ITS Logistics Senior Director of Fleet Operations Tim Aboussleman and Director of Marketing Patrick McFarland were recently interviewed by the NNBW and had the chance to discuss their recent improvements to the ITS driver pay package and their hyper-focus on being a driver friendly trucking company.
From the story:
In an effort to keep up with the demand, ITS Logistics hired roughly 90 drivers from March to December last year, McFarland said.
“But,” he added, “that wasn’t nearly enough.”
In fact, throughout 2020, ITS Logistics was operating about 20% under its “ideal driver head count number,” McFarland said.
The Northern Nevada company is not alone. Nationwide, the flow of new truck drivers is lagging far behind the roaring freight market. In fact, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that the number of for-hire truck drivers in October 2020 was 65,700 lower than October 2019.
A significant percentage of those drivers were pulled off the road by the CDL Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse, which removed 40,000 drivers (about 1% of the driving force) from January to September in 2020 due to failed drug tests, most of which were from marijuana use.
Meanwhile, many older drivers left the industry because of the pandemic; a slew of aspiring new drivers couldn’t get their CDL training due to driving schools being shut down; and others opted for construction or energy jobs that offer more time at home and, in some cases, better pay.
“Between the aging workforce, the pandemic slowing down the number of new drivers, and the clearinghouse, it’s a tough market to get good drivers,” McFarland said. “Sadly, it’s a shrinking workforce, and all of our companies have this opportunity to grow. So, we’re all fighting over the same drivers.
ITS Logistics Sr. Director of Operations Tim Aboussleman
ITS Logistics Director of Marketing Patrick McFarland
As a result, firms in Nevada are raising wages to recruit and retain personnel, said Enos, adding that he’s seen “a lot more incentives and a lot of companies paying a lot more.”
ITS Logistics, for one, recently released its largest ever driver pay increase in its 20-year history, bumping pay 10 cents per mile for solo drivers and 6 cents for team drivers, depending on experience. Moreover, the company is offering an incentive program for drivers who work a six-day week, said Tim Aboussleman, ITS Fleet senior director of operations.
“We recognize that there are individuals who want to work more, who want to stay on the road,” he said. “And that helps the company overall when it comes to really getting every penny’s worth of our fixed assets and costs. It’s making us more profitable with the assets that we have, it makes us more sustainable with our customers, providing them that extra bit of trained experience. And then, lastly, it’s giving drivers that variable income when they want it.”
Aboussleman and McFarland said ITS has also doubled down on its “driver first” mentality. Specifically, the company has revamped its driver communications with a new newsletter, a private Facebook group, and more video messages to reach drivers.
“The one thing we’re constantly learning is when you deal with drivers, when you deal with warehouse individuals, they like that communication,” Aboussleman said. “And with social distancing, that makes it much more difficult to keep your driver happy and satisfied. I think one of the major takeaways is how do we leverage technology to make sure that the drivers feel like they still have an open communication?”