COVID Silver Lining: Ability to Top-grade Your Driver Talent

There is no denying that now is a challenging and uncertain time in the CDL trucking industry. After years of worrying about driver shortages and recessions, the COVID-19 crisis sent the industry into another spiral, along with the global economy. The current crisis comes on the heels of a notorious 2019, where around 640 trucking companies went out of business and more than 6,000 drivers lost their jobs.

While all of the above may seem like a lot of doom and gloom, there is a silver lining. The driver shortage – for many years the top issue in the industry – is now becoming less of a concern due to the lack of spaces for new drivers to fill. And, although trucking (like many other industries around the world) isn’t necessarily looking to hire a bunch of new drivers immediately, there are thousands of experienced drivers on the market looking for new positions.

Now, CDL driver recruiters and carriers face a new sort of opportunity: how to replace poor-performing drivers with top-grade, available talent. For years, recruiters were having to ‘make do’ with the drivers they could hire, due in large part to the competitiveness of the industry and the aforementioned driver shortage. Today, however, things have shifted dramatically. Access to good drivers is finally available, but carriers are not actively hiring.

Although this is technically true – there is much less hiring going on right now in the CDL industry – recruiters can still use this time to find and recruit top-tier talent to replace underperforming drivers. It is widely acknowledged that every company has a bottom ‘tier’ of talent (typically the lower 5-10% of drivers) that are not performing to standards. There could be issues around safety and compliance, attitude, or other performance metrics.

Simply put, there has never been a better time for recruiters to search and find replacements for these poor performing drivers. Every single day, and every single driver, has become incredibly critical to the long-term success of carriers. Companies can no longer afford to lose even a single customer because of a poor performing driver.

As Leah Shaver, President and CEO of NIT mentioned in her recent DriverReach chat conversation, the CDL trucking industry seems to forecast the trend of the overall economy through supply and demand. Looking back at the Great Recession in 2008-2009, the trucking industry experienced a recession more than a year before the rest of the economy in April of 2006. And, if the current trucking recession follows a similar pattern, the U.S. economy is headed for more of a downturn than previously anticipated.

So, what does this mean for carriers and recruiters? While hiring new drivers might not be on the agenda, recruiters can use the unique foresight available to CDL industry professionals to proactively prepare for things coming their way. Taking the following steps can help set the stage for what could be a long road ahead:

  1. Identify underperforming drivers
  2. Actively target and recruit their replacements
  3. Increase support and retention services to reduce driver turnover 

As always, DriverReach is here to make the CDL driver recruitment and retention process smooth and worry free. You can learn more about how the current economic landscape could impact your business here.

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Stay up to date on CDL trucking trends! Be sure to check out the DriverReach blog or follow us on LinkedIn for other relevant articles and head over to our webinars page for an up-to-date list of upcoming events and on-demand recordings.

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