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Driver retention? How about budgeting for a new mattress?

Randy Greene is a company driver for a small trucking company hauling various dry van goods. This small company paid OK, but without the luxuries and support of other carriers. One of those missing luxuries, but one could say a need, was a fresh new, better quality mattress. Trucking companies rarely find the answer on how they can increase driver retention and provide what the drivers really want and need to feel comfortable, cared for, motivated and appreciated. Mattresses are often omitted as being too much of an expense. Owner operators and company drivers have the same needs when it comes to comfort and companies experience the same benefits when drivers are rested and motivated. So, why not start with a fresh mattress?

I caught up with Randy at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, TN. "The very least I expect ed was a freshened up sleeper, with a new mattress, but when I asked for a new bed the company told me it wasn't that old and the budget didn't allow for it", Randy mentioned.

Now, a trucking company might make an incorrect comparison that a hotel mattress that was slept on by hundreds of people in 5 years do not have to be changed. However, a hotel has mattress protectors, duvets, and sheets that are laundered by staff after each guest. Truck mattresses don't have that attention to cleanliness between drivers.

"I barely use sheets, can't keep them on the bed", Randy added. This leads to what we all know about how hygienic these used, bare mattresses and foam pads are exactly. This gross factor we will forgo in this discussion, because we all know what we know about the skin cells and sweat and well....whatever else.

Cost: Recruitment, Processing & Training Replacement

A trucking company should have a driver replacement costs sheet detailing what their true cost is for recruitment. Reports from ATBS and others state the following estimates to replace an owner operator. That total cost can be $5000, not including $15,000 in lost freight or over a thousand in lost profit margins. The companies have replacement cost through advertising, trade shows, email marketing etc. Then when they receive an application, the administrative functions like checking references, interviewing, drug and health checks are costly. The orientation process involves a plethora of training cost also.

The cost to the owner operator is quite high when they switch carriers. An estimate of a 3 week lull between carriers includes loss of owner operator revenue while switching, maybe $7,500 to $9,000, insurance payments with truck payments, maybe $4,500. Total owner operators cost to switch carriers during a 3 week transition time could be in excess of $10,000.

Expense seems to be the one and only top reason that a company doesn't take care of this crucial mattress need for their company drivers. If the budget doesn't allow for more than an insufficient excuse for a mattress or foam topper, then I would suggest the business needs to adjust their budget to allow for either a higher quality, new mattress or money towards, say, half the cost of a mattress of their choice. Consider a commitment of a $300 mattress upgrade that can ultimately save thousands for both driver and company. Driver retention should be less of an issue without disrupting revenue and profits. Invest in driver comfort.

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