The Secret to Driver Retention: Providing Drivers a Career, Not just a Job

Retaining professional drivers is just as important as recruiting them, if not more so. Ron Martin, Red Classic’s Director of Driver Recruiting and Retention, shares what his team is doing to set drivers up for success.
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As the U.S. job market becomes more competitive than ever, organizations in all industries are looking to not just grow their team, but further develop them as well. More people are having the conversation noted in the graphic above, “What happens when we invest in our people and they leave?” and realizing the alternative is worse – “What if we don’t [invest in them] and they stay?”

Studies have proven that happy and healthy employees who are satisfied in their jobs are more productive. In its 2015 study, Happiness and Productivity: Understanding the Happy-Productive Worker, the Social Market Foundation revealed happy employees are up to 20% more productive. Doesn’t every company want to have teams who are motivated, want to be there and feel invested?

Here, Martin shares three areas he and his team are focusing on to make Red Classic the best company our drivers have ever driven for. He wants to make sure our driver teammates don’t just have a job and a paycheck, but a career with great pay, benefits and opportunity.

1. Pay

Pay will always be a top consideration of job seekers, and drivers are no exception. We want to pay professional drivers in a structure that makes practical sense and allows flexibility depending on how much they want to work and earn. There are a variety of different pay structures that carriers use, such as by the hour, by the mile or a percentage of the revenue that a haul yielded. Our Driver Recruiting and Retention team pays close attention to these trends and feedback from our drivers to adjust our structure to one that’s appealing and competitive.

Currently, we pay our local and OTR company drivers by the mile and provide a productivity incentive of $0.02 per mile and safety component pay of $0.045 per mile, which are both paid out on a quarterly basis. We continuously review and monitor the pay rate and increase it regularly to stay competitive. As of publishing this post, we’ve increased the local company driver pay rate three times in the last 12 months.

For owner operator contractors, we provide two attractive options: by the mile or percentage of linehaul revenue. We guarantee them a minimum of 2,500 miles per week. By stating a minimum and sticking to it, we make sure each owner operator earns a steady income they can rely on.

2. Benefits & Perks

Great pay will always be no. 1, but unfortunately many companies offer minimal benefits for drivers. By offering excellent benefits and unique perks, in addition to great pay, drivers will be happier to be a part of our fleet.

Something unique about Red Classic’s benefits package is that our health, dental and vision insurance is one of the top offerings among dry van carriers across the U.S. In fact, our premiums are so low that drivers have said it felt as though they got an extra pay raise now that they would pay thousands less each year to cover their family. All our health insurance options also include a chronic condition management plan which covers medication for chronic illnesses such as asthma and diabetes, which has helped several employees save thousands more.

We’re able to keep premiums low and coverage high thanks to the relationship with our parent company, Coca-Cola Consolidated, which provides industry-leading benefits. When our employees know their family is taken care of, the less stressed they’ll be and the more focused they can be on their job.

There are multiple ways we provide additional opportunities for employees to invest in their financial success. We have a referral program where employees can refer drivers to join our team and earn cash rewards when they’re hired on. We provide 3.5% matching for 401K contributions and have a stock purchase plan that allows our employees to purchase our parent company’s stock up to a certain amount each year.

We also want to address drivers’ wants in addition to their needs. This includes equipping our fleet with brand new Mack Anthem trucks and keeping our average tractor age under two years old. We also make sure these trucks are equipped with features drivers love, including automatic transmission and air-ride seating.

3. Career Opportunities

Something that truly makes Red Classic unique for all employees is the opportunity to grow and evolve their careers. We believe in fostering career growth and supporting teammates who want to move into different roles. We’re fortunate to have ample examples of drivers who wanted to try something different and have gone on to become mentors, driver trainers, dispatchers, driver managers, logistics planners, facility managers and even regional operations managers. Whatever the reason for the desire to change roles, managers are there to support our drivers and help them find a path to their desired career at Red Classic. We value the expertise of our drivers, and their insights and experience have been invaluable to the success of our company.

When combined, great pay, benefits and opportunity for growth can provide drivers a stable career that keeps them satisfied and motivated to continue pursuing excellence.

If you are a professional driver and are interested in working with Red Classic, give our Driver Recruiting and Retention team a call at 888-855-3386. Also visit for information on our current local and OTR company driver positions and owner operator opportunities. If you’re a current Red Classic employee and would like to refer someone who would be an excellent addition to our driver team, contact your manager for details on our referral program.