A recent story by News10NBC in Rochester, New York shed light on the sobering fact that thousands of U.S. trucking companies have an abundance of tractor trailers available to haul freight, but not enough drivers to get behind the wheel. Leonard’s Express is no exception. Our fleet of 650 trucks is short by about thirty-five drivers, which is consistent with a nationwide trend that has seen a shortage of truckers across every industry.
“We’re turning down more freight than we would like to,” said Leonard’s Express CEO Ken Johnson in an interview for the news segment. “We have more opportunities than we’ve ever had.” Needless to say, driver recruitment is one of – if not the – most urgent business priority for fleets like Leonard’s Express.
There are many reasons to consider a career as a truck driver. Here are the five that we believe are most compelling.
- Higher pay and signing bonuses
It’s no secret that most drivers would say they don’t get paid what they deserve. We’ve heard the argument that a truck driver’s salary should be comparable to an airplane pilot’s. Admittedly, an airplane pilot is flying an extremely complex piece of machinery and carrying the most precious cargo – people. But as we have been painfully reminded through COVID, the freight that truck drivers haul is essential to the global supply chain and is the lifeblood of the American economy.It’s encouraging to see driver pay rates on the rise, including large sign-on bonuses. Many carriers like Leonard’s Express are offering additional incentives to address quality of life issues, like getting drivers home to their families more consistently if that’s what they desire. We are placing a lot more emphasis on the kinds of services, other than pay, create a more attractive career opportunity for truck drivers. It’s important to recognize that the driver represents human capital and is the most important investment we have.
- Flexible work schedules allow for home and family time
Pay is important but it’s not the only factor to consider. For the past several years, we have been evaluating the total driver experience. It’s critical to create a great work environment. Companies that don’t can face real problems with drivers leaving and going somewhere else. We believe culture matters. We’ve got to be the right cultural fit for a driver and that driver has to be the right cultural fit for us. They are driving a $200,000 investment down public roads, so they must represent the company and the brand in a positive, professional manner.We offer several work schedule options for drivers to consider, which gives them the flexibility to be home when they need to be. Feedback from our driver advisory board and driver advocate program helps us determine what other services to offer.
- Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) matter – now more than ever
You can’t spell “driver” without the letters “D, E, and I.” It’s our goal at Leonard’s Express to appeal to all potential employees regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation. According to a recent American Trucking Association driver-shortage analysis, 40.4% of truck drivers were minorities in 2018, an increase of 13.8% from 26.6% five years earlier. We expect this trend to continue, which is great for our industry and aligns with our values at Leonard Express as a family-oriented company that represents the demographics of the communities we serve.
- State of the art technology
The transportation industry has made incredible advancements over the past few years, largely due to technology. Until recently, it was difficult to attract young people and tech enthusiasts because they viewed driving as an “old school” profession. That’s no longer the case.At Leonard’s Express, we embrace technology to enable us to deliver on our promise to customers and employees. We are early adopters of all sorts of technology, from crash mitigation systems to satellite-powered freight tracking tools, to a driving simulator to coach current drivers as well as students at our driving school. Freight hauling has become an industry where tech savvy, digital natives can feel comfortable, fulfilled, and proud to be a member of a modern, state of the art profession.
- Independence to explore the open road
Driving a truck for a living is an experience like no other. Those who have an independent spirit and a desire to be untethered to a physical office tend to thrive as truck drivers. Lots of drivers say the peace and serenity of the open road is their favorite part of the job. At the same time, as mentioned earlier, employers are offering more flexible work schedules to promote better work-life balance and more family time, so it’s not a one-size fits all approach.
We’re hiring – join the family!
If the pandemic has you rethinking your career, you’re not alone. COVID-19 has led to a phenomenon in the United States known as “the Great Resignation.” Millions of people, from frontline workers to senior executives, are leaving their jobs and rebooting their careers. According to Microsoft, more than 40 percent of the global workforce is considering changing jobs this year.
If you or someone you know is looking for a fresh start, please consider truck driving as a career. The money is great and there are many options for drivers who want to go over the road for extended periods of time, and for those who want to be home for dinner with the family every night. And it’s an easier learning curve than you might think. Most new trucks have automatic transmission and Leonard’s Express even has its own driving school. As CEO Ken Johnson said in a recent interview with Heavy Duty Trucking, “Not every driver that goes through the school is hired by us. But we like to offer jobs to as many of them as we can — provided we feel they’re a good fit for our company. Regardless of where the graduates go, we make sure they understand that they’re not just getting a CDL — they’re getting a whole new career.”
For more information, please visit our Careers page.