Attracting, retaining truck drivers with satellite TV, health and wellness options

Fleet Equipment

Mar 19, 2018

The ongoing need to recruit and retain drivers remains both a management challenge and costly exercise for motor carriers. Trucking companies that are having success in lowering their turnover rates are finding that a mix of benefits and amenities is the best solution.   In particular, a growing number of carriers are realizing lower recruiting costs and higher retention rates with in-cab satellite TV systems from EpicVue. R.E. Garrison Trucking, a Cullman, Ala.-based refrigerated, dry van and flatbed carrier with about 700 tractors, is a case in point.   Despite good retention numbers, and while paying more per mile than its competition and implementing other strategies that are having a positive effect on driver retention, R.E. Garrison was constantly seeking new ways to help keep drivers from moving to other carriers. In early 2017, after losing a top driving team to a competitor that offered EpicVue, the carrier made the decision to equip its entire with the in-cab satellite TV systems.   After the initial installation of 350 in-cab satellite TV systems, R.E. Garrison’s driver turnover rate fell from 60% to 40%. At an industry average cost of $6,000 to recruit, hire and train each driver, the carrier already realized $480,000 in savings. When the entire fleet is outfitted with EpicVue, the carrier believes the systems will lower its recruiting costs by almost $1 million.   “Having one of our top teams leave because another carrier was offering EpicVue was an eye-opener,” says Shawn Nelson, vice president of operations at R.E. Garrison. “We’ve done several things to help retain drivers, but EpicVue is by far the biggest reason for the improvement in our retention rate.”   Paul Transportation, a Tulsa-based flatbed carrier with 175 tractors, is also reporting a reduction in driver turnover since beginning to install EpicVue in June of last year.   In June, Paul Transportation was experiencing a significant driver shortage, with an annual driver turnover rate of 100%. But by late summer, when 75 trucks had been equipped with the in-cab satellite TV systems, the carrier had realized a 25% drop in its turnover rate and was operating without any empty seats.   “By actively marketing EpicVue as part our driver recruiting efforts, in the first two months after beginning the installations we saw an increase of 300 driver applications and we were able to double the number of drivers we hired,” says Nick Williams, recruiting manager at Paul Transportation. “We haven’t made any other major changes except EpicVue, so it’s clearly the reason for the improvement.”   The EpicVue package includes more than 100 channels of DirecTV programming, including premium channels such as HBO/Cinemax, Showtime and the NFL Sunday Ticket. The in-cab satellite TV systems are offered to fleets with 20 or more vehicles for a monthly subscription fee and without any up-front hardware costs. EpicVue inMotion allows one team driver to watch TV in the sleeper berth while the other is driving and provides the capability to record a show while the vehicle is moving, allowing a driver to enjoy a taped program during non-driving hours.  

Health and wellness

  A job that involves sitting for hours at a time, a lack of exercise and sleep, and limited access to healthy choices is a health challenge. These challenges for drivers lead to higher turnover for carriers as well as injuries and accidents.   Automated driver wellness programs can be one key to improving driver health, safety and retention, notes Stephen Kane, president of Rolling Strong, which provides driver wellness programs for transportation companies and their drivers. “Driver health and wellness is a key issue that is getting a lot of attention,” he says. “A tangible program to fully address the importance of the situation can make an impact on the lives of professional truck drivers and the companies they work for.”   Following Velociti’s acquisition of Rolling Strong, the company unveiled a new mobile health and wellness platform for the trucking industry. The collaboration brought together Kane’s experience as a driver, working in operations and technology roles at fleets, and running fitness centers, the comprehensive CDL wellness program designed by Bob Perry, chief operating officer and founder of Rolling Strong, and Velociti’s transportation technology expertise.   Recently, Rolling Strong extended the capabilities of its health and wellness platform with a new mobile app designed to help drivers focus on making healthy lifestyle choices. Accessed from iOS and Android mobile devices as well as in-cab computing systems, the mobile platform provides drivers with the following features:  
  • Nutrition Guidance, including meal suggestions and predictive nutrition based on location though truck stop, restaurant and food item search capabilities, as well as daily food logging with calorie counts and targets.
  • Exercise Programs, including guided workout routines based on personalized preferences with duration and intensity choices, and daily step tracking with an integrated wearable activity tracker.
  • Sleep time and pattern tracking with an integrated wearable activity tracker, and CPAP integration.
  • Personal Health Records, including biometric data from physicians, wellness coaches or health check stations, DOT certification reminders and the ability to connect with a wellness coach.
  Drivers using the new Rolling Strong mobile app can also earn points and rewards for logging sleep, exercising, meeting daily calorie goals, and winning competitions.   “A platform designed to address the concerns over driver health provides the knowledge and resources they need to prevent health risks and adopt beneficial lifestyles,” Kane says. “Automating this process reaches more drivers with an approach to improving wellness, and more trucking companies with a platform that will lead to better retention and safety.”
Nussbaum Transportation and Prime Inc., were named the Best Overall Fleet in their respective categories in the Truckload Carriers Associations’ 2019 Best Fleets to Drive For Contest.   Hudson, Illinois-based Nussbaum took top honors in the small carrier category and Springfield, Missouri-based Prime received the honor for the large carrier category. Prime and Nussbaum have both been named to the Best Fleets Top 20 multiple times, but are winning the overall award for the first time.   Nussbaum operates a fleet of 400 tractors, combining both high- and low-tech solutions to create a balance across its programs. The company scored high in several categories including having an industry leading scorecard and mobile app, a simple, effective driver outreach schedule and a formal career path and certification program.   Prime’s fleet includes 7,200 tractors, but was noted for maintaining a personal touch despite it’s size. The company hosts a variety of committees, social groups and educational offerings, providing contractors with a range of options for personal and professional development. New for this year, the company implemented a new program in partnership with Missouri Good Dads, to help drivers build and strengthen family connections while away on the road.   Both companies were also noted for their safety and retention numbers as well as satisfaction scores well above 90%.   “For several years, these fleets have been catching our eye with their range of creative programs,” said Jane Jazrawy, CarriersEdge chief executive officer. “Each year they continue to expand on those offerings, so it’s easy to see why their drivers speak so highly of them, and why they’re achieving such stellar results.”   Best Fleets to Drive For is an annual survey, now in its 11th year, that recognizes North American for-hire trucking companies that provide the best workplace experience for their drivers. To participate, fleets must be nominated by a company driver or independent contractor working with them, after which they are evaluated across a broad range of categories reflecting current best practices in human resources.   From the nominated fleets, the top 20 finishers are identified as the Best Fleets to Drive For and are then categorized according to size. The highest scoring fleet in each category is named the overall winner.   The Best Fleets to Drive For survey and contest is open to any fleet operating 10 or more trucks, regardless of TCA membership status. Nominated fleets are evaluated in areas such as: Driver compensation, pension and benefits, professional development, driver and community support, and safety record. The award is offered in partnership with CarriersEdge and is co-sponsored by DMC Insurance and EpicVue.   “Year after year, the overall winners are truly changing the game,” said John Lyboldt, TCA president. “It’s imperative that fleets establish driver-centric offerings which attract and retain a skilled workforce, while establishing programs that improve the work-life balance for their employees. Prime Inc. and Nussbaum Transportation have done just that. Congratulations to both winners on this well-deserved honor.”