If you’re like many drivers, you are constantly on the lookout for better driving opportunities. Maybe you want to stay closer to home for your family, or maybe your spouse has joined you and you’re looking for team options. Perhaps you are just tired of your driver manager and you are seeking a different carrier.
Whatever your situation is today, be careful before you leave, as the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the proverbial fence. In fact, the trucking industry today has experienced changes related to the economic conditions that make it more important for you to stay where you are now.
In the past, some recruiters often joked about the mirror test…if a driver could fog a mirror, they were hired. Unfortunately, this led to the view that drivers were “a dime a dozen” and could be treated as if they were easily replaceable. Fortunately, this economic environment has created a need for a more professional relationship between drivers and carriers.
With the legislative changes effective this summer, the percentage of highly qualified individuals could be reduced, and those with spotless driving records will rise to the top. Those who have frequently changed jobs, have too many violations or have little experience over the road will find it more difficult to change carriers.
However, while turnover is at its lowest point in years, that will change in the coming months. “As long as the driver’s [pay]check clears the bank and he gets miles, he’s staying put right now,” said Brian Thomforde, of Truckdriver.com, an internet recruiting site. “That will change when the economy gets better and the drivers are back ‘in the driver’s seat; again,” he added. This will lead to drivers checking out the grass on the other side of the fence!
According to the American Trucking Associations, driver turnover at large truckload carriers reached an all time low in the third quarter of 2009 of 43 percent and remained close to that figure (44 percent) during the final quarter of the year. This means that less than half of a typical fleet has left the company in a year. This is down from a truckload turnover rate of 136 percent in 2005 when fleets had a difficult time keeping their trucks filled with drivers because most of their workforce was switching carriers while looking for that greener grass.
Now that turnover is down and capacity is down, you should feel that your ability to drive a tractor-trailer is appreciated and valued, because it is. Your safe driving record is going to become more valuable soon. However, you should also have that same appreciation for your carrier, as they are dealing with changes that affect them too.
A recent report from Transport Capitol Partners states that one in four carriers are considering leaving the industry. This means that your company may not exist in the coming year. They could be struggling and looking for a way out of the recession by selling out to a competitor.
The truck you’re driving today could be a different color in the near future. So, if you are not happy right now, you might want to wait and see if things change for the better at your present company. You might have better opportunities with a change in ownership that you don’t have now. This is especially true if you work for a smaller carrier that could be acquired by a bigger company this year.
Presently, according to Marge Bailey of DriverFinder.net, “Many displaced drivers from smaller carriers who have lost their jobs because their carriers have closed or have reduced their driving fleet seem to have a more difficult time meeting the qualifications of the larger carriers.”
The grass in the lot at the next carrier may not be as green as the one you’re on now.
If you’re looking around for a “better” company, don’t make a quick decision to leave the one you’re with now. They’re trying to adjust to the economy, legislation, fuel prices and driver’s needs. There will be many changes in the coming months that will affect your job and your company, so you might want to consider staying on your side of the fence for now, it might be the greenest spot around!