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Sourcing Drivers in Foodservice Distribution

No matter your industry, it’s more difficult to hire drivers today than it was 30 years ago, 10 years ago, or even 3 years ago. Drivers are your bread and butter, and they’re hard to come by. Finding new drivers and keeping your current ones is even harder for specialized industries like foodservice.

The rising concern of hiring and retaining drivers in the foodservice industry

Acquiring and retaining drivers is a daily struggle for foodservice companies. These specialized drivers need to be experienced, willing to drive in congested areas, and knowledgeable in foodservice safety and temperature-controlled practices. And because they’re also required to hand unload a trailer full of cases and pallets, the manual labor aspect of the job adds an extra layer of difficulty for drivers. On top of all that, the number of retiring drivers is outweighing the number of drivers entering the workforce—meaning the hiring pool is shrinking and it’s only getting harder to find drivers. Companies are using sign-on bonuses to drive competition for who can find and keep the best drivers.

The extra layer of difficulty is in the season

Foodservice companies have another disadvantage—seasonality. For example, companies that supply school cafeterias will scramble to retain drivers during the summer downtime. Like most employees, drivers prefer a steady income and employment, and if they go somewhere else, they might not come back. Turnover leads to more problems like continuous rehiring and training, unpredictable service, and difficulty expanding business or making profit. The reality is that the driver shortage affects every part of your business. If you don’t know how to find or take care of drivers, be prepared to lose your drivers–and possibly customers–to a competitor. So, how can you compete for drivers and provide quality service in this challenging environment?

The secret ingredient is finding the right dedicated fleet provider

A dedicated fleet provider is like a foodservice distributor, except its sole focus and competency is in the transportation side of the business. A common misconception is that dedicated fleet providers remove control from companies with their own fleets, but the opposite is true in reality. A dedicated fleet provider doesn’t take away from your business—it gives you the opportunity to grow your business. For example, you can redistribute capital to invest in areas with a better ROI, expand operations to a regional or national level, gain insulation from risks and liabilities, and drive profitability from great service and support from your provider. Then, those advantages create opportunities for success like ability to hire drivers in rural or competitive markets, keep drivers busy in down time, access cross-trained drivers during seasonal peaks, and hand off the routes your drivers don’t want. Don’t try to do everything yourself. Consult a dedicated fleet provider instead.

Contact J.B. Hunt Dedicated Contract Services at or +1 (800) 325-1068 to learn more about our role in the foodservice industry and how we can help take your business to the next level.