Five Ways Fleets Use Custom Apps to Build a Driver-Centric Culture

Reading Time: 7 minutes

When evaluating technology, motor carriers often think of how new tools will help them make productivity gains, improve process efficiencies, and generate cost savings. These and other financial concerns may be top-of-mind, but certain technologies also can deliver long-lasting returns by helping fleets improve their company culture.

Focusing on culture – and driver satisfaction – has a significant upside for fleets considering the trucking industry is saddled with a 90% turnover rate and it costs $8,000 or more, on average, to replace a driver. Fleets who deploy technologies that help build and reinforce positive work cultures can gain a powerful advantage in attracting, retaining, and engaging employees.

Data from the 2022-2023 CCJ What Drivers Want report shows company culture is a main reason – second only to pay – for why drivers choose to stay or leave. The survey found:

  • 18% of drivers rate their company’s culture as excellent (10 on a scale of 1-10) but 29% rate it 5 or lower.
  • 60% of drivers say the reason fleets are having a hard time retaining drivers is because they don’t respect them enough or treat them as part of the team.
  • 74% of drivers say their company culture has not changed from pre-pandemic to now.

Understanding Company Culture

Culture describes the shared values, attitudes, behaviors, and standards that make up a work environment and creates an employees’ day-to-day experience. A positive culture engages staff and makes them excited to come to work. A negative culture does the opposite.

Investing in areas that contribute to a positive culture has immediate and far-reaching impacts. Happier employees tend to be more productive and take the initiative. They also stay around longer. Lower turnover rates reduce hiring costs and increase fleet safety and efficiency by having a more knowledgeable and experienced workforce.

Carriers wanting to make cultural improvements can learn from the following fleets that use custom mobile driver apps effectively as tools to create and build their company culture.

5 Key Elements of Great Workplace Cultures

Think of culture like a carrier’s DNA—unique to each fleet and central to the way the company thinks and works. Carriers with the type of cultures that attract and keep drivers are focusing on these five elements and using technology to reinforce the message they want drivers to receive:


Communicating, especially with a remote workforce, is critical to carrier success. Drivers can feel removed from the business and isolated from the team. Without having a deep sense of connection, driving can seem like a job that could be done for any fleet. A Workhuman study found that a weekly check-in is two times more likely to make employees feel a sense of belonging and improve trust. In addition to regular check-ins, communication may also include strategies like updates from leadership, a company news feed, group chats, and employee surveys.

Mobile Driver App in Action: Prime Inc. had an app for collecting driver feedback, but creating new features in response to driver input would take months, or years waiting for available developers. The company designed a new custom mobile app using a programmable mobile Saas platform, with a web-based tool to add, edit and delete app components as their business changed. The switch allowed non-technical team members to act on driver feedback in near real-time. The approach improved the culture at Springfield, Mo.-based Prime by making drivers feel more valued and that their input mattered. It also made a tangible impact on Prime’s driver satisfaction, giving them one of the highest retention rates in the industry. Prime does not require drivers to use the app but they have a 95%+ adoption rate throughout the fleet.

Accountability and Autonomy

Drivers are more than just cogs in a wheel. Positive cultures make them feel trusted and valued. Providing over-the-road staff with autonomy balanced by accountability gives them the power to make decisions as human beings, professionals, and team members.

Mobile Driver App in Action: Knight-Swift introduced a new driver workflow and an innovative approach to route planning through its app. Drivers for the Phoenix, Ariz.-based fleet have a step-by-step process to follow for each load helping with accountability. The app also expands autonomy for company drivers by allowing them to select from multiple stops that adhere to company policy and vendor agreements. The company’s driver turnover rate sits well below the national average, and the mobile driver app plays a big part in keeping drivers engaged and happy in their jobs.

USA Truck, a DB Schenker company, uses its custom app to give both contractors and employee drivers the power to self-dispatch. Once the driver has selected a job, the system cross-references their hours of service against the route to ensure it falls within the limits. If everything checks out, the driver is approved for the load and on their way.  Since putting the choice of loads in drivers’ hands, the fleet has seen driver productivity increase by 30% and turnover fall by 50%.

Recognition and Appreciation

Carriers with great cultures do not reserve employee recognition for special events. Staff appreciation happens every day. Recognition can come in many forms — a simple thank-you message or more formal awards, perks, and promotions. According to Gallup, companies that prioritize employee recognition are four times more likely to benefit from high levels of employee engagement. That translates to an average of 21% higher profitability.

Mobile Driver App in Action: Prior to deploying a custom app, Paper Transport provided driver scorecards calculated for the prior 30 days. The delay left drivers struggling to remember offenses. Now the app automatically updates the scorecard every 24 hours with violations marked on a reference map. Coaching is more effective and the company has seen a dramatic improvement in safety compliance. Drivers benefit in their wallets too as the De Pere, Wis.-based fleet’s Red Rewards safety program recognizes drivers monthly with financial incentives.

Liquid Trucking has a culture that encourages and rewards drivers for sharing knowledge and feedback. Drivers use the fleet’s custom mobile app to quickly find information about each stop — where to turn, things to look out for, who to call, pictures to help navigate customer sites, and more. All the content is generated by drivers and approved by management. Drivers receive points for submitting reconnaissance and redeem the points for cash and non-cash items from an online rewards portal. Since deploying the app, Plattsmouth, Neb.-based Liquid Trucking’s turnover rate has dropped to as low as 28% and now remains below 40%.

Core Values

Core values are the North Star of any fleet. They define the beliefs and principles that shape how a fleet works and why. They serve as the guiding force for decision-making and setting business priorities. Core values are visible. They appear in every action from how dispatchers communicate with drivers to on-time service and focusing on safety. When a carrier lives by its core values, everyone within the organization understands what matters to the company and considers that in their daily tasks.

Mobile Driver App in Action: Safety and driver retention are core values for Des Moines, Iowa-based flatbed carrier TMC Transportation. To improve safety without compromising driver earning potential, the company decided to publish safety videos to drivers on its custom mobile app. Drivers are no longer required to go to a physical classroom for ongoing training and can watch videos at their convenience. The mobile training approach also gets new hires on the road faster by complementing onsite onboardings with videos drivers can watch from anywhere.


A healthy environment includes a good physical workplace, as well as a social and mental one. This is more challenging inside the cab of a truck. Professional driving is not easy with limited mobility, long stretches away from home, and a lack of creature comforts. Yet carriers with positive cultures do not let this stop them from ensuring drivers have the best mobile “office space” possible.

Mobile Driver App in Action: Despite frequently sitting atop the Truckload Carriers Association’s Best Fleets to Drive For list, Central Oregon Truck Company had a driver turnover rate of 94%. To improve their drivers’ experience, the carrier built a custom mobile app offering the exact functionality drivers needed for a truly “mobile office.” The app includes step-by-step workflows, turn-by-turn voice navigation, digital permit access, and detailed pay information. The app also focuses on improving driver engagement by allowing them to share facility knowledge with colleagues and take part in mentoring programs. Accessible via any smart device, the app untethers drivers from the cab of their truck allowing them to receive dispatch instructions and load updates from anywhere. The increased freedom and functionality paid off with an 18% improvement in retention, resulting in happier drivers and massive savings in training and onboarding expenses.


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