Fleets still relying on spec’ing to combat driver shortage

Lucas Deal March 6, 2014

The driver shortage has been a problem in the fleet business for many years.

In late 2011, Successful Dealer took a stab at the topic with an article on spec’ing. In the article, we looked at the strategy of spec’ing new trucks with maximum driver comforts as a way to recruit and retain drivers.

“Driver comfort is becoming an increasingly critical dynamic in both driver retention and recruitment,” said Reid Nabarrete, assistant general manager for marketing and sales at Kenworth, at the time.

RELATED: Spec’ing and the driver shortage.

“It’s imperative for fleets to operate the right quality equipment and provide important amenities in their tractors to secure and keep drivers.”

A little more than two years later, the driver shortage and fears associated with it are only increasing.

Driver shortageAccording to a recent Randall-Reilly MarketPulse survey of fleet operators, driver availability is growing as the top concern for fleets in today’s trucking economy.

Since taking over as the top concern in March 2011, driver availability has grown from 40 percent of fleet’s top concern to more than 50 percent.

Fleets are working to combat this problem in many ways.

Online recruiting and audience development are rapidly growing in popularity for large fleets. By identifying and contacting possible drivers within minutes of them applying, fleets are staking claims to potential employees before rivals have the opportunity to get involved.

And once prospective drivers are contacted, spec’ing habits remains a common enticement tool to get them into a truck.

“We’re still seeing drivers kept in mind for all specifications on new trucks,” says Chad Remp, leasing and rental manager at Wheeling Truck Center. “The customers that tend to spec newer equipment tend to have an easier time [keeping drivers].”

Remp says in-cab creature comforts — seats, stereo, etc. — are rapidly becoming necessities most fleets because they offer the best possible working environment.

But enticing drivers to get in and stay in a truck doesn’t just come from a great stereo system. The truck’s drivability also is a major luring factor.

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