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Driver Recruiting and Retention Agencies Release 2023 Annual Report

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By: Conversion Interactive Agency

Posted: Feb 20, 2024

Categories: Blog

Conversion Interactive Agency and PDA, two industry leaders in the driver recruitment and retention space, recently released their 2023 Driver Recruiting & Retention Annual Report. The agencies collected and analyzed data throughout the year to create this invaluable resource offering cutting-edge trends and insights to bolster carriers' efforts to successfully recruit smarter and retain better in 2024.

“2023 posed a new set of obstacles in driver recruitment and retention. Despite facing headwinds from the economic downturn, a number of carriers sustained a robust pipeline of drivers, but many did not. Those who embraced technology and invested in their employer brands will reap the rewards in 2024,” said Kelley Walkup, president and CEO of Conversion Interactive Agency.

Technology played a pivotal role in elevating driver recruitment marketing in 2023, empowering carriers to streamline application processes, accelerate hiring, and optimize recruitment marketing budgets. Many carriers reduced time-to-hire through technology like Conversion’s Lead Assist solution. Carriers using advanced AI automation from Lead Assist saw the average time from lead received to hire status reduced by 50% on average.

“Tools and technology are constantly advancing, and the speed at which technology is impacting how fleets recruit drivers is incredible,” said Walkup. “We’re seeing results improve for carriers of all sizes by three, even four times in some cases. This means cost-savings and time savings for carriers investing in driver recruitment strategy that is backed by the latest tech.”

The 2023 Annual Report highlighted the impact of a well-crafted strategy tailored to each stage of the driver lead funnel, resulting in increased hires at a more favorable cost. For instance, during the awareness phase, the utilization of vertical video on social platforms saw an impressive 84% surge in lead volume on Facebook reels from Q1 to Q2 of 2023. Transitioning to the consideration phase, SEM Interactive, Conversion’s search engine marketing solution, emerged as the top-performing source for cost-per-hire throughout 2023. Finally, in the conversion phase, the Technology from Lead Assist effectively engaged with 100,000 drivers monthly through various channels such as short-form leads, phone calls, social media comments, and landing page chats.

"It is imperative that carriers have a well-devised strategy for every stage of the driver lead funnel. Focusing solely on lead generation overlooks the importance of long-term employer branding. While it's tempting to prioritize lead generation, data suggests that fleets benefiting from top-of-funnel strategies achieve better results. A varied digital and social media mix is crucial for successful recruitment efforts and understanding local markets is key to developing a comprehensive hiring strategy,” added Walkup.

The Annual Report highlights that in 2023, drivers continued to rank equipment and compensation as their primary concerns and the top issues facing driver retention efforts. This marks the third consecutive year where equipment issues have topped driver frustrations. Particularly during freight recessions, these issues exacerbate challenges in maintaining consistent mileage, directly impacting driver compensation. With the freight recession expected to persist at least through the first quarter of 2024, and potentially into the second quarter, the importance of maintenance departments in retaining drivers cannot be overstated.

"Keeping up with the latest equipment challenges is vital for driver retention in 2024," stressed Scott Dismuke, VP of Operations at PDA. "Issues with compensation and equipment can strain drivers, so it's crucial for carriers to ensure drivers keep moving and accruing miles to prevent retention issues from escalating into compensation problems. Offering loaner vehicles is preferable to breakdown pay in keeping drivers on the road. Assigning detailed and inspected equipment to new hires sets a positive tone, as drivers perceive it as a reflection of carriers' regard for their well-being."

In 2023, drivers' complaints about compensation primarily centered around miles-related issues, which accounted for 56.3% of grievances, marking an 8% increase from 2022. For five consecutive quarters, over half of the drivers complaining about compensation cited a shortage of miles as their main issue. Despite carriers raising pay during the COVID freight surge, reduced loads and miles in 2023 led to decreased earnings for drivers, who faced more layovers and fewer opportunities to benefit from higher rates.

"Proactive communication and resetting mileage and pay expectations with drivers is going to be key for retention in 2024," said Dismuke. "If you have drivers struggling with miles, they should be considered a high turnover risk. Having the ability to quickly identify and intervene with those drivers will be key to keeping them in your trucks in 2024."

The data reveals that 47.8% of operational issues arise due to inadequate communication, with more than half of drivers citing "no response" or "slow response" from management as their main grievance. Proactively engaging in communication and involving drivers in the planning process not only fosters respect but also alleviates frustration among drivers. This connection between communication and respect is vital, as drivers perceive them as synonymous. Amid an economic downturn, prioritizing proactive communication and promptly addressing driver concerns becomes increasingly imperative.

"In 2023, driver communication issues led to higher turnover rates due to drivers feeling disrespected or not seeing a response from their manager," emphasized Dismuke. "Given the state of the freight market, staying ahead of any potential frustrations by engaging in proactive communication is paramount – keeping drivers informed will let them know they're respected and ensure better job retention as we move through these uncertain times." He added, "Drivers who entered the market during COVID experienced their first freight recession in 2023, resulting in increased turnover, with many leaving the industry altogether. Communication with all drivers is key, especially those who are new to the field."

As 2024 unfolds, Walkup and Dismuke remain confident that with optimized strategies and cutting-edge technology, fleets can effectively tackle the challenges of driver recruitment and retention, ultimately leading to smarter recruiting and better retention.

To access the full report, click here.

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