Tailored mobile solutions help fleets transform the driver experience and improve retention
A 2023 forecast from the American Trucking Association (ATA) expects the industry’s driver shortage will be down 14,000 job openings by year’s end – from 78,000 to 64,000. Under normal circumstances, this would signal progress but the sagging freight market is largely responsible.
Drivers tend to stay put during economic downturns, yet the same ATA study also notes that 40% are currently looking for a new job. The study predicts that vacancies will double by 2031. Motor carriers who are postponing workforce projects until a freight recovery takes hold could miss their chance to gain a competitive edge.
Research on driver job attitudes consistently shows that culture is a deciding factor for staying or leaving their carriers. In fact, 60% of drivers believe that fleets “don’t respect drivers and the job they do enough or treat them as part of the team,” according to Randall Reilley’s What Drivers Want 2022 survey.
Culture has a palpable effect on workers, for better or worse. Low employee engagement is a tell-tale sign that negative attitudes exist toward the employer. When workers are not bought into the culture, productivity, safety, and other critical areas of job performance suffer.
On the other hand, highly engaged employees increase performance by as much as 202%, according to Gallup research. Recognition is an effective way to increase engagement. OfficeVibe found that 69% of employees would work harder if they received more. Besides increasing engagement, recognizing drivers could be an effective recruiting tool. The same Randall Reilly survey notes that 21% of drivers would change jobs if another fleet “showed they appreciate the work I do and have a team atmosphere.”
Given the outsized impact that a positive culture has on business performance, what specifically can trucking companies do to ensure their vision and values are acted upon to achieve desired results?
The answer is not complex. Employees, and especially drivers, want a consistent work experience built on the cornerstones of respect, recognition, communication, and a team atmosphere. Fleets that use custom driver apps have a unique ability to operationalize these goals. This blog explains three ways top fleets are using technology to positively and permanently change their culture.
3 Ways Custom Driver Apps Make Positive Culture Changes Permanent
1. Responding quickly to driver needs
Fleets that use their custom apps to solve unique challenges for drivers show a commitment to make the work experience as easy as possible. An app that gives drivers and office employees what they need to succeed will increase engagement by showing respect and the ability to deliver on promises.
Knight-Swift surveys drivers through its custom app, weighs the responses, and quickly acts on driver needs to improve social connections.
“Things change fast in the trucking industry, and we need to be able to react quickly to driver feedback. And with the Eleos platform, it allows us to make a lot of changes and have flexibility within the app without actually having to go to a development team,” said Jim Field, VP of Mobile Communications, Knight-Swift. “It really gives us an advantage that others don’t have.”
Field’s advice for motor carriers of all sizes is to implement a custom app now.
“Every day that you wait is a day you’re losing the ability to connect with your drivers in a way that you’ve never been able to do before in our industry. The more you can do that, the more you’re going to retain drivers. That’s how you win.”
2. Simplifying non-driving tasks
TMC Transportation, one of the nation’s largest flatbed haulers, is among a growing number of fleets that use custom apps. The Des Moines, Iowa-based TMC gives its road warriors everything they need to complete non-driving tasks in the palm of their hands.
The expanded mobility at TMC creates a simpler and less stressful work experience. No longer must drivers use multiple applications or stay inside the cab to receive messages and complete tasks. As well, custom apps make it possible to deliver timely updates to drivers. What’s more, corporate news, weather-related issues, traffic, construction patterns, and much more, can be communicated to drivers based on individual need and circumstances.
Besides having communication advantages, fleets can greatly reduce the time and effort involved for drivers to manage trip expenses, documents, compliance, route planning, and more.
“The ability to untether our drivers from the trucks has allowed them to have a better driver experience, which then has created some solutions for us as far as retention goes,” said Janelle Kennedy, Project Manager–Risk Management, at TMC Transportation. “ROI on something like that is almost immeasurable, but I can tell you that our turnover rate is significantly lower. Everything they need to do their job is contained within that app.”
3. Creating a superior digital experience
More than 90% of truck drivers use smartphones every day and 14 of the nation’s top 20 largest fleets have custom-built mobile apps. Because drivers are already fully invested in mobile technology for their personal lives, top fleets can benefit by providing drivers tools they will embrace, like driver apps.
Increasingly, driver engagement has become synonymous with having instant, convenient access to information and tools. Custom apps enable fleets to reach their drivers at any time with powerful communication and productivity tools that create a digital experience that drivers cannot get anywhere else. This has become a key differentiator for top fleets in recruiting and retaining their best drivers.
Prime Inc.’s custom app has become an essential tool for drivers as evidenced by a 98% voluntary adoption rate. The app keeps getting better. The Springfield, Mo.-based company encourages drivers to provide feedback. By taking quick action, the company reinforces its culture by giving drivers more modern conveniences they are asking for.
“We’re helping people feel important and acknowledged and a part of our team,” said Brianne Madura, IT Manager of Prime Inc.
Improve Your Culture with a Custom App
Drivers are the primary beneficiaries of fleets using tailored mobile apps to address industry and company-specific challenges. By deploying a custom app and operationalizing driver feedback, fleets that regularly make positive changes are miles ahead in showing drivers they are respected and valued as important team members.
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