• Central Florida Transport hired a drivers advocate to help address a turnover rate near 100%.
  • The advocate helps schedule trucker's healthcare appointments, as well as increase revenue.
  • The trucking company is one of many to add new incentives to recruit and retain drivers.

A Florida trucking company has hired a full-time driver's advocate as a new perk for its truckers, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.

Central Florida Transport (CFT) told The Journal that the advocate does anything from schedule healthcare appointments to help the truckers manage their revenue, as well as get in touch with absent drivers.

"We wanted to do whatever possible to help solve their problems because we can't afford to lose any drivers," CFT Vice President Myron Bowlin told the publication.

A spokesperson for the company, which is one of the largest haulers in Florida for construction and raw materials, was not immediately able to provide a comment for Insider ahead of publication. 

CFT is hiring company drivers who can be paid per hour as well as independent contractors, according to its site. It advertises that independent contractors can make a gross income as high as $250,000 per year and says that company drivers can receive health insurance that includes vision and dental insurance, and will soon be able to receive a 401k. The average trucker makes about $50,340 per year, according to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

CFT told The Wall Street Journal it experienced a driver turnover rate near 100% last year. As a result, the company decided to double its human resources department to more fully address driver needs and begin offering retirement plans for the first time in CFT's 30-year history, the Journal reported. 

The trucking industry is known for its high turnover rate. In 2021, the American Trucking Association (ATA) said the average turnover rate for large trucking companies was over 90%. The ATA has repeatedly warned of a trucker shortage of about 80,000 drivers, but industry experts have pushed back against the notion, saying the issue has more to do with retention than recruitment.

The crucial role of truckers in the US economy has become readily apparent since the pandemic snarled global supply chains. Earlier this year, President Joe Biden emphasized the importance of truckers when he spoke on his Trucking Action Plan. He said that without truckers "everything comes to a halt."

CFT is not the only company taking extra strides to recruit and maintain drivers.

Earlier this year, Walmart announced it had increased the starting salary for its truckers to between $95,000 and $110,000 per year. Insider previously reported trucking companies had begun recruiting drivers at gas stations and convenience stores, as well as offering perks like luxury truck stops with masseurs and pet-bathing stations.

The Journal reported that the new incentives for drivers that haul the goods between job sites could ultimately increase construction costs. Associated General Contractors of America, an organization that represents over 27,000 construction companies, told the publication that publicly-funded construction projects have regularly come in over 20% above their initial price in recent months due to the added costs needed to address labor shortages, as well as elevated fuel and commodity prices in the industry.

Read The Journal's full story on its website.

Read the original article on Business Insider