TCA TPP Retention Project Plan

Commitment to change for an organization is no small feat when taking on turnover. It starts with the leaders acknowledging that the issue is the company’s doing and agreeing to change the way things are currently being done. Blaming outside forces is very dangerous because it does not allow for ownership of the issue – it can always be someone or somethings fault, or its an external problem. Owning the situation within the company, when it comes to turnover, is where it must begin. Usually, when I have almost finished the one-day workshop that begins the project plan at a management team meeting there is a complete dedication to the effort, everyone is bobbing his or her head in unison to the new strategy.  Thing is I can read the room fairly quickly, and although there are always a number of the folks in attendance that are entirely committed to change, there are usually one or two other folks (let’s call them Bobs). Why? Because they are bobbing their heads in agreement, but they are not what they seem.


I’m not quite sure where I tend to lose these Bobs when I discuss the new TCA Retention Project Plan. Maybe it’s when I tell them that if turnover is upwards of 60% at your company then the majority of their employees and Owner Operators do not believe a word they say. That might turn them off. Maybe it’s when I explain the program I offer and tell them that although it takes additional effort up front, in the end, they will save time. Maybe it’s when I explain that they are going to do the same thing in the program as they have always done, but that they will do it a little differently? Could be it’s when I discuss my real-life experience of my management team taking our trucking company turnover from 120% to 20% over two years and along the way doubling our operating ratio and transitioning from a poor insurance risk to winning TCA national fleet safety awards. I’m not sure. The sad thing is that some of these Bobs have influence, usually through tenure with the company or family ties and they can tend to slow an excellent effort to a crawl. These folks have what I call “Loyalty to the past.”


Goes like this: “we have always done it this way, and we got this far so why should we change now?” Of course, this is a rhetorical statement and it is also the root of why the company’s turnover has escalated. Times have changed. The labor pool your draw from has changed in a variety of ways: age dynamic; X’s Y’s Millennials; we are sexually and ethnically much more diverse and so on. Your company has not adjusted to these real-time influences. You’re doing the same things you have always done them, and now you are struggling with high-turnover trucks against the fence, etcetera.


These companies are also usually under an autocratic type management style where creative thinking is not only discouraged but it is stifled as soon as it is found out. Unfortunately, one of the offshoots of this style is that it tends to repel young talent. Millennials don’t buy into this style at all. In fact, once recognized, they bolt from it – both drivers and managers. These folks are into collaboration and creative problem-solving. The good news, of course, is that in this case if ownership is willing to accept this reality, they can use this as a paradigm shift to springboard a new initiative. Like the TCA TPP Retention Plan: to plan for success or to call it a bell weather moment.


Taking on any significant project plan within a company is of course challenging and at times may seem daunting. Add to the mix that to be successful you will likely need to change your companies’ culture. Now you have folks scared. The nice thing is that the process that is offered by TCA is a stepped process that you can move along at your own pace: do step one and then move on to step two once you have the essence of that step mastered and understood. Now do it 44 more times in sequence.  It’s like painting by numbers. Easy? NO, but it is much more straightforward than starting from scratch and hoping that you succeed. The program has a successful track record, and it is growing weekly. Got any issues that you would like to discuss? All my contact information is below. Let’s have a chat and see if this new offering is a good fit for your company.


Safe Trucking and Merry Christmas,

Ray Haight

TCA Retention Coach

[email protected]

Cell 1-519-820-1632


The Bounce-Back Driver

Guest Article by Steve Hitchcock, COO of Duncan and Son Lines, Inc.

I’ve been with Duncan for almost 8 years now.  One of the most perplexing things I have observed is the number of “bounce-back” drivers we’ve had.  What is a bounce-back driver?  It’s a driver who leaves us, but then later decides to come back.  Why is this phenomenon perplexing to me?  There are a few reasons.  All of them beg questions.  First, why are drivers leaving in the first place?  If they are unhappy and they leave, why do they come back?  Is there any way for us to get in front of this to keep them from leaving in the first place?  I think I’m finally starting to fill in these blanks.

Drivers (and all employees for that matter) can weigh many things when they decide on an employer.  And it’s important to note that they choose their employer every single day.  These factors (not an all-inclusive list) are what they should consider when deciding where to work: pay, commute, supervisor relationship, co-worker relationships, how rewarding the work is, advancement opportunity, work schedule/flexibility, time off, home time, benefits (med/dental/ancillary), being in-the-know, equipment, work culture, access to senior leadership, etc.  Not every employer is a good match for every driver.  Companies are seldom going to be good at everything on that list.  If a driver really values something that the employer doesn’t excel at, it’s a bad fit.  Hopefully the things we’re not good at are low on the totem pole for our drivers- otherwise, they’ll leave.  So, what’s the deal with the ones who leave, but then come back?  I think there are three main reasons for the bounce-back driver: burnout, a specific pain point, and not considering/ranking everything they value in an employer.

We have drivers leave because of general burnout.  We run the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.  It’s a great regional gig that gets our drivers home every other night.  The downside is the ports themselves.  There’s down-time.  There’s bad traffic.  The port terminal personnel don’t always treat our drivers with courtesy, professionalism, respect and dignity that they deserve.  We have drivers who get burned out on port work, quit Duncan, spend some time away and re-charge, then come back with a fresh outlook.  We offer some ways for our drivers to take a break from the ports, but they don’t pay as well as running the ports.

Sometimes drivers leave because they have a specific pain point that they are frustrated with.  It might be their dispatcher manager relationship, pay, the work schedule, or something else.  It eats at them until they find something else.  That something else is the promise of greener grass.  They make the leap and, often times, solve that problem.  Maybe our pay or lane was their issue, so they move to the promise of better pay or a better route.  But then they realize that they don’t get home often, or their schedule isn’t flexible, or they don’t connect with the manager.  Many bounce-back drivers have expressed that they just traded one pain point for another- or multiple pains.

Drivers also leave because they just didn’t know what they really valued.  They didn’t consider all of factors when choosing which company to drive for.  No job is perfect.  But they needed to ask themselves if the good outweighed the bad?  Generally, these bounce-back drivers got stuck on one or two negative aspects of the job and forgot about the good parts.  We are lucky that sometimes their next employer shows them the things we do well by failing at them.  Once they start considering all the aforementioned factors- and once they start ranking them by importance- they get a clearer view of what they need to look for in an employer.  This is when we bring them back home.

As an employer who competes every day for drivers, the ball is in our court.  We need to make sure that our employees know about and consider everything, not just one or two things.  We need to celebrate, communicate, and market all the things we’re good at- both internally and externally.  We need to be honest and upfront with ourselves, our employees, and potential employees about areas we’re not as good at.  We’re not for everyone, and that’s OK.  It’s our job to make sure that every day, when our drivers decide who they are going to drive for, that they make an educated, well thought out decision.

Retention Action Plan – Stage 2 – Laying the Ground Work

Retention Action Plan – Introduction