As a small motor carrier, you need to think ahead of the curve to stay in front of your competition. Two areas continually challenge small trucking company owners: finding qualified drivers, and then, hanging onto them once they're on board.

As the Boomer population ages, many of your experienced, long-term drivers are looking to get off the road. It's really difficult to replace all those years of experience and knowledge. Filling those holes with younger truckers just learning the ropes results in “brain drain,” which can create major gaps in a small trucking operation.

But how does a smaller carrier overcome this exiting of knowledge? Don't let the knowledge go out the door.

The experienced truckers who've been on the road for years are your best candidates for becoming dispatchers. Let me explain. When I first entered trucking back in the early 1980s, my first dispatcher was named Carly. He was in his early 60s, and after nearly 35 years as a trucker, being on the road was no longer an option for him. The carrier I worked for knew the value of his experience and knowledge. He'd been an exemplary trucker with many safety and customer service awards.

Office legend had it that if a place existed and a truck went there, Carly had been there. He could tell a greenhorn like me not only how to get to a pickup or delivery location, but what type of challenges I'd face and how to overcome them. He could tell you how to legally drive and log a particularly difficult schedule. He helped us newbies diagnose a mechanical problem so we couldn't be taken advantage of on the road. And the best part was that he knew how to make money for both the trucker and the company, having done it for 35 years. I learned a lot from Carly.

Think of it this way. Take a great trucker like Carly, who's been successful in this trucking business and has immense knowledge of how the industry works. As a single trucker, he's really only impacting his own income and the carrier's revenue as it relates to his performance. Put him into operations as a dispatcher (or, better yet, a fleet manager) and you have spread his skills and knowledge throughout your entire fleet. Instead of having one exceptional trucker, you can now have an entire fleet utilizing his knowledge.

By taking a ready-to-retire trucker with decades of experience and placing him or her in a position of helping the younger up-and-coming truckers, you'll have a far happier fleet of drivers. One of their own will be watching their backs. In addition, he's also helping improve your bottom line through more efficient use of your drivers' time and ensuring they make fewer mistakes in driving and in judgment.

This can be one way to solve the driver retention and efficiency problem and improve your carrier's bottom line in one fell swoop. Sheer genius.

Contact Tim Brady at 731-749-8567 or at www.timothybrady.com