Back when I was a driver, our social media was a CB radio.
Truck drivers could share road conditions and advice in real time, and other drivers could listen in. We’d also share stories… including negative ones about fleets. If there was enough negative buzz around a fleet, drivers quickly made up their minds not to drive for them.
Today’s drivers are no different, even if the ways they communicate have changed. It doesn’t matter if they hear bad news about you over Facebook, Instagram or CB. If you’re a fleet with a bad reputation, they probably won’t drive for you… no matter how enticing your job postings may be.
While times have changed, the reasons drivers avoid certain fleets have not. The good news nowadays is that you can join the social media conversation, hear directly what drivers have to say, and tell your story the way you want to tell it. (More on that below.)
Here’s why, if I was still a driver, I wouldn’t drive for you.
Your messaging keeps changing from recruiting to onboarding to on the road.
Here’s where bad reputations among drivers begin. (Which means this is also where bad reputations can be rebuilt.)
Drivers have a nose for the truth. Your messaging during driver recruitment needs to be consistent across all touchpoints. This means the job ad, the interview, and the onboarding should all convey the same things about your company. If you give contradictory information, they’ll begin to distrust you right out of the gate. And that’s especially true if it happens once they’re actually on the job.
To be clear, I don’t think people are intentionally lying by any means. It’s more about making sure you’re telling your company’s “whole truth” clearly and consistently. As a company leader, it’s your job to make sure everyone, from the recruiter to the dispatcher, delivers the same consistent message. That way, you’ll pass the driver sniff test, and have a better reputation to match.
The driver experience is negative.
Inconsistent messaging is just one of the many things that can lead to a negative driver experience. If I was still on the road, here are the things that would make wish I’d never started driving for you.
- Rude and unhelpful terminal staff (in fact, we discussed this last month)
- Misleading claims about things like cost-per-mile and bonuses
- Dirty or outdated rigs
- Too much detention time
- Too many forced dispatches
As the saying goes: people don’t quit companies, they quit people. And truck drivers quit people they feel have treated them badly. A good driver experience can hinge on what you pay, how long the nose is on your trucks, and how well they’re treated by other employees.
Yes, sometimes unhappy drivers are unavoidable. If you treat your drivers with clarity and consideration, though, they’re more likely to stay around.
Remember: have honest answers to hard questions. For example, if emergency forced dispatches can happen, then tell potential drivers so. If they’re aware of this, they’ll feel less upset if it ever happens to them. If they decide it’s a dealbreaker, that frees you up to find a driver who can live with the occasional forced dispatch.
Social media chatter about you is negative, too.
Way back in the 90s, high turnover was less common. So when a fleet advertised for drivers each month in industry publications, most drivers knew to steer clear of them (no pun intended). It was a sure sign that frustrated drivers weren’t sticking with that fleet for long.
All that’s changed. Drivers switch fleets much more often now. Plus, there are more obvious indicators that a fleet is best to be avoided.
When drivers want to know more about your company and its culture, social media is the first place they’re going to go. Which means if one disgruntled driver posts an angry Facebook rant, it could be seen by hundreds. If I were still a driver, I’d run far in the opposite direction (metaphorically speaking, anyway) if other drivers regularly had negative stories about you.
The silver lining, of course, is now you can join the conversation. A simple social media search will reveal what the truck driver community really thinks of you. From there, you can figure out how to restore trust with potential drivers if it’s been lost, or build it.
You’re able to use your social channels to tell your own story. You can start dialogue with drivers about your company, and why it’s great to drive for you. Plus, you can share authentic content on your social channels that highlights your company’s culture and portrays it in the best light possible.
Your terminal and facilities aren’t up to snuff.
It isn’t just online chatter that gives drivers a bad impression of you. Take a stroll around your terminal. Try to look at it with new eyes. What do you see?
If you see a messy, disorganized yard, that’s what potential drivers see as well. First impressions are lasting impressions, remember. If I arrive at your terminal for an interview, it’s going to raise red flags if I see a dirty, unkempt yard. I’ll assume I’ll be dispatched in a similarly haphazard manner. Worse, I might assume your company is struggling financially.
Why wouldn’t you want your yard to make a good impression on the people who are going to be hauling for you? It makes no sense otherwise. Not to mention, especially in smaller markets, a sloppy-looking yard is going to get locals speaking negatively as well… including potential drivers AND customers.
It’s all about the driver experience.
In the end, it’s all about the driver experience, from the first point of contact to ten years into working for you. To avoid becoming the fleet drivers avoid, you need to:
- Keep your messaging consistent, from recruitment through onboarding and beyond
- Focus on creating a positive end-to-end driver experience
- Monitor what’s being said about you on social media, and shape that story in a positive light
- Make sure your trucks and terminals are clean and organized
It’s simple: Say what you mean, and mean what you say. Take an honest look at what you’re portraying yourself to drivers. Find out what’s being said about you in the trucking world. If your driver turnover has you concerned, it’s time to make some positive changes.
Once you do, though, you’ll become a fleet everyone wants to drive for.