What does it take to improve the image of the trucking industry?

Investing in high-quality fleet management software may offer small and medium-sized companies in the transportation industry a much-needed boost in making truck driving positions more appealing in the eyes of potential job candidates. Employee retention continues to be one of the biggest problems facing many organizations across the country. According to the online news publication Today's Trucking, the most recent turnover rate at major fleets around the country is 97 percent. Smaller enterprises measured 74 percent turnover in the third quarter of 2013, but industry experts agree that number is still too high to meet current and future demands for ground transportation.

Fleet owners are often quick to identify a variety of reasons for such low retention rates among drivers. For example, the Amador Ledger Dispatch, a newspaper published in Jackson, Calif., said new state requirements calling for a rapid transition to more fuel efficient vehicles have led many small and medium-sized businesses to shed jobs as a result of increased overhead costs.

The real reason behind the driver shortage
A recent panel of economists, executives and other industry professionals hosted by the publication Commercial Carrier Journal, concluded a poor public image of truck driving may be the leading cause of high turnover. Employees responsible for navigating ground shipments are often required to put in long hours on a regular basis. Recent federal regulations that place a limit on the amount of time workers can take on the road at once may offer some respite for this issue. However, the panelists agreed they have noticed substantial challenges in trying to convince more people to consider jobs in the transportation industry. Dynamic fleet management software that allows businesses to run more smoothly may ultimately help fleet owners make driving jobs more attractive in the eyes of the public

According to the online publication Overdrive, businesses have a long way to go before they are able to meet demands in the coming years. In fact, the entire trucking sector of the U.S. economy would need to hire 239,000 drivers each year throughout the next decade to effectively replace the more than 37 percent of existing employees that plan on retiring at some point in the same time period. Keith Tuttle, president of the Ohio-based Motor Carrier Services (MCS) and panelist at the event, said most organizations simply are unable to hire at such a rapid pace.

"Most good carriers will not hire a large percentage of drivers," Tuttle explained. "We will look at one out of 150 applications sent to us. We do very well financially but we are frustrated with our ability to show substantial growth with the driver situation right now."

Commercial Carrier Journal also said many business owners are frustrated by the fact that the federal government hasn't done more to fund driver training and education programs. The panelists said most organizations have a much easier time retaining experienced employees as opposed to those who are just out of college. However, a large number of the industry's most senior drivers have plans to retire within the next decade, further exacerbating the shortage problem.

What can fleet owners do to attract more drivers?
Improving the image of the ground transportation sector of the U.S. economy isn't entirely out of the control of business owners. Managers can significantly boost the efficiency and reliability of their operations by enlisting the help of automated technological tools. For instance, advanced logistics software has the potential to eliminate many of the challenges associated with running a fleet with tight finances. The ability to reduce the time it takes to deliver goods across long distances may convince more people to consider taking jobs as truck drivers. Similarly, equipment maintenance software allows fleet owners to take better care of their vehicles without relying so heavily on manual labor. As a result, enterprise can focus on hiring people with just driving experience rather than people with a variety of advanced skills that are often harder to find and more expensive to employ.

Updating existing operations with advanced technology is not only a smart option for controlling overhead costs, but it can also provide a necessary boost to the reputation of the industry as a whole.