Service Partner Perspective: Household Goods Driver Shortage?

Published: Feb 27, 2015

Recently, NEI had the opportunity to speak with Donna Gann, Senior Vice President, Customer Service at Nelson Westerberg about her perspective on the Household Goods Industry driver shortage.  She indicated that most household goods companies are likely to respond that the biggest challenge they face today is the shortage of experienced van operators/drivers. 

Young people do not aspire to be movers because it is a hard job.  Just being a licensed professional driver is challenging.  Drivers:

  • are regulated by the federal government more stringently than workers in nuclear power plants
  • have to account for every minute of every day—even when they’re not working—by filing daily logs proving when they were on and off duty, and 
  • pay complicated taxes—heavy highway use tax, fuel tax, local tax, state tax, federal tax and the list goes on.

For example, truck diesel and car diesel are essentially the same except that truck diesel has highway taxes added to the price per gallon.  It’s against the law to put car diesel in a commercial truck.  In fact, if a truck driver doesn’t buy fuel in a state that they drive through, they need to pay mileage taxes for the privilege of driving through the state. 

During the interview, she said that household goods drivers are not just licensed professional drivers. Every day, they’re involved in the intimate details of people’s homes, packing and loading all of their worldly possessions and they need to possess a very unique set of skills.  In addition to the technical skills necessary for managing the paperwork, packing, loading and driving the moving van, they need to have a personality that is conducive to working with people during a very stressful time in their lives.  

“Finding the right people for this career, developing their talents, and retaining them has always been and continues to be a challenge for the moving industry as a whole,” said Gann.  “We offer one of the most comprehensive compensation packages in the industry including competitive financing for tractors and trucks, rewards for excellence based on Voice of Customer (VOC) scores and, most of all, sensitivity to their needs and to the needs of their families.  We are consistently reviewing their compensation package for ways we can offer additional benefits.”

Gann indicated that the efforts made by Nelson Westerberg to retain and nurture their best people, also entices new people to partner with them. 

“So, is there a driver shortage?” she says.  “Yes and no.  We believe that if you treat your professional drivers with the same care and respect that you treat your clients and customers, they will remain your partners and just may be your best recruiters.”

When asked what it was like to partner with NEI, Donna said, “In a word—EASY.”  She continued that she appreciated the ease of understanding what NEI expects through clear and consistent management that has allowed the business relationship to mature, grow and constantly improve.  “But most importantly it is the ease of sharing a common goal to deliver world class service with every move we make.”