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What is happening in New Zealand trucking?

From the truckie's seat and the recruiter's desk

​TruckingNZ blog#2:

Why are you having a high driver turnover?


A high driver turnover is not normal, even in these times of shortage, it is a symptom, a sign. A sign that drivers are not happy and prefer to go and try another company rather than stay with you one more week. You are losing money in training drivers constantly.

I will list here some of the reasons for driver turnover and develop them in further articles.


1: Wages are not the main factor unless they are really low: Some companies still pay the same as 10 years ago, which is not a big inconvenient for new drivers that need to get experience or drivers that are casual or semi-retired or do not need the money as they have other sources of income. But 24 dollars an hour for a class 5 truck experienced truck driver is not ok and if you pay that kind of wage and are not relying on training new drivers you will have a high driver turnover.

Many companies with very good wages are losing drivers too, or cannot attract any. Aside from wages, most drivers leave for other reasons and surprisingly companies do not bother to ask them why they go, therefore they cannot fix the problem.

2: Do you promise and not deliver? Not delivering promises is one of the main reasons drivers lose patience in a short time. The companies that say "yes" to anything that the driver asks in the job interview but later only give him excuses for not delivering promises are going to suffer big. And many do promise knowing that they cannot deliver: they cannot give you the run you wanted, they cannot give you the truck they told you, they cannot give you the holidays in January, and so on. But they are happy to have a driver for some weeks behind the wheel until the next one comes in for another short time. At some point, the word is going to be out and no drivers will believe you.

3: Are you listening to your drivers? The drivers do not usually bother to talk to bosses or supervisors unless it is important. The truckies love their independence, and responsibility and they are proud of their decision-making, trip planning, and problem-solving skills. If they call you or leave you a message is because they need help, a solution. If they tell you that one ramp at the bay is not working you need to fix it because the driver is losing extra time waiting for the other bay to be available. If they tell you they need a forklift with long forks in a certain branch you need to buy the fork extensions because the unloading of certain pallets is not ideal and they are losing twice the normal time to unload without dropping them. And many other examples. Unnecessary extra time is frustrating and many times it means cutting his break in half or making it impossible for him to take a break at all.

4: Do your shifts make sense for humans? Drivers are humans, remember. The common 3x3x3 shift is hard, especially if you do not live alone in the middle of a very quiet area. But there are many worse shifts out there:
We all know the "early shift" job that is looking for a driver every 3 months. Starting at 1 am is called "early shift" now, is it? So you get up from bed at midnight. To have 7 hours of sleep the driver has to go to bed at 5 pm. I only met two drivers in my whole life who can do that without suffering fatigue and other health issues: sleep in the afternoon-evening is very hard. The human body is designed by evolution to sleep at night. It is not a great disruption to sleep in the morning for many, let's say 5 am to midday. But going to sleep soundly between 10 am and 8 am is very difficult. Our brain has a hard time getting into a deep sleep at those hours. If the cycle of sleep is not complete there is no proper rest. Fatigue (constant tiredness), exhaustion, and irritability are the consequences. Is that necessary? the truck is a machine, but the driver isn't, there is no "off" button for drivers. If you have that kind of run please have a minute to check if it can be changed to a human-friendly hour so drivers can actually stay in your company and do their job safely.

5: Are your runs doable? I remember that run I covered for a few days once: loading, leaving Wellington at 8 to swap Btrain in Turangi at midnight. At 12.30 am back to Wellington to be at 4:30 am at the customer to unload.
The problem is at 90 kph you cannot make that run in 4 hours. Not even in Summer conditions with zero traffic. It is more like 98 kph to make it. And the 30 minutes break in Turangi includes: refueling, unhooking your Btrain and inspecting it, hooking the mate's Btrain, doing a pre-trip check, and filling up your logbook. You are lucky if you have 10 minutes off to go to the toilet and get a coffee. If you are having a high turnover in this type of run do not fool yourself by saying that it is hard to retain drivers. If you have a run that is impossible to do legally, the drivers risk fines, licence, and having not enough rest and will leave.

6: do you have bullies on your team? In the current conditions, good drivers can find a job in hours and they do not need to put up with unpleasant and unnecessary situations from mates. This is more common than you think. Some drivers rise themselves as leaders and expect some kind of "special respect" from new arrivals, who might be even more competent and experienced. Some like to invent that others had mistakes just to hide theirs. Some cannot stand a young class 5 driver getting a chance easy with a Btrain when they had to wait years to have that same chance and will try to press in any way possible to make the newbie doubt his abilities instead of supporting him. Those sabotaging attitudes means you cannot trust your mates and new arrivals get out, fast.

7: Are you overworking your drivers? Are you expecting an extra mile every day?  A 70-hour week is ok. Fifty-two weeks at 70 hours each week is brutal. It is legal but it does not give you time to have a life outside of work or take care of your health. Many love the truck and have no other hobbies, but most people do. We want time to socialize with friends and family, enjoy a hobby or two, and do not want to feel too tired to leave the couch on the weekend. Word is out that a 70 h week is not unusual in the industry, new drivers arrive and see the expecting working week: They chose other jobs. Be smart about it, having casuals and part times is a win-win.

8: Are you doing an exit interview? Do not be afraid of criticism. No company is perfect, you might be too focused on your customers, your numbers, the workshop, etc and have lost sight of other areas. A driver has an interview to get the job and should get an interview when he leaves. Some companies have that rule but managers do not follow it. That will point out some problems and surprisingly many can be fixed without investing a penny, and you may discover that a bully or two need to be re-educated for the good of your company's future.

​TruckingNZ blog#1:

What kind of truck drivers are we going to bring to New Zealand?

New Zealand has to hire truck drivers from overseas, there is no other way about it as Kiwis are not interested in a career in driving. They have other more attractive options for fewer hours and the same or more money.
Many of them are crossing the ditch right now in search of new adventures, higher wages, and lower house prices.

The "Te Ara Road to Success" initiative is a good start, but the results will come within a few years. Right now the only way to keep the wheels moving is to import truck drivers.

But which drivers can handle New Zealand roads? Contrary to what many kiwis think, there are plenty of countries in the world with hilly terrain, narrow winding roads, and similar trucks.

Trucking NZ Driver recruiting offers drivers from those areas in the world to companies that cannot find experienced kiwis and trainees. And we do not just bring any driver, they only qualify for our pool of candidates if they have defensive driving habits, an H&S mindset, and of course a level of English suitable for the role.

The coaching they receive in our hands while they are exchanging the licence will make their adjustment to their new job in New Zealand even smoother. Imagine the time and money you save when you realize they need so little training, and you have the peace of mind that your trucks are in the best, skilled, hands.

Please import only top truck drivers that make our roads safer, or let us help you do so. 

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