The Power of Retention in Trucking

Retention vs Recruiting; Which Comes First?

It’s funny how we always say recruiting and retention when we talk about the hiring process, but is that putting our efforts into the wrong frame of mind? How many times have you heard people say, “What you say is what you think?” Your language that you use in life controls how you think about things and your frame of mind. By saying, “recruiting and retention” we are telling ourselves that recruiting is more important than retention. If I was to take a poll of many carriers I would assume most would say retention is more important than recruiting. In the industry we often hear more about what companies are doing to recruit drivers than to retain them.

In my professional driving career I got most of my jobs based on word of mouth from other drivers. When I was young in my career going from the moving industry to the freight side I did look at the ads and make those cold calls. Once into the system (industry) where I would meet other drivers my jobs came from people and drivers that I knew. I would ask them, “How you like the carrier?” It was part of the normal conversation even if not really looking for a job or change. ‘How are they treating you over there?” This would be a regular question while sitting in a truck stop having a coffee. This is the reason you should be focusing on your retention program.

You want to focus on that retention program because you want your drivers to be able to offer a heart felt message to that other driver and not sound like an ad in the paper. Is your driver really happy and able to communicate that to another driver? From a driver perspective we usually are not asking about how much they pay or what type of finishing package is available? We are asking important questions such as, “What type of freight are you hauling? How much do you get home? What is the equipment like? How do they treat their drivers? What are your customers like?” These are the questions seasoned drivers are asking as they decide whether the grass is greener at a different carrier. The challenge with this line of questioning on your existing driver pool is that they never know what the right answer is going to be because the driver asking the questions are asking based on their personal situation. This means that if the answers are consistent and positive it may be enough for a driver to take a chance and make a shift.

Seasoned drivers rely on personal feedback about a carrier

Why are we spending so much in advertising for recruiting?

You may be asking why you are buying advertising in publications? There are a number of reasons why you may want to buy advertising. First is for top of mind. If you are not out there people assume you are out of business. “Out of sight out of mind” is very true especially in the World today. The second reason is that new drivers are looking at ads because they are trying to find out what is out there in the industry. They want to know what carriers are hiring new drivers and how to contact those carriers.

How has advertising changed?

Advertising has changed over the last few years and has moved more to audio and visual advertising. The reason for this is similar to the retention focus we talked about earlier. Video ads with other drivers and host read ads on podcasts are similar to a driver recommending a carrier because it is coming from a known voice. What should you plan for your recruiting ads for the future? If you are looking for new drivers then a mix of strategies are best with a focus on visual advertising. If you are looking for more experienced drivers then you may want to focus on the audio / visual advertising strategies.

Retention will always out weigh recruiting in keeping your trucks full, how you go about it is the secret. Why not join the TTSAO Carrier Group as this is a place I suggest to many new drivers to start their job search. Learn more about the group on the website or even better why not attend the next upcoming meeting on May 13th to learn more. Register at

About the Author

Bruce Outridge is a veteran in the transportation industry with over 40 years in the industry in a variety of roles from driver to fleet supervisor and more. Today he is a media entrepreneur in the industry producing a number of programs within the trucking industry. You can learn more about Bruce and his work and his trucking podcast at

Disclaimer: This article is written and based on the opinion of the author and is for general information only. Please contact any groups mentioned individually for specific information.


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