driver turnover.

As the President and COO of that company, he recognized that contrary to popular beliefs in the industry, driver turnover is not systemic to the occupation of driving a truck.  He believed it was the result of poor companywide human relation policies and until those were fixed, all of the Band-Aid type solutions the company was implementing weren’t going to alleviate the driver turnover problem … which for his company was sitting at 120%.

Sitting in a boardroom, surrounded by a team of leaders, he asked one question, “What’s it going to take to reduce our driver turnover by 50% in the next 12 months?”  That question kicked off a two year project where the leaders of the organization did deep dive self-examinations of their departments. This led to creating and implementing real strategies that made drivers not only want to come and work for them, but also made those drivers want to stay long term.   Within 2 years, they’d reduced their driver turnover to 20%.

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