Don’t worry, I’m not picking on mechanics. I’m just using them as an example (sorry, mechanics). The same thing applies to dispatchers, front desk staff, and anyone else your truck drivers might run into at your terminals. Any of these people could inadvertently cause one of your drivers to quit. Here’s how.
Your drivers spend long, lonely days on the road. When they finally get to spend some time at the terminal, they’re looking for friendly human contact. So, what happens when the only person they speak with is (for example) a mechanic… and the interaction is a bad one? The result is an unhappy driver who starts thinking about working elsewhere. In essence, your mechanic has just fired your driver.
So how can you prevent this from happening? It starts with a cultural shift on the way your company interacts with its truck drivers, and that starts at the top, with you.
What exactly do you need to do? Read on to find out.
Just one bad encounter can cost you a driver
In my last article, I spoke about the importance of recruiters knowing how to speak your company’s whole truth. Everyone in your company needs to do the same thing. This means every department needs to be aligned on one simple fact: everything you do depends on taking good care of your truck drivers at every touchpoint.
As we all know, truck driver retention is pretty critical. The ongoing shortage means your best drivers can easily find work at a rival carrier. You don’t want a staff member in a bad mood to be the reason a driver leaves.
Obviously, everyone has bad days (including drivers themselves). To drivers, though, every single interaction counts. If your dispatcher is abrupt with a driver, or the safety team acts bored and unhelpful, that might just be enough to convince a driver to look for work elsewhere.
Creating the holistic driver experience
Instead, you want to create what I like to call the “holistic driver experience”. Today’s truck drivers, especially the younger crop, are looking for more than just a regular route and a paycheck. They’re looking for a company that values them as a human being. Here’s how you make that happen.
Your people. Ultimately, creating a great experience for your drivers starts with your people. Is everyone in your company focused on providing top-notch support to your drivers? Or are they treating them like a task to be checked off the list?
When drivers return to the terminal, they’re tired and missing human connection. Everyone– from gate security to custodial staff – should make them feel welcome.
We’re not saying that drivers must be revered like kings. But a willingness to resolve an issue (and the tools to make it possible) makes a huge difference to a driver. More importantly, it can keep them from scrolling the job boards while they wait for their next load.
Many companies have a designated driver relations officer. That’s a good thing, but I also like say that everyone in your company should be your driver relations officer. That mindset keeps everything moving along.
Your facilities. I still remember, from my driving days, companies that had luxurious facilities for sales reps and executives, while the drivers’ lounges were dingy rooms with broken chairs. It makes no sense to have subpar facilities for the people who are powering your entire company. Especially if your attrition rate is keeping you awake at night.
Here’s what a top-notch drivers’ lounge should have.
- WiFi and data ports. Your drivers want to catch up on family and friends between shifts. They also want to be able to upload maintenance reports and other documents.
- Great TVs and comfortable chairs. Drivers need to kick back and relax just like everyone else.
- Laundry and shower facilities. Help your drivers be ready for their next trip. Give them a place to get themselves and their clothes clean.
- Bright lighting and lots of windows. Your drivers’ lounge should be warm and welcoming. After all, it’s the first place your drivers see after days alone on the road.
- Healthy snacks. Life on the road lends itself to unhealthy food choices. Offer your drivers healthy snack options when they get back.
Your trucks. Obviously, your trucks are going to meet safety standards. Make sure, though, that you’re including perks that make your drivers’ jobs more enjoyable. These perks also make their time on the road more efficient.
- Sirius XM/satellite radio. Your drivers are on the road all day, every day. Make sure they can listen to any music they like.
- Data ports in the sleeper cab. Give your drivers space for a TV, laptop or tablet.
- Lumbar support cushions/padding. This, quite literally, gives your drivers support they need.
- A professional cleaning. Few things are more disheartening to a driver than to climb into their newly-assigned truck, and find it full of fast-food wrappers from whoever had it last.
Creating a positive experience for your drivers is critical to driver retention, and it starts with you. If you’re treating your drivers right, then no one will “fire” your drivers. Including the mechanics (sorry, mechanics).
COMING NEXT MONTH:
Why I Wouldn’t Drive for You