Recipe for Retention: Communicate Driver Settlement Clearly


Let’s face it: driver settlement is a big deal. One of the foundational things you expect from any job is a steady paycheck for doing great work. You also expect you’ll get what you were told you would get. Despite carriers’ recent attention on this matter, the surveys we see still show that drivers often do not believe their settlement amount was described accurately during recruitment. Their thoughts on this topic are one of the top things associated with turnover within 90 days, as shown in our recent report.

So what’s the solution? Are recruiters just deceiving drivers?

We think, by and large, they are not. As we mentioned in our previous blog, communication is hard. It’s also two-way, requiring both the recruiter and driver to participate. Overcoming this challenge is a problem, and problems can be solved with strategies.

Let us share some of the strategies we’ve seen carriers use with success to ensure drivers know upfront what their settlements will be.

Put It in Writing!

One of the best ways to ensure a pay policy is clear and not based on “he said, she said” is to put it in writing. Recruiters should have a settlement policy provided to them in writing that drivers can see and have access to before signing on. Having it in writing allows the driver time to think about it and understand it before joining a carrier. They’ll have better questions for recruiters and retain the information better (or at least be able to reference it).

If you are like many carriers, though, your drivers’ settlements may vary based on experience, types of runs, number of runs, or any number of variables. This is where it gets tricky. Each of these variables that matter to your carrier should be spelled out in the written policy.

Do new drivers only make about 75% of the average settlement until they have been with you 90 days? Drivers need to know this.

Does one division get a higher pay-per-mile than another? Drivers need to know this, even if they can only join one of them. After all, you don’t want them to feel taken advantage of if drivers from another division share their higher settlement numbers.

One objection you might raise: your system cannot be adequately captured in a single document. If that’s true, this lack of clarity already frustrates your current drivers.

Take a Look at the Whole System

We know that the majority of drivers make money when the carrier makes money. Customers write checks when loads arrive at their destinations. Other hours drivers spend waiting, being stuck in traffic, or handling paperwork aren’t tied to revenue.

Because of this, drivers may think their settlement was not described accurately because these factors were not considered by the recruiter. Especially if stark changes to these realities are occurring due to the national economy or natural disasters, drivers may not be expecting the amount of settlement they get.

To help address this problem, keep track of how long your drivers are waiting at shippers. See what you can do to reduce it (all your drivers will thank you), but keep recruiters updated on what that number is.

By the same token, keep track of traffic patterns. Are particular divisions more likely to hit bottlenecks? This can affect driver settlement, so recruits need to know it.


As you can see, the perception of accuracy in settlement is a complex issue. Fundamentally, though, it is about information. More information given to recruiters means more information can be given to recruits. More information getting to recruits means new drivers get more information.

And we know that drivers with better, more accurate information are more likely to stay. You can read more about this and other of the Top 5 Areas to Watch for New-to-You Drivers in our free report.