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5 Strategies for Surviving the Driver Shortage

Businesses across the country are struggling to find workers, and the delivery industry is among the hardest hit.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2020 the average age of an employed delivery driver in the United States is 46.5 years old, which is four years older than the average for the overall workforce.

There are simply not enough qualified drivers to replace those who are retiring or leaving the profession. As a result, the competition in the industry is steep for companies who want to attract and retain experienced drivers.

There are two primary ways that delivery companies can keep up with their workload—attracting new drivers and retaining current drivers.

Attract New Drivers

To find reliable new drivers, it’s vital that you know your audience. Gone are the days of writing up a quick posting in the classifieds section of your local paper. In today’s market, to find high-quality prospects, you must have high-quality listings.

For example, if you are looking to target younger people, you have to use new ways of recruiting. Here are two best practices:

  1. Finding untapped potential

To target younger audiences, you might try to include listings on newer online job boards in addition to more conventional options. Craigslist can still bring in good workers, but at times it fails to reach younger people. So be sure to also include listings on sites such as Indeed, ZipRecruiter, and Monster.

Most ads are targeted towards prospects who are already delivery drivers. However, there are many prospects who have little experience in the industry that could be valuable workers with a little bit of training. If you’re struggling to find new drivers, try to advertise to a new demographic.

  1. Driver compensation

What kind of drivers are you looking for? Your answer should affect the type of driver compensation that you advertise. Experienced drivers are typically looking for good hourly pay, benefits, and long-term contracts.

However, due to the driver shortage you may need to look for new talent. To attract younger workers, you might want to look into more immediate compensation plans. This includes competitive pay, sign-on bonuses, and shorter pay periods.

Driver Retention

It’s been said that prevention is better than cure—and that’s definitely true in the case of drivers. During this season, it may seem that driver retention is largely out of your control, but there are a number of things that you can do to increase driver loyalty.

 Here are three best practices:

  1. Ask for driver feedback

Make your drivers feel like active contributors to the company by engaging them in problem solving and actively look for feedback. When you show your drivers that their feedback is important it builds loyalty and trust. There’s no doubt that engaged drivers are more likely to stick around.

  1. Driver Rewards

Drivers who feel appreciated and rewarded are more likely to stick around, so don’t be afraid to set metrics or milestones for your drivers and offer incentives. To motivate your drivers, tie performance to data-driven measures such as:

  • Number of positive customer reviews
  • Miles driven
  • Orders completed

When you reward your best drivers, the entire fleet can become more motivated, efficient, and goal-oriented. 

  1. Make your drivers’ lives easy

Improving driver experience can go a long way towards keeping your drivers loyal. One of the best ways of doing that is by making their jobs easier using technology.

You might try to consolidate your tools. Many drivers are carrying around multiple items including barcode scanners, pricing sheets, order lists, GPS devices, and phones. A smartphone can accomplish the function of all these items. There are mobile apps with built in GPS tracking, barcode scanning, and signature capture.

Another option is to optimize your drivers’ routes so they don’t have to figure it out for themselves. Not only does that save you money, but it also takes a big load off of your drivers. There are route optimization tools that make this possible in one click.

Driver satisfaction is the future of the industry

If the industry is going to meet increased demand—now and in the future, it will have to address the driver shortage issue.

To find new drivers, delivery companies will need to continually improve their advertising and driver compensation strategies. It’s also vital that organizations invest in the well-being of their drivers to increase loyalty and improve retention. At the end of the day, delivery businesses rely on their drivers, so be sure that you’re doing all you can to give them a positive experience—and you’ll see returns.

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