It isn’t news that there aren’t enough qualified CDL drivers. In fact, the American Trucking Association, Arlington, Va., reported the trucking industry needs to hire an average of 90,000 drivers each year. Or, the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), Austin, Texas, revealed that driver shortage has been a Top 3 issue in 12 out of the 14 years that ATRI has conducted its industry issues report. But, what the industry doesn’t realize is the affect the shortage has on other industries. It’s at a point where it’s impacting the rest of the supply chain, including the food and beverage industry.

When a truck loaded with produce doesn’t have a driver, or due to lack of drivers, arrives hours behind schedule, more than the restaurant or grocery store anticipating the produce’s arrival are let down. In a restaurant, if the kitchen doesn’t have the produce they need to make their menu, patrons are disappointed and might leave. If a grocery store doesn’t have the produce their customers want, they miss out on immediate sales, and those customers might look elsewhere the next time.

While there might be smaller, temporary fixes for aiding the food and beverage industry, the ultimate solution is to go back to the source—driver shortage.

How to recruit quality candidates

In order to appeal to candidates at a time when jobs outnumber the people to fill them, companies need to offer the ideal application process. From going mobile to limiting repetition within the application, cater to the applicants to hire quality candidates faster.

Go mobile

First things first, take your application mobile. Smartphones play a major part of everyone’s lives, and CDL drivers are no different. Drivers, like any other job applicant, want a streamlined, hassle-free recruiting experience. A fully mobile application includes texting, enabling recruiters to connect with drivers where they are and how they prefer to be reached. Additionally, texts have an eight times higher response rate than email, according to a study released by Cellit, Chicago, and enable recruiters to connect with candidates in a shorter timeframe.

Advanced technology, including texting, welcomed a new era of driver recruiting. The biggest area impacted by this change is the driver follow-up and interview process, as there are many ways to interact with drivers beyond the traditional phone call. Leveraging texting alongside other innovative engagement solutions, such as video, helps capture drivers’ attention, so you don’t risk them going dark during the application process.

Limit repetition and shorten the application

One of the most frustrating things when applying for a job is a repetitive application. Between filling out multiple forms to talking to several people, candidates answer the same questions over and over and with so much competition, drivers can leave this tedious process whenever they want. To set an application apart and make drivers more inclined to complete it, take the applicant’s perspective seriously and make it simple. The best way to achieve this is to keep all information gathered in a full-service applicant tracking solution (ATS), which allows recruiters to simply check the applicant’s profile rather than asking again. This means an application can be shortened, showing drivers you value their time and won’t waste it with repetitive questions.

Maintain transparency

A big roadblock in the application process is the high turnover in truck drivers. This is an industry-wide issue, and one of the reasons there is a shortage of qualified drivers in the job market. No matter what, drivers find out everything they want to know about company and turnover history, compensation rates and more. The worst thing a company can do is hide or lie about this information just to get the applicant in the door. We’re living in the internet era, and everything the driver wants to know can be found online, so be transparent and don’t hide any relevant details. Drivers appreciate the openness and honesty.

How to build driver loyalty

Once fleets find quality candidates to fill their trucks, they need to retain them, and building driver loyalty is the way to ensure drivers are happy and experience true job satisfaction.

Build valuable relationships

In an industry with such high turnover and tough competition, developing strong relationships with drivers is vital. Management needs to check in regularly with drivers to see how they are, if they have any issues to discuss, etc. Additionally, employers need to work hard to help drivers succeed and grow, whether it’s through providing the right training tools or introducing them to internal stakeholders to help them move up. This is called treating the drivers as the CEO of their own business, and this trust goes far in building loyalty.

Promote in-person communication

Despite texting throughout the hiring process, once a driver works for you, it is important to speak to them in person and over the phone. Something like a phone call with a driver to see how they liked the onboarding process goes a long way to retaining relationships down the road. In-person communication shows drivers you see them as the people driving the trucks, as well as the people you value.

Feedback is key

When retaining drivers, it is essential to make it as easy as possible for them to submit feedback on how processes are managed. Feedback must be viewed as a good, everyday workflow item to get rid of any “taboo” mentality associated with corporate feedback. Drivers need to feel comfortable submitting input, because once they do, they’ll be more open and honest with their answers, instead of worrying and providing “fluffy” answers.

Once feedback is received, it needs to be taken into account. If drivers see their input implemented into daily operations, they’ll know their feedback is taken seriously. Everyone likes being heard and making a difference; this speaks volumes to the integrity of the organization. Creating lifelong, value-based relationships with drivers starts with listening to what they have to say and taking their frontline experience into account.

In order to solve the driver shortage, companies need to get quality drivers in trucks faster and then keep them there, through building driver loyalty. Only then, once every shipment on every truck has a driver, the rest of the supply chain will begin seeing on-time deliveries, return customers and overall positive change.